2014 marks the bicentenary of the death of poet Edward Rushton (1756-1814), Liverpool’s most radical voice in the Age of Revolution. Rushton was an uncompromising abolitionist and antislavery fighter, as well as a champion of human rights at large. In a varied career, he also kept a tavern, became a bookseller, edited a newspaper, campaigned against the use of the press gang and, as a blind person himself, he initiated local efforts to support the visually impaired. Liverpool is planning to celebrate his life, writing, and legacy through exhibitions at National Museums Liverpool and the Victoria Gallery & Museum, a theatrical production of a specially-commissioned biographical play, new publications from Liverpool University Press, public lectures, and other events. To coincide with these activities, University of Liverpool, in association with Università degli Studi di Bari “Aldo Moro” (Italy), is hosting a two-day academic conference (14-15 November 2014) which aims to evaluate critically Rushton’s life and works, and foster a new sense of the Romantic and radical writing that emerged within his home town during the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
The conference is centred upon Rushton but seeks to encourage more generally the study of Liverpool during the period of his life, when the town emerged as a place of importance in an international network of trade in objects, ideas and cultures. The conference will seek to expand our understanding of the relationship between cultures of writing, reading, publishing, bookselling, journalism and education in Rushton’s Liverpool, and explore the role of imaginative writing in the formation of local, global and civic identities.
Confirmed speakers include: Professor John Oldfield (Director of the Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, University of Hull), Professor John Whale (University of Leeds), Professor Lilla Maria Crisafulli (Director of the Centro Interuniversitario per lo Studio del Romanticismo, Università degli Studi di Bologna), and Professor Paul Baines (University of Liverpool).
CALL FOR PAPERS
Submissions for 20-minute papers from scholars of all disciplines are invited on subjects including:
- the place of eighteenth/ early nineteenth century Liverpool and its writing within cultures of abolition, Romanticism, philanthropy, the maritime, scientific knowledge, radical politics
- Liverpool as capital of the slave trade, and its writing of slavery, abolition and empire; Liverpool’s abolitionists; women abolitionists
- Rushton’s contemporaries, in Liverpool (including William Roscoe and circle, Felicia Hemans, James Currie, William Shepherd, Hugh Mulligan, the Rathbones, Dr. Jonathan Binns) and beyond
- the transnational (and especially Atlantic) exchange of thought and things, from and to Liverpool during the period
- Liverpool’s emerging institutions and societies, and their role within medical practice, education, the commerce of letters, and cultures of reading and collecting
- The politics of genre and form in Romantic Liverpool writing: ballad, eclogue, lyric
- Theatrical culture in Romantic Liverpool
- Music and the fine arts
- Liverpool’s Black community and writing
- Liverpool bookselling, journalism, pamphleteering, and radical culture during the period
- Liverpool identities and spaces during the long eighteenth century
- Romantic towns, ports, and provincial networks
- Debating race, gender and class in Romantic Liverpool writing
- Rushton and disability studies: eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century practices and perceptions of disability
- Rushton’s legacy and the defence of human rights
- Influences and afterlives of Romanticism in Liverpool
Abstracts of around 250 words, together with a biography, should be sent to the organizers Greg Lynall, Franca Dellarosa and Alex Robinson via firstname.lastname@example.org, by 31st January 2014. Enquiries are welcome, and should be sent to the same address.
A forthcoming conference website will provide information about costs, accommodation, travel and registration.