McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts
Susan K. Howard
Gothic, Romanticism, Ballads, Supernatural, Femmes Fatales, Scottish Poetry
Anne Bannerman (c.1780-1829) spent most of her life in Edinburgh, Scotland and published three volumes of poetry in the early nineteenth century. For my dissertation, I have prepared the first fully-annotated critical edition of Bannerman’s complete works, including Poems (1800), Tales of Superstition and Chivalry (1802), and Poems, A New Edition (1807). A comprehensive introduction provides information on Bannerman’s life and background, and examines her work in the context of British Romanticism, the Gothic, Scottish nationalism, and the ballad tradition. Close-readings of the poems examine the ways in which Bannerman’s female narrators challenge early nineteenth-century conceptualizations of gender, particularly in regard to her depictions of vengeful femme fatale figures. Poems such as “The Spirit of the Air,” “The Mermaid,” “The Dark Ladie,” and “The Penitent’s Confession” feature female characters invested with supernatural powers, which enable them to harness occult forces, manipulate the natural elements, or return from the grave to punish those responsible for their deaths. Other poems such as “The Nun,” “The Murcian Cavalier,” and Bannerman’s melancholy sonnets highlight the limited choices afforded to women throughout history and include sharp critiques of the Catholic Church, the chivalric code, and the institution of marriage. A handful of political poems condemn Great Britain’s involvement in the Napoleonic Wars and highlight the effects of war upon the lives of widows, mothers, and veterans. In addition to her own poems, Bannerman was also an accomplished translator of French and Italian, and her translations of Francesco Petrarch, Antonio Allamanni, Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, and others are examined alongside a sonnet-cycle inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Finally, the edition features an appendix comprised of critical reviews, letters, and selections of poetry and prose from William Collins, Charlotte Smith, Joanna Baillie, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Matthew Lewis, Sir Walter Scott, and others. The edition also includes a list of textual variants for the material collected in Poems, A New Edition, an index of first lines, a bibliography, and four illustrations from the original edition of Tales of Superstition and Chivalry.
Heilman, M. (2017). The Complete Poems of Anne Bannerman (Doctoral dissertation, Duquesne University). Retrieved from https://ddc.duq.edu/etd/202