Please note: ASECS has paused publishing or signing on to advocacy statements while we review our policies and process.
Statement from the ASECS Executive Board re: St. Louis Conference 2023
Aug. 18, 2022
As we ready our Call for Papers for our annual meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, March 9-11, 2023, we would like to share our thoughts on holding this conference in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
Via email and social media, some ASECS members have expressed uncertainty about traveling to Missouri. Others have asked that we show up to the conference as a way of showing up for our colleagues in Missouri, many of whom have expressed the sentiment that they want and need us there. Similarly, colleagues in other states with restrictive approaches to civil rights have asked that we not cancel a conference in a state that looks like their own. Some colleagues, such as those from California, have noted the difficulty of attending due to state restrictions on travel funding: Missouri does not yet belong to the 21 states on California's "ban" of discriminatory states , but we must acknowledge that this "non-banned" status could change any week, as it could for the other states still on the acceptable list.
It is the position of ASECS’s leadership that even absent financial considerations, holding an in-person conference best aligns with our mission and values. Particularly after these past 2+ years of canceled and reduced in-person meeting opportunities, our in-person annual meeting is an important way to fulfill our members’ ability to learn from and support one another. As many of you are aware, canceling a hotel contract would incur substantial penalties for our society. Similarly, the revenue from our annual conference benefits the city, which has a 20.43% poverty rate and a near 50% Black population, populations likely to be disproportionately affected by these kinds of laws.
After the leak of the likely reversal of Roe v. Wade and in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision, we began working with the mayor’s office, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, and our St. Louis colleagues in the Local Arrangements Committee. We have asked for their assistance in identifying resources for our members (including health services), but also how we as a learned society can help support those fighting for civil rights before, during, and after our stay as guests in their city. St. Louis, after all, is at the heart of the fight to defend bodily autonomy; in Mayor Tishaura Jones’ own words, she will “fight like hell to protect reproductive care access.” Her Reproductive Equity Fund is part of that fight on the local and national level.
At the organizational level, we have begun conference programming focused on civil rights and bodily autonomy. Members, too, have been organizing sessions in response to the current political situation. You can read one example of this work here: “Women’s Caucus Statement on the Recent Overturning of Roe v. Wade” We’re still in the planning phases of our conference, but we can share some of the important activities for you to look forward to:
Our Local Arrangements Committee, co-chaired by Rebecca Messbarger and Tili Boon Cuillé, are working with the St. Louis Art Museum for a tour of their 18th-century collection, arranging an excursion to the Cahokia Mounds, and other activities of interest to our members.
A number of sessions will consider the question of civil rights. To offer just one example before our CfP comes out in the next days, our ASECS President Wendy Wassyng Roworth will be sponsoring two Presidential Sessions in conjunction with the Women’s Caucus on reproductive rights and bodily autonomy in the 18th Century and today.
Public school teachers in St. Louis will be invited to attend the conference for free. Local museum and other educational employees will be able to attend the conference at the member conference rate.
What’s happening in your state? For those of you interested in knowing what your colleagues are grappling with and their questions and solutions, we’ll offer a space to share those ideas.
We will host virtual events as part of our year-round programming and are exploring making some aspects of the conference accessible remotely.
Do you have suggestions for other activities? Send an email to our Executive Director Benita Blessing (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you all for your support of this society and its mission.
ASECS Executive Board
Wendy Wassyng Roworth | President
Lisa A. Freeman | First Vice President
Paola Bertucci | Second Vice President
Rebecca Messbarger | Past President
Lisa Cody | Member at Large
Catherine Jaffe | Member at Large
Ourida Mostefai | Member at Large
Romita Ray | Member at Large
Emily Friedman | Member at Large
Meghan Roberts | Member at Large
Joseph Bartolomeo | Treasurer
Benita Blessing | Executive Director
ISECS Statement on Russian Invasion of Ukraine (February 2022)
“As President of the International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, on behalf of all our members, I express our total support for the people of Ukraine, its Universities, our Ukrainian colleagues who join us in eighteenth-century studies, and all Ukrainian-born colleagues and students everywhere, in their just resistance to armed invasion. Signed: Penelope J. Corfield.”
The ASECS Executive Board established a committee to define the Society’s advocacy role and set clear policies for its fulfillment. Until these policies are in place, we have paused our release of advocacy statements. I support this period of purposeful deliberation. Nevertheless, I wanted to draw your attention to a statement above released by our colleagues who lead ISECS.
I am also exercising the privilege of my office to write a personal message of grief and outrage at Russia’s reprehensible war on Ukraine and to support the Ukrainian people in their just resistance. And it is personal. My mother’s best friend, beloved by my family, is Ukrainian. As I write, her daughter and young grandchildren are huddled in the basement of their apartment building in Kyiv with bombs dropping. Theirs is but one family of countless, whose story has been usurped by those who seek to make history on the pretense of falsified history. As scholars and humanists, I believe we have a critical interpretive role to play in challenging lethal false narratives, and a humanitarian duty to stand against violence and oppression.
Peace in Ukraine.
ASECS President, 2021–2022
ASECS Statement on Antisemitism (March 2021)
Scholarly associations are not removed from their cultural and political contexts. The Executive Board of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) consequently believes that condemning antisemitism alongside other forms of racism, bigotry and discrimination is an essential duty for academic associations, colleges, and universities. Events such as the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, VA at which far right protesters claimed that "Jews will not replace us”; synagogue shootings in Pittsburgh, California, and New Jersey over the last few years; and most recently the markers of antisemitism on display at the 6 January 2021 storming of the Capitol indicate that antisemitism has become an increasingly visible and disturbing part of the political and social fabric in the United States.
ASECS therefore stands in solidarity with all those fighting the rising tide of antisemitism in the United States and other parts of the world; our organization recognizes that the eighteenth century was a vital period in which modern identity categories of nation, race, ethnicity, and religion were developed, alongside categories of gender, sexuality, and labor/class. We support an unflinching exploration of the misuse of any eighteenth-century sources to justify today’s antisemitism, just as we stated our resolve to explore the eighteenth-century origins of racism in the United States in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. We support the critical examination of eighteenth-century origins of political inclusion and exclusion, civil equality and inequality.
ASECS Repudiates Report of 1776 Advisory Commission (22 January 2021)
The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies stands in solidarity with other academic organizations that condemn the Trump Administration’s “1776 Report,” issued on January 18, 2021. We reject the report’s caricature of the transformative period of American and global history that we study. The report proffers a facile myth of cardboard great men creating a Utopian nation and fails to represent the fullness, the complexity, and, critically, the failures of the American experiment in instituting Enlightenment philosophical ideals. Read the full statement here.
ASECS Joins AHA Statement on the Recent "White House Conference on American History” (September 2020)
The AHA has issued a statement on last week’s “White House Conference on American History” deploring the tendentious use of history and history education to stoke politically motivated culture wars.
As of September 24, 28 organizations, including ASECS, has signed onto the statement.
Download the statement as a PDF.
You can view an online version of the document here.
ASECS Joins Joint Statement: COVID-19 and the Key Role of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the United States (13 August 2020)
The signers – including ASECS and many of our learned societies, as well as the leaders of a variety of academic organizations, libraries, and research centers across the country – attest to the value of humanistic study and research and offer their support to administrators making difficult budgetary decisions this academic year.
Together we are stewards of a terrifically rich, thought-provoking, civically valuable array of fields and disciplines. While we face challenging times, we value your commitment and efforts and thank you for your continued support on behalf of our scholarly community and humanistic knowledge itself.
ASECS Joins AHA Statement on Historical Research during COVID-19 (30 July 2020)
The AHA has issued a statement urging universities to make a series of specific accommodations for faculty and students whose research has been interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Sustaining historical research during the COVID-19 crisis,” the statement argues, “requires flexible and innovative approaches to the conduct of research itself as well as to how we gauge productivity.” Recommendations include deferral and extension of research funding awards, increased access to online databases, support for research that does not require on-site research, and incorporation of virtual scholarship in professional evaluations.
44 scholarly organizations, including ASECS, have co-signed this statement to date.
Letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Concerning Its Decision to End Visa Exemptions for International Students (8 July 2020)
ASECS has joined in signing the following letter to Immigration and Customs Enforcement Concerning Its Decision to End Visa Exemptions for International Students.
ON THE KILLING OF GEORGE FLOYD AND ON THE PERSISTENCE OF RACISM IN AMERICA (3 June 2020)
The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies deplores the murder of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department on 25 May 2020. This death, and the losses of Breonna Taylor, Ahmad Aubrey and a tragically long list of other Black Americans in recent years is cause for despair, especially because the story is not a new one. As those of us who study the eighteenth century know, today’s racialized violence in North America was prefigured by the eighteenth-century institutions of slavery and the slave trade and the practices of settler colonialism. In its response to the ongoing crises that this bitter inheritance has provoked, the Society is working to build a more inclusive intellectual community, and to act on our responsibilities as educators and public intellectuals.
ASECS therefore resolves to keep these troubling aspects of our eighteenth-century legacy in the forefront of our common work going forward, both in our annual meetings and our journals and other publications, and in our interactions with our students and other members of our educational communities and the public. There is of course much to celebrate in the artistic, intellectual, and political legacies of the period we study, but our passion for those aspects of the eighteenth century should never blind us to its injustices. Only a full consideration of this past, with its cruelties and inhumanities placed alongside its achievements and advances, will provide the necessary historical perspective as we collectively navigate present traumas and future uncertainties.
For those wishing to learn more about the historical roots of our current crises and for resources on teaching, the Society is compiling a list of resources, which may be found at https://www.asecsteachingthe18thcentury.org/resourcesforteachingracism. To recommend additional resources, please contact email@example.com.]
This statement is joined by the following affiliate societies of ASECS:
Burney Society of North America
Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
East Central American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
German Society for the Study of the 18th Century
Historians of Eighteenth-Century Art & Architecture
Ibero-American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Johnson Society of the Central Region
North American British Music Studies Association
Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
ASECS STATEMENT ON CORONAVIRUS AND RACISM (6 March 2020)
The ASECS Executive Board has unanimously endorsed the following statement prepared by the Society’s DEIA (Disability, Equity, Inclusiveness, and Accessibility) Advisory Committee:
The CDC has recently declared that the spread of the coronavirus is a public health emergency of international concern. We trust that our members are seeking information from experts, following national guidelines, and taking personal care of your health. We also enlist your support as educators and as scholars of the eighteenth century in addressing the racism, xenophobia, and nationalism that have emerged in the wake of the current health concerns. Viruses, of course, do not discriminate by nationality, region, gender, race or ethnicity. Yet in ways reminiscent of past discourses of plague and “yellow peril,” many Asians and Asian-Americans are once again experiencing discrimination, hostility, and exclusion both in person and on social media platforms. Suspicion and hostility have also fallen on individuals who choose to wear masks in public whether for cultural reasons or from concerns for personal health. We ask all those attending the annual meeting or engaging with colleagues on line to ensure a fully professional environment for every member of our Society during this health crisis and to be cognizant of the burden that persons of Asian identities may be experiencing at this time. ASECS condemns all prejudicial and racialized responses to the current viral outbreak.
ASECS SIGNS MULTI-SOCIETY LETTER ENDORSING AAA'S STATEMENT ON TARGETING CULTURAL SITES FOR A MILITARY ACTIVITY
The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies has joined the American Anthropological Association (AAA) and other learned societies in calling upon people throughout the US and, indeed, around the world to remind the President of the United States that targeting cultural sites for military activity is a war crime except under the narrowest of circumstances, and cannot be justified under any circumstances. The full text of the statement is available at
ASECS SIGNS MULTI-SOCIETY LETTER ENDORSING AHA'S STATEMENT ON DOMESTIC TERRORISM, BIGOTRY AND HISTORY
ASECS has joined with other learned societies in endorsing the American Historical Association's statement on domestic terrorism, bigotry and history.
The American Historical Association expects the following statement to stimulate more questions than answers. The Association hopes these questions make their way into classrooms, libraries, museums, city council meetings, community centers, and even coffee shops, wherever people are trying to connect with each other to make historical sense of our current moment. Read the full statement here: https://www.historians.org/news-and-advocacy/aha-advocacy/aha-statement-on-domestic-terrorism-bigotry-and-history?fbclid=IwAR25Hk9jR2TdJ-XoyfSbfI4oGPeq-kctxWG4_sm2dpLYxlu6pUhtXtYmKKA
STATEMENT ON PROPOSED BUDGET CUTS
Along with two dozen other learned societies, ASECS has signed this statement on the proposed program cuts to Humanities programs at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point.
You can access the statement here: http://www.apaonline.org/resource/resmgr/docs/UWSP_Statement.pdf
ASECS POSITION STATEMENT - IMMIGRATION BAN (FEBRUARY 2017)
The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies unequivocally condemns as both unAmerican and unEnlightened the administration’s Executive Order suspending entry of refugees into the United States and blocking entry to citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries even when they hold visas. As scholars of the era in which the United States was founded and its core principles of equality and justice established, as intellectuals committed to free inquiry, and as educators who recognize that the contributions of students and colleagues from around the world foster our highest intellectual values and promote our highest goals for achieving knowledge and understanding across national, ethnic, and religious boundaries, we call upon government officials to reverse this order and restore the principles that have guided this nation for more than two centuries. In this difficult and divisive time, we rededicate ourselves to principles of inclusion within our own Society and extend our support to those who are directly affected by these and other discriminatory practices including those by our own government. Our commitment to open and respectful intellectual exchange among people with differing and varied perspectives, which is another of the Enlightenment’s great legacies, is reaffirmed each year in our annual meeting. Should any member of ASECS be barred from entering the United States to attend our annual meeting, ASECS is committed to providing an alternative method for presenting their work.
NEW PRIVACY POLICIES
The European Union has adopted rules for protecting the privacy of an individual’s data and also for allowing that person greater control in determining how their data is used. These new protocols, which go into effect 25 May 2018, are known collectively as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).
ASECS SIGNS MULTI-SOCIETY LETTER ON ANNUAL SUBSIDY PROVIDED TO STANFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS BY STANFORD UNIVERSITY
On 13 May 2019, ASECS along with 15 other learned societies, issued a joint statement in opposition to the annual subsidy provided to Stanford University Press by Stanford University.
"University presses play a vital role in helping young scholars present their new ideas to the world, breaking new intellectual ground. They are thus ideally positioned to recognize emergent research areas, and to draw intellectual and public attention to new fields of inquiry, creating new audiences for new conversations as they evolve. A strong university press is a vital element of any major research university, and Stanford University Press, with its excellent reputation across a broad range of scholarly fields, enhances the reach and impact of the university which sponsors it..."
Read the full statement here: Society Statement
ASECS SIGNS MULTI-SOCIETY LETTER ON PROPOSED PROGRAM CUTS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF TULSA
On 26 April 2019, ASECS along with 15 other learned societies, issued a joint statement in opposition to the proposed program cuts at the University of Tulsa.
University administrators recently recommended eliminating a number of undergraduate majors and minors, graduate programs, and doctoral programs, primarily in the humanities and social sciences, in order to expand programs in the STEM fields.
In issuing the statement, ASECS stands with other scholarly societies in recognizing the threat to humanities programs at the University of Tulsa and urging the administration to reconsider its recommendations.
Read the letter here:
ASECS JOINS LETTER PROTESTING UNIVERSITY OF ALASKA BUDGET CUTS
On March 4, the American Society for Association joined 32 other learned societies in sending a letter to Gov. Mike Dunleavy and congressional representatives of the state of Alaska to express concern over the proposed $134 million reduction in state funding for the University of Alaska. The letter explained the troubling consequences of such cuts to Alaskan high education and urged state leadership to reconsider.
Read the letter here: http://documents.acls.org/Learned-Societies/Work-of-the-Societies/Statements-by-Member-Societies/Letter-to-Alaskan-officials-re-proposed-budget-cuts-March2019.pdf
TAX LEGISLATION UNDER CONSIDERATION BY CONGRESS (22 NOVEMBER 2017)
Tax legislation under consideration by Congress would designate graduate tuition waivers as taxable income. Although ASECS members will agree or disagree with many components of this wide-ranging and complex legislation, learned societies with which ASECS is affiliated, including the American Historical Association, the Modern Language Association, and the College Art Association, have issued statements or contacted their members with concerns about the impact of this particular provision. More information about the proposal to tax graduate tuition waivers is available on the blog of the National Humanities Alliance. ASECS urges its members to learn how this proposed legislation could create an unsupportable burden for our graduate student members while preventing future generations from navigating the financial pathways of graduate education—and, if they share this concern, to contact their members of Congress.
ASECS EXECUTIVE BOARD STATEMENT ON HARASSMENT AND ABUSE (10 NOVEMBER 2017)
Along with fellow members of ASECS, the Executive Board read with horror Professor Seo-Young Chu’s essay "A Refuge for Jae-in Doe: Fugues in the Key of English Major," published in Entropy on November 3, 2017, which detailed her rape and abuse at the hands of the late Stanford University Professor and ASECS member Jay Fliegelman. Last year, when this incident was brought to the Society's attention, we contacted Professor Chu, and with her permission brought to the ASECS Board and the Graduate Student Caucus, which confers our Graduate Mentorship Award, a proposal to remove his name from this award. The letter Professor Chu addressed to the Board, and which she has now published, moved us deeply. The proposal was accepted unanimously and the name immediately removed from the award. The Board deeply regrets the pain caused to Professor Chu, and perhaps to others, with the initial naming of the award. Professor Chu’s extraordinary courage in bringing the details of her experience to public attention now allows us to make clear the reasons for the name change, and we are grateful that she has called upon our Society more fully to address the problem of harassment and other forms of predatory behavior.
The ASECS Board unequivocally condemns all forms of harassment, discrimination, and abuse, including mistreatment based on sex, race or status. In the months ahead we will be developing policies for incorporation into our bylaws that make clear that harassment and discrimination of any kind will not be tolerated. This process will require the commitment of our entire membership to join together in a firm endorsement of our standards and values. On behalf of our Society, we accept this charge, and we thank Professor Chu and our colleagues for their eloquence and passion in urging us forward.
Executive Board of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Susan S. Lanser, President
Dena Goodman, Past President
Melissa Hyde, First Vice President
Jeffrey S. Ravel, Second Vice President
Jill Bradbury, Treasurer
Lisa Berglund, Executive Director
Jenna M. Gibbs, Member at Large
Julia Simon, Member at Large
Lisa Freeman, Member at Large
Tony C. Brown, Member at Large
Mary Terrall, Member at Large
Misty G. Anderson, Member at Large
The statement can also be accessed here: