Featured December Course: Byron and His Circle

Autumn quarter is nearly over and the time to lug your book bags through the snow to Winter classes is just around the corner. But are you still opening and closing your Campus Connect account a million times each day, struggling to decide which courses to take? Are you hesitating to click that “enroll” button, afraid to commit to a quarter-long course?

Lord_Byron_coloured_drawingWell, students, there is no need to fret. If you have two weeks to spare this December, Dr. Gross’s special December course, Byron and his Circle, is sure to be a fascinating and wonderful opportunity to study the work of the peculiar genius Lord Byron and his eccentric pals. This is a not-to-be-missed, action-packed course, ladies and gents, and the perfect chance to learn about the quintessential “bad boy” of poetry!

Don’t believe me? Dr. Gross has provided The Underground with some interesting tidbits about who the Poetry Foundation calls “the most flamboyant and notorious of the major Romantics,” the Lord Byron, that are sure to peak your interest — and have all you undergrads out there rushing to Campus Connect today!

  • Byron died fighting for Greek independence and edited a journal called The Liberal before he left, introducing the word into the English language as a political noun. Many Greeks name their sons after Byron to honor his sacrifice in Messolonghi.
  • Byron’s “Don Juan,” an epic poem that is considered the finest long comic poem in the English language, argues that women seduce men, not the other way around, and is filled with references to his personal life — and “The Odyssey.”
  • Fellow Romantic poet Percy Shelley died in an accident while sailing a boat named the Don Juan, after Byron’s poem. Shelley could not swim and drowned in what some think was a suicide attempt, inspired by his jealousy of Byron’s increasing reputation.
  • Lord Byron’s friend, Leigh Hunt, kept the late Percy Shelley’s heart in a drawer before surrendering it to his widow, Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.
  • Speaking of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley is said to have written the masterpiece during a kind of scary story contest at the Villa Diodati — Byron’s summer home along the shores of Lake Geneva.
  • Poet John Keats, who lived to be only 25-years-old and yet is still one of the most well-known of the Romantics today, apparently enjoyed playing practical jokes. He was also known for his ever-changing mustaches and his small stature. He was only just over 5 feet tall!
  • Fiction writers might be interested to know that Benjamin Markovits (A Quiet Adjustment; Imposture) wrote a trilogy about Byron and his wife (taking the part of the much aggrieved Lady Byron in the controversy over Byron’s alleged incest with his half-sister, Augusta).
  • Tim Powers wrote several fantasy steam-punk novels (Stress of Her Regard) about a vampire legend related to a trip Lord Byron took to Turkey with John Cam Hobhouse, where he spent time visiting graveyards.
  • You can see why fiction writers are drawn to the lives of Romantics like Byron, Shelley, and Keats. See Edward John Trelawny’s Records of Shelley, Byron, and the Author, which we’ll also read in this class.

Still not convinced that Dr. Gross’s Byron and His Circle is the class for you? Students who take this awesome course may be able to use what they’ve learned to give a talk or present a Byron-related poem or story at the 9th International Student Byron Contest, which will be held May 21-25, 2014 at the Messolonghi Byron Research Center in Greece!

Join this class and become inspired. Visit Campus Connect today and sign up for ENG 328: Byron and His Circle!

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