Scattered Odes in Shattered Books: Romantic Poems in Victorian Anthologies

Date: 17 March 2016
Time: Noon
Location: 118 Alderman Library
Lecturer: Tom Mole - Reader in English Literature and Director of the Centre for the History of the Book, University of Edinburgh

This lecture will explore what Victorian anthologists made of Romantic poetry. Anthologies were privileged sites of reception, widely read in the Victorian period and embedded in educational and other institutional settings. They structured the leisure, education and self-culture of many Victorians, and cultivated reading habits and styles that ramified beyond the anthology’s pages. But when they reprinted Romantic poetry, anthologists encountered a problem: many Romantic poems were long, even epic, and did not fit the anthology format easily. As a result, anthologists were compelled to select, condense, abridge and excerpt. Drawing on a survey of over two hundred anthologies, and informed by a quantitative approach, this lecture reveals which poems by Byron, Shelley and Hemans were anthologised, how their longer poems were handled, how extracts from their works were framed by editorial paratexts, and how the editors’ choices shaped the Victorian reception of Romantic poetry.

Co-sponsored by NINES at the University of Virginia.