Andrew Stauffer on Marginalia
Sep 11, 2017
from 03:30 PM to 04:30 PM
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Garden of Verses: Poems, Flowers, and Nineteenth-Century Readers
In this talk, I want to lead you down the garden path, towards a consideration of pressed botanicals in books of poems and their relationship to Anglo-American verse of the nineteenth century – as written, as published, and as read. We are all aware of the pervasive involvement of poetry with botanical material, particularly in this era of Forget-Me-Not anthologies, post-Romantic nature poetry, and the cultural language of flowers. Drawing on examples discovered via the Book Traces project (http://booktraces.org), I argue that flowers made their way into books of poems in complex and revealing ways. Poets like Felicia Hemans and Jean Ingelow wrote knowing that floral, botanical practices were part of the field of reception; publishers and illustrators designed books that called them forth and echoed them; and readers engaged in this layered scene of reception as they meaningfully inserted blossoms and buds between the leaves. I hope to make the case for the value of these individual copies and the histories of female readerships they contain, particularly in our current moment of print collections management and the downsizing of libraries.
Bio: Andrew Stauffer is an associate professor of English at the University of Virginia, where he directs the Book Traces project and co-directs the digital scholarly collective NINES. He is the author of Anger, Revolution, and Romanticism (Cambridge, 2005), and the editor of works by Robert Browning and H. Rider Haggard. He has published widely on Romantic and Victorian poetry.