2019 ISECS Seminar for Early Career Scholars
‘Participation, Collaboration, Association’
Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 9-12 July 2019
Proposals due by 31 January 2019
The International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ISECS) invites applications from scholars in all fields of eighteenth-century studies to participate in a four-day International Seminar for Early Career Eighteenth-Century Scholars.
This annual event has an established reputation for promoting intellectual and social engagement between scholars from many countries. In 2019, the meeting will take place in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, and will be organized by Professor Brycchan Carey at the Institute for the Humanities, Northumbria University. It will be co-sponsored by the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS), Northumbria University, and Newcastle University. The programme will include a reception, a dinner, a guided tour of Newcastle, and a visit to Seaton Delaval Hall, regarded by many as the finest work of eighteenth-century architect Sir John Vanbrugh. Participants are encouraged to take part in the 2019 International Congress on the Enlightenment, held the following week in Edinburgh.
The International Seminar for Early Career Eighteenth-Century Scholars will be held from Tuesday 9 July to Friday 12 July 2019 under the direction of Professor Brycchan Carey, Professor Richard Terry, and Dr Helen Williams (Northumbria University); Professor Matthew Grenby and Dr James Harriman-Smith (Newcastle University); Professor Penelope Corfield (Royal Holloway, University of London) and Dr Caroline Warman (Oxford University).
This year, the theme of the International Seminar will be:
‘Participation, Collaboration, Association’
‘The commerce of mankind is not confined to the barter of commodities, but may extend to services and actions, which we may exchange to our mutual interest and advantage. Your corn is ripe to-day; mine will be so tomorrow. It is profitable for us both, that I should labour with you to-day, and that you should aid me to-morrow.’ —— David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature (1738)
While the eighteenth century is sometimes associated with the rise of the individual, whether as
economic unit or creative genius, it was in reality a period of immense collaboration and
association—both willing and unwilling. People have always worked together, as David Hume
suggests, to bring in harvests, maintain community buildings, and care for the young, the old, and
the ill. From ancient times onwards, polities were formed, armies raised, and slaves coerced. The
eighteenth century, however, saw a rapid and dramatic transformation in the ways people lived and
worked together, on social, political, economic, cultural, and ideological levels, and an equally
dramatic shift in the political and philosophical understanding of cooperation and mutuality. The
rise of nation states and colonial empires necessitated national and global collaboration,
underpinned by complex armies and navies; new technologies in agriculture and industry
fundamentally changed the way labour was organised; while the increasing ease and affordability of
travel, postage, and printing facilitated participation in cultural and intellectual exchange. From the
Royal Society to the Corresponding Societies, from the Encyclopédie to the Club des Jacobins,
association drove transformation. In our own time, researchers, curators, governments, and industry are collaborating in increasingly sophisticated and complex ways to understand the eighteenth
century and to preserve its records and artefacts, whether by co-authoring articles and books,
digitising texts, producing websites, TV shows, and other media, or by restoring historic buildings.
The theme of ‘Participation, Collaboration, Association’ can accordingly be interrogated in several
interlocking ways, including, but by no means limited to, the following:
Social: How did people live together in families and other units? How did they
participate in their local, regional, and national communities? How did they
associate for pleasure, mutual benefit, or to worship? How did people live in
conditions of enforced association, such as colonial slavery?
Economic: How did people work, trade, and consume together? What were the impacts of
new technologies and working practices? How did mutuality drive the growth
of financial services such as banking, stock dealing, and insurance? Did
millions of small transactions indeed create an economic ‘hidden hand’?
Political: How did people participate in local and national government? How did
political parties and associations develop and how did they effect change?
What was the role of mobs and demonstrations in political life?
Ideological: How did Enlightenment ideas about the social contract inform law and policy?
How did notions of individual liberty come into conflict with those
emphasising duty to state or church?
Gender: How did men and women create separate formal and informal associations?
Were female communities widespread or confined to religious institutions and
Cultural: What was the role of literary and philosophical societies, artists’ workshops,
orchestras, and teams of builders and architects? Did cultures of sensibility
promote mutual aid and support or did they merely encourage self-indulgent
weeping? How did writers and artists produce work together?
Military: How did people participate in military life? What collaborations were needed
to run a complex machine like a man of war, or a complex organisation like a
regiment? Did the scale and sociability of military organisations paradoxically