Emily Rohrbach (University of Manchester) will be presenting her paper, ‘Voice and Dispossession: A Comparative Poetics’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 8 November 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.03, and will be followed by a wine reception.
This talk draws from her current work on voice and dispossession in ‘Gothic’ literatures from Britain and Europe to the Americas, which examines not only to plot elements and themes of dispossessed voices but also aspects of narrative voice that dramatise self-reflexively its own otherness. That otherness concerns less the transcendence or divine quality of poetic inspiration than the imagination of textual circulation and influence in the Romantic period and the nineteenth century on both sides of the Atlantic. (more…)
Since the publication of Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto in December 1764, much debate has surrounded the origin of, what has been repeatedly described as, the first gothic novel. In an attempt to pinpoint the real architectural sources of the text’s haunting fortress, Dale Townshend’s paper exposed us to the various literary Gothic localities with which Walpole’s work converses. Yet, it was not until the publication of the second edition of the text in 1765 that Walpole identified his work openly with the gothic tradition, choosing to publish the novel with the sub-title ‘A Gothic Story’. It was also in this publication that Walpole acknowledged himself as the writer of the piece (using the initials ‘H.W.’, revealing that the ‘translator’ of the first edition, William Marshal, was in fact a pseudonym for himself. Much mystery, then, surrounded the publication of the work, leaving readers to question the source of this mysterious story, as well the site of its ghostly location. (more…)
Dale Townshend (University of Stirling) will be presenting his paper, ‘Horace Walpole’s Enchanted Castles’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 16 February 2016. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 4.43, and will be followed by a wine reception.
Ever since Horace Walpole in the second edition of The Castle of Otranto (1765) disclosed his authorship of his ‘Gothic Story’, it has been assumed that the ‘real’ and ‘particular’ castle to which he, in his guise as the ‘translator’ William Marshal, referred in the Preface to the first edition of the novel was Strawberry Hill, the ‘little Gothic castle’ in Twickenham that he had set about ‘Gothicizing’ since the late 1740s. As I seek to demonstrate in this paper, however, this is really only half of the story, for while the castle at Otranto certainly, as Walpole would later phrase it, ‘puts one in mind’ of Strawberry Hill, it also looks to the architectural formations of ‘ancient’ or ‘Gothic’ romance for its structure, its effects, and even its eventual disappearance. More specifically, I argue, Manfred’s castle at Otranto is, in a number of respects, a reworking of the trope of the enchanted castle that featured so prominently in the epic romances of Torquato Tasso, Ludovico Ariosto, Edmund Spenser, and others. And if The Castle of Otranto is, indeed, closely linked to Strawberry Hill, I argue that this is not simply because Walpole ‘writes’ his home into his novel, but because both fiction and house looked to the architectural structures of medieval romance as their ultimate point of inspiration. Having explored the trope of the enchanted castle as it figures in The Castle of Otranto and Walpole’s correspondence around Strawberry Hill, I conclude by tracing its uptake in the later Gothic dramas and fictions of Miles Peter Andrews, Clara Reeve, Anna Laetitia Aikin and Ann Radcliffe. (more…)
Freya Johnston (University of Oxford) will be presenting her paper, ‘Medieval Graffiti: Editing Thomas Love Peacock’, at 5.30pm on Tuesday, 10 February 2015. The talk will take place in the Cardiff University’s John Percival Building, Room 2.48.
This paper reflects on the challenges and rewards of editing a writer whose works have routinely been described as ‘inaccessible’. Even if his comic fictions abound, like Jane Austen’s, with clever, good-looking women and with sparkling dialogue that culminates in marriage, Peacock’s repartee can be hard to follow. This is partly because he does not aspire to the portrayal of interiority—perhaps the most cherished aspect of Austen’s novels. Rather, his characters, both male and female, exist primarily in order to share, voice, and test the limits of their ideas. His fictions, rebuffing intimacy, are inescapably political and intellectual. This paper will show that to approach the nineteenth-century novel via Peacock is to see it as an outward-facing genre indebted to philosophical tracts, lectures, classical dialogues and the rhythms of parliamentary debate. (more…)