Earlier this month, the Reynolds Society took to the BAVS 2022 stage in the hopes of convincing a room of Victorianists that our discipline needs G. W. M. Reynolds.
One of only five single author panels at the conference (Reynolds shared this honour with Dickens, Gaskell, Hardy, and James), the Society’s roundtable established Reynolds’s place as a pivotal and influential nineteenth-century author.
‘Why Victorian Studies needs G. W. M. Reynolds’ was chaired by our very own Society President, Mary L. Shannon.
Mary also kicked off proceedings, beginning the roundtable with a stimulating discussion of Reynolds and Authorship. Mary addressed the complicated question of attribution when it comes to Reynolds’s writing, offering fascinating analysis of an 1843 text The Madras Comic Almanac.
Next up on the docket was our Postgraduate Representative Hayley Braithwaite. Speaking to the room on Reynolds and the City, Hayley’s paper addressed The Mysteries of London/The Mysteries of the Court of London and illuminated the ways in which the serial’s metropolitan setting is informed by, and itself informs, Reynolds’s political aims.
After traversing Reynolds’s London, Ian Haywood took the roundtable further afield. Presenting on Reynolds and Europe, Ian examined Reynolds’s republicanism and provided an overview of The Mysteries of London’s imagined Italian republic, ‘Castelcicala’. Ian also touched on many of the intriguing aspects of Reynolds’s fiction and journalism – including the frequency with which illustrations in Reynolds’s corpus fail to match up with the text they accompany.
Our penultimate speaker was the Society’s Secretary, Daniel Jenkin-Smith. Continuing the European theme, Daniel examined the relationship between Reynolds and Marx. Daniel discussed Marx’s critiques of Reynolds – including claims that Reynolds’s radicalism was financially motivated – and considered Reynolds’s response to the American Civil War.
The roundtable was concluded by Reynolds Society member, Stephen Basdeo. Stephen’s paper centred on Reynolds and Translation and explored the rich world of Reynolds’s international adaptations. Focused principally on the work of Brazilian author Juana Manso, Stephen discussed Reynolds’s influence on her 1854 novel Misterios del Plata.
The roundtable itself was followed by a lively Q&A session. The panel attendees asked our speakers a number of insightful questions, and initiated many captivating conversations. Our panellists were able to jump into discussions of how we keep up momentum in Reynolds studies, and explore Reynolds’s popularity (and subsequent obscurity).
All in all, BAVS 2022 was a wonderful experience for the Reynolds Society. We’re so thankful for those of you who engaged in talks with us during and after the roundtable, and hope that we were able to cast light on the scholarly potential of Reynolds’s oeuvre.
All of us here at the Reynolds Society would like to extend a huge thank you to the organisers of BAVS 2022 – not only for offering us the opportunity to present, but also for delivering such a wonderful programme.
We’re so grateful to have been able to share our love of all things Reynolds on an international stage!