The New Dryden: Poetry, Politics, and Society

Friday, October 27, 2000–Saturday, October 28, 2000
All Day

William Andrews Clark Memorial Library
2520 Cimarron Street

—a conference organized by Maximillian Novak, University of California, Los Angeles, and Jayne Lewis, University of California, Los Angeles

The year 2000 marks the tercentenary of Dryden’s death, and thus potentially the sealing of his status as a poet of old; both programs, though, are intended as testaments to his perpetual newness. Indeed, the conferences plan to conjure a poet with extraordinary powers of self-renewal-one of the happier corollaries, perhaps, of an imagination forged at a radically contradictory historical moment, or of a poetic voice both mixed and vigorous, authoritative and equivocal. In any case, the celebration takes as a compliment Samuel Johnson’s verdict that Dryden was “always another and the same” and brings together scholars whose papers, collectively, show just how many different Drydens were at work between 1660 and 1700. To explore the innovative Dryden from recent critical perspectives is to chart new directions in Dryden studies. To this end, one program (The New Dryden: Poetry, Politics, and Society) is devoted to Dryden’s relationship to the social and political emergencies of post-Commonwealth, late Stuart, and Williamite politics and society. The second program (“An Old Age Is Out”: The New Dryden and the Arts of the Restoration) places Dryden at the center of various cultural transformations, particularly in the realms of art and music. Treating the poet as shaper, gauge, and artifact of a society caught between old monarchy and new empire, ancient models and modern modalities, allows for the celebration of his exceptional relevance to today’s world on the cusp of epochs. For, as Dryden’s Secular Masque of 1700 observes: “an old Age is out,” and, as true lovers of Dryden, we embrace a “time to begin a new.”