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Dreaming Romantic Europe (DREAM)

Dreaming Romantic Europe (DREAM) grows out of ERA (European Romanticisms in Association). It brings together scholars, scholarly associations and museums devoted to the study and presentation of European Romanticisms in an excitingly new, pan-European, cross-disciplinary network. At its core are three workshops that explore Romanticism as a consciously trans-European phenomenon. Discussion will be focussed through the identification and consideration of iconic objects that epitomise or construct these aspects of Romanticism.

  • Consuming Romanticism (November 2018), Maison de Chateaubriand, Paris
  • Romantic Authorship (October 2019), Museo Byron, Ravenna
  • Romantic Media (June 2020), Dove Cottage, the Lake District.

The project is presenting these objects through a major new public-facing collaboration, a plurilingual online museum of European Romanticisms, RÊVE (Romantic Europe: The Virtual Exhibit). RÊVE is the core research output of DREAM’s activities. It is its central medium of cultural, intellectual, and creative exchange, collaboration, and experimentation; its principal mechanism for achieving impact both within and beyond academia; and a tangible, extendable project and legacy. It develops new ways of engaging academia, cultural heritage institutions, and the wider public with a new story of European Romanticisms. Its ambitions are to

  • display c. 100 objects
  • bring untouchable, fragile things out of store and up close
  • display the otherwise immovable
  • bring dispersed things into conjunction for the purposes of mutual illumination
  • show items from private collections rarely or never shown to the public
  • interpret lost iconic objects
  • narrate items in new technological formats
  • dramatise exhibits by releasing exhibits on anniversaries
  • include new creative responses to Romantic objects

As such RÊVE is both an experiment in collaboration and a collaborative experiment. It is intended to serve simultaneously

  • As a laboratory within which to experiment with the technical and rhetorical possibilities for the digital display of objects and the consequent development of ‘best practice’ including the possibilities of collaborative virtual exhibition
  • As a new, accessible, quality assured resource suitable for the study of Romanticisms at school and university level across European institutions, making important innovations and interventions in pedagogical practice
  • As a means of engaging museum-going and non-museum-going publics across Europe, building a sense of a wider European literary heritage, and encouraging further imaginary and actual touristic adventures.

In sum, our intellectual aims are to retrieve, revalue and re-present long-neglected transnational aspects of European Romanticisms as they emerged over the long nineteenth century. Through promoting conversation between very different traditions and institutions, we expect to stretch thinking about how best to think about, teach, and present European Romanticisms in the twenty-first century. The practical strategy underpinning this aim is to develop new pan-European professional and collaborative connections between academics and leading heritage organizations devoted to Romanticism. We expect in turn to produce the exchange of knowledge and ideas across national, linguistic, disciplinary, institutional and sectoral borders, and practical innovation and creative experimentation bearing on the futures of digital museum display and virtual visitor experience.