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The Intermedial Margins: Georg Forster’s notes for A Voyage Round the World (1775)
In A Voyage Round the World, Georg Forster describes Captain Cook’s second voyage to the Pacific, drawing on the journals of his father naturalist Johann Reinhold Foster and his own experience of working as his father’s assistant during the expedition. Forster’s work is one of several lavish volumes describing Cook’s journeys, including John Hawkesworth’s An Account of the Voyages (1773) and Cook’s own A Voyage Toward the South Pole (1777). I suggest that works were intermedial on many levels, displaying not simply a binary dialogue between text and image, but multiple interactions between a “main” text, images (engravings, illustrations, charts, maps) and paratexts (dedications, prefaces, introductions, glosses and notes). These volumes’ hybridic intermediality reflect their complex status as collaborative productions (involving artists, local guides, diarists and editors) drawing on different forms of visual representation and discourse (stadial history, natural history, travel writing, journalism) to represent distinctive geographies and cultures.
According to Nigel Leask, Forster’s Voyage is “in many ways a milestone for romantic period travel writing, establishing the principles which would increasingly be demanded from scientific travel writers over the next half-century”. I argue that one crucial principle is Forster’s creation of incisive footnotes in which he displays his scholarly mastery of relevant sources, explains technical terms, acknowledges important individuals in his professional network and proffers his scientific expertise on animals, climate and cultures. I claim that, by intervening critically in different discourses, Forster uses the empiricism and skepticism of his intermedial margins to establish an Enlightenment scientific authority that distinguishes his work from both Hawkesworth’s notoriously moralistic and inaccurate volume and Cook’s direct, nautical narrative.
 Nigel Leask, Curiosity and the Aesthetic of Travel Writing 1770-1840: “From an Antique Land” (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) p. 41.
Improving Literature: Words and Images in Humphry Repton’s Red Books
Book historians often repeat the truism that the technology of printing changed little between its invention in the West in the fifteenth century and the advent of steam printing in the nineteenth. While this may be accurate for printed text, it is not the case for images, where both the refinement of existing methods and the invention of new ones such as aquatint, mezzotint, and wood engraving accelerated the spread of printed images in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. These changes also enabled a greater integration of words and images in the form of illustrated books. This paper explores an important example of this integration in Humphry Repton’s gardening books. Repton was the leading “improver” of the early nineteenth century and heir to Lancelot “Capability” Brown. But unlike Brown, who presented his clients with relatively simple designs, Repton invented the form of the before-and-after overlay to illustrate his proposed changes, which he collected into “Red Books” narrating his plans for various estates. He also used these manuscript works as the basis for a series of printed gardening texts that similarly used the before-and-after design.
Given that many of Repton’s plans never came to fruition, he was as much an author as gardener. While he occasionally complained that he did not want readers to treat his works as “mere books of pictures,” he also recognized that the “slides” were integral to his reputation; as he noted, “one stroke of the pencil will often say more than a page with the pen.” In his various works, then, Repton alternated between media of transmission—print, manuscript, watercolor, engraving, soil, and stone—at times emphasizing the personalization and detail of his Red Books and at others the wider reach of his printed books. His works took advantage of improvements in the art of printing, particularly the use of aquatint, to illustrate the “improvement” that he hoped to implement in the landscape. The visuality and tactility of the books was essential to his theory of improvement as he argued for the interconnection of text and image, alongside the interconnection of nature and art, and human and environment.
Gothic Historicity and Queer Temporality at Anne Hamilton’s Fonthill Abbey
This paper examines the manuscript practises engaged by Lady Anne Hamilton (1766-1846) and her cousin Lady Mary Hamilton (1756-1816) in recording their respective experiences at William Beckford’s Fonthill Abbey and Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. It turns to the symbiotic relationship between text and image across manuscript culture, looking to poetry and prose, ink sketches and watercolour to uncover how such works were understood as important extensions of the gothic house experience.
Distant cousins, Anne and Mary Hamilton were both members of an elite circle that included Beckford and Walpole and regularly visited the houses designed and built by these men. This paper introduces previously overlooked manuscripts produced by these women to examine how dimension, movement and light within the buildings, and the textures, colours and histories of their contents, were all represented with striking vividness across a range of manuscripts used to negotiate complex, sometimes contradictory, identities as well as material and spiritual encounters. I propose diaries, commonplace books and journals as key documents in uncovering women’s reading of gothic sites in which ideas of temporality, historicity, queerness, hierarchy and alliance could be constructed, and argue for their value in recovering the marginal voices of women as antiquarians, collectors and critics.
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