Past Events

Romanticism at the Royal Institution 


International symposium, Friday 7 June 2019, 14.00-20.00 

The Royal Institution of Great Britain, 21 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BS 

Speakers: David Duff, Frank James, Hattie Lloyd Edmondson, Seamus Perry, Sharon Ruston, Sarah Zimmerman

Founded in 1799, the Royal Institution became the home of science education and the site of scientific discoveries and technological innovations which changed the world. In its early years, this remarkable scientific agenda was accompanied by an equally impressive programme of literary education, as luminaries such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Campbell and Sydney Smith took to the lecture podium to dazzle the fashionable male and female audiences of London with the latest advances in literary criticism and aesthetics. Science, poetry and philosophy combined in the work of the ‘chemical philosopher’ Humphry Davy and his literary friends, making the Royal Institution a centre of Romanticism as well as a focal point of the thriving public lecture culture of the time. This half-day symposium with talks by leading scholars will restore the forgotten literary history of the Royal Institution and highlight its unique interdisciplinary contribution to British Romantic culture.

This event is free and open to everyone, including members of the public.

Click here for further details and to register for a free place

Organisers: David Duff; Sarah Zimmerman

Sponsored by the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar consortium, the Fordham Romanticism Group, New York, Queen Mary University of London and the Royal Institution, London


13.30  Registration

14.00  Welcome      

14.15  David Duff (Queen Mary University of London) Announcing Knowledge: Prospectuses at the Royal Institution

14.45  Hattie Lloyd Edmondson (Science Museum) Rulers of Opinion: Women at the Royal Institution, 1799-1812

15.15  Sharon Ruston (Lancaster University) Humphry Davy: Poet and Reader of Poetry

15.45  Tea and coffee

16.15  Seamus Perry (University of Oxford) Coleridge in the Lecture Theatre

16.45  Frank James (Royal Institution) The Very Young Humphry Davy

17.15  Sarah Zimmerman (Fordham University, New York) Thomas Campbell at the Royal Institution

17.45  Tour of Royal Institution (led by Frank James)

18.30  Wine reception and book launch

20.00  Finish



Exiles, Émigrés and Expatriates in Romantic-Era Paris and London

Avril 12 2018 Affiche exiles paris Londres2018 Paris Symposium of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar 
École Normale Supérieure, Thursday 12-Friday 13 April 2018

**Go to Publications page for free special issue of Litteraria Pragensia based on this conference**


(Scroll down for Introductory Statement/ CFP)
THURSDAY 12 April 

8h30: Welcome and registration (Amphithéâtre Jourdan, 48 Boulevard Jourdan)

8h45: Presentation Paris Symposium (Marc Porée, Paris director and David Duff, London director)


9h: Friedemann PESTEL (Albert Ludwig University of Freiburg)

Rien appris? Émigré children novels, French émigré schools, and the challenge of education in exile

9h45: Juliette REBOUL (Radboud University, Nijmegen)

‘There was little that we did not know from Cléry and other publications’: Circulation and reception of French emigrant literature in London (1789-1830)


11h: Paul HAMILTON (Queen Mary University of London)

Foscolo in London, Tom Moore on the road: Two uses of Romantic exile

11h45: Philipp HUNNEKUHL (University of Hamburg)

‘Alien citizen’, ‘unofficial statesman’, ‘Diogenes of Paris’: Gustav von Schlabrendorf and Henry Crabb Robinson’s transmission of his work

12h30: LUNCH

Salle Dussane, École Normale Supérieure, 45 rue d’Ulm


14h: PLENARY (1): Gregory DART (University College London)

Revolutionary transformations in Beethoven’s Fidelio



15h30: Emma CLERY (University of Southampton)

Mary Wollstonecraft’s Paris Address

16h15: Barbara WITUCKI (Utica College, New York) 

Frances Burney’s Napoleonic wanderer

17h: Stacie ALLAN (University of Bristol)

Articulating the experience of exile through English poetry: Germaine de Staël and Claire de Duras


FRIDAY 13 April

8h30: Welcome and registration (Room D035, Maison de la Recherche, 28 rue Serpente)


9h: Christoph BODE (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

Georg(e) Forster in Paris (1793/94)

9h45: Ed WEECH (SOAS, University of London) 

‘Paris to a stranger is a desert full of knaves & whores – like London’: Thomas Manning’s Romantic Europe, 1802-1805

10h30: COFFEE BREAK                             

11h: Dominic Aidan BELLENGER (Bath Spa University)

The exile of the French clergy in the British Isles, 1789-1815

11h45: Richard THOLONIAT (Le Mans University)

René-Martin Pillet (1762-1815)’s L’Angleterre vue à Londres et dans ses provinces pendant un séjour de dix années, dont six comme prisonnier de guerre (1815): a French Republican’s  jaundiced view of Britain?

12h30: LUNCH


14h: PLENARY (2): Rachel ROGERS (University of Toulouse)

‘Relinquish[ing] all former connections’: British radical experience in early revolutionary Paris



15h30: Alessandro PECORARO (University of Florence/ Paris-Sorbonne/ Bonn)

‘A double source of amusement in listening to him’: Ugo Foscolo’s last lecture in London

16h15: Pierre-Héli MONOT (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)

The overdetermination of origins: Romantic internationalism, Jewish statelessness, and interpretative exile



Of the émigrés returning to France after the fall of Napoléon and the restoration of the Bourbons, Talleyrand, the Prince of Diplomats, notoriously quipped: “Ils n’ont rien appris, rien oublié”; “They have learnt nothing, and forgotten nothing”. Characteristic and accurate as it may have been, that contemporary response falls far short of the complex truth of displacement, of which emigration, exile and expatriation are crucially emblematic components. Crucial but highly differentiated. Whereas the émigré has tended to be viewed as a coward or a traitor to his nation, bitterly vilified as such, at least in the French Republican historiography, the exile has frequently been invested with a heroic status, and construed as outshining other foreigners in view of the moral and symbolic superiority ascribed to him, rightly or wrongly. As for expatriates, they have tended to occupy a grey zone of their own, a no man’s land of definitions, as befits their condition of residence, provisionary or permanent, in a country that is not their own, with specific reference to the last decade of the eighteenth century and early decades of the nineteenth, in and out of Paris and London.

The first aim of the Symposium, therefore, should be to sort out the semantics of the triple-E triad present in the title. Other topical, and highly sensitive, terms of the day, such as refugees or migrants, should also be investigated in the large context of the nineteenth-century, “the century of exiles”, as postulated by Sylvie Aprile[1], but also the century of revolutions, leading to the emergence of a new figure, a “personnage conceptuel”, as it were (Gilles Deleuze), that of the political refugee. Secondly, we feel that the dominant ideological assumptions and axiological preferences cited above deserve a good amount of scrutiny, as to their real rather than alleged historical fairness. Thirdly, we intend to learn from what expatriates, exiles and émigrés no doubt did learn and remember. Our instinct, indeed, is that there is a vast lore or body of knowledge waiting to be explored, regarding the broadly cognitive dimensions of what it means, and feels, to find oneself cut off from, say Paris or London. If that implies giving the lie to Talleyrand, who served as French Ambassador to the United Kingdom from 1830-1834, so be it ! Whether the claim may be made, as has been contended by Richard Sennett, that there is virtually more to be won than lost from being a foreigner, like Alexander Herzen, a Russian aristocrat forced abroad because of his politics and perambulating the capitals of Europe (Rome, Geneva, Paris, London), with his bearings more or less randomly adrift, is something we will be wanting to look at very closely[2]. New forms of community were undeniably wrought from admittedly angst-ridden experiences such as exposure to others, loss of identity, separateness, segregation, ostracism, isolation, stigmatization; on the other hand, there were at least as many grievous memories of friends, relatives and prospects left behind as there were new opportunities and acculturations looming ahead.

Again, differentiation is of the essence: we will need to draw the line between temporary and permanent exile, the desire to return “home” or the resistance to that return, “inner émigré” (Seamus Heaney’s word, in 1975) and outer émigrés, the truths to be discovered in becoming a foreigner abroad versus the truths of place, belonging and rootedness. Differentiating between travelling and residing, moving freely through the country and being placed under house arrest, will also be of moot importance.

While it may very well intersect with widely explored issues such as location, dislocation, transculturality, transnationality, we are convinced that the topic of the Symposium leaves us plenty of room in which to navigate, manoeuver and draft an agenda of our own. That agenda will address the geography, the history, the economics, the sociology, the demography, the linguistics of, without forgetting the legal discourse on, exile, emigration and expatriation—on an individual basis as well as from the perspective of entire communities, small or large (the French in London[3], the Brits or the Greeks in Paris, the Italians, the Germans or the Swiss, etc.). So will it connect itself to the larger issue of Hospitality versus Inhospitality. Indeed, observing today the extent to which, for the refugees in Calais, Boulogne, Paris, London, it is truly a matter of life or death whether they will be crossing a border or not, finding a job or not, should bring us to rethink the relevance, yesterday, of terms such as “host culture” or “playing host to”, no doubt with a sense of greater urgency.

But we will certainly be encouraging papers seeking to explore the more explicitly literary and cultural implications and developments of the theme, across the period from 1789 to the post-1815 years and beyond. Of which here is a list, including, but not limited to:

— Publishing, writing, translating, studying, reading (from) abroad

— Semi-clandestine, semi-official trafficking in cultural goods (cf. Michel Espagne’s concept of « Transferts culturels[4] »)

— Displacement, exile, expatriation in novelistic prose (the character Charles Darnay, in A Tale of Two Cities), in drama and in verse

— Great men in exile (Chateaubriand or Stendhal, typically) and the anonymous many

— Gendered expatriation

— Exile and the rigours of proscription

— Europeans on the move as a cultural narrative of the Romantic age

— The poetics of the return of the émigré/ expat/ exile: (after the fashion of the “return of the ashes” of Napoléon Bonaparte to France, in 1840)

— Exiles and Place (cf. Stephen Cheeke, Byron and Place: History, Translation, Nostalgia, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)

— Hostility to, and welcome of, foreigners and foreign cultures

— Modes and manners of forced estrangement

— Specific émigré communities (the Germans, the Swiss, the Italians, etc.)


[1] Sylvie Aprile, Le siècle des exilés. Bannis et proscrits de 1789 à la Commune, Paris, CNRS éditions, 2010; “Europe and Its Political Refugees in the 19th Century”, by Sylvie Aprile and Delphine Diaz, translated by Kate Macnaughton, 18 April 2016

[2] Richard Sennett, The Foreigner Two Essays on Exile, London: Notting Hill Editions, 2017.

[3] A History of the French in London: Liberty, Equality, Opportunity, edited by Debra Kelly, Martyn Cornick, University of London, 2013. Cf. Juliette Reboul’s French Emigration to Great Britain in Response to the French Revolution, London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017.

[4] Michel Espagne, Michael Werner, Transferts. Les relations interculturelles dans l’espace franco-allemand (XVIIIe – XIXe siècles), Paris: Editions Recherches sur les Civilisations, 1988.

Scientific Committee

Prof Marc Porée (ENS Ulm, Paris)

Prof David Duff (Queen Mary University of London)

Prof Caroline Bertonèche (Université Grenoble Alpes/ Société d’Études du Romantisme Anglais)

Dr Laurent Folliot (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

Prof Jean-Marie Fournier (Université Paris Diderot)

Dr Sophie Laniel-Musitelli (Université de Lille/ Institut Universitaire de France)



Wordsworth: The French Connection


2017 Symposium of the London-Paris Romanticism Seminar

École Normale Supérieure, rue d’Ulm, Paris, Thursday 20 – Friday 21 April 2017


*** Go to Publications page to download a free special issue of Litteraria Pragensia based on papers given at this symposium. ***



(Scroll down for Introductory Statement/ CFP)


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13h30: Welcome and registration

13h45:  Presentation London-Paris Romanticism Seminar (Marc Porée, Paris Director/ David Duff, London Director)    Presentation SERA (Caroline Bertonèche, President)

CHAIR: Jean-Marie Fournier

14h: PLENARY (1)

Le romantisme français et l’Angleterre du XIXè siècle: une filiation inavouable

Pr. Alain Vaillant (Université Paris Ouest – Nanterre)


CHAIR: David Duff


Returning, Retrieving, Revising: Wordsworth’s Life Writing asWiederholungszwang (repetition urge)

Pr. Christoph Bode (LMU Munich)


Imagining the Difference: Prefigurations of Poststructuralism in The Prelude

Pr. Martin Prochazka (Charles University, Prague)


Translating Wordsworth into French

Pr. Marc Porée (ENS Ulm, Paris)

17h45: Refreshments

18h-19h: ROUND TABLE on The Prelude (French books, French translations…)


FRIDAY 21 April:

8h30: Welcome and registration

CHAIR: Laurent Folliot

9h: PLENARY (2)

“I took fire”: Wordsworth’s Sonnet War with France, 1802-1820

Pr. Simon Bainbridge (Lancaster University)


“Back turned, arms folded!”: Wordsworth’s Late Sonnets and the French Revolution Revised

Christy Edwall (New College, Oxford University)


CHAIR: Marc Porée


“Dreadful Satisfactions”: Literature, Sex and Revolutionary Violence in Wordsworth’s Letter to the Bishop of Llandaff

Pr. David Duff (Queen Mary, University of London)


Wordsworth and France, 1790-1924 and Beyond: A History of Incomprehension?

Dr. Laurent Folliot (Université Paris-Sorbonne)

12h45: Closing remarks

13h: End of conference



Under the deliberately provocative title of “The French Connection,” a series of propositions will be made by the organizers of the Anglo-French/Franco-English Symposium:

— that France was to William Wordsworth what Germany was to S.T. Coleridge, Italy to P.B. Shelley and Greece to Lord Byron. A “strange attractor”, in short. As well as a site of contradictions, where delinquency and propriety, misconduct and righteousness came to a head, leading to endless visions and revisions, visitings and revisitings, all subsumed under the general heading of Crime and Punishment.

— that to William Wordsworth (and Robert Jones), fresh from their crossing over to Calais, the July of the first Fête de la Fédération, in 1790, felt like Spring, as argued by Jacques Rancière in his Courts voyages au pays du peuple(Seuil, 1990), with “benevolence and blessedness / Spread like a fragrance everywhere, when spring  / Hath left no corner of the land untouched” (The Prelude 1850, l. 357-359)… To be followed by the autumn and the winter of disenchantment and radical disaffiliation. After claiming the equivalent of a flamboyantly Hugolian “Je suis la Révolution”, was Wordsworth not to retort : “Je n’ai jamais été la Révolution” ?

— that the French years of William Wordsworth are to be perceived as more than “years”;  they should be conceived of as a “Period”, decisively formative and pointedly characteristic, as in, say, the Blue or Rose Period of Picasso.

— that those years and months and days are far from having delivered all their secrets, of a private, emotional, sexual, political, public nature, virtually vindicating André Malraux’s controversial contention: “Pour l’essentiel, l’homme est ce qu’il cache : un misérable petit tas de secrets.” (Antimémoires)

— that France is an important landmark in the discussion of such a notion as “Wordsworth and Place”, along the lines of Stephen Cheeke’s Byron and Place : History, Translation, Nostalgia (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003)Likewise, we aim at availing ourselves of a broad field of enquiry known as “new geography” or “cultural geography”, which draws on a wide range of cognate disciplines and aims at a sustained rethinking of space and place, including “topo-biographical studies.” Translation studies will also be solicited, in view of the two recent translations into French of The Prelude: by Denis Bonnecase, in 2013, and by Maxime Durisotti, in 2016.

— that the long and short of Wordsworth’s trips to France (including the one in 1820, to Paris and the Musée du Louvre, where he met Annette Vallon [“Madame William”] and Caroline for the last time) has to do, essentially, with coming home. That the point of travelling is not how one goes abroad and what one discovers there–nor is it about how one talks about places one has never been to, as Pierre Bayard would mischievously argue. No, Wordsworth did go to France, but the problem is how did he go back to England, and in what state or condition ?

From which it follows that the Symposium will be exploring the critical relevance of five verbs of action, forming a sequence : Partir / Revenir / Devenir / Traduire / Trahir  // Leaving / Returning / Becoming / Translating / Betraying.

Only connect… the prose and the passion !


List of possible topics:

  • Wordsworth and Revolutionary France
  • Wordsworth and the French wars
  • The Prelude and its revisions
  • French translations of Wordsworth
  • Paris in the 1790’s
  • Wordsworth and Annette Vallon
  • Vaudracour and Julia
  • Wordsworth’s Continental tours
  • Emigrants and borderers
  • Wordsworth and Rousseau
  • Wordsworth and French literature
  • Wordsworth and French art (e.g. Charles Le Brun)
  • History of Wordsworth scholarship in France
  • Wordsworth and French literary theory


Scientific committee/steering group :

Marc Porée (ENS Ulm, Paris)

David Duff (Queen Mary University of London)

Caroline Bertonèche (Université Grenoble Alpes)

Laurent Folliot (Université Paris Sorbonne)

Jean-Marie Fournier (Université Paris Diderot)

Florence Gaillet-De Chezelles (Université de Bordeaux)

Pascale Guibert (Université de Besançon)

Aurélie Thiria-Meulemans (Université de Picardie)