"Lord Byron and Rights" (NASSR Special Session, Sponsored by The Byron Society of America)

full name / name of organization: 
NASSR, The Byron Society of America

Lord Byron was a passionate and life-long defender of people's rights. In the House of Lords he argued for the right of Catholics to be represented in parliament; in his personal correspondence he supported writers' claims to copyright over their own works; and in a decision that led to his death, he travelled to Greece to help the Greeks realize their right to become an independent nation. His preoccupation with rights extended to his poetic works, too. For example, in Sardanapalus, the misguided but well-meaning titular leader laments "To me war is no glory—conquest no / Renown. To be forced thus to uphold my right / Sits heavier on my heart than all the wrongs / These men would bow me down with" (4.1.5.505-8). Here, in but just one example from Byron's oeuvre, the poet demonstrates his keen understanding of the often relative nature of "rights" (for a king to retain his, he required war and conquest) and the personal price one had to pay to uphold them.

Complementing NASSR's broader theme of "Romanticism and Rights," we invite proposals that consider Byron's engagement with "rights." Submissions may include, but are not limited to:

Byron and the right to freedom of religion
Byron and the right to national independence
Byron and animal rights
Byron and authorial rights
Byron and the right to sexual and gender expression
Byron and the right to freedom of speech
Byron and the rights of the disenfranchised and poor
Byron and Eastern rights
Byron and female rights

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