- The International Byron Societies 2011–2012
- Byron Society of America
The Byron Society of America welcomed 2012 in Seattle, Washington, with its 39th MLA programme, Lord Byron: Poetry in Manuscript, Poetry in Print. Gary R. Dyer of Cleveland State University chaired the session, where papers were presented by Alice Levine, Hofstra University, on ‘Indeterminacy and Method: Editing Byron’s Accidentals’; Michelle Nancy Levy, Simon Fraser University, on ‘Byron’s Social Readers and the Limits of Manuscripts’; and Gary Dyer on ‘Byron’s Hand’. A full report on the session by Katherine Kernberger (Linfield College) appears in this issue of The Byron Journal.
In April, Jonathan Gross organised a one-day conference at the DePaul Humanities Center to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. BSA’s President Peter W. Graham has provided the following account of the conference:
The conference began, appropriately, with a recitation of selected passages from the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. Then followed the first of the conference’s two keynote lectures, ‘Childe Harold and Pride and Prejudice’ by Professor Peter Graham of Virginia Tech. This comparative account looked at the two near-contemporary texts, both widely popular in their time, as ‘spurs to fantasy’, with particular emphasis on Childe Harold and Fitzwilliam Darcy, respective embodiments of the dark and the light sides of the spirit of the age.
After lunch, Lizzy Pournara from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, spoke on ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage: A Text of Bliss and Pleasure’. Drawing on Roland Barthes’s theory of the pleasure of the text, this paper considered the nature of readerly response to Byron’s treatment of history in the initial cantos. Next, Jennifer Finstrom of DePaul University presented ‘Beyond Spenserian Revision: Childe Harold’s Sojourn in the Castle of Indolence’. This study of form and genre assessed Thomson’s allegory ‘The Castle of Indolence’ and Byron’s poem as Spenserian imitations, the former a burlesque of trope and the latter a revision. Concluding the session, Tom Minogue of Virginia Tech looked at personal, practical, and literary aspects of the important, mutually beneficial relationship between Byron and the publisher who brought out Childe Harold in ‘Stones, Bones, and Spoils: Examining John Murray’s Correspondence Concerning Childe Harold’. The second session of papers began with F. Joseph Baerenz of Virginia Tech, who spoke on ‘Byron, Celebrity, and Mobility: Unmasking Childe Harold’, an exploration of how literary creation and self-creation interacted in the text that kicked off Byron’s ‘years of fame’. Sein Oh of the University of Illinois at Chicago offered a complementary account in ‘The Rise of the Byronic Narrator in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’, with particular emphasis on the hybrid nature of the skeptical narrator, who combines aspects of the author and the protagonist. After a discussion, Dr Christine Kenyon Jones of King’s College London gave the second keynote lecture, [End Page 201] ‘The Elephant in the Room: Byron, Bull-fighting and Other Animals’. This richly illustrated presentation considered Byron’s description of the Cadiz bullfight against the background of his more general lifelong relationship with animals and showed how the bullfighting scene reflects aspects of political and republican discourse in the poem’s post-revolutionary era.
Following the conference dinner, Professor J. Andrew Hubbell of Susquehanna University offered the conference’s concluding lecture, ‘Byron’s Nature: The Ecology of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage I & II’. Hubbell showed how the poem represents Athens and the surrounding landscape as an ecosystem and thus fuels both Byron’s passionate attacks on Elgin and his opposition to Eastern and Western imperialism in Greece.
Also in April, BSA was excited to announce that Jerome McGann had given his Byron papers to the Byron Society Collection at Drew University. The materials in Professor McGann’s collection are primarily of three general types. They include his working files for the OET Byron edition – his editorial materials, notes, and correspondence, as well as a selection of proofs of different volumes of the edition; a large set of facsimiles of Byron MSS and associated Byroniana; and a collection of scholarly and critical materials – books, pamphlets, editions, and catalogues – acquired and used in...