Centre for Studies in Literature

Historical Fictions and Fictions of History

CSL Annual Symposium 2010

A one-day, multi-disciplinary symposium investigating the nature and development of historical writing in the long eighteenth century, focusing on the unstable boundaries between fiction and history.

While Sir Walter Scott's Waverley (1814) has traditionally been taken, by Lukács and others, as the seminal instance of the historical novel, this conception has recently been challenged by critics such as Richard Maxwell, Katie Trumpener, and Michael Goode. Yet, extrapolating from Mark Salber Phillips’s work on generic developments in eighteenth-century history, the pressing need for further enquiry into the complex and varied nature of fictionalised history becomes evident. This currently under-researched body of work raises important questions about national identity, Britain’s relationship with Europe and the colonial world, the nature of modernity, and the role of culture. Our aim is to promote a detailed examination of historical fiction, and more generally to examine links between ideas of the fictional and the historical in the period between 1680 and 1830.

The Conference organiser is Dr Ben Dew, for the Centre for Studies in Literature and The South Coast Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Research Group. Please send all enquiries to: benjamin.dew@port.ac.uk 


  • Diana Barsham (University of Chichester)
    Indebted to his Daughter: ‘William Hayley’s Essay on History (1785) and the Female Subject in Late Eighteenth Century Historical Painting.’ 
  • Katherine Loveman (University of Leicester)
    ‘Fiction and History in Samuel Pepys’s Reading.’ 
  • Ben Dew (University of Portsmouth)
    ‘Wilkite radicalism and the uses of history.’ 
  • Sanja Perovic (King’s College London)
    ‘Sympathizing with the French Revolution: On the Lyrical Mode in History.’ 
  • Amy Culley (University of Lincoln)
    ‘“Prying into the recesses of history” in the work of Charlotte Bury and Cornelia Knight.’ 
  • David Owen (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
    ‘Defending the Nation from Jacobin “Decadence”: Jane Austen’s Lady Susan as a Call to Arms.’ 
  • Fiona Price (University of Chichester)
    ‘Ancient Liberties? Rewriting the Historical Novel: Thomas Leland, Horace Walpole, and Clara Reeve.’ 
  • Jane Rendall (University of York)
    ‘Christian Johnstone’s Clan-Albin (1815): a radical history of the Highlands.’
  • Gary Farnell (University of Winchester) ‘Marxian Gothic Bricolage.’ Dafydd Moore (University of Plymouth)
    ‘“Caledonian plagiary”: The Image and Meaning of Ireland in Macpherson’s Ossian.’