London-Paris Romanticism Seminar, Heidi Thomson, Friday 16 June 2017, Senate House, London


The final meeting of this year’s London-Paris Romanticism Seminar will be held on Friday 16 June 2017 in the Bloomsbury Room (G35) at Senate House, University of London, starting at 5.30. As our guest speaker, we are delighted to welcome Heidi Thomson, Associate Professor of English at the Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, who will present a paper entitled Coleridge and the Romantic Newspaper: Private Woes and Public Media. This will be followed by a discussion and a special wine reception to celebrate the success of the series and announce plans for next year. The event is open to all and admission is free.

Dr Heidi Thomson is the English Programme Director at Victoria University of Wellington and currently President of the Romantic Studies Association of Australasia. Her book Coleridge and the Romantic Newspaper: The Morning Post and the Road to Dejection was published by Palgrave in 2016. Forthcoming work includes a chapter about ‘Fanny Brawne and Other Women’ in John Keats in Context (CUP), edited by Michael O’Neill; a chapter about Keats’s Meg Merrilies and other muses in Keats’s Places / Placing Keats (Palgrave), edited by Richard Marggraf Turley; an essay about Seamus Heaney’s version of a Dutch poem by J. C. Bloem; and, co-written with climatologist James Renwick, a prologue to a book about Romantic Climates (Palgrave), edited by Anne Collett and Olivia Murphy.

Regarding the topic of her paper, Heidi writes:

‘My talk is about Coleridge’s almost compulsive staging of his private woes in the Morning Post newspaper between 1799 and 1802. On 4 October 1802, Wordsworth’s wedding day and Coleridge’s unhappy seventh wedding anniversary, the Morning Post published one of Coleridge’s most famous poems, Dejection. An Ode. The poem had started off as a verse letter addressed to Sara Hutchinson about the paralysing effect of his domestic unhappiness on his creativity. In its newspaper version the poem portrays Wordsworth’s happiness and status as poet against the backdrop of Coleridge’s own depressed state. The transition from the ‘private’ verse letter to the ‘public’ newspaper ode has been acknowledged for a long time, but little attention has been paid to Coleridge’s engagement with the Morning Post newspaper at the time. This talk sketches some of the background to Coleridge’s relationship with the Wordsworths and the Hutchinsons at the time, and it revisits the differences between the verse letter and the ode, highlighting that a clear-cut distinction between ‘private’ and ‘public’ does not really work with Coleridge’s poetry.’



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