Angie Dunstan (University of Kent) will be presenting her paper, ‘Romantic Literary Societies and their Victorian Afterlives’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 25 February 2014. The talk will take place in Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.
In 1889, Andrew Lang bemoaned the rise of literary societies devoted to Romantic poets, complaining ‘They all demonstrate that people have not the courage to study verse in solitude and for their proper pleasure; men and women need confederates in this adventure’. Lang’s was only one voice in a lively debate as to the purpose and usefulness of Romantic literary societies at this time, particularly as the movement towards single-author societies coincided with rising suspicion towards cults of celebrity. The 1880s saw the formation of the Wordsworth Society, the Shelley Society and the Lamb Society, and each rapidly acquired authority through the membership of prominent literati. Taking the Wordsworth and the Shelley Societies as case studies, this paper explores the role of Romantic literary societies in the Victorian era, questioning whether members of such literary societies were meaningfully influenced by the politics and poetics of their Romantic figureheads, or whether such societies were, as one critic expressed it, merely places of ‘congregational enthusiasm’.
About the speaker
Angie Dunstan is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Kent, an Honorary Research Fellow at Birkbeck, and an Associate Lecturer at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her research considers the relationship between nineteenth-century literary, visual and celebrity cultures and she has published in The British Art Journal, Burlington Magazine, and several edited collections including William Morris and the Art of Everyday Life (2010). This year, Angie has articles forthcoming in Modern Language Quarterly, 19: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Long Nineteenth Century, and the Journal of Australasian Victorian Studies. She is also co-guest-editing a special issue of Romantic Textualities on Global Romanticism for 2015. Angie is currently developing two projects; one provisionally titled ‘Moulding Modernity: Nineteenth-Century Literature, Sculpture and Authenticity, 1801-1901’, and another book-length study of nineteenth-century literary societies and global communities of reading.