Academic journal article The Byron Journal

'Byron and Women (and Men)' 2 May 2009 Nottingham Trent University

Academic journal article The Byron Journal

'Byron and Women (and Men)' 2 May 2009 Nottingham Trent University

Article excerpt

This splendid one-day conference (organised by the Newstead Abbey Byron Society, Nottingham Trent University and the Midlands Romantic Seminar) welcomed delegates from South Africa, Germany, Finland, the Czech Republic, America and China. As always at Byron conferences, the mixture of academics and non-academics was pleasant to witness.

The event was preceded by a sumptuous dinner at County Hall, which most of the participants attended. Those who did not missed an excellent floor show by Peter Cochran, the conference's academic organiser, and his colleague, Ruth Rogers, variously entitled Mad, Bad and Dangerous to Know and Byron was a Bastard. Using real letters from and to Byron, various poems and a dramatisation of Donna Julia's hilarious monologue from Canto I of Don Juan, the two performers gave us a fifty-five-minute dash through Byron's various affairs, heterosexual and homosexual, and the depictions of women (and men) in his work. Dr Cochran read with his usual vividness, and Ms Rogers' versatility at portraying so many different women on a second-to-second basis was startling. Her version of Susan Vaughan, the Welsh servant girl who betrayed Byron with his supposed catamite Robert Rushton, was especially funny. Not everybody approved of the show's anti-Byron ideology, however. One distinguished voice described it the next day as the 'Harriet Beecher Stowe event'.

The conference itself put more emphasis on 'Women' than on '(and Men)'. Caroline Franklin (Swansea) offered a thought-provoking plenary entitled 'Byronic in Spite of Themselves: Great Women Novelists', in which she showed how writers such as George Eliot and Virginia Woolf creatively came to terms with an initial dislike of Byron and the Byronic Hero. The conference then split neatly in two. One half heard Richard Cardwell (Nottingham) giving an excellent talk on 'The Male Gaze and the Oriental Tales: Specularisation and Appropriation', Jennifer Sarha (Leeds) speaking on 'Gender Dynamics in Sardanapalus' and Emily Bernhard-Jackson (Arkansas and Cambridge) presenting the intriguingly entitled paper 'Bi One, Get One Free: The Vexed Issue of Byron's Sexualities'. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.