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Byron’s Don Juan: Conception, Reception, Imitation

December 7, 2019

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Byron Society LogoOne-day conference, Saturday 7th December 2019
Commemorating the bicentennial of the publication of Don Juan Cantos I and II

Keynote speaker Professor Jerome McGann (University of Virginia).

Professor McGann, one of the world’s leading Byron scholars for over thirty years, is not only editor of Byron’s Complete Poetical Works, but has also written countless critical essays and books on Byron and his poems. His keynote will explore Don Juan and the Romantic “revolution of the word”, considering Byron’s remarkable handling of what he called “my land’s language” in Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage Canto IV.

The Byron Society invite proposals for 20-minute papers on any aspect of Byron’s Don Juan relating to its conception, reception and imitation.

Published anonymously in the summer of 1819, the first two cantos of Byron’s ‘satirical epic’ Don Juan provided the reading public with a work which self-consciously raised and challenged received ideas about fame, originality, and literary merit and was admired and reviled in almost equal measure. The first two Cantos became an overnight sensation, inspiring countless attacks against their sexual and religious infidelities, the bitingly acerbic social and political commentaries, the horrifying burlesquing of scenes of death and destruction, and the generalised irreverence. While some were shuddering with outrage, others saw the significant commercial opportunities offered by Byron’s ‘Donny Jonny’, with parodies, musical adaptations, and ‘new’ Cantos flooding the market alongside the numerous pirated copies.

We are hoping to have one student panel alongside sessions with more established academics, and would welcome submissions from postgraduate students.

Submissions relating to any aspect of Don Juan are welcome, however papers connected with the first two Cantos are of particular interest. Suggested topics include but are not limited to:

  • Byron’s sources, influences and inspirations for Don Juan
  • Techniques, conventions and tropes used in Don Juan
  • The contemporary reception of Don Juan(critical reception, popular and working-class reception, male vs female reception, metropolitan vs rural reception, reception in Britain and other countries) and Byron’s response to this
  • Later critical and creative responses to Don Juan
  • Imitations and adaptations of the poem
  • Questions of ownership, piracy and anonymous publication
  • The poem’s place in Byron’s oeuvre with an especial emphasis on its continuing value in the modern era.

Proposals of no more than 300 words should be submitted by email to no later than Friday 30th August.

Selected papers will be collected for a special issue of the Byron Journal.

Conference fees will be £20 for Students, £40 for Speakers and Members of a Byron Society, and £60 for non-members.

For more details of the conference, please visit or email or

This conference is organised in association with BARS.


December 7, 2019
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