Summer of 1816: Creativity and Turmoil

What a fabulous conference Summer of 1816: Creativity and Turmoil at the University of Sheffield was! Brilliant organisation by the wonderful Angela Wright and Madeleine Callaghan. I’m feeling that post-conference melancholy. Met some great new people and caught up with Adam James Smith, Hamish Mathison, Carly Stevenson, Kathleen Hudson, Kate Gadsby-Mace, Dale Townshend, Anthony Mandal, Anna Mercer, OGOM’s very own Matt Beresford (presenting on Byron and Polidori) and more (sorry if I’ve missed you off!), all lovely people and brilliant scholars. I missed many papers, unfortunately, but what I heard were great. The plenaries were eloquent and thought-provoking: Michael O’Neil explored the dialogic interplay between Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, Byron; Jane Stabler had us all unexpectedly moved over Mary and Byron’s manuscripts and the emotional turmoil behind Mary’s transcription of Byron’s poems; Jerrold Hogle‘s tracing of the shifting Gothic Image through the creations of this period was fascinating and full of the generosity that characterised the conference.

It’s so inspiring to be in a community of people from all over the world, fired with internationalism and mutuality, enthused with the value of literature, which, to me, is the highest manifestation of what makes us wonderfully, distinctively human, language. And in a parochial climate that reviles intellectualism and expertise, knowing that the Enlightenment spirit of polite rational discourse endures gives me hope.

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