Category Archives: Housekeeping

I’ve been in a well

Or at least that’s how I feel. I wanted to pop in and say that I am emerging.

The past two years have been a constant and frantic race between the daily demands of various jobs (held because even graduate students must eat) and the weekly demands of committees and other administrative work. I’ve been able to read, but writing has been almost entirely out of the question. Now, with some money saved up against future lean times, I’m leaving one of my jobs and focusing on my work. In the long run, I think taking a few years to think through my dissertation and other work will have been helpful.

One of the things I’ll be taking up in the fall is the Eighteenth-Century Interdisciplinary Group at the City University of NY Graduate Center. This means I will be responsible for inviting speakers and planning monthly events throughout the 2007-2008 year, taking over from Matt Williams and Andrea Fabrizio, who have done admirable service for four years. If anyone is interested in participating, I’m taking suggestions for talks and panels now, which are usually held on Friday afternoons. (Think of it as a good excuse to come to New York for a weekend!) I’ll put up a more formal call soon, but feel free to email me with suggestions at any time, at carrieshanafelt at gmail.

I look forward to our summer conversations!


What I’ve Done and Where I’ve Been

Please note that I have added author names to the list of categories. One of the consequences of my sudden decision to move us over to WordPress has been that we have lost our bylines. This is a WordPress-wide issue, as it requires Javascript, which WP refuses to touch, and they recommend simply signing all of your posts on a group blog.

This is fine, and some people do it anyway. I often forget. Additionally, it makes it hard to look for articles by specific contributors. The answer for most WP users seems to be adding author names to the category tags. I have gone through our archives and tagged every post with the author’s name. (You’ll notice “Michael McKeon” is the author of posts, while “McKeon” is the subject of posts.) Whenever you publish a post here, please use the category tags to identify yourself. This will help our curious readers to identify you and seek out your other work here.

In other news, I’ve just returned from visiting my parents in Kansas, after returning from MLA, after returning from housesitting. I’m finally done grading exams, research papers, and wiki articles for the semester. The December press finally gives way to the mid-January sigh, which means I owe the Long 18th several posts on various topics.

My New Year’s resolution is to post on the following topics in the coming days:

1) MLA. I spent most of it meeting academic bloggers (our own Tedra Osell, Scott Eric Kaufman, John Holbo, Amardeep Singh, ex-blogger Michael Bérubé, Clancy Ratliff, and several excellent pseudonymous bloggers whose presence at various events I’ll leave to their discretion) and spending time with friends old and new, discussing The Future. I went to a few C18 panels, including the ASECS one at the Mütter Museum, as well as some on digital media and pedagogy.

2) Wikis. My experiment with wikis has now ended, with mixed results. I’ll post about my wiki semester, in part as a response to the wiki panel at MLA.

3) Parker. I intended to post something with my final thoughts on Parker’s Triumph, but got distracted by the mayhem. In the meanwhile, I’ll contact him and see when he’ll be available to participate.

4) Other reading. I am doing other reading. Yesterday, I was gifted with a copy of Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, which I had previously avoided out of a terrible fear of popular historical fiction set in periods of which I am not completely ignorant. So far, I’m wondering if the magical element can be read as a sort of parable for the cultural effects of empiricism on the 17th-18th centuries, and the “return of magic to England” as the rise of romanticism. Thoughts, from anyone who has read it?

5) Teaching. I am again teaching British Literature Survey II at Queens College, but I am considering certain changes to my approach, TBA.

Happy Holidays from the Long Eighteenth

I hope everyone had their traditional holiday feast today: a big roast beast for all the Whos in Whoville, and Chinese food and a movie for all of you whose holidays just ran out.

I also wanted to wish everyone going to MLA, especially those doing the jobsearch this season, the best of luck. Please stay in touch, and revisit when you get a chance. Hopefully, we can get the Parker reading going again in the first week of January. And I’ve got a few more ideas for events I’ll announce when we get into the new year.

Best wishes,

Dave Mazella

[posted from Shady Side, MD]

The new home of The Long Eighteenth

The Long Eighteenth has been moved from here to here. Please update your bookmarks, links, and feeds!

Thanks for voting!

I emerge briefly from the lightless pit of exam grading to thank any of you who may have voted for me for the MLA Delegate Assembly. I will be representing the graduate students of New York State from 2007-2010. May I not actually be a graduate student that long!

As we’ve mentioned in comments, this blog may be taking an unplanned mini-hiatus while we all do some deep-breathing exercises. I will probably need some advice about evaluating what are some truly baffling exam results. I only gave the exam, you’ll remember, because I was concerned that all the opportunities for getting a grade in my class were based on extremely rigorous at-home and in-class writing, so I thought I’d make at least half of the exam easy, non-analytical questions one can actually study for.

As is par for my class, the students who were already doing well (about a third) studied very hard and got high A’s, even a few perfect scores. The students who were not doing so great at the analytical exercises did not study at all (or freaked out, or something) and failed the exam mightily, misidentifying even the protagonists of the three novels we read, naming Samuel Johnson as “A Victorian poet,” and answering the gimme question “Who is your favorite writer we read this semester and why?” with “William Burroughs” and no explanation. (Needless to say, we did not study William Burroughs in Brit Lit Survey.) I know my students probably know the answers to these questions—they’re all pretty obvious and I have made sure in other ways that they read the material—so I’m guessing it’s some kind of intense exam-phobia.

I can’t ignore the final results; obviously many of my students deserve to have their grade raised by their excellent performance. But I also feel terrible dropping some of what are already barely-passing grades because of totally botched exams. Sure, these results are probably an effect of poor reading skills, and it is a reading class, so those skills are being tested, but testing someone on how well they understand my questions, as a text, is less important than whether they understand the literature itself.

So this is why I’ve been away from the blog. Thinking about it makes me want to bang my head against the wall, and though I would rather be thinking about interesting C18 scholarship, my head is otherwise occupied.

I am hoping Parker is able to join the conversation once the CUNY semester is out, which is this week.

Is anyone else coming to MLA? Should we have lunch one day?

The Triumph of Grading Hell?

Is the discussion of The Triumph of Augustan Poetics over, or have we just unofficially adjourned until final grades for the fall semester are done? The latter, I hope!

Housekeeping #3

I have been a bad housekeeper. It seems like a good time now, before our second collaborative reading, to take stock of the status of The Long Eighteenth.

(Click the graphic to enlarge.)

Our upcoming reading will include posts by myself, Dave Mazella, Jen Golightly, Bill Levine, Alex Seltzer, Carrie Hintz, “KW,” Shayda Hoover, and Blanford Parker, as well as anyone else who chooses to jump in. (Don’t be shy!) I met with Blanford this morning and he is looking forward to our conversation.

Please feel free to publicize this event to your colleagues.

Dates Finalized for Parker

I’ve heard from Professor Parker and he’s verified that the week of December 3rd is good for the group reading, so I will put it in our sidebar and send another note to C18-L. Please feel free to publicize this event wherever it is you publicize things! The conversation that comes out of this book should be useful to scholars at all levels and in most areas of interest in our era of English literary studies.

I also would like to remind the assembled that we still have twoone chapters (“Transitional Augustan Poetry” and “Johnson and Fideism”) available for anyone who’d like to lead discussion on those days. If we don’t have a volunteer, I will go enlist one of my colleagues, or, especially in the case of the Johnson chapter, I may just do it myself. Also remember that, as with the McKeon discussion, anyone should feel free to jump in with a post at any point in the conversation. The purpose of the schedule is merely to ensure we cover the whole book, not to stifle any other ideas that come to mind.

(Isn’t it nice not to be doing this with the constraints of either print or a conference panel?)

Also, Bill Levine, if you’re reading this, please send me an email at carrieshanafelt at so I can add you to our roster of contributors. Done.

Upcoming reading of Parker

All systems are go for a group reading of Blanford Parker’s The Triumph of Augustan Poetics. I think we decided that things are very busy for people around Thanksgiving, but sometime in the weeks that follow would be good. I think Prof. Parker is flexible then. What about the first week in December? We could start Sunday, Dec. 3rd and carry it through the week.

For those who’d like to volunteer, let us begin choosing specific chapters. I am happy to cover whatever anyone doesn’t volunteer for, but Parker writes extremely interesting things about people I don’t feel like much of an expert on, like Butler and Thomson. If you see something in your area of study here, don’t be too shy to lay a claim on it. Below are the chapters and their subtitles.

Please volunteer in the comments so we all know what you’d like to do, and I’ll update this post with the names (or pseudonyms) of participants. Likewise, I’ll post this to C18-L to see if there are any of our other colleagues who’d like to jump on board.

Introduction (Shanafelt)

1. Samuel Butler and the end of analogy (Mazella)
The curious man, Butler and the formula of exclusion, The low road of the Augustan

2. Transitional Augustan poetry
The eclipse of analogy, The cases of Cowley and Dryden, The transformation of prose style, The reinvention of nature, Benlowes: the survival of conceit

3. Pope and mature Augustanism (Golightly)

Belinda alone in the world of things, Pope’s spatial art

4. Thomson and the invention of the literal (Levine)

The new objects of poetry, Augustan naturalism, The anxious eye: Thomson’s Summer

5. The four poles of the Christian imagination in relation to Augustanism (Hintz)

Introduction, The four poles of Christian poetics, The logist, The analogical, The mystical, The fideist

6. The fideist reaction (KW)

Fideism in Restoration and eighteenth-century culture, Prior’s fideism, Solomon and David, Young’s Night Thoughts

7. Johnson and fideism (Hoover)

Fideism and humanism, The two Johnsons, Johnson and the critique of analogy, Epilogue

Parker is on board

Good news! I heard back from Blanford Parker about possible discussion of The Triumph of Augustan Poetics: English Literary Culture from Butler to Johnson. He writes:

I am moved that anyone might be interested in discussing my book. I would be glad to respond to the discussion in the ways you suggested once I get up to speed on blog and blogging. I always like a chance to clarify my (sometimes unintentionally cryptic) meaning and I have been altering my views slightly on satire and other matters.

I’ve asked Prof. Parker to give us some possible dates when he’ll be available, and I’d like input from you on this as well. When might be a good time to do this? The Triumph is, mercifully, about 250 pages, and quite a good read. I’ll be very interested to see how his views have changed between the initial publication in 1998 and the paperback release this summer.

Who wants to play this round?