Samantha Matthews: "From the Grande Chartreuse to The British Album"
- Date: –15:00
- Location: Engelska parken - Rausing Room
- Organiser: Department of History of Science and Ideas, and Department of Literature
- Contact person: Sven Widmalm, Paula Henrikson
Joint Seminar – The Higher Seminar in History of Science and Ideas and The Higher Seminar in Literature
Samantha Matthews, University of Bristol: "From the Grande Chartreuse to The British Album: albums, poetry and print in the Romantic period"
In the long nineteenth century, the album was a popular form of manuscript personal miscellany or scrapbook used to collect and arrange a variety of textual, graphic, and material contributions by the owner’s relatives, friends, acquaintances and, if she was well-connected, celebrities. Where scholars of British culture have noticed the album at all, it is stereotyped as a curious phenomenon of the 1820s, when satires on obsessive young women harassing male writers for contributions were a stock feature in magazines, and the Poet Laureate Robert Southey sardonically termed the craze ‘albo-mania’. However, this paper identifies the 1780s as the critical moment when album-keeping was first imported from the continent, and related manuscript practices of commonplacing, writing farewell inscriptions in visitors’ books, and creating personal miscellanies came to be identified specifically with the ‘album’ in Britain. This paper reconstructs the origins of ‘albo-mania’ through a reception history of the ‘Album of the Fathers’ at the Monastery of the Grande Chartreuse, the Jerningham family album at Cossey Hall, Norfolk, a Whig satire Extracts from the Album of Streatham, and a fashionable newspaper’s appropriation of the Grande Chartreuse inscriptions. It argues that this seemingly nostalgic revival of comparatively intimate scribal publication was also shaped by the demands and discourses of an increasingly dominant publishing industry bent on appropriating and repurposing the mores of manuscript culture for commercial and ideological ends.