UCLA logo Department of English
  Ian Newman

356 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame
IN 46556-5639
Tel: 574.631.7092

inewman (at) nd.edu


Eighteenth and nineteenth-century British literature; British popular radicalism; sociability in the Romantic period; British song; architectural history; visual culture.


Crown and Anchor
Arundel Street entrance of the Crown and Anchor tavern.
Thomas Hosmer Shepherd, 1852.

In my current book project, The Tavern: Literature, Politics & Conviviality, I argue that the tavern is the institution best suited to understanding the relationship between literature and politics in the years building up to and following the French Revolution, when new political and aesthetic identities were being configured. This is because the taverns of the period index – and thus in a historically concrete way embody – the period’s renegotiations of public and private space, self and community, seriousness and pleasure. As material manifestations of the ideologies that shaped physical assembly, taverns reveal the most important social dynamics underlying the transformation of literature from the Enlightenment narratives of the eighteenth century to the transcendental aesthetic premises of Romanticism.

Tavern Talk traces a revolution in metropolitan sociability, from the age of Boswell and Johnson when men could gather in taverns to cultivate an image of themselves as the leading figures of a masculine literary culture, to a time when this fantasy had been exposed as thoroughly unsustainable. I examine the increasingly suspect reputation of tavern talk from the debating societies of the 1760s, through the convivial poetry of Captain Morris in the 1780s, to the song-and-supper clubs of the 1820s and 1830s. The shift in literature’s association with the tavern produces, and is produced by the tavern’s uneasy relationship with politics, and in particular with the tavern’s association with seditious practices in the debates surrounding the French Revolution. In the years following the Fall of the Bastille, the once celebrated spaces of public and patriotic convivial assembly became associated with the conspiratorial whisperings of a radical community who were agitating for political reform.

Once literary tavern conviviality had been exposed as potentially seditious, a new concept of literature emerged that transcended sites of assembly and located inspiration in the mind of the poet. My examination of the tavern provides a new account of the development of the aesthetic premises of canonical Romanticism, while also arguing for the continued relevance of convivial assembly, and a poetry of physical presence that fell outside the new definitions of literature.

In addition to my work on the tavern, I am engaged in an ongoing online project to uncover the alehouses in which the London Corresponding Society met in the 1790s. This project can be accessed here.

I am also a visiting scholar at the King's College London project "Music In London, 1800-1851." This collaboration has resulted in a conference and an edited collection (in progress) on Charles Dibdin.



"Performing Sandman Joe: Meteropolitan Improvement and the Bawdy Ballad" forthcoming in Eighteenth-Century Studies.

"Moderation in the Lyrical Ballads: Wordsworth and the Ballad Debates of the 1790s" forthcoming in Studies in Romanticism.

"Edmund Burke in the Tavern," in European Romantic Review, 24.2 (April 2013): 125-148.

"Language and Landscape in Thomas Holcroft’s Anna St. Ives," in Re-Viewing Thomas Holcroft 1745–1809: Essays on His Works and Life ed. Miriam L. Wallace and A. A. Markley, Ashgate, 2012, 121-132.

Review of Anne Frey, “British State Romanticism: Authorship, Agency and Bureaucratic Nationalism,” BARS Bulletin & Review, 40 (July 2012): 45-6.

"Property, History, and Identity in Defoe's Captain Singleton," in Studies in English Literature, 51.3 (Spring 2011): 565-583.



Floor plan of the Crown and Anchor.