Wales and the French Revolution Series

Locating Revolution:Place, Voice, Community


Aberystwyth 9–12 July 2012

This conference was jointly hosted by the Wales and the French Revolution Project at the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies; the Centre for Romantic Studies, Aberystwyth University; and the Department of English, Swansea University.

Keynote speakers: Professor John Barrell (York), Professor Claire Connolly (Cork), Professor Nigel Leask (Glasgow).

The conference explored the relation between geography (considered as place, landscape, cartography and real and imagined space) and change during the period of the revolutionary wars. In what local, localised forms did the European upheavals of the age manifest themselves? How were social, religious and political loyalties conditioned by particular landscapes and environments? What were the coordinates of loyalism and opposition in particular rural, regional, urban and metropolitan communities? The conference seeks to place ‘history’ in specific locations, mapping connections across Europe, the Atlantic, and the wider world. It also sets out to consider the dramatic material forms that Romanticism, revolution and reaction took at this time.

We enjoyed three fascinating plenaries. Professor Nigel Leask of Glasgow delivered a paper on ‘Politics, poetics and patronage: Burns’s Highland Tour of 1787’; Professor John Barrell of York gave a lecture entitled ‘ “I know where that is: the Place of Edward Pugh’; and Professor Claire Connolly of Cork discussed ‘War, Ireland and the national tale’. Over 40 international scholars gave papers on topics ranging from popular song and the architecture of London pubs to Gothic novels, landscape gardening and electricity – a fine reflection of the diversity of modern scholarly approaches to the period.

The conference ended with a select but hardy group of delegates undertaking a memorable trip to Fishguard in the lashing rain; this included a hair-raising scramble down to Carregwastad, site of the French landing of 1797, during which the flower of 1790s scholarship very nearly perished (we would, of course, have made a ballad about it if they had). Thanks to all who participated in the conference, and especially to Angharad Elias and Annie Carruthers for their superb organizational support.

To see the conference poster and programme on the University of Wales website click here.