- Byron Society of America
The Byron Society of America has exciting news to report. Now in its forty-first year, BSA is entering its fourth incarnation – one that will position it strongly for the future by helping define what a literary society looks like in a digital age. Early in the fall, we moved our base of operation to Virginia under the leadership of newly elected BSA President Andrew Stauffer. Andy has served on BSA’s board for many years; we all know and admire his scholarship as well as his involvement with the international Byron community. Working with Andy is Vice President Peter Graham and a digital project team at Virginia Tech directed by Purdom Lindblad and David Radcliffe. The new leadership team is at work on interesting plans and creative opportunities for Byron Society members in the near future.
The Byron Society of America has come a long way since its founding on Byron’s birthday, January 22, 1973. In the early years, the Society was blessed with the presence of Leslie Marchand, who co-founded the Byron Society and who believed firmly in the important role the Society plays in keeping interest in Byron vital and ever-growing. Leslie was joined in his support of the fledgling American Committee, as it was then called, by other dedicated scholars such as Carl Woodring, Michael Cook, Robert Gleckner, James Houck, Ernest Lovell, and Paul Trueblood who paved the way for BSA in the profession and for the Byron Journal in their respective institutions.
Their support also assisted the Society in becoming an Allied Organization of Modern Language Association in 1973. At the inaugural MLA session, John Clubbe, BSA’s first chair, spoke on upcoming events in London and Greece celebrating the sesquicentennial of Byron’s death. In January 2013, the Society celebrated forty continuous years at MLA with a program conceived and chaired by Robin Hammerman, BSA’s Director of Membership and Academic Services, on ‘Teaching Byron’. Three papers were presented at the well-received session: ‘Electricity in the Air: Childe Harold III, Frankenstein, and More’ by Susan Wolfson (Princeton); ‘Sortes Byronicae: Don Juan par hasard’ by Charles W. Mahoney (Connecticut); and ‘Byron’s “Darkness” and Student Reception’ by G. Todd Davis (Kentucky State).
At its June board meeting, the BSA board took an important step to ensure that the history of the Society is preserved for future research. A grant was made to Drew University Special Collections Library, the home of the Byron Society Collection, to catalogue the archives of the Byron Society of America. Once the archive cataloguing is complete, a celebratory conference on ‘Collecting Byron’ will be held at Drew in April 2014. Those attending will have the opportunity to hear Jerome McGann deliver the ninth Leslie A. Marchand Memorial Lecture, to attend special sessions and a roundtable on collecting, to tour the Drew Special Collections Library, to enjoy a conference of Byron-inspired music, and, perhaps most importantly, to peruse an exhibit of highlights from the Byron Society Collection. Included in the exhibition are items from the collections of many beloved Byronists such as Leslie Marchand, Jerome McGann, Jacqueline [End Page 219] Palmer, Michael Rees, Janice Smith, Jacqueline Voignier-Marshall and Carl Woodring, to name but a few.
Another important step was taken in 2013 to preserve the history and programs of the Society. In 2014, the University of Delaware Press will be publishing a collection of the Marchand lectures, edited by Katherine Kern-berger and accompanied by a history of the Byron Society of America and the Byron Society Collection written by Marsha Manns.
It has been a remarkable year for the Byron Society of America as it articulates and preserves its history while creatively repositioning itself for the demands of the twenty-first century. As always, we look forward to the future with much anticipation.