• Bibliography of British Travel Writing, 1780 - 1840: The European Tour, 1814 - 1818 (excluding Britain and Ireland)

      Colbert, Benjamin (Cardiff University: Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research, 2004)
      The acquisition in 1997 by Cardiff University of the English language version of the Corvey Microfiche Edition (CME) presented a significant opportunity for research into English literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. 'Romantic Textualities: Literature and Print Culture, 1780–1840' is a twice-yearly journal that is committed to foregrounding innovative Romantic-studies research into bibliography, book history, intertextuality, and textual studies. INTRODUCTION TO THIS ARTICLE: "In 1826, Mary Shelley recalled the Summer of 1814 as ‘incarnate romance’, when ‘a new generation’ of youthful travellers with ‘time and money at command’, yet heedless of ‘dirty packets and wretched inns’, ‘poured, in one vast stream, across the Pas de Calais into France’. It is estimated that some 15,512 British tourists and residents were present in Paris alone during 1815, while, at home, accounts began appearing in print. By 1817, the Edinburgh Review commented: The restoration of peace has, as might have been foreseen, produced a vast number of Books of Travels."
    • British women’s travel writing, 1780-1840: Bibliographical reflections

      Colbert, Benjamin (Taylor & Francis, 2016-07-29)
      Launched online in 2014, the Women’s Travel Writing database provides full and accurate bibliographical records for all the known books of travel published in Britain and Ireland by women between 1780 and 1840. This article critically and statistically reflects on these 204 titles, the authors who wrote them, and the patterns and trends that they suggest when considered together during the period in which women first gained a firm foothold in a genre traditionally considered men’s territory. The database reveals patterns of women writing on the generic borders between scribal and print culture, conforming to and manipulating rhetorical conventions in prefaces and advertisements (the “modesty topos”), while striking a balance between assertions of authorial independence and expressions of gendered reticence. Overall, the database reveals a sharp upward trend in the rate at which women published travel writings during the census dates, with 74 titles appearing in the 1830s compared to 5 in the 1780s. In considering the bibliographical nuances of women’s increasing presence in the travel writing marketplace, this article also poses questions about the insights and limitations of statistical approaches to cultural analysis.
    • Collected Satires III: Complete Longer Satires

      Colbert, Benjamin (London: Pickering & Chatto Publishers, 2008)
      British Satire, 1785–1840 is published in a 5 volume set. Despite the fact that Romantic period literary satire has received much critical attention, there has up to now been no scholarly collection devoted to this body of work. This set provides one, offering a representative collection of the verse satire published between the mid-1780s and the mid-1830s. It makes available a wealth of fascinating, rare and hitherto unedited material and provides the annotation necessary to a full appreciation of the complexities of the period's satire. The set also includes two important single-author volumes, the first scholarly editions of the satires of William Gifford and Thomas Moore, as well as lesser known and anonymous works.
    • Critical questions for WOLF: an evaluation of the use of a VLE in the teaching and assessment of English Studies

      Miles, Rosie; Colbert, Benjamin; Wilson, Frank (Centre of Excellence in Learning and Teaching, 2005)
    • From Domus to Polis: hybrid identities in Southey’s letters from England (1807) and Blanco White’s letters from Spain (1822)

      Colbert, Benjamin (Taylor and Francis, 2019-02-18)
      Robert Southey’s fictive travelogue, Letters from England, by Don Manuel Alvarez Espriella (1807), inspired several imitators, most importantly José María Blanco White’s Letters from Spain (1822). These works rejuvenate a fictional device popularised by Montesquieu’s Persian Letters – the “familiar stranger” – at a crucial juncture when British involvement in the affairs of Europe provoked a reassessment of pre-Revolutionary cosmopolitanism. The stranger as “home-interpreter” calls attention to an emerging emphasis in European Romantic thought on the contingency of freedom with hybrid, mobile identities, prefiguring the psycho-social-historical terrain in which Jean-François Lyotard and Dean MacCannell link modernity with travel and tourism. This essay argues that the Romantic figure of the foreign traveller expresses a condition of travel, reflecting Lyotard’s critique of human contingency in his essay, “Domus and Megalopolis.” Southey’s sympathetic stranger modulates a conversation with Wordsworth about the nature of modern subjectivity, historically contingent yet paradoxically liberated from historical particulars. Blanco White’s Letters from Spain demonstrates how displacement, emigration, and expatriation become refigured as conditions of the modern psyche, especially visible in moments of political crisis, when the cosmopolitan polis is immobilised by the myth of the domus.
    • “Our observations should not be disunited”: Collaborative Women’s Travel Writing, 1780-1840

      Colbert, Benjamin (Universite Blaise-Pascal, France, 2016-03)
      Before 1780, only ten books of travel by women had been published in Britain and Ireland, all by single authors if we discount the role of translators (two of the ten were translations from the French)1. After 1780, as the Database of Women’s Travel Writing (2014) demonstrates with statistical accuracy, women for the first time established themselves as a continuous presence in the travel writing market, increasing their output from 5 titles in the 1780s to 74 in the 1830s2. These figures include diverse travel genres, principally narratives, guidebooks, and letterpress plate books, but also travel-based storybooks for young audiences, digests, and collections. For the first time, we begin to see female travel writers experimenting with authorial roles such as co-author, contributor, editor, translator, abridger, compiler, letterpress writer, and illustrator. In other instances, women’s travel writing finds its way into print, sometime posthumously, only through the intervention of others, editors who overlay their own language, perspectives, and agendas, a form of collaboration to be sure, but not one that embodies the joint production some might associate with the term. Of the 204 titles covered by the Database, 47 (or 23 %) involve multiple authorial relationships, though only seven of these are jointly written works where authors have coordinated their writings with the aim of publication. This article and the taxonomic checklist that follows it explore in more detail the nature of and motivations behind authorial partnerships in the light of particular instances of them, addressing fundamental questions: What types of collaboration are there, and what are the conditions of co-writing? How is joint production presented textually and paratextually? How do men and women collaborators negotiate the gendered spaces and expectations of travel and travel writing?
    • Romantic Palingenesis, or History from the Ashes

      Colbert, Benjamin (Taylor & Francis, 2017-05-17)
      Palingenesis, or regeneration from decay, is variously invoked by eighteenth to early-nineteenth-century natural philosophy, psychology, mythography, and literature. Its currency derives from the Swiss-French scientist Charles Bonnet’s Palingénésie philosophique (1769), which conceives of natural history as repeated renewal after epochal catastrophes. Herder’s Über die seelenwanderung (1782) develops an idea of “natural palingenesis” as the internal “rebirth” of selfhood within memory despite physiological decay. Pierre-Simon Ballanche’s fragmentary magnum opus Essais de palingénésie sociale (1827-29) turned to political upheaval, locating the French Revolution within a process by which expiatory suffering gives birth to a new social order. Other writers looked back to alchemical experiments. Robert Southey reviewed these experiments in Omniana (1812) under the heading, “Spectral Flowers,” and still other writers explored the palingenetic properties of resurrected bodies and ghosts. In the light of this not altogether unified discourse, this paper will consider the more discontented, sceptical, at times satiric, strain within Shelley’s poetry, where beautiful idealisms of progressivist transformation do not entirely overcome the fact of death, decay, degeneration, and loss that is their substrata.
    • Shelley's Eye: Travel Writing and Aesthetic Vision

      Colbert, Benjamin (Aldershot, Ashgate Publishing, 2005)
      Percy Bysshe Shelley joined the deluge of sightseers that poured onto the Continent after Napoleon's defeat in 1814, and over the next eight years Shelley followed major travelling trends, visiting Switzerland in 1816 and Italy from 1818. Shelley's Eye is the first study to address Shelley's participation in the travel culture of Post-Napoleonic Europe, and the first to consider Shelley as an important travel writer in his own right. This book is informed by original research on a wide range of period travel writings, including Mary Shelley and Shelley's neglected collaboration, History of a Six Weeks' Tour (1817), in which 'Mont Blanc' first appeared. Fully responsive to the culture of travel, Shelley's travel prose and poetry form fascinating conversations with major Romantic travellers like Byron, Wollstonecraft, and Wordsworth, as well as lesser-known but widely read travel writers of the day, including Morris Birkbeck, Charlotte Eaton, and John Chetwode Eustace. In this provocative study, Benjamin Colbert demonstrates how the Grand Tour remains a vital cultural metaphor for Shelley and his contemporaries, under pressure from mass travel and popular culture. Shelley's travel prose and 'visionary' poetry explore motives of perception underlying travel discourse and posit an authentic 'aesthetic vision' that reconfigures social, historical, and political meanings of 'sights' from the perspective of an ideal tourist-observer. Shelley's Eye offers a new perspective on Shelley's intellectual history. It is also a timely and important contribution to recent interdisciplinary scholarship that aims to re-evaluate Romantic idealism in the context of physical, experiential, or material cultural practices. (Ashgate Publishing)