EC/ASECS 2013 Conference Panels


EC/ASECS 2013 Conference

Panels Accepted for the 2013 EC-ASECS Conference, "Retirement, Reappraisal, and Renewal in the Eighteenth Century," Philadelphia, PA: November 7-9 2013

Please send abstracts of papers by June 15 to the panel chairs, Please also send copies to the conference chairs: Geoff Sill ( Doreen Saar ( or Peter Briggs ( Papers that are not accepted for the panel to which they are proposed will be considered for another panel, or a new panel.

Bibliography, Book History, and Textual Studies

This panel seeks papers that explore aspects of bibliography, book history, or textual studies. The term 'book history' is broadly conceived and includes issues of authorship, reading, publishing, literacy, censorship, illustrations, the book as a material artifact, libraries, and other forms of print such as periodicals, newspapers, tracts, ephemera, and the like. In keeping with this year's conference theme, papers that focus on book history within the context of retirement, broadly conceived, are especially welcome. Please send 250-word abstracts/proposals to Eleanor Shevlin ( While electronic submissions are preferred, submitters may also send hard copies by snail mail to Eleanor at 2006 Columbia Road, NW, Apt. 42, Washington, DC 20009.

Teaching the History of the 18th-Century Book

How and why do we incorporate the history of books into our courses? Papers on new approaches to teaching the history of the eighteenth-century book in courses for students from first year undergraduates to Ph.D. candidates. Any aspect of: books as material objects and commodities; the book trade; bibliographical methods; typeface and illustration; bindings and paper; collections, reprints and series, pirated editions; networks of publishers, printers, booksellers, circulating libraries, authors, reviewers, and readers; use of/access to print and electronic archives. Papers might focus on course, unit, or lesson/assignment design but should also go beyond simply describing course elements to reflect on pedagogical methods, reasoning, theoretical assumptions. Please send abstracts to: Lisa M. Wilson, SUNY College at Potsdam,

The "Empty Nest" in the Eighteenth Century

The phrase "empty nest" generally refers to the situation that obtains when parents, retired or almost retired from their jobs, find that their children have also moved out. Some parents have found the experience liberating; others feel bereft of a sense of purpose. Some have sold their houses, downsizing, moving to warmer climes, embarking on adventures and expeditions that they couldn't undertake while they were burdened with the responsibilities of parenthood. Others, however, while in the act of figuring out what to do with their newfound freedom, found themselves saddled again with parental, even grandparental responsibilities as their children, unable to find a job or reeling from some other mishap, find themselves returning to the parental nest for support, emotional and financial. This panel seeks papers that would look at the way the empty nest scenario played itself out during the long eighteenth century. Please send 250-word abstracts of papers to Frances Singh at

Translation, Textual Transposition, and Transnational Poetics in the Eighteenth Century

This panel invites submissions on translations of eighteenth-century texts, translation practices, and acts of textual transmission and transposition (for instance in the rendering, appropriation, and adaptation of discourses or motifs of retirement). It aims to foster the exploration of the dynamics that underpin cultural exchange and the ways in which these dynamics are captured linguistically, stylistically, and ideologically through the medium of translation. It is hoped that translation will be understood as a transnational cultural practice in which all actors trade their identities and their desire to transform, at least to a degree, the strange into the familiar. The panel aims to complement the practices of literary history by devoting special attention to the mechanisms of appropriation that facilitate the reading in one country of the translated (and frequently adapted) literature of another. 300-word proposals for papers should be sent to: Professor Sandro Jung, Department of Literary Studies (English Studies), Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, B - 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Email:

Eighteenth-Century Poetry, the Sister Arts, and the Landscape Garden

This panel invites papers that focus on the eighteenth-century landscape garden and its associated literary cultures. While William Shenstone's ferme ornée, The Leasowes, is one of the best examples of a landscape literally inscribed with the poetry of its owner, few studies of the interrelatedships of sister arts such as poetry, painting, sculpture, and music in their performative contexts at landscape gardens have been produced. The panel organizer encourages proposals on individual poets' responses to gardens in the eighteenth century, owners' projects of creating literary-architectural-symbolic landscapes, the performance of poetry, sculpture, and painting at individual gardens, and how these media in their various interrelationships promoted different conceptions of retirement, privacy, and history. 300-word proposals for papers should be sent to: Professor Sandro Jung, Department of Literary Studies (English Studies), Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, B - 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Email:

Eighteenth-Century Book Illustration and the Formation of the Literary Canon

This panel invites paper proposals on the illustration of literature and the ways in which the interpretive matrixes of what Peter Wagner terms the "iconotext" contribute to a narrative of interpretation that shaped the formation of the literary canon. The panel seeks to contextualize the economic and publishing-/branding-related aspects of book illustration and aims to embed the production and consumption of book illustrations within the contexts of the commodification of print objects and the expanding eighteenth-century reading public. Diachronic studies of the illustrations of one and the same text are as welcome as discussions of elite (in the form of the furniture print) or cheap print visual renderings of literary texts and their relationship to illustrated series of literary works. 300-word proposals for papers should be sent to: Professor Sandro Jung, Department of Literary Studies (English Studies), Ghent University, Blandijnberg 2, B - 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Email:

The retirements and reappraisals of the American founders: Washington, Franklin, Jefferson, Hamilton, and all others

George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton all retired several times before they reappraised their lives and moved on to new ventures.

Having served as commander in chief of the Continental Army, Washington "retired" from his post in 1783 to return to his life as a farmer and planter on Mt. Vernon, a moment that led to his contemporaries and historians to refer to him as Cincinnatus, the Roman general who did the same rather than seek to establish a tyranny; he "retired" again in 1787 at the end of the Constitutional Convention once the framers sent the new document to Congress to pass along to the states for ratification; he "retired" in 1797 after serving two terms as President of the United States to tend to his estate; the following year, he was called into service, though only momentarily, during the Adams administration as commander in chief of an expanded army when it appeared the United States would go to war against France; his retirement was complete the following year at his death.

The same was true for Franklin whose "retirements" can be easily catalogued: he "retired" at age 42 as a full-time and the most successful American printer; he "retired" from scientific inquiries to become a diplomat, first representing in London his Pennsylvania colony, then a total of four, and then the United States in an massive effort to foster reconciliation (he left Britain in 1775 discouraged but slightly hopeful war could be avoided); thinking he was again "retired," he found on his return he was elected to the Continental Congress and then went on to Paris to persuade the French to support the Americans, both militarily and financially, in their separation from the Empire; he returned in 1785, again "retired," only to be elected to the Constitutional Convention; he died three years later.

Jefferson's "retirements" were fewer than those of Franklin. And yet, he too "retired" after he drafted, with Congress's editorial changes, the Declaration of Independence, only to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates and then governor of the state in 1779; he "retired" in 1781 after a special committee exonerated him and his Council for having fled a British invasion of Virginia, specifically Monticello; the U.S. government then called him into service as the second American Minister to France, succeeding Franklin from 1785 to 1789 when he returned to the United States; hardly "retired," on his arrival, he learned that Washington had appointed him the first secretary of state, a position he reluctantly accepted and remained in until he "retired" at the end of 1793; he ran and lost the 1796 presidential election but secured enough votes to become vice president under John Adams; two years later he "retired" to Monticello, fed up with Adams and his policies toward France, though he nominally remained vice president; after winning the presidency in the disputed and contentious election of 1800, he like Washington served two terms, and then "retired" to found the University of Virginia, which opened in 1823, three years before his death on July 4, 1826.

Finally, Hamilton, perhaps one of the most successful "Wall Street lawyers" of the eighteenth century, served, as did Washington and Franklin, on the Constitutional Convention though he hardly spent any time there; he then recruited James Madison and John Jay to promote ratification through the publication of the Federalist Papers and became the first secretary of the treasury, only to "retire" again to his law practice in January of 1795; when war with France seemed imminent in 1798, he persuaded Washington to take him on as his second in command, and Adams appointed Hamilton major general, only to have to "retire" yet again when diplomacy succeeded in ending the threat. In June of 1804, the vice president shot and killed him in the famous duel at Weehawken, New Jersey.

Other American founders who might be of interest: John Adams, John Dickinson, Patrick Henry, John Rutledge, Gouverneur Morris, Thomas Paine, or anyone.

Send 250-word abstracts for papers to: Jack Fruchtman, Towson University,

Renewing Interest in the Gothic: Reaching and Teaching Today's Readers

How do we make early gothic literature accessible and meaningful to modern students? In the age of fast-cut feature films, immediate gratification and casual sex, how can authors such as Walpole, Radcliffe and Reeve, with their implausible effects, meandering scenes, and heavy-handed morality, captivate our students? Perhaps you are pairing 18th century works with modern day gothics? Perhaps you are focusing on multi-generational anxieties? Perhaps students are using media to explore and recreate pivotal scenes from early gothics? Papers welcome on pedagogical perspectives and insights about any gothic work(s) from 1764 until the early 1800s. Please send 250-word abstracts to Sharon Decker:

Renewal, Replenishment and/or Destruction: conceptualizing the theatrical performance in eighteenth-century France

This panel encourages participants to explore the effects of theatrical performance on spectators, actors, and/or authors in eighteenth-century France. Writers of the early-modern period conceptualized theatrical performance in a variety of different ways, including but not limited to: dangerous moments of uncontrollable contagion; emotional periods of self-improvement; ephemeral doses of aesthetic pleasure; deeply cognitive and enduring acts of learning.

Participants in this panel should feel free to interpret the topic from any critical method or discipline. For example, papers could focus on the reception of one specific play at one specific venue, examine one play across multiple venues and decades, study an entire genre of plays, analyze the theoretical underpinnings of performance during the period, utilize contemporary research from cognitive science, philosophy, and/or biology, or employ any other disciplinary/critical approach.

Possible guiding questions of analysis might include, but are certainly not limited to:

Send 250-word abstracts to: Logan J. Connors, Bucknell University,

Science and Medicine in the 18th Century

Send 250-word abstracts to: Lisa Rosner, Stockton College, or

Samuel Johnson and 18th-Century Reappraisal and Renewal

This panel will examine the two themes "reappraisal" and "renewal" within the long 18th century and specifically in relation to the works of Samuel Johnson. In which of his writings does Johnson invoke either/both of these ideas? Is he exploring the concepts, defining them, and/or performing them himself in the text? Papers may also address reappraisal and renewal in the works of Johnson's social/literary circle (e.g., Frances Burney, James Boswell). The panel will focus on England during Johnson's lifetime, and reappraisal and renewal in Johnson's own texts, perhaps in conjunction with texts by other 18th-century authors. Panelists may also reappraise post-18th-century views of Johnson and Johnsonian scholarship --putting forth Johnsonian perspectives and renewing our perspectives as well. Email abstracts by June 15 to Victoria Warren

Botany in the Eighteenth Century

Please send proposals to: Doreen Saar, Drexel University,

Real-Time Reappraisals Renew Retired Plots

In the prefatory essay to The Old English Baron, Clara Reeve is quite open about her desire to retell, and in her mind do a better job of telling The Castle of Otranto. Papers for this panel are sought that address how authors in any genre reprise an older/ earlier contemporaneous plot with elements that renew it and bring the story out of retirement for a subsequent generation of readers. Please send abstracts to Beverly Schneller, Associate Provost, Academic Affairs, The University of Baltimore at

Violence against Women, Recovery, and Renewal

This panel proposes to explore the ways that women attain recovery and renewal after being subjected to male violence and abuse in literature and culture of the long eighteenth century. Some questions to be examined include: how do authors portray women's experiences of violence and abuse? What are the strategies women use to cope with violence and abuse? Is the novelistic trope of the woman who retires from society or from male-female relationships after being subjected to male abuse a form of resistance or a convention that maintains the status quo? Papers are invited that span a variety of theoretical approaches. Jan Stahl, Ph.D.,Assistant Professor of English, Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY 212 220-8000 ext 7295,

Jonathan Swift: A Round Table

This discussion will focus on the bibliographical, biographical, historical, and critical perspectives (or a combination of these) that scholars and critics bring to Swift studies in light of both renewals and reappraisals and new directions and contexts shaping approaches to Swift's life and art. Presenters will have ten minutes each (depending on the number of panelists). A short paper may be read, but informal presentations are welcome. After hearing the presentations, the panelists and audience will have an opportunity to discuss the issues raised by members of the round table. Please send me via E-mail a very brief description summarizing your topic and approach. These will be circulated among the panelists.

Donald Mell, Department of English, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716. E-mail:

The Retirement Poem

It's telling that one of the most frequently-written kinds of poems in the century and one half where the social role of the poet was seen as central to the writer's ethical function is the retirement poem. Its aesthetic conventions vary as it mixes with Horatian imitations, Georgics, and pastoral, and friendship and nature poetry, or the act of retirement (or contemplating it) turns into groundwork for political statements (from exile), and court satire. It may arise from life experiences like depression, the death of someone, or destruction of a way of life that meant a lot to the poet and now seems irretrievable, or reactive defiance when ambition, a path to advancement has been thwarted, blocked. Paula Backscheider finds the poet's gender leads to characteristic fault-lines in retirement poetry. The male poem explores a political terrain; they may be country house estate poems which while ostensibly exemplifying a useful virtuous life carve out space which projects power, what one should do with wealth. Female poems show the poet re-creating herself in a counter-universe, where the poet has time and follows "reason" (individual judgment), learning, memory; they are visionary. There are many other fault-lines, genre is one, purpose another: the poet seeks to renounce or denounce social authorities, is reappraising a life, seeking renewal, or health. To try to promote a coherent discussion I call for papers which seek fault-lines in retirement poetry, shaping elements either in the poem, its context or era (including who is the poet), genre, themes, imagery, which seems to lead the poet into taking his or her text(s) in a specific direction.

Please send 250-word abstracts to: Ellen Moody,

Retirement in Defoe . . . and After

"In this Government of my Temper, I remain'd near a Year, liv'd a very sedate retir'd Life, as you may well suppose; and . . . I liv'd really very happily in all things, except that of Society." In Robinson Crusoe and many other works attributed to Defoe, we find periods of retirement that are not themselves elaborated, but which seem necessary to the explosions of creative activity that always follow. What is the function of retirement in Defoe's writings, both fiction and non-fiction? Did Defoe himself retire in 1714, as one recent scholar has suggested, or is the retirement announced in the Appeal for Honour and Justice (1715) only a calculated part of the process of reappraisal and renewal? How does retirement function for writers, male and female, who constructed novels, histories, and biographies later in the eighteenth century on lines that may have been laid down by Defoe? Please send 250-word abstracts by June 1 to Geoffrey Sill at

Recovery and Reappraisal: "Worlding" the Eighteenth Century

The 2013 annual ASECS conference held an extremely well attended roundtable discussion on "worlding" the eighteenth century. Eschewing words like "internationalizing," "globalizing" or "universalizing," the discussants chose to coin the neologism "worlding" to describe more accurately how the eighteenth century looked / looks from the perspectives of different cultures and nations. The attempt was to get away as much from viewing the eighteenth century as having taken place only in Europe as from seeing it only in Anglo-American and French terms. However, as the question-answer session indicated, the discussion remained focused on Anglo-American-French worldviews, though attempts were also made to examine relationships between different parts of the world which were created without the facilitating agency of colonizing nations.

This panel aims to take off from where ASECS left off. Taking "worlding" to mean viewing, as far as possible, the experience of the eighteenth century all over the globe through the eyes of people who do not belong to the British, the American and the French worlds, the panel invites discussion of such questions as: How did Asian, African and central, southern, south-eastern and north-eastern European nations perceive their own eighteenth-century worlds? And how did they react to foreign contacts? For instance, what do Qing or late Mughal paintings reveal of the artists' view of Chinese or Indian life? Or, what was the nature, and what the implications of the contacts between, say, the Russian Orthodox church and the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires in eastern Europe, and what the results for the cultures of the region? What kinds of contacts existed between Syrian Christians, Roman Catholics and Protestants in India, and between Christianity as brought by the missionaries and other Indian religions? To what extent do writings from India, China, Japan and other eastern nations in the eighteenth century recover for us the way in which the peoples of the East saw Europe's growing dominance? How can we determine with any certainty how the indigenous people of North and South America considered the Europeans? What kind of archives exist which may make a more detailed recovery of the African eighteenth century possible? How do the peoples of the non-Anglocentric and non-French world today see the eighteenth-century cultures of their own nations? For instance, does eighteenth-century India or China look different to modern Indian or Chinese historians from the way it does to British or American? A great variety of other questions and methods of approaching the theme of this panel may be considered.

Please send 200-250 word abstracts to Brijraj Singh at

Eighteenth-Century Women "Leaning In"

This panel seeks papers that examine how women cope with economic or wage-earning opportunities after becoming mothers. Women writers, most famously Charlotte Smith, have a long history of using motherhood to authorize their participation in the literary marketplace. What other professions or institutions have been particularly tolerant of or hostile to the working mother? What rhetorical strategies have mothers employed to rationalize their participation in the public sphere? Are there substantial differences between women's wage labor and other forms of economic empowerment, e.g. leadership in religious or philanthropic organizations? Does motherhood provide solidarity and networking opportunities for women or curtail their participation in the public sphere? Especially welcome are papers that address the experiences of women from different social classes and racial or ethnic backgrounds. Because we are meeting in Philadelphia, I also want to invite particularly those working in Early America to consider submitting a paper. Please send 250-word abstracts to Ellen Malenas Ledoux at