I had finished working on one of the strangest texts I have ever encountered, Low- Life. Or, One Half of the World Know Not How the Other Half Live, with all the doubts it raises about representation, writing, and history as both of those things, when I found Michel Foucault on the topic of writing itself.
To celebrate the fifth anniversary of the Eighteenth-Century Seminar, this symposium convenes scholars from a range of fields, disciplines, and institutions both to interrogate the activity of reading as a leisure or a hermeneutic practice that unfolds in time, and to reflect upon the variegated apprehensions of time—physical, metaphorical,...
The eighteenth-century vogue for pictures of women perusing love letters not only marked the age’s affection for epistolarity, it also emblematized the “papered century,” named for the period’s unprecedented proliferation of monetary notes and credit instruments.
By the early eighteenth century, decades before the discovery of its constituent gases, air was recognized as mundane matter: heterogeneous and changeable, subject to human manipulation, the “subtle” substance of history rather than spirit.
Nostalgia at sea, sometimes called calenture, is a desire to return home so powerful that the victim is overwhelmed by hallucinations of pastoral landscapes into which s/he leaps, with fatal results.
In this talk, Professor Curran will provide a survey of the main “anthropological debates” in French and European thought during the eighteenth century. He will also examine naturalists’ halting attempts at classifying humans, as well as scholars’ inability to figure out just what classification means within the overall history of race.
A reception will follow the seminar.
The first modern orrery, a mechanical device presenting the motion of the solar system, was produced in 1704 by the eminent English clockmakers George Graham and Thomas Tompion.
Fielding’s early novel Jonathan Wild centers on a character, the notorious thief and thief-taker Jonathan Wild, who invented techniques for preserving the value of personal possessions.
Between the 1730s and 1780s, a French traveler’s tale about the coronation of a West African king circulated throughout France, England, and the Netherlands. Embedded in this description of Hueda rituals surrounding kingship was a story about European rivalry for the favor of a key African player in the Atlantic slave trade.
This paper argues that early eighteenth-century Englishmen were increasingly assertive about mixture as the source of their country’s perfections, as the cause of its unity, power, and civility. The recognition that English culture reproduced itself through mixture was remarkably broad.
Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan, nee Elizabeth Linley (1754-92) traded her celebrated voice for the eloquence of silence.
This paper seeks to complicate the picture of nineteenth-century reactionary aristocrats and modern republicans by bringing an eighteenth-century perspective to bear on French revolutionary and post-revolutionary culture and society. Prof. Goodman’s paper traces the life and career of a boy born less than a decade before the start of the French Revolution.
At the end of the eighteenth century, William Godwin lamented that readers of Gulliver’s Travels missed the work’s political significance because they were distracted by “the mere playfulness of its form.” Professor Keenleyside argues, by contrast, that the form of Swift’s work itself carries complex political meaning.
In the late eighteenth century, traditional notions of time and history came under pressure from work in three emerging sciences: astronomy, geology, and paleontology.
The tabloid-ready tale of “Mrs. Mary, otherwise Mr. George Hamilton,” who married several women while passing as a man, appeared in Boddley’s Bath Journal of November 8, 1746, and in a slew of London and regional newspapers shortly thereafter. This talk examines Henry Fielding’s use of Methodism in The Female Husband to explain the origin of Hamilton’s same-sex desire.
Focusing on reviews of the exhibitions of the Royal Academy in the late 1780s and in particular on portraits of female royal figures by E. Vigée Le Brun and A. Labille-Guiard, this works-in-progress paper examines the intersection of gender, aesthetics, and politics in the cultural realm on the eve of the French Revolution.
This lecture focuses on two texts and a performance: Edward Ravenscroft’s 1681 comedy, The London Cuckolds, Terry Johnson’s 1998 adaptation of that play, and Don Wadsworth’s 2009 production at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama.