Tag Archives: ASECS

so what does it all mean? looking back at asecs 2012–open thread

[image from Yvonne Romney Dixon, Designs from Fancy, Folger exhibit guide to George Romney’s Shakespearean drawings]

I’m posting this picture of Lear to remind us all of Joe Roach’s fine Clifford Lecture of March 24th, which deployed a different Romney Lear sketch to fine effect.  Somehow, Roach moved from his usual discussion of Victorian kitsch Restoratiana to something very different: the theatrically-coded exchanges of an aristocratic father and daughters in the World’s Worst Eighteenth-Century Family.

So that was one of my high points for ASECS.  I’ve got others, but I’m curious about which panels readers found most useful for their own research and teaching.   What panels or papers were your highlights? Hit the comment button and let us know.  And I’d love to hear from any presenters if they have additional insights they’d like to share about their panel discussions.

There were also some interesting side-conference activities, in terms of THAT Camp and tweetering. I’m glad both these activities were there (though I couldn’t make THAT Camp), but I still think ASECS could be made much more available to online users, and archived better, than it currently is.  Any thoughts about how these activities added to the conference, or could be better integrated into the event?

My final comment would be a plea to the organizers of ASECS 2013 to think much more reflectively about the presentation formats for the day’s panels.  The roundtables help, but the default mode for the majority of presentations is back to back papers and very little Q&A.   I think we could be doing a lot more to vary the presentations, to make them more interactive, and to allow better feedback between presenters and audiences than the current set up.

Otherwise, it can easily become this:




an open thread: what were your favorite talks at ASECS this year?

I’ve got some thoughts of my own, but I’d like to hear from some folks about their favorite presentations, papers, roundtables, or panels this year at ASECS?  What’s going to stick with you as you think about your own research or teaching?


“18th-c studies” meets “digital humanities”

This post by George Williams.

The CFP for ASECS 2010 is out, and I can’t help but notice that several of the panel proposals (including one being organized by Lisa Maruca and me) deal explicitly with digital humanities topics.

Details regarding these panels are available after the jump, but before you make that jump, dear reader, please indulge me for a few sentences.

Does it seem to you that the various academic disciplines concerned with the humanities are at a turning point with regard to integrating digital tools into their research and teaching methodologies? It certainly seems that way to me:

And yet, does it perhaps also feel to you that the benefits of these developments have not yet filtered down to our day-to-day academic lives?

  • The Gale Group’s Eighteenth-Century Collections Online is an amazing resource of primary texts, but it’s priced out of reach for all but the most generously funded colleges and universities, especially in light of what the average library budget looks like since the developments of the previous 12 months.
  • With the exception of Eighteenth-Century Life, our most-read journals provide RSS feeds that are practically useless.
  • Most of us probably don’t even know what an RSS feed is or why we would want to use one.
  • The English Short-Title Catalog is freely available online, which is wonderful, but the interface does not provide any advanced data output options such as useful information visualizations.
  • In 2009, most online conversations regarding our field of study make use of the exact same tool that was used 20 years ago: email.

This is not meant to be a list of complaints, mind you. We clearly have some amazing tools at our disposal. However, there are many new and powerful tools (some of them free) that could be available to us if we worked on developing them or advocated to our most influential organizations to help integrate them into existing platforms.

The idea for the panel that Lisa and I are organizing  on “The Digital Eighteenth-Century 2.0” came out of conversations with several friends at ASECS 2009: many of us have been trained to a greater or lesser extent in digital humanities methods and now work at institutions without major funding for technology. As a result, we’ve learned to improvise quite happily with what happens to be available to us, which often turns out to be tools such as these:

These conversations and our embrace of these tools make me wonder if perhaps we’re entering a new phase of digital humanities research and pedagogy, and so I coined the not-terribly-original term “The Digital Eighteenth-Century 2.0,” playing off of the “Web 2.0” buzz phrase.

  • Is this new phase a good thing?
  • Are we shortchanging what might be possible if we built our own digital tools (a daunting task) rather than using those already created for non-academic purposes? (Zotero, Omeka, and the SIMILE Timeline are, in fact, aimed at academic audiences.)
  • If one is quite happy to work and teach at a smaller, less-than-wealthy, somewhat-teaching-oriented institution, how exactly does one embrace the field of digital humanities with its traditional focus on research and big grants?
  • At what point, if ever, do we internalize the conventions, the strengths, and the weaknesses of digital media such that “The Digital Humanities” becomes “The Humanities”?

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a new 18th-century blog, early modern online bibliography

Anna Battigelli, a long-time contributor to the Long 18th, has just started her own blog, Early Modern Online Bibliography, which is devoted to the bibliographic issues raised by EEBO, ECCO, the Burney Collection, and other emerging digital resources.  Here’s her description:

[Early Modern Online Bibliography] was created to facilitate scholarly feedback and discussion pertaining to valuable online text-bases for the humanities, such as EEBO, ECCO, and the Burney Collection.  Of particular interest are bibliographical problems encountered while using these text-bases.

Anna’s blog already contains a useful roundup of review articles concerning these databases, here.  I suspect that such a blog could be a very useful place for pooling information concerning the best techniques for digging into these databases (either for one’s own or student research), and for confirming anomalies.  You’ll see that I’ve also added it to our blogroll, under “Eighteenth Century Resources.”

This blog is designed to supplement her ASECS roundtable scheduled for Albuquerque, 2010: “Some Noisy Feedback.”

Best, DM

PS: please let us know if you’d like to suggest your own, or someone else’s, eighteenth-century blog for us to put onto our blogroll.  We’re always on the lookout for more links to 18th century-themed blogs.

asecs 2010 @albuquerque, nm, march 18-21

I’m passing this along from Kevin Berland’s C18L:

The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies will be meeting in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 18 – 21, 2010. Conference information is here:

The call for papers is a 59-page Adobe pdf file here:


Any Long 18th people going to Albuquerque?  Let us know if you have a panel you’d like to publicize, or if you’re looking for additional papers.



ASECS 2009: “what is tacit cannot be reproduced”

I’m wrapping up my ASECS posts with this phrase, because it seemed to me to be an important subtext for a lot of the discussions I was having throughout the conference.  In fact, the phrase popped out during a very nice dinner I had with Laura R. and some others, and it was still floating in my head when I heard the panel mentioned earlier by Carrie S., “How long was the eighteenth century?”

Let me explain the connection: while we were having the usual “where the hell is the profession headed?” discussion Friday night, I talked about my frustration with the disconnect between senior scholars and the conditions everyone else is working in.  This was not news to anyone at the table, and everybody there had found ways to adapt their work to the new conditions: curricular work in digital humanities or performance and reception studies; interventions in assessment or accreditation efforts on-campus; initiatives in undergraduate research, and so forth.  So in that sense I am not at all worried about where the profession, or our specialization, is going.

My point, however, was that questions like Hans Gumbrecht’s “what is the future of literary studies?” (meaning, does literary studies even have a future?) are no longer “theoretical” questions about future innovations.  In other words, I am not simply talking about the usual mid-career anxieties of the tenured about missing out on the cool new stuff that others are doing.  Instead, questions about the future of literary studies have a different kind of urgency in the face of the “permatemped” conditions of the corporate university discussed by people like Marc Bousquet.  Can specialized studies in a humanities sub-field like the eighteenth century survive in any recognizable way in institutions like ours, which represent the spectrum of public higher education? And do senior scholars, by virtue of their privileged positions in more elite institutions, have an obligation to address audiences beyond their fellow specialists, and begin to take a stand on the steady de-professionalization of humanities teaching at their own universities and beyond?

My point was that some of the recent dismissals of cultural studies I’ve seen from more senior scholars seem to blame cultural studies, and not the very real economic and political forces identified by Bousquet, for the declining institutional role of humanities teaching and liberal arts education at most non-elite institutions.  So I think that any discussion of the future of literary studies, theoretical or otherwise, must acknowledge the very real and concrete concerns about how we might sustain and reproduce this field for future generations of scholars.  What kinds of jobs will those scholars have?  What kinds of research and teaching will they be expected to do?  What will their students look like, or be expected to do?  And I don’t expect the answers to these questions to resemble answers for previous generations of scholars, including myself.  And I get concerned when I see the most distinguished scholars of my own field nostalgic for a time when literary studies did not need to justify itself, when what the Humanities most urgently needs are intelligent and persuasive advocates to address its multiple publics and defend its practices, in all their diversity.  Under changing conditions, what is tacit cannot be defended, let alone reproduced, without some acknowledgment of what has changed.  So who will play this role of advocating for the humanities, when the future arrives?


ASECS 2009: March 28

So what were you up to on the third day of the conference?