Romantic Realignments is one of the longest-running research seminars in Oxford.

Past speakers have included Marilyn Butler, Gerard Carruthers, David Chandler, Heather Glen, Paul Muldoon, Philip Shaw, Fiona Stafford and Peter Swaab, to name but a few.

All are very welcome to submit an abstract — we aim to provide a friendly 'workshop' setting in which speakers can try out new papers as well as more finished pieces, and in which lively discussion can flourish.

Held on Thursdays at 5.15pm, Seminar Room A, St Cross (English Faculty) Building.

If you would like to send us an abstract or suggest a speaker, please contact the current convenors Katherine Fender, Sarah Goode and Honor Rieley at:


Week 8 – 'Rationality, Religion and Female Dissent: Elizabeth Heyrick'

Rebecca Shuttleworth (University of Leicester)

For the final Romantic Realignments of 2013, we're very happy to have Rebecca Shuttleworth with us to share some of her research on dissenting women writers. 


The abolitionist campaigner Elizabeth Heyrick (1769-1831), was born into a dissenting family in Leicester, but asserted her independence later in life by leaving the Methodist Church to join the Society of Friends. Previous accounts of her life have often assumed that her social activism was very much a development of her new Quaker environment. This paper will suggest that the picture is more complicated than that, and will explore the complex interplay between the values of rationality, social morality, and religion in her life and writings. It will draw on family and friends’ writings about Heyrick, as well as her own numerous pamphlets, to explore the ways in which a radical female activist emerged from within a Midlands dissenting community. Heyrick’s voice, as it emerges in her writings, both works within, and against, the social expectations of her surrounding community and culture. In her appeals to rationality, rather than religion, in her justification of her various crusades, she emerges strongly as a voice of Enlightenment values. The paper will explore the dissenting community of Leicester at that period, the various role models available to Elizabeth, and the ways in which she constructed her own voice. It will consider her abolitionist writings, as well as her associated campaigns against animal cruelty, and her call for a total boycott of sugar and all products produced by slave labour. Heyrick’s understanding of social responsibility and moral identity remain remarkably consistent through her life, and must be understood not just in terms of her religion, but the wider Enlightenment commitment to the values of rationality.

All are welcome – please come along and help us round off Michaelmas term in style!


Week 7 - "The Significance of James Macpherson's Ossian for the Art of J.M.W.Turner"

Professor Murdo Macdonald (University of Dundee)

This landscape painting by Turner was formerly known as "Welsh Mountain Landscape" - but does, in fact, depict a Scottish mountain scene: "The Traveller - Vide Ossian's War of Caros" (1802).

We're very excited to be welcoming Professor Murdo Macdonald to Romantic Realignments this week. He's here to speak to us about the painting you see above: one which has been mistakenly claimed as a representation of Welsh - rather than Scottish - landscape for many years, and is only now being considered in relation to the Scottish legend and verse that inspired Turner to create it.  


The identification earlier this year of J. M. W. Turner's lost 'Ossian' painting dating from 1802 (see Macdonald and Shanes, forthcoming) provides a starting point for noting Turner's intense engagement with poetry throughout his career and allows one to give a new reading of his later Ossian-related work ‘Staffa: Fingal’s Cave’, exhibited in 1832. The fact that Turner’s 1802 painting became detached from its title may reflect the cultural politics surrounding the reception of Macpherson’s ‘Ossian’ at the time. Turner’s painting can now take its place as part of the response to 'Ossian’ of artists throughout Europe.

Do come along on Thursday: this promises to be a truly fascinating talk and, as ever, all are welcome to attend both the paper and the wine reception that accompanies discussion afterwards.  We look forward to seeing you then!



In case you missed it in e-mails, and with the deadline fast approaching, here's a reminder of our Call for Postgraduate Speakers:

We warmly invite postgraduate students and early-career academics to submit 100-200 word abstracts for 20 to 30 minute papers, to take place in 2014 across a range of available dates.

Papers can focus on the art, literature, ideas and philosophies of approximately 1780-1830, but the scope is by no means restricted to this period. We are also keen to encourage an interdisciplinary, international and transhistorical approach to studies of Romanticism. Our aim is to provide a forum - within a friendly, workshop setting - in which speakers can try out both new papers and more finished pieces, and in which lively discussion can flourish.

If you would like to be considered as a postgraduate student speaker at the seminar, please submit an abstract of 100-200 words to the current convenors by 30th November 2013.

E-mail submissions to Katherine Fender, Sarah Goode and Honor Rieley at:


Cancellation Notice, Week 6 (21 November)

We're sorry to announce that this week's talk by Paul Whickman has had to be cancelled due to illness. 

We hope we'll be able to reschedule this paper for a later date, so really it's a postponement not a cancellation!

Have a great 6th week, and we hope to see you all next Thursday for Murdo Macdonald's paper on Ossian and Turner.


Week 5 – 'Writing the Border: Walter Scott and the Travel Narrative'

Céline Sabiron, University of Oxford

This week our speaker will be Dr Céline Sabiron, who is a Junior Research Fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford. She'll be presenting research from her forthcoming book (to be published by Provence University Press) focusing on Walter Scott's border narratives. These historico-geographical novels are structured around Scotland's vertebral column – ending in the south with the national border and composed in the north of the internal border marked by the Highland Boundary Fault, a sensitive area separating Lowlands and Highlands – serving as a narrative pivot around which the plots hinge. This monograph seeks to question the sense, understood as both meaning and direction, of cross-border travel in Scott's Scottish novels. Three types of travel – physical, symbolic, and eventually literary – will be analysed in turn to provide a complete reassessment of the relationship between Scott's novels and the travel literature of the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as the influence of Scott's work on the English and French literature from the second half of the 19th century.

All welcome!


*Blackwell's Wordsworth Event [See Below] Rescheduled*

Dear all Romanticists,

Due to unforeseen circumstances, we're very sorry to report that the William and Dorothy Wordsworth event to be held tonight with one of Oxford's very own Romanticists, Professor Lucy Newlyn [see below], has had to be rescheduled for February.  The specific date / time of the rescheduled event will be confirmed in due course.

In the meantime - if you're a keen reviewer as well as a keen Romanticist, we'd warmly encourage you to submit a comment on Professor Newlyn's "All in Each Other" at the Amazon web page, which can be found here: 

Event at Blackwell's Bookshop Tonight with one of Oxford's Romanticists - Professor Lucy Newlyn / William and Dorothy Wordsworth: 'All in Each Other'

Lucy Newlyn/ William and Dorothy Wordsworth: 
'All in Each Other' 

Thursday 7th November at 7pm

William Wordsworth's creative collaboration with his 'beloved Sister' spanned nearly fifty years, from their first reunion in 1787 until her premature decline in 1835.  Rumours of incest have surrounded the siblings since the 19th century, but Lucy Newlyn sees their cohabitation as an expression of deep emotional need, arising from circumstances peculiar to their family history.  This is the first book to bring the full range of Dorothy's writings into the foreground alongside her brother's, and to give each sibling the same level of detailed attention.  Newlyn explores the symbiotic nature of their creative processes through close reading of journals, letters and poems - sometimes drawing on material that is in manuscript.  She uncovers detailed interminglings in their work, approaching these as evidence of their deep affinity.  Newlyn's book is deeply researched, drawing on a wide range of recent scholarship - not just in Romantic studies, but in psychology, literary theory, anthropology and life-writing.  Yet it is a personal book, written with passion by a scholar-poet and intended to be of some practical use and inspirational value to non-specialist readers.  Adopting a holistic approach to mental and spiritual health, human relationships, and the environment, Newlyn provides a timely reminder that creativity thrives best in a gift economy.

All tickets can be obtained by visiting the Customer Service Department at Blackwell's Bookshop, Broad Street, Oxford. Alternatively, contact Blackwell's on:

Tel: 01865 333 623 
Tickets cost £3


Week 4 - "Wordsworth, Coleridge and the Untranslatable"

Alexander Freer (University of Cambridge)

We're welcoming second-year doctoral candidate Alexander Freer to Romantic Realignments this week, here to speak to us about Wordsworth, Coleridge and the notion of the "untranslatable":


This paper analyses Ian Fairley’s recent discussion of the 'untranslatable’ in Coleridge’s critical writing and Wordsworth’s poetry (Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 34, no. 2).  I will give a brief overview of Fairley’s argument, offer some commentary and criticism, and then suggest some possible expansion and modification to the concept, with specific reference to ‘The Blind Highland Boy’ and a passage from The Prelude.  Knowledge of Fairley’s paper will not be necessary, but I supply the reference in advance so you are not compelled to rely on my paraphrase.

All are very welcome to attend as ever; please do come along to what promises to be another fascinating talk.


Week 3 - " 'Behindhand With Their Countrymen': The Literary Culture of Eighteenth-Century Exeter"

Dr Joseph Crawford (University of Exeter)

Exeter - as described by Daniel Defoe in the early eighteenth-century: "large, rich, beautiful, populous and...once very strong".

Joseph Coles, "A true plan of the city of Excester Anno Domini MDCCIX" (1709)

This week, we'd like to welcome Dr Joseph Crawford from the University of Exeter, here to speak to us about his current research on the city's eighteenth-century literary culture:


In the early eighteenth century, the south-west of England was still a remote and little-visited area. Exeter, which in 1700 was still one of the largest and richest cities in England, served as the regional capital, separated from London by a hundred and fifty miles of famously terrible West Country roads which took four days to traverse by coach. Throughout the century, the most gifted writers born in the region - John Gay, Hannah Cowley, Samuel Taylor Coleridge - headed to London to seek their fortunes; but the printing and book-selling trades flourished in Exeter, and by the 1780s the city could boast a well-established local literary culture, with Devonshire doctors, clergymen, officers, Dissenters, and in one case even an Exmoor wool-comber coming to Exeter to have their writings printed and sold. In this seminar, I shall map out the development of this local literary culture, and discuss some of the ways in which it both conformed with and deviated from the more familiar national narratives regarding the development of English literature during the eighteenth century.

As ever, all are welcome to attend both the seminar and the wine reception afterwards; we hope to see many of you on Thursday!


*Week 2 - Additional Romantic Realignments Seminar*

Professor David Bromwich (Yale University) - 'Romanticism, Justice, and the Idea of the Nation'

Wednesday 23 October, 5:15pm, Seminar Room A, St Cross Building

We're delighted to welcome Professor David Bromwich from Yale University this week, who has very kindly agreed to speak at Romantic Realignments while he is here in Oxford giving the Clarendon Lectures.

Ahead of Wednesday's seminar, David has provided a short list of readings for those who would like to consider some - or all - of the main texts we'll be focusing on during the session:

- Richard Price, Discourse on the Love of our Country
- William Hazlitt, On Patriotism
- William Wordsworth, 'I grieved for Buonaparte'; 'To Toussaint L'Ouverture'; 'When I have borne in memory'; 'To Thomas Clarkson'
- Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address

This promises to be a great opportunity for informal discussion, questions and thoughts to thrive; all are warmly encouraged to attend.  Hope to see lots of you then! 


Michaelmas 2013 Termcard

Romantic Realignments

Every Thursday at 5.15, English Faculty Building, 
Seminar Room A.
*Extra seminar on Wednesday of Week 2.*

Week 1, 17 October: 
Daniel Cook, University of Dundee. 
Wordsworth's Chatterton.

*Week 2, 23 October:
David Bromwich, Yale University. 
Romanticism, Justice, and the Idea of the Nation.
Week 2, 24 October:
Octavia Cox, University of Oxford.
Pope, Cowper, and the Epic.

Week 3, 31 October:
Joseph Crawford, University of Exeter.
'Behindhand With Their Countrymen': The Literary Culture of 18th Century Exeter.

Week 4, 7 November: 
Alexander Freer, University of Cambridge.
Wordsworth, Coleridge and the Untranslatable.

Week 5, 14 November:
Céline Sabiron, University of Oxford.
Writing the Border: Walter Scott and the Travel Narrative.

Week 6, 21 November:
Paul Whickman, University of Nottingham.
The Promethean Conqueror, the Galilean Serpent and the Jacobin Jesus: Shelley's Interpretation(s) of Jesus Christ.

Week 7, 28 November:
Murdo Macdonald, University of Dundee.
The Significance of James Macpherson's Ossian for the Art of J. M. W. Turner.

Week 8, 5 December:
Rebecca Shuttleworth, University of Leicester.
Rationality, Religion, and Female Dissent: Elizabeth Heyrick (1769–1831).


Eighteenth Century Evening at Oxford Brookes University

The Cheerful Companion’: Poetry, Music
& Performance in Eighteenth-Century
Poetic Miscellanies

Oxford Brookes University Headington Hill Hall, May 21, 2013, 19.00 h

If we were able to step inside the parlours and drawing rooms of the eighteenth century, we’d find homes busy with home-made culture – book groups and tea table parties; amateur dramatics; groups of women reading and weeping their way through popular sentimental fiction, and men at punch parties singing songs about dogs.
This interactive event (1,5 hours) will explore the varied world of eighteenth-century poetic miscellanies, popular collections of verse, prose and music that were the main way in which many ordinary people consumed literature in contemporary parlours and drawing rooms. 

The evening will consists of a series of short talks, readings and music, followed by an interactive session, in which participants will be able to experience an authentic sewing session of a ‘huswif’ hosted by Nicole Pohl (Oxford Brookes) – no previous experience needed!

The evening will be a unique collaboration between the Brookes Poetry Centre, and the Digital Miscellanies Index Project at the University of Oxford, supported by the the folk & roots influenced duo Alva with multi-instrumentalist Giles Lewin and the acclaimed singer of medieval, renaissance, folk & contemporary music Vivien Ellis. Wine and refreshments will be served.

If you want to book a place, free of charge, please contact: Nicole Pohl,


Trinity Termcard

Dear All, 
Please find the Trinity Termcard attached

Barry Hough, Bournemouth University 
(Week 1) 25 April: ‘Coleridge’s Government Communications: Ethics or Calculation?’ 

Tom Clucas, Christ Church, Oxford
(Week 2) 2 May: ‘“Thou only bliss / Of Paradise that has survived the fall”: Domesticity from Cowper to Wordsworth’ 

Prof. Heather Glen, Murray Edwards College, Cambridge
(Week 3) 9 May: 'Imagining Place: Wordsworth’s Poetry and James Clarke’s A Survey of the Lakes' 

Ann-Clair Michoux, Lincoln College, Oxford 
(Week 4) 16 May: ‘"Wild to buy all": Jane Austen's Wild English Girls and Regency Society’ 

Dino Felluga, Purdue University 
(Week 5) 23 May: ‘Byron’s Don Juan and the Novel’ 

All Welcome to join us for drinks & dinner after the seminar!

Oxford Romanticism Conference, Somerville College
(Week 6) 30 May: registration to open soon!

Convenors: Judyta Frodyma (judyta.frodyma[at] and Olivia Reilly 


Andrew Warren: Romantic Entanglements

**Change in Termcard**

For our final seminar this term, Thursday, March 7th, we would like to welcome Dr. Andrew Warren, Assistant Professor of English at Harvard University.

He will be speaking on 'Romantic Entanglements'

The term “entanglement” comes from the Old Norse (tang) for a kind of seaweed. In
Middle English (tangil, tangyl) it became primarily a social or legal term; someone
“entangled” someone else by encumbering, hampering or embarrassing them in human
affairs—legal, financial, social. Entanglement thereby implies a connection both material
and immaterial, and that also does not form a unity. It is more often a kind of burden, a
half-unwanted but seemingly necessary connection; it therefore registers an anxiety or
unease largely absent from a more settled or conventional notion such as “Wholeness” or
“Organic Unity.”

In this talk I will trace a history of this trope which, I argue, becomes particularly amplified
in Romantic and proto-Romantic texts. If in Enlightenment discourses—from empiricist
philosophies of mind, to political theory, to medicine—entanglement is most often used
as a metaphor to describe confusion or metaphysical extravagance, in the Romantic era
entanglement becomes a self-consciously employed concept used to explore a range of
issues. I will focus, in particular, on work by Sterne, Rousseau, Shelley and Wordsworth.


Hilary 2013 Termcard

Dear All,

Here is the termcard for Hilary 2013. I would like to highlight, among many others, talks by Mary-Ann Constantine and James Vigus this term! Looking forward to seeing many of you there!

Romantic Realignments
Every Thursday at 5:15pm
Magdalen College, Lecture Room A

Week 1: 17th January
David Higgins (Leeds) Local and Global Geographies in Coleridge’s Poetry of the 1790s

Week 2: 24th January
Jo Taylor (Keele) Hartley Coleridge's sublime spaces

Week 3: 31st January
John Goodridge (Nottingham) Bloomfield, Clare and labouring-class poetry

Week 4: 7th February
Catherine Redford (Bristol) 'What was, what is, and shall be': Empire and the Romantic Last Man* please note the change in title 

Week 5: 14th February
Mary-Ann Constantine (Wales) Here be dragons: the politics of literature in 1790s Wales

Week 6: 21st February
Pedro Carol (Fribourg) “Strike at the root”: Shelley’s Revision of the Creation Myth in "Queen Mab" and "The Revolt of Islam"

Week 7: 28th February
James Vigus (Queen Mary) Wordsworth's 'Poetic Quakerism'

Week 8: 7th March*note the change in speaker
Andrew Warren (Harbard) Romantic Entanglements 


Happy New Year!

Dear All,

We wanted to wish you all the best for 2013--may it be a productive and successful year for all! 

There will be many new things coming up this year and this term, including the first Oxford Romanticism Conference this May 30th, 2013! Although the call for papers is now closed (for more information or questions, email oxfordromanticismconference[at] we encourage you all to join us for a wonderful line up of speakers and papers! 

The conference is on The Romantic Medium: Language and Lexicon. We would like to welcome our keynotes speakers, Michael O'Neill (Durham) and Stephen Gill (Oxford).

Hope to see you all there! Stay tuned for the Hilary termcard will be posted shortly!

Correction: the previous link for the CFP did not work. It may now be found