Author Archives: Charlotte Roberts

Edinburgh Fringe Reviewers

James Harriman-Smith, BSECS reviews editor for eighteenth-century theatre, is looking for people to review the following plays in Edinburgh this year:

Adam Smith, le Grand Tour
Austen’s Women
Ben Franklin, the Rogue who Invented America
The Fanny Hill Project
Wuthering Heights
Northanger Abbey
The Way of the World
The Way to Keep Him
Lover’s Vows

If you are interested in attending and reviewing any of these performances, please email James.

Read more BSECS events reviews here.

Call for Papers: “Romantic Connections”

“Romantic Connections”
NASSR supernumerary conference, supported by BARS, GER, and JAER
University of Tokyo, June 13–15, 2014

Plenary speakers:

Christoph Bode (LMU Munich)
James Chandler (University of Chicago)
Angela Esterhammer (University of Toronto)
Peter Kitson (University of East Anglia)
Jonathan Lamb (Vanderbilt University)
Kiyoshi Nishiyama (Waseda University)

The organising committee invites submissions for an international conference on “Romantic Connections” at the University of Tokyo in June 2014.

Call for Papers – Romantic Connections

The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2013.

This unique event will bring together four scholarly societies from three continents: it is a supernumerary conference of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (NASSR), also supported by the British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS), the German Society for English Romanticism (GER), and the Japan Association of English Romanticism (JAER).

More information is available on the conference website:

‘Things’ seminar

The Things: Early Modern Material Cultures seminar series will meet for the last time this term on Tuesday 11th June at 12.30pm in room SG1 in the Alison Richard building.  The topic will be ‘Painted Things’: Dr Matthew Hunter (McGill University) will discuss ‘Did Joshua Reynolds Paint his Pictures?’ and Professor Mark Hallet (Paul Mellon Centre) will speak on ‘Point Counter Point: Joshua Reynolds, Portraiture and late Eighteenth-Century Exhibition Culture’. All are welcome to attend.


Matthew Hunter. In May 1773, an open letter to London’s Morning Chronicle lodged a peculiar complaint with Sir Joshua Reynolds. Pigmented ooze—paint—had, in the view of this critic, come to bear in upon British art with undue, defacing force. The problem followed from conceptualizing artistic identity through an excessively literal translation of French Peintre as “Painter, and the materials which ingenious persons of that denomination make use of to display their talents, we have, from that word, calledpaint, which in French is named coleurs.” Closer to the liberal art actually practiced and promoted by Reynolds, this anonymous critic proposed, sculptors and architects could offer useful counter-models: “Why not like these have a peculiar name, Sir Joshua, for your very profession? Why not like these take up at once your classic name? Why not Pictor?” Situated within the rich, period discourse and extensive, modern documentation of Reynolds’s chemical experiments, this paper aims to take theMorning Chronicle’s complaint seriously. It considers the ways in which Reynolds and his contemporaries understood interfaces between paint and image, while exploring the broader stakes (then as now) of apprehending the President’s temporally-evolving chemical works as “pictures.”

Mark Hallett. This talk, which will focus on the portraits submitted by Joshua Reynolds to the annual Royal Academy displays of the 1780s, explores the workings of the painted object within the crowded, ephemeral and spectacular exhibition displays characteristic of the late eighteenth century. Particular attention will be devoted to the ways in which, within the Academy’s Great Room, Reynolds’s individual portraits of women were played off against each other and against portraits of male subjects, and thereby became part of an extended and highly intriguing form of visual dialogue and counterpoint.


Talk on ‘Byron’s War’ – Cambridge University Press bookshop

Cambridge University Press Bookshop is pleased to be hosting a talk on Byron’s War.

Roderick Beaton will be discussing his new book Byron’s War which offers a fresh perspective on the life and work of the Romantic poet Lord Byron, and in particular his relationship with Greece.

Monday 17th June, 6-8pm

Cambridge University Press Bookshop
1 Trinity Street, Cambridge, CB2 1SZ

The talk is free to attend.

‘Byron’s War changes our understanding of what Byron was trying to do in Greece, and will be the starting point for all subsequent discussions of the topic.’
Professor David Roessel, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

To secure your place, please email

‘Things’ seminar

The next session of the seminar series ‘Things: Early Modern Material Cultures’ will meet on Tuesday 28th May at 12.30pm in the Seminar Room, Alison Richard Building, West Road. Dr Melanie Vandenbrouck (National Maritime Museum), Felicity Powell (Artist), and Ben Carpenter (University of Wolverhampton) will talk about ‘Handling Things’. All are very welcome to attend the seminar, and to join the speakers afterwards for lunch.

Read All About It: Wrongdoing in Spain and England in the Long Nineteenth Century

An exhibition of nineteenth-century Spanish and English pamphlets and broadsides illustrating wrongdoing, crime and retribution; why did people behave badly, and how did others find out what they had been up to? The display includes tales of bandits, pirates, murderesses, poisoners and many more malefactors in highly (and gruesomely) illustrated detail.

This exhibition is on display at the University Library until December, and is free to view.  More information on the curation of the exhibition, and its content, can be found here.

Field Notes: Histories of Archaeology and Anthropology

On Thursday 23rd May Dr Charlotte Roberts will address the Field Notes seminar group on ‘Living with the Ancient Romans: Past and Present in Eighteenth-Century Encounters with Herculaneum and Pompeii’. Dr Melissa Calaresu will act as discussant. The group meets at 1.30pm at CRASSH, in seminar room SG1, and all are welcome to attend.


The eighteenth-century ‘discovery’ of the buried cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii revolutionised the way in which individuals thought about their relationship with the ancient world.  The accounts of British visitors written between the start of the official excavations in 1738 and the end of the century reflect a new historical sensibility, one predicated upon the extraordinary proximity between present and past that these sites seemed to ensure.  This new way of looking at the ancient world challenged many of the established models of classical engagement that dominated European and especially British culture in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.  Herculaneum and Pompeii offered the possibility of an encounter with the ancient world that might not only rival Rome but compensate for some of the shortcomings and disappointments experienced by visitors to that ancient city.

This communal, cultural response to the ruins of these cities does not mean, however, that the eighteenth-century influence of Herculaneum and Pompeii was purely decorative, nostalgic or sentimental.  Particular voices emerge strongly from the mass of writings inspired by these sites, and the particular closeness between present and past associated with the excavations allows several individuals to shape and develop unique political and intellectual arguments.  In this paper I will outline some of the main ideas and images that are characteristic of the eighteenth-century response to the excavation of Herculaneum and Pompeii, but I will also examine the way in which these broad ideas were echoed, altered or appropriated by individual thinkers, such as J.J. Winckelmann and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who used them to articulate innovative and expansive points of view.  I hope that this discussion will provide an opportunity to reflect on the diversity of the eighteenth-century reception of the ancient world; the scope and influence of early archaeology on disciplines other than antiquarianism, and the relationship between cultural and intellectual history in our own understandings of the past.

Collecting Cultures: the Eighteenth Century

Some news about a joint event being held by two of the UK’s other eighteenth-century centres.  The Birmingham Eighteenth-Century Centre (BECC) and the Warwick Eighteenth-Century Centre will be holding their joint annual workshop on Wednesday 29th May, 2013.  The workshop, on ‘Collecting Cultures’ will be held at the Heritage Hub, European Research Institute Building, University of Birmingham.  The programme and poster for the event can be viewed below.  Attendance is free, but please email the organisers by the 22nd May to book your place.

BECC 2013 Workshop Programme

BECC 2013 Workshop Poster