Interacting with Print: Keywords for the Age of Print Saturation has been published by the University of Chicago Press. This is a ‘multigraph’ written by a collective of 22 scholars with the help of a dedicated wiki. It’s the major output of the Interacting with Print research group, which I led from 2008-2013. Writing it was an incredible collaborative experience, which completely changed my understanding of how scholars in the humanities might work together. The book offers a new approach to the history of print culture in Europe from 1750-1900, based on the concept of interactivity. We hope it will turn out to be an important intervention in the field, stimulating future work.
I’ll be launching my new book What the Victorians Made of Romanticism at Blackwell’s book shop on Edinburgh’s South Bridge on 11 January at 6.30pm. Come along to hear me talk about the book, enjoy a glass of wine and buy a signed copy! Thanks to Princeton University Press for supporting the event and Blackwell’s book shop for hosting it. If you’re in Edinburgh, get your free ticket here and come along.
Next Wednesday I’ll be interviewing the wonderful poet and essayist Kathleen Jamie for the Centre for the History of the Book annual public lecture. Kathleen Jamie is one of the most important and original writers of poetry and prose working in Scotland today. Her work has won an Eric Gregory Award, a Forward Poetry Prize, and a Costa Poetry Award, among many other distinctions. I’ll be asking her about the material forms her work takes in the world, from books of poetry, to collaborations with artists, to site-specific installations. You can read all about the event here, as well as booking a ticket. It’s free to attend and open to everyone.
I wrote a blog about my new book What the Victorians Made of Romanticism for the Romanticism Blog run by the Wordsworth Trust in Grasmere. In it, I describe some of the main arguments of the book, especially as they relate to William Wordsworth. You can read the blog here. You can buy the book here.
Shelley Conference, Institute for Advanced Study, University of London, September 2017
My article ‘Byron and the Difficulty of Beginning’ has been accepted for publication in the Review of English Studies. The beginnings of Byron’s longer poems reveal a number of anxieties about the poetic act of beginning. He dealt with these concerns in several ways: revising opening lines, using translations from other poets to begin his poems, repurposing lines he had written in another context, multiplying prefatory paratexts, or asking other people to make decisions about how his poems should begin. His poetic beginnings reflect a concern about whether his poems would find well-informed and sympathetic readers, and they are often concerned with what his readers can be expected to know. In his later poems, however, Byron overcame some of these anxieties as he developed a different understanding of beginnings. Beppo and Don Juan are sustained by beginning gestures, which recur repeatedly throughout the poems. These beginnings reflect the poems’ openness to contingency, which tends to make all beginnings necessarily provisional, in life as in art. The essay will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal.
I’m very happy to have been invited to give the World Book Day Lecture at the University of Otago in New Zealand next March. World Book Day next year is on 1 March. I’m not quite sure what I’m going to talk about yet, but I’m planning to say something about the things we do with books and the things they do to us.
The University of Melbourne, 7 March 2018
Nick Mason and I organised a two-day conference to mark the bicentenary of the founding of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine. It was attended by around 40 scholars from the UK, North America, Europe and Asia. There were great plenary lectures by Joanne Shattock and Mark Parker. We hope that the conference will help to focus research around Romantic and nineteenth-century periodicals in the future.
I’m off to the British Association of Romantic Studies conference at the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies, University of York. This is the leading academic conference in the UK for studies of Romantic literature and the Romantic period. The topic this year is ‘Romantic Improvement’. I’ll be talking about the ways in which Victorian preachers and religious writers tried to ‘improve’ the image of Percy Bysshe Shelley in their sermons and writings to make him more palatable to Victorian Christians.