Welcome to the
Romantic Period Poetry Archive
Alexander Huber, Editor.
The Romantic Period Poetry Archive—or RPPA [Listen] for short—is a new, open access digital platform for global Romantic-period poetry — start your journey (almost) anywhere in the world! To fully participate in RPPA, i.e. to be able to create and attach contexts to texts, you need to be signed in.
RPPA is a rapidly prototyped and openly developed DH project, currently in public alpha. It will run from late 2020 to 2025, when it will have reached beta stage.
To do full justice to Romanticism as a periodic category [...], one must de facto be a comparatist [...] —Ben Hutchinson1
The Romantic Period Poetry Archive, or RPPA [Listen] for short, is a new open access digital platform of global Romantic-period poetry.2 It comprises a full-text poetry database and an open scholarship platform. RPPA embraces both traditional modes of scholarly research and output, such as the creation of scholarly editions, and digital modes of research and publication, such as computationally-augmented analysis, visualizations, network analysis, knowledge modelling, and more.
Comparative in nature, RPPA conceptualizes Romanticism as a global, deeply interconnected phenomenon. It embraces a Romantic Weltliteratur by bringing well- and lesser-known poets, their poems and contexts from all parts of the world into conversation, and thus encourages the telling of bigger stories. This “zooming out” not only brings texts, authors, languages, and cultures into conversation, but also highlights the (frequently non-linear) modes of transmission, circulation, and reception of literature (understood here in global terms as the expressions of a culture in a variety of forms). These matters will be considered alongside the conversations the texts enter into with each other, directly, or much more frequently, indirectly.
RPPA participates in movements that aim to address issues of scale in academic Romanticism by expanding the Romantic literary canon. Unrestrained by the limitations of traditional print publications, RPPA comprises various literary and non-literary genres of Romanticism from all nations throughout the long Romantic century.3 As a networked effort, RPPA links the literary practices, interrelations, and contexts of Romantic-period poetry. It connects these nodes reflexively as well as to various internal and external contexts.
RPPA is a 5-year, independently-funded research project. It will run from late 2020-2025. As with other projects conceived as long-term archival endeavours, all research outputs of the project will be preserved and made accessible indefinitely. RPPA is designed to be a networked effort: expressions of interest to connect with and participate in the project are welcome at any time. As of late 2021, RPPA has adopted rapid prototyping and open development methodologies. The project phase remains unchanged and will end in 2025, when the project will have reached beta stage. Regular updates about work packages, milestones, and the overall progress of the project will be posted on this website.
The expected outcome of this project is a fuller understanding, appreciation, and engagement with the poetry of the global Romantic period. As a project, RPPA prioritizes the idea of “wholeness” of an archival approach over analytical accounts of established narratives. Wholeness not in the sense of one grand or better narrative or history, but rather in acknowledging, collecting, and aggregating many individual stories in one bigger space. A space for the exploration of new contexts and the construction of new global texts4 that cast a fresh light on the seemingly familiar. This project provides that space.
The historical map used in this visualization is John Arrowsmith's The World, on Mercators Projection (London: J. Arrowsmith, 1844). While the original map centres on the Pacific region, it is Western/Northern-centric in other ways, not least with regard to its place of manufacture and its Mercartor projection. For georeferencing purposes the map has been aligned with the Web mercator projection, the de facto standard for maps on the web.
Poets are shown at their place of birth, unless it is unknown or the poet is generally associated with a country other than their birth country, in which case they are shown at the country's geographical centre. Images of the poets have been sourced from Wikimedia Commons.
While little more than a visual access point at the moment, our aim is to use maps and mapping as an analytical tool that facilitates multi-perspectival approaches, mitigates ambiguity and uncertainty, helps to consider and appreciate the evolution of national literatures and literary spaces alongside the world literary space portrayed on the world canvas, and benefits from the participatory nature of RPPA to arrive at more useful representations.
Over time, as the networks of contextuality on the world canvas become more apparent, we envision the emergence of dynamic maps at a higher levels of detail. We expect these to reveal more contexts and the inner- as well as extra-literary structures that underpin and facilitate the construction of global texts and will allow for a more detailed representation and analysis of their components and evolution.
As we map out, literally and figuratively spoken, the poetry of the global Romantic period, we address not only its temporal challenges, but also embrace the geographic, linguistic, and cultural diversity of the various stages of a global artistic phenomenon. We hope that by virtue of the project's historical focus on the Romantic period, its comparative focus on contextuality and the building of global texts, and its collaborative and participatory nature, the map can be useful as an emerging historical canvas for the poetry of the global Romantic period.
Despite every effort to include the most relevant figures of the Romantic period, a disclaimer needs to be issued regarding the inclusion or omission of poets. While "Romantic" itself is a notoriously "elastic" label (Michael Ferber's term) that includes "pre"-, "early"-, "proto"-, "high"-, "late"-, and "post"-Romantic incarnations, the scholarship that underlies much of the selection process is largely Western/Northern-centric and may have been superseeded within national contexts. In such cases, the editor would be grateful for any corrections and suggestions for additions and improvements.
Also, regretfully, for navigational purposes, country names and borders used in the map navigation correspond to present-day denominations and historical reality. We apologize for the resulting distortion and historical inaccuracy, and hope to improve this over time with the help of projects like OpenHistoricalMap as they evolve and mature.
This is an open invitation to academics, research projects, digital archives and repositories, and anyone with an interest in the literature of the Romantic period in any discipline to collaborate on RPPA. The project looks forward to welcoming partners at any stage to discuss collaboration or other forms of participation. Please do not hesitate to reach out:
Romantic Period Poetry Archive (RPPA)
Alexander Huber, Editor