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The British Association for Romantic Studies (BARS) was set up in 1989 by academics to promote the study of the cultural history of the Romantic period. Since then, BARS has organised biennial International Conferences at various locations across the UK, has published the BARS Bulletin and Review twice-yearly, and currently has more than 400 members.

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Romanticism and Heroism - BARS Postgraduate Conference, Leeds, 10th March 2007

BARS Postgraduate Conference
University of Leeds, 10 March 2007

Romanticism and Heroism

Call for Papers
I want a hero: an uncommon want
When every year and month sends forth a new one,
Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,
The age discovers he is not the true one;
Of such as these I should not care to vaunt,
I'll therefore take our ancient friend Don Juan.

Byron, Don Juan, Canto I, (ll.1-6)

As Byron complains, the Romantic period was awash with representations
of heroes and the heroic, though his lines also concede confusion in
what constitutes a true hero. Writers in the period invoke a rich - and
often contradictory - range of human ideals, whether characterised by
the primitive martial virtues and stirring bards of Macpherson's Ossian,
the virtuous heroine, inspired prophets, Wordsworth's vision of the poet
as 'the rock of defence of human nature', the personality cults of
Nelson and Napoleon, or Byron's celebrity and his development of the
Byronic anti-hero. By 1840, Carlyle's fascination with the central role
of the individual hero in history suggests that that the valorisation of
heroes is one of Romanticism's major legacies.

In /The Byronic Hero/, Peter Thorslev describes the Romantic period as
'our last great age of heroes', and regards the literary hero as the
bearer of 'the ethos of the age'. Yet the Romantic hero is often
represented as an ambivalent, nostalgic, or alienated figure and can
more properly be seen to encode the multiple, contradictory, and
competing ideologies and interests than the overarching spirit of the
age. A variety of writers and artists seek to promote, contest, and
redefine notions of heroism, from labouring class writers who wrest it
from its ideological affiliations with the elite, Christians who rail
against heroic idolatry, to women either enthusiastic towards or
critical of masculine heroism. The conference will examine the diverse
and complex roles and functions of the hero and the heroic in the
period, with the aim of determining what might constitute Romantic
heroism and what made it a distinct cultural and historical development

Topics might include, but not be limited to:

- Heroes of the Revolutionary wars
- The Romantic epic and the poetics of heroism
- Heroines
- Political heroes
- Genius
- Classical heroism
- Representations of the artist
- Heroes and heroines of Sensibility
- Female constructions of heroism
- Heroes and villains on stage
- Christian heroism
- Nationalism and heroism
- The literary critic as hero

Each paper will last 20 minutes. We welcome abstracts of 200 words,
which should be sent to: romantic_heroes_conference@yahoo.co.uk
Deadline for abstracts: 31st January 2007

Organising committee: Kerri Andrews (Leeds University) and David Fallon
(Oxford University)