Byron’s Don Juan: Conception, Reception, Imitation
One-day conference, Saturday 7th December 2019
Commemorating the bicentennial of the publication of Don Juan Cantos I and II
Antenna Media Centre (Nottingham Trent University), Nottingham
Published anonymously in the summer of 1819, the first two cantos of Byron’s ‘satirical epic’ Don Juan provided the reading public with a work which self-consciously raised and challenged received ideas about fame, originality, and literary merit and was admired and reviled in almost equal measure. The first two cantos became an overnight sensation, inspiring countless attacks against their sexual and religious infidelities, the bitingly acerbic social and political commentaries, the horrifying burlesquing of scenes of death and destruction, and the generalised irreverence. While some were shuddering with outrage, others saw the significant commercial opportunities offered by Byron’s ‘Donny Jonny’, with parodies, musical adaptations, and ‘new’ Cantos flooding the market alongside the numerous pirated copies.
This conference celebrates the publication of the first two cantos of Don Juan.
Keynote speaker Professor Jerome McGann (University of Virginia).
Professor McGann, one of the world’s leading Byron scholars for over thirty years, is not only editor of Byron’s Complete Poetical Works, but has also written a huge range of critical essays and books on Byron and his poems.
His talk will be titled ‘Byron and his Language’. Although T. S. Eliot judged that Byron suffered from “an imperceptiveness to the English word”, the truth is rather different. Along with Wordsworth, he was a key agent for the most radical innovation that Romanticism brought to English poetry: making vernacular the stylistic norm. Wordsworth’s pronouncement — that there ought to be no “essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition” – named the decisive shift, but Byron drove that idea out further and in deeper. That’s why Virginia Woolf called Don Juan “the most readable poem of its length ever written”. Byron “discover[ed]”, she wrote, “what one has looked for in vain – a[n] elastic shape which will hold whatever you choose to put into it
Conference Fees & Registration:
- Students – £20.00
- Speakers – £40.00
- Byron Society Members – £40.00
- Non-Members – £60.00 (however non-members can purchase 2020 Society membership at the same time as the discounted registration fee)
Conference fees include coffees, lunch and a sparkling wine reception.
There will be a conference dinner after the reception, which includes 3 courses and the chance to win some excellent Byron prizes during our Byron Quiz. This is an optional extra, and will cost £30.00
There will be a trip to Newstead Abbey on the 8th of December, with bus collection at 10.30 am, a guided tour of the Abbey, and time to explore the gardens or visit the cafe, before we return to Nottingham at around 2.00 pm. This is an optional extra and will cost £30.00.
We are pleased to announce that this conference is organised in affiliation with BARS and Romantic Bicentennials