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Cancellation of 2020 ASECS Meeting in St. Louis

*Apologies for Cross-Posting*

Dear ASECS Members and Annual Meeting Participants,

At its virtual meeting on Friday afternoon, March 6, the ASECS Executive Board decided unanimously to cancel the Society’s physical meeting in St. Louis on March 19-21. We do not take this action lightly. The face-to-face encounters, both formal and informal, that occur at the annual meeting are invaluable. We look forward throughout the year to those exchanges, and all of us have grown as scholars of the eighteenth century as result.

The Board determined, however, that the risk of infection among ourselves and those with whom we would interact in St. Louis is too great. It may be the case that the virus will never come to Missouri (there are not documented cases there now), and that the wave of infections around the country and world will recede in the next ten days, rather than grow. But if even one member of our Society were to become critically sick, or worse, the consequences would outweigh the benefits of our scholarly exchanges. The Board was unanimous in its feeling that we want to hold the best meeting possible. Given the number of cancellations already received in the Business Office, the number of international scholars who are already unable to attend, and the general level of anxiety that would shadow our sessions, we do not feel we can hold a meeting in St Louis this March that would be up to our standards.

We greatly regret that we will not be able to enjoy the hard work of our program committee and our colleagues on the ground in St. Louis. We especially want to acknowledge the efforts of Professor Pannill Camp at Washington University in St. Louis, who is the driving force behind the production of Marivaux’s The Triumph of Love, and Amy Tolbert, curator at the St. Louis Art Museum, who had arranged for a workshop the day before the conference. Colleagues in the St. Louis area will still be able to enjoy the Marivaux production the week after next.

We know that the membership will have many questions about the consequences of this decision, including:

  • Might there be a way to hold some of the sessions online, or in some other virtual format?

  • Might panels organized for this year’s conference be rolled over to the Toronto program next spring?

  • What will be the Society’s policy on the refund of conference registration fees?

We will be working over the weekend to answer these questions, and will communicate on these and other conference-related matters with you over the next week. You may also send your queries and comments to the Business Office at


Jeff Ravel

President, American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Professor and Head of History, MIT

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