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Items tagged with 'visual cultures'

Review: Jakub Lipski and Jacek Mydla (eds), The Enchantress of Words, Sounds and Image (rev.)

Described by Thomas de Quincey as ‘the great enchantress of [her] generation’, Ann Radcliffe has long been identified as the author whose work contributed more than that of any other to the popularity of Gothic … Continue reading

Article: Reverse Pygmalionism

This paper resituates Samuel Rogers’s influential work Italy within the wider context of Britain’s post-Waterloo visual–verbal culture. Rogers’s illustrated multi-generic travel book made the Italian peninsula accessible to its upwardly mobile middle-class audience through its miscellaneous nature, its poems, tales, travelogues, treatment of art, antiquarian asides and translation of key Italian authors. It was one of the nineteenth century’s best-selling texts, but it did not start out that way. Indeed, it would take Rogers over a decade in order to produce a profitable object. This article examines this process and the ways in which Rogers responded to key developments in the commercial print market, especially the growing popularity for keepsakes and annuals, in order to register the publishing market’s dependency on word-image constellations, Britain’s changing relationship with Italy, and, ultimately, the growing purchasing power of a middle-class, female audience. Continue reading

Article: The Protean Poet

Since his rise to fame in the early nineteenth century, Byron and his work have been significant subjects for visual art, from book illustration to oil painting. This essay explores Byronic art across the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, taking as a case study the treatment of his late narrative poem, Don Juan. Byron’s wide-ranging appeal was a result of both the popularity of his poetry and the public fascination with his life, but it was also determined by the multiple, fluid qualities of his work which facilitated a huge variety of readings across the centuries. Here, the visual implications of these ways of reading are considered, and the essay argues that pictorial Byronism played an important role in presenting evolving perceptions of the broader Romantic movement. Continue reading

Article: Walter Scott and James Skene

This essay contends that Skene, Scott’s amateur-artist friend, was often used as a visual research assistant for many scenes contained within the Waverley novels. Skene became an advisor to some of the earliest illustrations of Scott’s novels that were produced beyond Scotland. In the introduction to the fourth canto of Marmion, dedicated to Skene, Scott writes: ‘The shepherd, who in summer sun, | Had something of our envy won, | As thou with pencil, I with pen, | The features traced of hill and glen’. This glimpse of Skene sketching next to Scott reveals a significant aspect to their friendship: Skene’s sketches were used as aides-memoire, visual references or even inspirations to Scott’s literary imagination for many descriptive topographical or architectural passages within his novels. Through close readings of the novels, Scott’s correspondence and Skene’s own memoir, Hill establishes that Skene contributed signgiicant visual stimuli for a number of Scott’s works. Continue reading

Article: When King Arthur Met the Venus

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

Article: Bibliography of British Travel Writing, 1780–1840

I In 1826, Mary Shelley recalled the Summer of 1814 as ‘incarnate romance’, when ‘a new generation’ of youthful travellers with ‘time and money at command’, yet heedless of ‘dirty packets and wretched inns’, ‘poured, … Continue reading

Article: Scott, Hogg, and the Gift-Book Editors

Richard Hill looks into the gift-books and annual culture of the 1820s and ’30s, noting a ‘power-struggle in the publishing arena’ that emerged as a result of ‘production practices and technological developments that challenged traditional modes of book production’. By focusing on the interactions between two major Edinburgh authors, James Hogg and Walter Scott, Hill argues that in the late 1820s a fundamental shift was precipitated in the role of the author in the production of popular literature. Continue reading

Article: From Eco-Politics to Apocalypse

The final chapter of Humphrey Repton’s collected works on landscape gardening and architecture, published after his death in 1840, concludes with an encomium to Repton’s work from an unnamed source. ‘[What can bestow pure tranquillity?] … Continue reading

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