Externally Funded Research
Stuart Robertson has received a three-year (2011-2013) Research Fellowship from the Swedish Research Council (VR) for his project "Victorian Enlightenment: The Encyclopædia Britannica ninth edition and the Victorian Knowledge Economy. This long term project explores how the ninth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannicacan be understood as a key knowledge text of the nineteenth century, one in which disciplinary identities are forged as well as controversies staged. This edition is noted for the range and importance of the articles contributed. Between 1875-89 under the editorship of Thomas Baynes and William Robertson Smith significant statements of contemporary science and thought were contributed by writers either already established or subsequently to become leading figures in a wide array of disciplines: James Clerk Maxwell wrote on ether, Lord Kelvin on elasticity and heat; Swinburne contributed an article on Keats while the psychologist James Sully wrote articles on aesthetics and dream; George Saintsbury wrote on Corneille. James Fraser’s article on ‘Taboo or Tabu’ formed the basis for his life’s work The Golden Bough.
Anna Swärdh received a two-year (2007-2008) Research Fellowship from the Swedish Research Council (VR) for her project "The Emulative Complaint: Imitation and Innovation in Late Elizabethan Complaint Poetry". The late Elizabethan narrative complaint poems portray women whose chastity has been compromised in more or less violent ways: often the heroine who complains about her fall from virtue has been raped or seduced by a powerful man. The best known of the complaints is Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece (1594).
By studying the late Elizabethan complaints within the frame of genre formation, this project aims to show that the emulative quality of the complaints is in several ways important for our understanding of them, as a group and as individual poems. A study of the poems’ awareness of each other; their competitive tone; their varied use of a recurring set of topoi; their borrowing or stealing passages from each other – to name a few components important to this study – will show that the group of texts is more varied than often assumed. The project hopes to show that the competitive context is helpful to our understanding of the texts’ differences in poetic complexity and narrative consistency, but also to our view on the moral status of the heroines. The poems’ sensationalist tendencies can be seen as working against the heroines’ claim to virtue, but the project hopes to indicate that there are differences between them; that we can rightfully claim that some are more chaste than others. Finally, the project aims to evaluate different theoretical and methodological approaches to (historical) literary texts in the light of its findings, thus broadening its relevance.