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The Geneva Summer

May 21, 2016 @ 10:15 am - 4:45 pm

Romantic Bicentennial Symposium 2016
Organizers: Neil Fraistat and Andrew Stauffer, on behalf of the Keats-Shelley Association of America and the Byron Society of America
Local Host: Elizabeth Denlinger, on behalf of NYPL


The summer of 1816 witnessed one of the great collaborative convergences of English literary history, as Percy Shelley, Mary Godwin, and Lord Byron met at the Villa Diodati near Geneva and produced some of the most enduring work of the Romantic era, including Frankenstein.

Speakers will discuss the Shelley-Byron relationship, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the global contexts for the Geneva Summer, including the importance of the volcanic eruption in Indonesia that produced the punctuated climate change of the “year without a summer.” The symposium will conclude with a moderated roundtable discussion of the still vital and ongoing cultural reception of the 1816 summer and its literary productions.


10:15                       Welcome

Stuart Curran, President of the Keats-Shelley Association of America

Neil Fraistat, Vice President of K-SAA

Andrew Stauffer, President of the Byron Society of America

10: 30 – 11:30        Keynote Lecture:

Gillen D’Arcy Wood, University of Illinois
Gillen D’Arcy Wood was born in Ballarat, Australia, and is currently Professor of English at the University of Illinois. His research focuses on the British Romantic Age, climate and environmental history, and sustainability. His recent book, Tambora: The Eruption that Changed the World, published by Princeton University Press, reconstructs on a global scale the destructive climate deterioration arising from the massive eruption of Mt. Tambora in Indonesia in 1815, an event that spawned social breakdown, famine, and disease epidemics worldwide. Tambora has received global attention—from the Times, New Yorker, Economist, Wall Street Journal, and London Review of Books to the South China Morning Post, Shanghai Daily, and Japan Times—and was recognized in Book of the Year awards for 2014 by the Guardian, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and the American Society of Atmospheric Science Librarians.
Darkness Visible: Byron and Das Hungerjahr, Switzerland, 1816
The poem “Darkness” has long been misread as an apocalyptic oddity inspired by early modern literary sources. On this grand anniversary of its composition, Byron’s 1816 masterpiece now assumes its proper shape and scale: as a terrifying evocation of the humanitarian catastrophe unfolding around Byron and the Shelleys in Switzerland during “The Year Without a Summer,” and as the first true classic poem of climate change. This annual Marchand Lecture describes the meterological and social tumult of that year—its storms, food riots, and end-of-the-world cults—and how the gifted English tourists on Lake Geneva transmuted extreme weather and human tragedy into totemic works of verbal art.

11:30 – 12:45          Shelley and Byron

Moderator: Omar Miranda, New York University
Omar F. Miranda is a Mellon Fellow at the Department of English at New York University. His dissertation, Romantic Exile, argues that exile in the Romantic period was reimagined in both the public and literary spheres as a medium toward consolidating a global community. He has a forthcoming article in European Romantic Review, which proposes that Lord Byron’s celebrity, and the ways in which Byron sought to deploy it, was anticipated by Francisco de Miranda (1750-1816), the Venezuelan exile, adventurer, and revolutionary. His interests include eighteenth and nineteenth century literatures, global and diaspora studies, and Anglo-Hispanic comparative studies.
Jonathan Sachs, Concordia University
Jonathan Sachs is Associate Professor of English Literature at Concordia University in Montreal, and the author of Romantic Antiquity: Rome in the British Imagination, 1789–1832 (Oxford, 2010). He was a 2014–15 fellow at the National Humanities Center (Durham, North Carolina) and is the Principal Investigator of the Montreal-based research group ‘Interacting with Print: Cultural Practices of Intermediality, 1700–1900’.
Shelley and Byron in 1816: 'quick bosoms' and glaciers 'slow rolling on'
What does it mean to think about time and the movement of time at a particular time?  Childe Harold Canto 3, Manfred, and Mont Blanc all share a compositional moment and all think in various ways about time. Moving from the summer of 1816 to the year of 1816 and outwards to the Regency and the Romantic era, this paper asks about what a period of time looks like from different scales of time as a way of speculating about Romantic periodization in both senses, how the Romantics thought about historical periodicity and our sense of the period or era of Romanticism.
Madeleine Callaghan, University of Sheffield
Dr Madeleine Callaghan is a Lecturer in Romantic Literature at the University of Sheffield. Her research specialty is the poetry of Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Yeats. She has a monograph at press on Shelley’s letters and poetry (published with Liverpool University Press) and has published various articles and chapters on Romantic and post-Romantic poetry. She has been assistant editor for The Oxford Handbook of Percy Bysshe Shelley, edited by Michael O’Neill and Anthony Howe and, with O’Neill, is co-authoring the Blackwell Handbook of Romantic Poetry, to be published in the next year.
‘Uttered Charm’: The Poetry of Byron and Shelley in 1816
Byron and Shelley’s literary and personal relationship has attracted much critical discussion. Their meeting in 1816 was deeply significant for the development of both poets, and Charles E. Robinson encapsulates the nature of their association when he affirms that ‘Byron and Shelley’s letters to and about each other demonstrate the thoroughness of their literary association: in a very real sense, each was a student of the other, whose works he read, criticized, and remembered’. However, this paper will focus on the way in which their 1816 poetry reveals both poets deciding the direction in which their future work would progress. Both achieve poetic independence rather than co-dependence through their relationship as witnessed by the distinctive poetry produced by both over the course of the ‘Year Without a Summer’.Focusing on the Scrope Davies Notebook, the ‘Epistle to Augusta’, and Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage III, I will show 1816 to be the seminal year in Byron and Shelley’s poetic careers. Byron and Shelley become more distinctively unique poets in the light of their connection with one another. In 1816, Byron and Shelley wrote the poems that stand as manifestos for the type of poetics that each would continue to define and refine throughout their oeuvres.

12:45 – 2:15            Lunch

2:15-3:30                Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Moderator: Leila Walker, CUNY Graduate Center
Leila Walker (PhD CUNY) is a CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Lawrence University and former Research Associate for Shelley and his Circle. She works in both Romanticism and the digital humanities, and is nearing completion on her first book project, Romantic Touch: Ephemeral Gestures and Material Remains in British Romanticism.
Jerrold E. Hogle, University of Arizona
Jerrold E. Hogle is Professor of English and University Distinguished Professor at the University of Arizona.  A former President of the International Gothic Association and Guggenheim and Mellon Fellow for research – as well as a recent winner of the Distinguished Scholar Award of the Keats-Shelley Association of America – he has published widely on Romantic literature, literary and cultural theory, and the Gothic in many different forms.  His books include, among others, Shelley’s Process (Oxford UP), The Undergrounds of The Phantom of the Opera (Palgrave), and both The Cambridge Companion to Gothic Fiction and its recent successor, The Cambridge Companion to the Modern Gothic.
Frankenstein and the Gothic Image at the Villa Diodati
This talk will look more closely than any study has at what the Geneva party in 1816 read to each other — especially Coleridge’s “Christabel” and the Gothic tales in the Fantasmagoriana volume — and what Frankenstein in particular most drew from those readings.  I plan to argue that the most enduring form of the “Gothic image,” developed from Walpole through Radcliffe and Lewis, became even more crystalized in its symbolic power and range of reference as its manifestations in “Christabel” and the Fantasmagoriana both consolidated that figure and helped instigate the most suggestive Gothic image yet created in Western literature: the “monstrous” creature of many symbolic levels in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Anne Mellor, University of California, Los Angeles
Anne K. Mellor is Distinguished Research Professor of English at UCLA. She is the author of numerous books and articles, most notably Blake’s Human Form Divine (1974), English Romantic Irony (1980), Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (1988), Romanticism and Gender (1993), and Mothers of the Nation – Women’s Political Writing in England, 1780-1830 (2000). She has received many honors and fellowships, including awards for distinguished teaching at Stanford University and UCLA, two Guggenheim Fellowships, and the Keats-Shelley Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award. She is currently working on Mary Wollstonecraft’s influence on Jane Austen’s fiction.
Mothering Monsters: Frankenstein Then and Now
Why did Mary Shelley create her mythic story in June, 1816? How does it  resonate two hundred years later with debates concerning the origin and “improvement” of human life? This talk will explore the biographical and scientific origins of Frankenstein and the continuing relevance of the novel to discussions of germline engineering, “designer babies,” and CRISPR-Cas 9 technologies.

3:30 – 3:45            Break

3:45 – 5:00            Roundtable: how and why does the Geneva Summer still matter?

Moderator: Neil Fraistat, University of Maryland
Neil Fraistat is Professor of English and Director of the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) at the University of Maryland. He currently serves as Vice President of the Keats-Shelley Association of America, Co-Founder and General Editor of the Romantic Circles Website, and General Editor of the Shelley-Godwin Archive. Fraistat has published widely on the subjects of Romanticism, Digital Humanities, and Textual Scholarship in various essays and in the ten books he has authored or edited. He has been awarded both the Society for Textual Scholarship’s biennial Fredson Bowers Memorial Prize and the biennial Richard J. Finneran Prize; the Keats-Shelley Association Prize; honorable mention for the Modern Language Association’s biennial Distinguished Scholarly Edition Prize; and the Keats-Shelley Association’s Distinguished Scholar Award.

5:00 – 5:45            Reception to Follow


May 21, 2016
10:15 am - 4:45 pm
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New York Public Library, Trustees Room
5th Ave at 42nd St
New York, NY 10018 United States
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