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Letitia Landon: The Poetics and Politics of the Page

Tuesday 2 November 2021, 4.30PM

Speaker(s): Emily Rohrbach, University of Durham

Publishing hundreds of poems in a relatively brief lifetime (1802-1838), Letitia Elizabeth Landon swiftly became a poet—and an editor—experienced enough with a variety of formats and the parameters of particular publications to be able to anticipate how her work would fall across the page in a particular gift-book or periodical. That meant she was able to manipulate the mise-en-page to poetic effect, even in cases where she was not serving as editor of her own work.

This talk aims to establish the plausibility of this necessarily speculative proposition and to explore what kinds of readings an attention to the interplay between poem and page makes possible. Revisiting assumptions about relations between manuscript and printed text that recent scholars have associated with the British Romantic period, moreover, this talk explores how Landon’s poetry develops a concept of collective literary making that relies on a community of writers and readers and a diverse textual ecology.

Others' manuscripts become the basis for Landon’s print aesthetic, which also welcomes readers into a making process to come. Methodologically, I draw on both formalism and book history to attend to Landon's play between poetics and format, where this perspective on the printed poem's place in the early nineteenth-century media environment comes to light.

Location: K/G07, King’s Manor