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 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.