At 11 p.m. on 23 February 1821, in a small apartment overlooking the Piazza di Spagna in Rome, John Keats died in the arms of his friend and caretaker Joseph Severn. Several months later, Percy Bysshe Shelley published Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, one of the first of many poetic tributes written to commemorate Keats’s tragic demise. Now, on the 200th anniversary of Keats’s death, the Keats Letters Project presents a virtual, collaborative reading of Shelley’s poem.
Featuring readings by Suzanne Barnett, Brian Bates, Stuart Curran, Neil Fraistat, Sonia Hofkosh, Kamran Javadizadeh, Joyelle McSweeney, Anna Mercer, Lucasta Miller, Jonathan Mulrooney, Omar Miranda, Matthew Sangster, Sraddha Venkataraman, and Susan Wolfson. Plus, reading the poem’s final stanzas from the Keats-Shelley House in Rome, a special appearance from Giuseppe Albano (Curator, Keats-Shelley House).
If you were not able to join us for the event on February 23, you can now watch video of the reading (and the post-reading conversation):
Giuseppe Albano is Curator of the Keats-Shelley House in Rome, which features a library and exhibition space in the building housing the apartment rented by John Keats and Joseph Severn in 1820-1821. On display there is a fine collection of paintings and portraits, busts and miniatures, relics and first editions, literary manuscripts and letters from the museum’s permanent collection. Beginning today (23 February 2021), virtual panoramic tours with a live guide are now available. Learn more about the Keats-Shelley House here.
Suzanne Barnett is the author of Romantic Paganism: The Politics of Ecstasy in the Shelley Circle, and the co-editor (with Ashley Cross and Kate Singer) of Material Transgressions: Beyond Romantic Bodies, Genders, Things. She also serves as section editor, with Alex Gatten, Lenora Hanson, and Ross Wilson, of the Reviews & Receptions section of Romantic Circles.
Brian Bates is Full-Time Lecturer with a joint appointment in the English Department & Interdisciplinary Studies Department at Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo. His first-book Wordsworth’s Poetic Collections, Supplementary Writing & Parodic Reception was published with Routledge, Pickering & Chatto (2012). Recently he edited “Keats in Popular Culture,” a volume of Romantic Circles Praxis Series. He is currently editing a collection of essays for European Romantic Review celebrating the bicentennial of Keats’s 1820 Lamia volume and completing a monograph titled Keats’s Authorial Play.
Stuart Curran is Professor Emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania. He is the author of several monographs on romanticism and the romantics, including Shelley’s Annus Mirabilis: The Maturing of an Epic Vision and Poetic Form and British Romanticism. He is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to British Romanticism, general editor of the 14-volume Works of Charlotte Smith, and for many years edited the Keats-Shelley Journal and served as President of the Keats-Shelley Association of America.
Neil Fraistat is Professor Emeritus at the University of Maryland and currently serves as President of the Keats-Shelley Association of America. He has published widely on digital humanities, textual studies, and romanticism, including The Poem and the Book: Interpreting Collections of Romantic Poetry and (as editor) The Cambridge Companion to Textual Scholarship. He has also done extensive editing of Shelley’s work, including the Norton Critical Edition of Shelley’s Poetry and Prose, with Donald H. Reiman; the Complete Poetry of Percy Bysshe Shelley with Reiman and several others; and as Co-Editor of The Shelley-Godwin Archive, with Elizabeth Denlinger and Raffaele Viglianti. In 2018 he led the NEH-funded “Frankenreads” initiative, a national/international series of public programs and educational curriculum that culminated in a public reading of Frankenstein on October 31, 2018.
Sonia Hofkosh is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Tufts University and currently serves as Vice-President of the Keats-Shelley Association of America. She is the author of Sexual Politics and the Romantic Author and the co-editor (with Alan Richardson) of Romanticism, Race, and Imperial Culture 1780–1834. And she recently published an essay on Keats’s Isabella in the collection Material Transgressions: Beyond Romantic Bodies, Genders, Things (edited by Suzanne Barnett, Ashley Cross, and Kate Singer).
Kamran Javadizadeh is an Associate Professor of English at Villanova University and the author of the forthcoming book Institutionalized Lyric. His writing on the history of poetry and poetics has appeared or is forthcoming in journals including PMLA, Modernism/modernity, Arizona Quarterly, The Yale Review, and in several edited anthologies. His essay on Claudia Rankine, Robert Lowell, and the whiteness of lyric received the MLA’s William Riley Parker Prize in 2019. And he wrote an excellent essay for The Keats Letters Project, “Improper Time,” which focuses in part on the virtual collaborative reading of Shakespeare that Keats proposed to his brother and sister-in-law in his Dec 1818-Jan 1819 letter. (Kamran’s twitter account is also a must-follow for lovers of poetry!)
Joyelle McSweeney is Professor of English and Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Notre Dame. She is the author of nine books spanning many different genres and forms of poetry, prose, and drama, including the critical study The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults, and her most recent book of poetry, the double collection Toxicon and Arachne, featuring the sequence “Toxic Sonnets: A Crown for John Keats.” With Johannes Göransson, she founded and edits Action Books, an international press for poetry and translation.
Anna Mercer is Lecturer in English Literature at Cardiff University. She is the author of The Collaborative Literary Relationship of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley as well as several essays on the Shelleys and other romantic-era writers. She also serves as the Director of Communications for the Keats-Shelley Association of America, the Communications Officer for the British Association of Romantic Studies, and she works for the Keats House in Hampstead to support the delivery of their #Keats200 project.
Lucasta Miller is a biographer and critic who has worked as a literary and cultural journalist for The Independent and The Guardian, and contributed to a wide range of other publications including the Times, Economist, Financial Times, Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement. She is also the author of three books: The Brontë Myth, L.E.L.: The Lost Life and Mysterious Death of the ‘Female Byron,’ and most recently, Keats: A Brief Life in Nine Poems and One Epitaph. She is currently an Honorary Research Associate at UCL and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow.
Omar F. Miranda is Assistant Professor at the University of San Francisco. His work focuses in particular on the global romantic-era, and his research on romantic writing and culture has appeared or is forthcoming in journals including European Romantic Review, Keats-Shelley Journal, Romantic Circles, Symbiosis, and Wordsworth Circle. In 2019, he edited On the 200th Anniversary of Lord Byron’s Manfred: Commemorative Essays, a bicentenary Romantic Circles Praxis volume. He also organized a poetry reading at the 2019 NASSR conference, an event that helped to inspire the KLP’s reading of Adonais, and a tradition we hope to see continued at in-person conferences sometime in the future.
Jonathan Mulrooney is Professor of English at the College of the Holy Cross. He is the author of Romanticism and Theatrical Experience: Kean, Hazlitt, and Keats in the Age of Theatrical News. He serves on the board of the Keats-Shelley Association of America and is the Editor of the Keats-Shelley Journal.
Matthew Sangster is Senior Lecturer in Romantic Studies, Fantasy and Cultural History at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of the recent book Living as an Author in the Romantic Period, as well as essays on institutions, library practices, cultures of collecting and metropolitan imaginaries. He has also developed several digital resources, including Romantic London and Eighteenth-Century Borrowing from the University of Glasgow.
Sraddha Venkataraman is a PhD researcher in English Literature at Victoria University of Wellington. Her thesis focuses on expressive silences in the poetry of John Keats and John Clare. Read more about her thesis and her other research interests here.
Susan J. Wolfson is Professor of English at Princeton University and the author of numerous books and articles on romanticism and on Keats. These publications include the The Questioning Presence: Wordsworth, Keats, and the Interrogative Mode in Romantic Poetry, Romantic Interactions: Social Being & the Turns of Literary Action (with chapters on Keats), Reading John Keats, Romantic Shades and Shadows, and The Cambridge Companion to John Keats (as editor). She is also the editor of John Keats: A Longman Cultural Edition and The Longman Anthology of British Literature: The Romantics and Their Contemporaries (co-edited with Peter J. Manning), as well as several other editions of works by romantic-era writers including, Jane Austen, Lord Byron, Felicia Hemans, and Mary Shelley. Her contributions to the KLP can be read here, here, and here.