Romantic Web Communities

One of the great advantages we have as scholars is the opportunity to form communities beyond our institutions — not just at annual conferences in remote locales, but also in ongoing conversations on the web. These online communities are fora for scholarly dialogue and informal queries, requests for crowdfunding special projects and historical sites, and repositories of archival material. Here’s a brief roundup of selected sites, listservs, and communities available to Romanticists (and if you know of more, please get in touch!).
Academic listservs:
(1) NASSR List — the list of the North American Society for the Study of Romanticism (subscription required). The list is frequented by many major scholars in the field, but also graduate students and junior faculty; this is a particularly excellent resource for answers to obscure and arcane historical questions, and for links to major awards and opportunities in the field. Continue reading “Romantic Web Communities”


Support the NGSC at ICR2014 in Minneapolis! The following is a list of NASSR Graduate Student Caucus Members presenting this week:
Thursday, September 25:
2.30-3.45p–Romanticism Confronts Slavery Panel (Hall of Avenues I Room)
Deanna Koretsky (Duke U)–“Habaeas Corpus and the Politics of Freedom: Slavery, Sentiment, and Romantic Suicide” Continue reading “NGSC at ICR”

Why You Should Always Submit Proposals: My Surprising Experience at my First Conference

Meadowbrook Hall, Oakland University by Wm. Chris Rowland, II

As a second year graduate student this past fall, I found myself headed to the International Conference of Romanticism at Oakland University with few goals other than to make it through my panel without throwing up, and to not look like an idiot in front of my peers. The fact that I was even in the conference was a surprise, after all I had only submitted my paper proposal just inside the deadline that summer at the encouragement of my fellow Romanticists at Arizona State. “I don’t know if I’m even ready to submit to a conference like this,” I wrote in an email responding to their reminder of the upcoming deadline. I might not have been, but with the encouragement of Kent and Kaitlin I submitted anyway, and not soon after the first surprise came—I had been accepted. Thankfully the two of them had been as well, so I figured I would have at least two people at my panel in September. As the date of the conference approached, we made the group decision to not attend the official banquet largely due to financial concerns, and believing that none of us had a chance at winning the competitive Lore Metzger Prize, which went to the best essay read by a graduate student at the conference.
Well reader, I won that prize. Instead of learning this news at the banquet where I could have stood up and been recognized for my paper “The Undead Presence: Exploring Boundaries of Life, Death and Sex in ‘Christabel,’ ‘The Skeleton Priest,’ and ‘The Aerial Chorus’” by my fellow Romantic scholars, I found out via text message from Jacob while I was at an Irish pub down the street. I was lucky enough to have Kaitlin and Kent by my side at that moment to congratulate me, but the initial shock of that moment has yet to wear off. I am so honored to have won such a prestigious award not only because I was a second-year graduate student and that it was my first Romantic conference and first out of state conference, but because I wrote about something I am truly passionate about. Talking about the importance of walking, talking corpses in Romantic literature seems risky, but it paid off.
“So halfway from her bed she rose, And on her elbow did recline to look at the Lady Geraldine.”

The lessons I learned from this experience are significant, and I believe, important to share. First, if you are lucky enough to find a community in your university that encourages and supports you, listen to them. They might know of potential you do not see in yourself. I would not have even tried to be at ICR if it wasn’t for the kind (but firm!) push from Kent and Kaitlin to submit a proposal, and I would not have won the award for best graduate paper without the edits and suggestions given to me by the ASU 19th Century Colloquium. Peer review is good, honest peer review with your best intentions in mind is fantastic—and absolutely integral to succeeding in the academic field. Secondly, always submit a proposal. Even if you think there is no chance in hell that you will be accepted to present at that conference, or be asked to write a chapter for that book, do it anyway. Not only is it excellent practice, but it will also force you to be more confident in your ideas and get your name out there. When you get accepted (because you undoubtedly will with all those submissions), have your work critiqued by people you trust and respect. They will tell you the truth, strengthen your argument, and you will be better for it. And finally, write about what you love. Zombies and vampires and all the variations inside and outside of those categories might be a laughable topic at first, but I truly believe that if I had gone to ICR with anything else than that, anything other than something I am passionate about to the point of insanity, I would not have won the Lore Metzger Prize. So take those risks, submit those proposals—the outcome could surprise you.
Oh, and always fork over the money and go to the banquet.
Emily Zarka

Toward a Map of the International Conference on Romanticism 2012: “Catastrophes”

“[The] most common catastrophe, the end of life, may have already happened without our knowing it”

–Brian McGrath (Clemson U)

Two weeks prior to “Catastrophes,” the International Conference on Romanticism’s 2012 session, a hurricane had formed and began moving through the Caribbean with an East Coast trajectory:
10/25/2012 2:33 AM EDT, Updated: 10/26/2012 5:05 PM EDT
“Could a Hurricane Sandy, winter storm hybrid worse than the “Perfect Storm” of 1991 slam the East Coast just in time to ruin both Halloween and Election Day?”

Huffington Post

A catastrophe does not start.  Its beginning is not a fixed point in time and space.  A catastrophic event develops, unfolds, and emerges.  While the catastrophe eventually becomes identifiable, its obscurity is not suddenly contained.  The causes and effects of a catastrophe are impossible to register entirely:

10/27/12 11:10 PM ET EDT
“‘We’re looking at impact of greater than 50 to 60 million people,’” said Louis Uccellini…The rare hybrid storm that follows will cause havoc over 800 miles from the East Coast to the Great Lakes.”

Wayne Parry and Allen G. Breed, “Hurricane Sandy, Approaching Megastorm, Threatens East Coast

So how do we measure catastrophe?  Does the number of people involved determine an event’s ontological status?  Even when a catastrophe appears to impact a single person only, seemingly infinite multiplicities are required beforehand in order to arrive at the individual’s loss:
11/7/12 5:13 PM MST
Roger Whitson@rogerwhitson

Spilled my coffee in the airport. #dumb
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Catastrophe By the Numbers:
In Eighteen Hundred and Eleven: A Poem, Barbauld examines “a national loss that can only conceal the individuals who bear that loss themselves.”

—Erin Goss (Clemson U)

Catastrophes are events that can be experienced but only through limited means. Different representational systems, from language to infrared technology and from maps to numbers, supply the conditions for making manifest that which an individual human cannot readily “see.”
Ocean surface winds for Hurricane Sandy
This image shows ocean surface winds for Hurricane Sandy observed at 9:00 p.m. PDT Oct. 28 (12:00 a.m. EDT Oct. 29) (from
With the aid of a representation, humans convert an event into something it is not, something containable, accountable, and meaningful:
ICR 2012:  175 attendees, 147 papers, 5 plenary speakers, 2 absentees due to weather.
Weather for Tempe, AZ: November 8-11, 2012
Average Temperature: 79/55.
Average Precipitation: 0.02
Containment:  Once a catastrophe is converted, by way of a numerical system for instance, it becomes a representational thing over which humans can exert control:
11/9/12 12:53 PM MST
Bruce Matsunaga@BruceMatsunaga

@ICR2012 Please ask the MU to lower the thermostat in the Gold room!! #icr2012
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Accountability:  When a catastrophe is quantified, that conversion provides another way to represent the expenditure for an event.  It allows us to ask who—or what—pays the cost:
Conference registration fee: $140
Discounted fee for students & independent scholars: $80
Banquet: $50 (with cash bar)
Hotel Fee at the Twin Palms: $331.96/$80 per evening plus tax
Plane Ticket: $365 round trip
CO2 Impact: 1,928 lbs.
Meaning:  For decades, literary criticism has dismissed the numbers.  But like words, numbers are representations and they express meaning.  But when either words or numbers are used to represent a catastrophe and those involved, words and numbers can equally exclude the individuals represented in favor of their own proliferation.
After Catastrophes

“But when a scrap survives, disciplines come ‘limping back.’”

—Elizabeth Effinger (U of Western Ontario)

“A ghostly language can grow back over the damage.”

—Tristram Wolff (UC Berkeley)

Because catastrophes lack clear beginnings as well as endpoints, they cannot be represented by lines.  Lines, by definition, require two endpoints.  When winds gather together they form a storm, and when they scatter they leave artifacts in their wake.  The manifold tendencies of these artifacts presuppose the catastrophe that initially altered their courses.  Rather than reach an endpoint, a catastrophe transforms:
11/07/12 11:16 PM ET EST
“A nor’easter blustered into New York and New Jersey on Wednesday with rain and wet snow…inflicting another round of misery on thousands of people still reeling from Superstorm Sandy’s blow more than a week ago…Under ordinary circumstances, a storm of this sort wouldn’t be a big deal, but large swaths of the landscape were still an open wound.”

—Colleen Long and Frank Eltman, Huffington Post

So will a map of catastrophe look significantly different from a conference’s?  An old storm is embedded in the winds of a new one much like a conference picks up the conversations from the last.  The drift of arguments change and new topics gain emphasis, and yet, our function as scholars to preserve texts demands that the old data limp back into the dialogue, pending an apocalypse.  Events like conferences are not entirely cut-off from one another despite being punctuated by seasons, locations, and all the infinitesimal bits for which we cannot account.  Perhaps on a map, neither conferences nor catastrophes are lines with endpoints, but waves.
Many thanks to ASU and the conference organizers, Mark Lussier and Ron Broglio.
Congratulations to the graduate student essay winners:
First Place: Rebecca Nesvet (U. of North Carolina Chapel Hill), “Patagonian Giants, Frankenstein’s Creature, and Contact Zone Catastrophe.”
Second Place: Tristram Wolff (U. of California Berkeley), “Etymology and Slow Catastrophe: Tooke to Coleridge to Wordsworth.”

News Flash: Grad Pub Night at ICR!

Dear Romantic studies colleagues,
Greetings!  We’re very much excited about this year’s ICR conference in Tempe, and are writing to invite you to the first official ICR Grad Student Pub Night, jointly sponsored by ICR and the NASSR Grad Caucus, on Friday night (9 November).  We hope to offer additional networking opportunities, to form a more robust and connected graduate community within Romanticism studies, and not least of all to set aside some time to unwind, and catch up with friends. While the event is intended for current and recent graduate students, all are welcome.
We hope that you’ll join us at famous Casey Moore’s Oyster House (850 S. Ash Avenue, Tempe, 85281) around 9.00p. If you’d like to walk there together, we’ll be mustering at the Marriott lobby at 8.30p to walk to Casey’s via Mill Avenue.
Please feel free to forward any questions to the event’s onsite organizers, Jake Leveton ( or Kurtis Hessel (
See you there!
– The NGSC Co-Chairs and Board