ASECS 2007: Oh! Atlanta

Just in case anyone needs to be reminded, ASECS ’07 is coming up, and a number of Long Eighteenth folks will be giving talks that week.  Here’s the program:

If you’re presenting, drop us a line, and let us know what you’ll be talking about.

Best wishes,



12 responses to “ASECS 2007: Oh! Atlanta

  1. I’ll be there, and I look forward to seeing some of you in person. I’m presenting at either end of the conference:

    8:30am Thursday, I’m giving a paper entitled “The Epistemology of Interior Decoration” on Pam Lieske’s “Science and Domestic Life” panel (#14). I’ll be talking about a 1688 manual on japanning and varnishing in the context of Locke’s and Berkeley’s theories of perception and knowledge.

    5:30pm Saturday, I’m participating in Brycchan Carey’s roundtable, “Awkwardness: Teaching the Fraught, the Embarrassing, and
    the Taboo.” I’m doing a little piece I like to call “Discussing Cunts with Christians; or, How I LEarned to Stop Worrying and Love the Evangelical South.”

  2. David Mazella

    I’ll be going on in that coveted 8 am Saturday morning time-slot, talking about 1771, Johnson’s Falkland Islands pamphlets, and annualized literary histories. Get up early, or just stay up all night and come in before you crash!

    And is anyone else attending the lavish Gale/Thomson shindig Thursday night? I always enjoy a free meal (and a massively expensive full-text database).


  3. Fri., 11:30: on the Scottish Studies Soc. panel occasioned by the tricentenary of the Union. Revisiting old territory, explaining the chiasmic relationship between Thomson and Wm Collins in the cultural construction of Anglo-Scotland, the implicit legacy of the union, after two uprisings, in the means by which these two poets “translate” political warfare into aesthetic plowshares.

    Have organized a panel Thurs at 10:30 on Poetic Interventions between Pope and Cowper, broadly defined as any engagement with the public sphere among two generations of poets who withdraw from or distrust such intervention in politics, immediate history, the market, etc. Even though I and others have been at odds with his “Literary Loneliness” book for years and have seen many more adequate lit-historical treatments supersede his in the past two decades, I was pleased when John Sitter expressed interest and have placed him in the cleanup position after three mostly junior people.

    Sorry not to be able to stay through Saturday for David’s paper and Gena’s roundtable contribution. I’ve been in the Evangelical South for 8 yrs (twice as long if you count my various way stations in Texas, and three times as long if you count grad school in southern Indiana) and still haven’t learned to love it or to discuss pudenda in a way that will appeal to the old-school beehived woman in the corner, who tried hard not to attend my theory classes on Judith Butler, Cixous, or Wittig, and objected to the teaching of Marxism on US turf as well.

    How come I didn’t hear about the Gale-Thomson shindig? After the ASECS members’ reception, I assume?

  4. David Mazella

    Having spent half my childhood in Northern VA, then the second half in VA proper (central VA, Macaca country), you could say I’m ambivalent about the evangelical South. And Texas is a whole ‘nother story, as they say.

    In any case, Bill, contact me offline if you’d like to get together for a drink at some point. And please post about these more adequate lit-historical treatments. We’d love to hear more about lit history around here.



  5. Seconding Dave’s request for a discussion of post-Sitter lit historical treatments. I’ll probably see you Thursday morning, Bill—I was planning to come see John speak.

  6. Gena: look fwd to meeting you at the panel.
    Dave: I’ll definitely drop you a note in the next couple days about meeting for a drink. Thurs or Fri afternoons or evenings, to really load up after the cocktail hrs, would be best.

    To all: Still chugging away on my paper for next week. Also realized rather late in the day that I won’t have much time to work on a Barbauld-&-sensibility in the public sphere paper for the BWWC in Lexington, Ky (more good ol’ evangelical South) the 2nd wk of April, since I’ve got three sets of papers and exams coming in. But to answer your query abt post-Sitter treatments, I’m tempted to write an extensive review essay, which I obviously can’t do at the moment. You may check out something on the way there in my ECS review essay of seven or so books on Gray and his milieu about three yrs ago if you’ve got Project Muse or another database that picks this up. I suggest there that John Guillory’s ch on Barbauld and Gray’s “Elegy” is more incisive than any of the books I was ostensibly reviewing, largely because he bridges the gap between the seeming “flight from history” in a poem like the “Elegy” and its palpable cultural capital in its reception by Dissenters like Barbauld (among others). I also like Linda Zionkowski’s early-90’s pieces on Gray and the lit marketplace (which owed something to Kernan’s book on Johnson and print culture), but didn’t think that her book on male authorial anxiety from Rochester and Dryden to Johnson (which re-worked her earlier Gray pieces) cohered esp well.

    But here’s a crude outline of the larger “genealogical” problems of post-Sitter lit-historiography:

    Just years after Sitter put out his deceptively clear thematic treatment, loosely hinging on the disparity bw problems of literary invention and historical engagement, we have an encyclopedic job like Weinbrot’s Britannia’s Issue and Dustin Griffin’s casebook-type thematic studies (maybe Katie Trumpener’s Bardic Natlism, too) that, for all their lack of methodological reflection and historical oversimplification, at least do a better job of anchoring mid-c18 poetry (and thematically-related lit) in firmer historical currents such as nationalism, patronage, or patriotism. Add to this Fred Bogel’s Lit and Insubstantiality and we have a far shrewder frame for epistemological shift (actually twds ontological reflection) in mid-c18 lit. John Barrell’s formally-grounded historicism (for lack of a better “-ism”) in a slew of scattered pieces, some w/Harriet Guest, is always provocative, if also a tad runny at times. Wm Dowling wrote a short piece abt 15 yrs ago, at least implicitly responding to the Sitter thesis, in what I think was a mostly Wisconsin-faculty re-examination of c18 studies collection, and he too brought in more of the Marxist “real” in examining the determinants that led to the idiosyncratically half-public, half-private forms of Gray, Collins, Smart, and others. Then there are simply better, more “dialectical” readers of the stuff than Sitter, like Marshall Brown, whose teleological sense of pre-Romanticism may be unconvincing, but nevertheless keeps a better sense of immanent historical process within the lit forms (and nicely distinguishes Gray/Collins from Goldsmith/Cowper) in focus.

    Then again, one can argue that the best we can do these days is not even a revised thematic /stylistically coherent era of “Sensibility” but more of a micro- or tunnel-history like Robert Griffin’s book on Pope’s reception in the mid-to-later c18 and c19. Here at least the tactical or functional uses of “influence” are sufficiently grounded in illustrating the genealogy of lit history from the ground up and the various lies and self-interested partisanship they’ve perpetuated. Richard Terry’s work, too (whose book,among others on Macpherson, Percy , and Wordsworht’s c18 inheritance, I’ve been obligated to review but have yet to get around to it) seems to merge the concerns of historical-formal alertness with the invention of localist and nationalist “traditions” through “real” historical circumstances.

    What else? Trevor Ross’s study of authorial property, Romantic new historicists like David Simpson and Alan Liu (that Blanford Parker gave no evidence of having consulted when he discussed Wordsworth), who, however overdetermined their hermeneutic techniques, are more attentive to how the texts of history are (mis)represented or conspicuously absent in what are arguably the more loaded cases of Romantic poetic engagement; but even a more traditional genre treatment like Stuart Curran’s book ties the “major” works to the field of popular genres or quotidian verse and is also alert to the factors that shift the contours of genres or enable hybridization. If Roger Lonsdale had spent less time as an editor and more time on historical syntheses, one might imagine him putting out this type of study.

    Too much for now; back to Collins and Thomson (and don’t forget that Ralph Cohen, prob abt 20 yrs ago, wrote a few “propadeutic” essays on how to classify intertextual mutations in theme and genre, though his conclusions on the example of Jane Shore were rather pedestrian; among his disciples are Cliff Siskin and Dave Radcliffe).

  7. David Mazella


    An interesting set of observations, here. I’d agree with you about the importance of Guillory’s book, which for my money is the the single most important piece of criticism of pre-1800 English lit since Greenblatt. A lot shrewder, I think, than Liu or Simpson, though I too was puzzled by their absence in BP.

    I like the rest of your list, too, though I might quarrel with some of the rankings (Brown’s Preromanticism seems considerably weaker, and certainly less influential, than Barrell, for example), but this works fine as a top 10 desert island list of 18c criticism.

    What seems most striking to me, though, is the fact that since Trumpener, interest in such all-encompassing, “global” literary histories seems considerably less than the “tunneling” mode of case studies you point to, meaning lit histories focused around particular problems. For what it’s worth, that’s the route I’ve traveled since grad school.



  8. Dave:

    No systematic rankings were intended; all this was pretty much off the cuff and relying on an unreliable memory. I failed to mention Christine Gerrard’s book, for instance, which I consulted yesterday and found disappointingly spotty when dealing with the end-boundary of her micro-period–i.e., what happens to opposition poetry after the fall of Walpole; why can’t Gray, Collins, et al pick up the mantle in the same way? But this is a problem common to many historical narratives: roundedness in the heart of its story arc and relative flatness in its backstories or epilogues on succession. And perhaps there are better candidates than Brown to represent the “return to formalism” (Susan Wolfson?), now that Hegelian-style aesthetic grand narratives on the order of Abrams or Bate can no longer be written.

    While looking yesterday through my library’s volumes of RES for a 1947 article on the Druids, I found in the most recent bound volume (2005) a 30-page opinion piece by Robt Hume on what he considers the impossibility of writing any legitimate lit history beyond the narrowest of tunnel visions–i.e., the links between two works in some form of succession–or for any worthy purpose other than sheerly pragmatic and pedagogical uses–and thus he is even more cautiously skeptical than R.S. Crane many years ago. I only skimmed the piece and noticed a handful of false binaries that enable him to make draconian exclusions–positivism and post-modernism, for instance–nor did I see him considering the historical status of literary works as something other than events (and of course they can’t be equated with historical events, another familiar straw argument), but the essay may be worth a brief collaborative reading, if only to pose alternatives to Hume’s mode of thinking, sometime after the spring term ends.

  9. David Mazella


    I’m game for this, if others are. I did locate the Hume piece online, since our library does seem to have it on its databases, but we can certainly refer to it, quote from it, and comment upon it, as we need to. I sent the link to you, offline.

    For my purposes, though, the question is really whether a single-genre literary history is helpful at this point in time? Microhistories have their own issues, but it’s hard for me to see how another rise of the novel study, say, could have anything but pedagogical use.


  10. Laura Rosenthal

    On Atlanta:

    Since historicism has been of interest on this blog, you all might enjoy the Cultural Studies Caucus Rountable that I’m chairing on Thursday at 3:30, called “Historicizing New Historicism” with Felicity Nussbaum, Alison Conway, Bob Markley, Melissa Mowry, and Lee Morrissey. It should be a lively panel with brief presentations and lots of time for invigorating discussion.

    I am also the respondant for two panels on prostitute narratives, one on Friday at 8am and the other on Saturday at 9:45. Both have very interesting papers on them; both organized by Jessica Hollis. The first explores a variety of less familiar writing about prostitutes and the second is all about Defoe.

  11. Hi everyone,

    After a (too) long break from The Long 18th, I’ve enjoyed catching up on the blog during spring break.

    I’m off to Atlanta, too, speaking on a “Judgments of Realism” panel that Viv Soni has put together (Thursday at 10:30). I’m talking about one of my current preoccupations, the politics of detailed narration and affective relations in *Sir Charles Grandison*.

    And then on Saturday, I’m participating in the Graduate Student Caucus session on “publishing” (9:45) and, in my capacity as Editor of *The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation*, will talk about how to navigate the submission process. The organizer has asked that we leave ample time for q & a, so there will likely be lively and, I hope, helpful conversation for people starting out.


  12. Matt Williams, who has posted here, is doing a paper on the panel on satire during session XIII, entitled, “The Menippean Suspension of Judgment: Pyrrhonic Structures in Swift and Others.”