CFP: Cultural Studies/Eighteenth-Century Studies in the Classroom (MLA ’07)

Laura R. and I are putting together this Special Session Panel for MLA, and still have some open slots for our roundtable.


Cultural Studies/Eighteenth-Century Studies in the Classroom 

How has cultural studies changed teaching of the long (and wide) eighteenth century?  What are the challenges, limits, and institutional stakes of cultural studies for our research and teaching?  What happens when research agendas do not align with curricular programs?

In the last twenty years, the eclectic mix of practices featured in cultural studies has become broadly institutionalized in eighteenth-century studies: in our publications, graduate seminars, and conference presentations, but also in textbooks like the
cultural editions and in course designs that accommodate both theory and “culture.”  Changes of this sort reflect a key assumption about teaching in higher education, which demands that the paradigms that govern our research projects should also determine, if indirectly, the paradigms taught to our students.

And yet cultural studies, to the extent that it has absorbed Marxism, feminism, Foucauldean discourse analysis, and the multicultural critiques and counter-critiques of the literary canon, sits uneasily within an undergraduate curriculum based on concepts, categories, and distinctions that cultural studies has systematically questioned: the distinction between literature and popular culture; conventional periodizations; national boundaries and the nation-state as the fundamental lines of demarcation for literary history; and all the notions of “coverage” that those distinctions entail.What kinds of problems and tensions does this gap produce and/or reveal?  What is the best strategy for addressing them in the classroom, in the curriculum, and in our institutions?While focused on the way we teach eighteenth-century writing in English and foreign language departments, these questions have relevance across a range of traditional fields.  We are envisioning a roundtable discussion of 5-6 participants, with brief papers followed by discussion.  If you are interested in participating, please submit a 1 paragraph proposal with CV by March 29 to David Mazella, at


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