Sunday, 12 August 2012

Wordsworth Summer Conference 2012



I've just returned from the 41st Wordsworth Summer Conference, a ten day annual event held in Grasmere. I had a fantastic time there attending papers, lectures, workshops, and excursions, as well as presenting my own paper - 'The Last Man and Romantic Archaeology' - and am very grateful to both the Wordsworth Conference Foundation and the University of Bristol's Churchill Fund for providing me with generous bursaries.

The quality of the papers and lectures was consistently high, but real highlights for me were Heather Glen (Cambridge) on Wordsworth's  'We are Seven' in the 1790s, Paula Feldman (University of South Carolina) on new poems by Mary Tighe, Oliver Clarkson (Durham) on 'The Mists and Winds of Michael', and Emily Stanback (CUNY) on 'Wordsworth's Admonishment and the Aesthetic of Human Difference'. Richard Gravil will once again be putting together of collection of the most popular papers and lectures of the conference, and I'll be posting a link to that on this blog once it's available. In the meantime, the 2011 conference proceedings can be purchased here in e-book format and here in paperback.

Every afternoon, as the fell walkers set out with their waterproofs and walking boots, I pulled on my pink wellies and opted for the decidedly less physical excursions on the minibus! As well as visiting Dove Cottage (by candlelight, a wonderful experience), it was also great to be able to explore two of Wordsworth's lesser-known former houses: Allan Bank (left) and Rydal Mount.

Allan Bank in particular was very interesting; I'd never been before, as it has only been open to the public for a few months following a fire at the property in March 2011. Wordsworth lived here with his family between 1808 and 1811, although it wasn't his favourite residence by any stretch of the imagination: he referred to it as a 'temple of abomination' when it was built! At the moment, much of the house remains undecorated, and a number of rooms are used as creative arts spaces. The National Trust - the owners of the property - are inviting feedback from the public concerning the future of the house, asking whether it should be restored or left as it is. I would definitely recommend visits to all three properties to visitors to the Lake District, as they all have something very different to offer.

A blog about the Summer Conference would not be complete without a couple of pictures of the badgers which visited the grounds of the hotel every evening - definitely one of my favourite things about my stay in the Lake District!




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