Elma Dangerfield Prize 2023

Prof. Jerome McGann, John Stewart Bryan Professor of English, has won the Elma Dangerfield award for 2023for Byron and the Poetics of Adversity (Cambridge University Press, 2022).

The aim of the prize is to identify and reward new and original work related to the life and works of the poet Lord Byron. It is awarded to the best book (or, exceptionally, books) on Byron or a Byron-related topic published in any given year, according to the judgement of an Evaluation Committee appointed by the Joint Presidents of the IABS.

The Elma Dangerfield Prize committee in 2023 faced an enjoyably challenging and almost impossible task. Three outstanding books formed the shortlist:

- Jerome McGann, Byron and the Poetics of Adversity (Cambridge University Press, 2022)

- Bernard Beatty, Reading Byron: Poems-Life-Politics (Liverpool University Press, 2022)

- John Owen Havard, Late Romanticism and the End of Politics: Byron, Mary Shelley and the Last Men (Cambridge University Press, 2023).

However,Jerome McGann’s Byron and the Poetics of Adversity was awarded the prize on account of its dazzling originality, intellectual and historical breadth: ‘the gold standard of Byron scholarship’ as one judge expressed it. Concise, lucid and subtle, Byron and the Poetics of Adversity makes a compelling case for the political agency of Byronic poetic language. Revisiting his own earlier investigations into the relationship between the poetry of the years of fame and the ottava rima verse, McGann presents anew Byron’s perverse and adversarial encounters with artistic form, philosophy and system throughout his writing life.

Byron and the Poetics of Adversity is rigorous, stylish and occasionally polemical: it will transform our thinking about Byron’s rhetorical art.