An Evening of Nineteenth-Century Dreams for Nicola Bown – 15 June 2016

An Evening of Nineteenth-Century Dreams for Nicola Bown

Please join us on Wednesday 15 June from 6.30pm in the Keynes Library (room 114), Birkbeck School of Arts, 46 Gordon Square

The Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies invites you to an evening of dreams from the long nineteenth century dedicated to Nicola Bown, thanking her for her imagination and wishing her well in her new visions.

What to bring (optional): your favourite nineteenth-century dream text, dreambook, image, or music.

Hilary Fraser, Alison Smith (Tate), Lindsay Smith (Sussex), Victoria Mills (Cambridge/KCL), and Michaela Giebelhausen (Central St Martin’s) will deliver short talks, and the evening will be interspersed with nineteenth-century dream texts, images, music, and of course wine.

If you wish to read out a nineteenth-century dream text, image, or music, please email Luisa Calè (

For more information, please visit the Centre website.

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Birkbeck Forum for c19 Studies: next event Tuesday 23 February 2016

Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies
Spring 2016 Programme

When: Tuesday 23 February 7:30pm – 9:00pm
Where: Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

The next event of the spring term for the Birkbeck Forum for Nineteenth-Century Studies will feature Bethan Stevens (Sussex) presenting on ‘The Wood Engraver’s Self Portrait: the Dalziel Brothers 1839-1893’ on Tuesday 23 February 2016 from 7.30pm to 9.00pm in the Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD.

Abstract: The Dalziel Brothers were the dominant London wood engraving firm of the Victorian period. They had enormous cultural power at a key moment in history, and their output of around 54,000 prints published from 1839 to 1893 included everything from Dickens and Trollope illustrations to fitness manuals and Cadbury’s adverts. They produced many of the landmark images of the century, engraving all of John Tenniel’s designs for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books of 1865 and 1871, as well as numerous Pre-Raphaelite illustrations to Edward Moxon’s landmark edition of Tennyson’s Poems(1857).

In this paper I investigate the role of the Victorian wood engraver and their business of artistically producing someone else’s lines. Is this mechanics, or creation? From drawing to autograph, the line is a powerful element of the way we understand artistic identity. The line is essential to aesthetics; without it there can be no boundary, no form, no artwork. Curling into letters and forms, the line connects writing and the image. An expressive gesture, the line is what links the body of the artist – their hands and eyes in particular – with the artwork as object. Mainstream Victorian wood engravers such as Dalziel had the job of creating another person’s line, and according to common beliefs about artistic identity and work, this is a paradox, which undermines many of our assumptions about what lines mean in art. My aim here is to explore Dalziel’s activity of making the other’s line, and to find a new method for understanding the wood engraver’s supposedly mechanical labour in relation to the imaginative and figurative artwork it produced. I think through the unique kind of authorship this involved, examining the wood engraver as line-maker, self-portraitist, signatory, stylist, and as (disembodied) hand and eye for hire.

The session is free and all are welcome, but since the venue has limited space it will be first come, first seated.

Please email to join our mailing list or to obtain further information about the series.

For further information about the Birkbeck Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, see:

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Browning and Close Reading: A Workshop

‘To be compelled to look at a drama through a pair of horn spectacles would be a cheerful pastime compared with the ennui of tracing the course of Sordello through that veil of obscurity which Mr. Browning’s style of composition places between us and his conception’ (The Athenaeum, June 1864).

If you would like to indulge in such a cheerful pastime, please join us for a close reading workshop on Robert Browning’s poetry on Friday 11th December 2015 at the Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies, Birkbeck, University of London. There will be a session on each of the following four poems: Sordello, ‘Two in the Campagna’, ‘By the Fireside’, and ‘Caliban upon Setebos’. Speakers will offer a short reading of the poem and then open up discussion to the rest of the group. We have three speakers in each session, and the main focus of the day will be close reading as a group. The event will be chaired by Professor Isobel Armstrong (Birkbeck), Dr Clara Dawson (University of Manchester) and Dr Ana Vadillo (Birkbeck). Any enquiries can be addressed to

The workshop will take place in the Keynes Library at 46 Gordon Square, Kings Cross, London WC1H 0PD.

Registration will cost £25 to cover the cost of coffee, lunch and room hire and you can register at the following link:

Please register by 3 December to ensure your place.




Sordello: Matt Campbell (University of York)



‘By the Fireside’: Sarah Kremen-Hicks (University of Washington), Britta Martens, (University of the West of England) Andrew Hodgson (Durham University)



‘Caliban upon Setebos’: Jayne Thomas (Cardiff University), John Woolford (Independent scholar), James Williams (University of York)



‘Two in the Campagna’: Martin Dubios (Newcastle University), Suneel Mehmi (University of Westminster), Sophie Ratcliffe (University of Oxford)

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