Midlands Romantic Seminar 2021: ‘Burns, Satan, and the Sin of Rhyme’

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Online seminar: Matthew Ward (University of Birmingham): ‘Burns, Satan, and the Sin of Rhyme’

Wednesday 27th January, 17.30-18.45pm (GMT)

The Midlands Romantic Seminar is moving online for a series of talks in 2021.

You are warmly invited to the first of this year’s digital Midlands Romantic Seminar events. Matthew Ward (University of Birmingham) will deliver a paper on ‘Burns, Satan, and the Sin of Rhyme’ (especially fitting as the seminar falls in the same week as Burns Night!). There will also be a short Q&A after the talk.

Seminar abstract:

Matthew Ward’s talk will consider the ways that two of the chief influences on Burns’s creative life, the satanic and the sexual, are bedfellows and reveal Romantic ribaldry. Both sources of inspiration were discovered in his youth; both appear as mysterious, uncontrollable impulses that are not only depicted with humour but also suggest that, for Burns, comedy is drawn from and aligned with transgressive powers that are instinct with the making of poetry. Burns’s comic demonic is crucial to appreciating the distinctive character of his writing, but it also allows us to better appreciate the ways in which the ridiculous is aligned with the Romantic. Burns was no ‘Heaven-taught ploughman’ as we know. Though he played up to the image, he must have been tickled by it too, given how far from ‘heaven taught’ he liked to imagine his muses being. The laughter of Burns’s Satanism provides a vital contrast to the sublime, visionary company we have long associated with Romanticism. Encouraged by and combining the bawdier moments of Milton’s Paradise Lost with the supernaturalism of rural Scottish folklore, Burns’s comic demonic is something we would do well to take more seriously if not more solemnly as regards Romantic Satanism.

All are very welcome to attend. The event will run from 17.30-18.45pm (GMT) on Wednesday 27th January 2021, and will be held via Microsoft Teams. Registered attendees will receive a link to the event nearer the time. Please click here to register.