Sunday 28 October 2012

'In Our Time': Romantic topics from the archives

While a lot of the programmes broadcast on BBC Radio 4 are only available to listen to again for 7 days, the 'In Our Time' archive is available indefinitely, and there's some really interesting stuff there for Romanticists if you're willing to trawl through the back catalogue. Covering variously authors, texts, themes, and events, each programme is a 45-minute discussion between Melvyn Bragg and a panel of three experts, and can provide a nice introduction to a topic with which you are unfamiliar. Even better, the webpage for each programme often features a short list of further reading which can be pretty useful.

Intrigued? Well, I've done all the hard work for you, and listed below a selection of programmes which are of interest to Romanticists, with some topics covering the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries more generally. The title of each programme is hyperlinked and will take you straight to the relevant 'listen again' page. You can either stream episodes or download them and listen to them where and when you want. Happy listening!

Romanticism: Key Topics, Texts, and People

The Romantics
A discussion of the ideals, exponents, and legacy of Romanticism.
Panel: Rosemary Ashton, Jonathan Bate, and Nicholas Roe.
First broadcast: 12 October 2000

The Later Romantics
An examination of the poetry, tragedy, and idealism of Byron, Shelley, and Keats.
Panel: Jonathan Bate, Jennifer Wallace, and Robert Woof.
First broadcast: 15 April 2004

Manuscript of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
A discussion of Byron's poem as both a snapshot of Europe at the beginning of the nineteenth century and an insight into the political and intellectual concerns of its author.
Panel: Jonathan Bate, Emily Bernhard Jackson, and Jane Stabler.
First broadcast: 6 January 2011

Lyrical Ballads
A discussion of the groundbreaking text by Wordsworth and Coleridge.
Panel: Jonathan Bate, Judith Hawley, and Peter Swaab.
First broadcast: 8 March 2012

The Prelude
Discussion of The Prelude, one of the greatest long poems in the English language.
Panel: Rosemary Ashton, Stephen Gill, and Emma Mason.
First broadcast: 22 November 2007

Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Wollstonecraft
A discussion of the life and ideas of the pioneering British Enlightenment thinker Mary Wollstonecraft.
Panel: John Mullan, Karen O'Brien, and Barbara Taylor.
First broadcast: 31 Dec 2009

William Hazlitt
A discussion of the life and works of the great essayist William Hazlitt.
Panel: Jonathan Bate, Anthony Grayling, and Uttara Natarajan.
First broadcast: 8 April 2010

Edmund Burke
Discussion of the eighteenth-century philosopher, politician, and writer Edmund Burke.
Panel: Richard Bourke, John Keane, and Karen O'Brien.
First broadcast: 3 June 2010

A discussion of Johann Wolfgang Goethe, the great German polymath.
Panel: Tim Blanning, Sarah Colvin, and W. Daniel Wilson.
First broadcast: 6 April 2006

An examination of the origins and significance of the eighteenth-century Gothic movement.
Panel: Chris Baldick, Emma Clery, and A. N. Wilson.
First broadcast: 4 January 2001

The Sublime
An exploration of the transcendental idea that took hold on the Age of Enlightenment.
Panel: Peter de Bolla, Annie Janowitz, and Janet Todd.
First broadcast: 12 February 2004

An examination of the ideas behind the eighteenth-century literary cult of sensibility.
Panel: Hermione Lee, John Mullan, and Claire Tomalin.
First broadcast: 3 January 2002

Contextual Topics

The Peterloo Massacre
An examination of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, a defining moment of its age.
Panel: Jeremy Black, Clive Emsley, and Sarah Richardson.
First broadcast: 15 December 2005

The Industrial Revolution
A discussion of the influence of the Industrial Revolution.
Panel: Lawrence Goldman, Emma Griffin, and Jane Humphries.
First broadcast: 30 December 2010

The French Revolution's Reign of Terror
A discussion of how the French Revolution descended into extremes of violence.
Panel: Tim Blanning, Mike Broers, and Rebecca Spang.
First broadcast: 26 May 2005

Other broadcasts which might be of interest:

Early Geology
Enclosures of the 18th Century
The French Revolution's Legacy
The Grand Tour

Sunday 21 October 2012

Keats, Wollstonecraft, and the Gothic: A Bumper Month for Romanticism Fans!

This month saw the publication of what is probably the most important book published all year for Romanticists: Nicholas Roe's superb John Keats: A New Life. Roe has previously published widely on Romanticism, including the monographs John Keats and the Culture of Dissent and Wordsworth and Coleridge: The Radical Years, and the excellent biography of Leigh Hunt, Fiery Heart. In John Keats: A New Life, Roe again demonstrates his great skill as a biographer, combining extensive and pain-staking scholarly research with a talent for story-telling which brings the details of Keats's biography to life.

Roe's Keats is not delicate and tragic, but a passionate figure who, Roe convincingly argues, was an opium addict, writing some of his best-loved poems while under the influence of this drug. Published by Yale University Press, John Keats: A New Life has an RRP of £25, but is currently available on Amazon for £18.29. A Kindle edition is also available for £16.46. Whether you're a dedicated fan of Keats or merely a casual admirer of his poetry, I really can't recommend this book highly enough.

If you couldn't make it along to Professor Sharon Ruston's lecture on Mary Wollstonecraft given to The Royal Society last month, you'll be pleased to know that a video and an audio recording of the talk have been put up on the society's website. In the lecture, Ruston argues that Wollstonecraft used her knowledge of contemporary science for a political purpose. Referring in particular to William Smellie's Philosophy of Natural History, Ruston makes a strong case for Wollstonecraft having been inspired by her reading of a number of works on natural history at the time that she was writing her Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792). At just under an hour long, this lecture is lively and engaging, and well worth making the time to listen to.

Villa Diodati: The property rented by Lord Byron during the summer of 1816
Finally, fans of the Gothic should take a look at the range of programmes which are part of the  'Gothic Imagination' series currently running on BBC Radio 4. The two-part adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula which was the Classic Serial this week was well produced and very gripping, so I'm looking forward to the first installment of the next two-parter in the series, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which is due to be broadcast on Sunday 28 October at 15.00. Both adaptations will be available to listen to again on the website.

Also part of this series was a 90-minute adaptation of the 1984 play by Howard Brenton, 'Bloody Poetry', which tells the story of Percy and Mary Shelley, Claire Clairmont, Lord Byron, and John Polidori in Geneva during the summer months of 1816. This was another great production on the whole, capturing the youth and passion of the circle of friends during that dark and gloomy summer. It's only available on 'Listen Again' for another 6 days, so catch it while you can!