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Sibylline Leaves: Chaos and Compilation in the Romantic Period

July 20, 2017 - July 21, 2017

Birkbeck College, University of London

20-21 July 2017

Keynes Library, School of Arts
43 Gordon Square, London

July 2017 marks the bicentenary of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poetry collection Sibylline Leaves and Biographia Literaria, which he had initially planned as an introduction to the poems. While Coleridge ennobles his poems through an allusion to Virgil’s Cumaean Sibyl, their ‘fragmentary and widely scattered state’ also evokes the cheap materiality of newspapers. From the prophetic to the everyday, through the high and low traditions of flying leaves, this conference focuses on the materiality of Romantic collections.

We welcome proposals on the metaphorical, material and political implications of the ‘leaf in flight’, and on the composition, publication and reception of romantic poetry in relation to a diverse range of collections and composite texts: miscellanies, anthologies and beauties, multi-volume or serialised fiction, magazines and newspapers, annuals and albums, common-place books and notebooks, catalogues and guidebooks, encyclopaedias and dictionaries. Revisiting 1817 in 2017 might also involve rethinking the connections between seemingly disparate texts and diverse media in the twenty-first century. How does poetry interact with the paratextual pressures and juxtapositions of these media and genres? What potential do digital tools and platforms offer for representing and reading these collections and tracing connections between them?

Plenaries and Speakers:

Professor Deidre Shauna Lynch (Harvard), plenary
Professor Seamus Perry (Oxford), plenary
Professor David Duff (Queen Mary, University of London), speaker
Dr Ruth Abbott (Cambridge), speaker

Contact email: sibyllineleaves2017[at]


July 20, 2017
July 21, 2017
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Birkbeck College, University of London
43 Gordon Square
London, United Kingdom
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Dr Luisa Calè
Marianne Brooker