This project arises in part from the discussions of the ‘Institutions of Literature, 1700-1900’ network, during which it became apparent that the 1820s was a time of considerable growth in institutions, in terms both of numbers and of scale.  Following the final ‘Institutions’ workshop, the current project was launched to explore this issue further through placing it within the wider context of current work on the burgeoning cultural productions of an oft-neglected period.

This 1820s project is led by Matthew Sangster (University of Glasgow) and Jon Mee (University of York), along with an expert steering group comprising Jenny Buckley (University of York), Angela Esterhammer (University of Toronto), Porscha Fermanis (University College Dublin), John Gardner (Anglia Ruskin University), Kirsty McHugh (National Library of Scotland), Graham Hogg (National Library of Scotland), Ralph McLean (National Library of Scotland), Tom Mole (University of Edinburgh) and David Stewart (Northumbria University).

The project was pitched to the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) under the title ‘The Media Revolution of the 1820s’ with the following outline:

This project will address the hitherto-underappreciated media revolution that took place during the 1820s, accounting for a major lacuna in literary studies with considerable implications for our conceptions of the preceding and succeeding periods.  During the 1820s, literary culture changed fundamentally as the costs of printing fell dramatically, the speed of communications rose, mediating institutions expanded and technologies of expression proliferated.  In its first year, this network will bring together interdisciplinary scholars and institutional stakeholders to develop a proper account of these developments through collaborative discussions in person and online, culminating in an openly-accessible conference in Glasgow.  In the second year, we will draw together the network’s best research and develop this collaboratively over a series of workshops and public talks into an essay collection that will serve, along with the project website, as an enduring record of the network’s findings and a jumping-off point for further investigations.

The RSE kindly provided funding to support a project along these lines under their research networking scheme.  An initial meeting of the steering group in York on July 2nd and 3rd 2018 allowed us to refine the project’s terms of reference and let us compile the Call for Papers and the other information published on this site.  The project conference is scheduled take place on April 11th and 12th 2019 at the University of Glasgow.  It will be followed by two authors’ workshops – one in York and one in Glasgow – at which invited participants will discuss chapters of an edited collection, working these up in collaboration into a volume that addresses key developments during the 1820s, reconsidering the decade’s importance for histories of society, technology and culture.