BARS Blog

BARS Blog

News and Commentary from the British Association for Romantic Studies

Call for Papers: Byron Among the English Poets

Call for Papers – New edited essay collection: Byron Among the English Poets

Byron felt deeply that literary tradition mattered. Less wedded to notions of ‘originality’ and ‘genius’ than many of his contemporaries, he instead wrote passionately – and unfashionably – about the value of imitation, allusion, and a thorough acquaintance with past masters. He used poetic forms because he thought of them as embedded in historical moments and circumstances, and he wrote with other voices sounding in his head: Horace and Juvenal, Shakespeare, Milton and Pope amongst them. He was a fierce champion of poets whom he saw as having contributed most to sustaining the English tradition, and he could be correspondingly withering on the subject of contemporaries whom he felt were actively engaged in diluting it. Sometimes he felt attraction and repulsion in equal measure: for all the ridicule in English Bards and Scotch Reviewers and Don Juan of the ‘Lakers’, his writing would have looked very different without the powerful influence of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. Perhaps because of his own openness to the idea of being (for better or worse) part of a literary community, many nineteenth- and twentieth-century poets found points of contact with his writing. He was imitated both by writers who admired him as a Romantic lyricist and by those who felt ambivalent about their Romantic inheritance: poets ranging from Swinburne to Auden embraced and wrestled with the powerful sway of his writing, acknowledging the magnetism of his style by ambivalent acts of imitation, parody, and conversation.

Portrait of Byron by Thomas Phillips, c. 1813. (c) Newstead Abbey; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Our edited collection, Byron Among the English Poets, expands on previous work on Byron and poetic influence and carves out a number of paths for future work in Byron studies. It already has an impressive roster of contributors, including Bernard Beatty, Madeleine Callaghan, Anna Camilleri, Richard Cronin, Simon Kövesi, Tom Lockwood, Michael O’Neill, Fred Parker, Seamus Perry, Christopher Ricks, Diego Saglia, Jonathon Shears, Jane Stabler, Clara Tuite, Ross Wilson, and Sarah Wootton. Its editors, Clare Bucknell and Matthew Ward, are currently finalising its submission to Cambridge University Press and looking for a new contributor to offer a chapter on Byron and a post-1945 poet (or poets). The selected chapter will be c. 7000 words and may deal with any aspect of the literary relation between Byron and post-1945 poetry (chapters that focus on form and poetic style will be especially welcome).

For further information, or to submit an abstract of 250 words, please contact Clare Bucknell (clare.bucknell@all-souls.ox.ac.uk) and Matthew Ward (m.ward.1@bham.ac.uk). The final deadline for abstracts is 15th December 2018.