While the critical establishment baulked at the rapid expansion of the literary marketplace in the early nineteenth century, Lady Morgan’s Florence Macarthy boldly declared its allegiance to the precariously feminised domain of popular romance. Embracing its own synthetic and syncretic modernity, Morgan’s seventh novel revels in the spectacle, sensation and simulation so vociferously denounced by reviewers of her earlier works. Moreover, in its self-reflexive scrutiny of the material processes of Romantic literary production, Morgan’s fiction interrogates its own position within an increasingly commercialised and mechanised publishing industry. In asserting the centrality of such commercial and mechanical modernity to Morgan’s aesthetic, this article departs from previous scholarly discussions of her oeuvre. It argues that Florence Macarthy’s engagement with Irish politics is not anchored in antiquarian retrospection but instead emerges out of an effervescent literary marketplace in direct competition with new arenas of spectacular entertainment. Thus, rather than promote a supposedly atavistic and anachronistic cultural nationalism, the surface narrative’s flirtation with the romance of Irish antiquity is continually disrupted by an underlying acknowledgement of the competing literary, political and historical narratives at play within the national tale. Synchronising and synthesising these competing discourses for the popular reader, Florence Macarthy registers the hybridity of its own romance as a distinctly modern yet sophisticated form of mechanical reproduction that cannot be dismissed as the mere automatism of an antiquarian reflex. Continue reading →
The domestic is fundamental to any analysis of Bray’s work, as by domesticating public history and antiquarianism she was able to negotiate a path between maintaining her position as a proper lady and asserting her credentials as a published author/ historian. Historically, Bray’s writing career began at a time when there had been a shift in the basic epistemological structures of history from state politics to social and affective life, family matters. Moreover, Bray’s own family, father, brother and both her husbands were antiquarians, thus her research was presented as an extension of theirs. Finally, in 1822, Bray relocated from London to Devon, a geographical space on the margins of England, and one rich in history, legend and the traditions of ‘Old England’. Yet for Bray, home was a conflicted term representing both family home and homeland, England, which she saw as under threat of losing its identity to the newly created nation of Great Britain and Ireland. In this paper I examine how, through the microcosm of family and region, Bray set about producing an antiquarian record of the English landscape, customs and traditions: an English National Tale. Continue reading →
The first edition of Bannerman’s Tales of Superstition and Chivalry (1802) contained an erotic engraving of a naked Venus figure, which was declared ‘offensive to decency’ by Scottish audiences in the poet’s native Edinburgh. Garner’s account investigates the controversy surrounding the engraving and the puzzling disparity between it and the ballad it illustrated: the Arthurian-themed ‘Prophecy of Merlin’. Using evidence from Bannerman’s correspondence with noted Scottish male publishers and antiquarians, this essay argues that decision to include the dangerous engraving was symptomatic of current anxieties surrounding a female-authored text which threatened to encroach on antiquarian and Arthurian enquiry. Continue reading →
Did Ireland experience Romanticism? Certainly not in the uncomplicated way that scholarship assumes England, Germany and other countries did. In Romanticism in National Context (1988), Tom Dunne’s contribution eschews the standard chapter title form—‘Romanticism in … Continue reading →
In ‘Bibliomania: Book Collecting, Cultural Politics, and the Rise of Literary Heritage in Romantic Britain’,  Philip Connell argues that the decade of the 1810s saw the rise of diverse strains of bibliomania involving the … Continue reading →
Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840 is an open-access journal that is committed to foregrounding innovative Romantic-studies research into bibliography, book history, intertextuality, and textual studies. To this end, we publish material in a number of formats: peer-reviewed articles, reports on individual/group research projects, bibliographical checklists, biographical profiles of overlooked Romantic writers and book reviews of relevant new research. Find out more by clicking here.
All content is available without charge to the user or his/her institution. You are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from either the publisher or the author. The journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0
International License. Original copyright remains with the contributing author and a citation should be made when the article is quoted, used or referred to in another work.
About Cardiff University Press
Romantic Textualities is an imprint of Cardiff University Press, an innovative open-access publisher of academic research, where ‘open-access’ means free for both readers and writers. Find out more about the press at cardiffuniversitypress.org.