CFP (EC/ASECS November 6-8 2014; University of Delaware ): Are You Not Entertained?: Novels and the Spectacle of Suffering

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East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Reading novels was a pleasurable pastime meant to entertain, and yet, often a central part of this entertainment is the suffering of one or more characters that endure minor setbacks and/or significant trials. This panel seeks to explore how and why writers often draw connections between suffering and entertainment. We will also consider what this connection tells us about the emerging social political and/or didactic purposes of the novel in the 18th century. Possible questions are: Why is suffering whether minor or serious, central to the hero's/heroine's journey and the novel? How are readers entertained by the suffering described in texts but also criticized for taking pleasure in that suffering? At the same time that they entertain the reader, what didactic, political, and/or religious agenda do authors pursue through this paradoxical pleasure? How are those that find entertainment in suffering treated by the narrator or by the hero/heroine? How do characters use storytelling about suffering and violence, whether personal or that of others, to entertain other characters—to make friends and create community? We are interested in these and other investigations that help us explore the relationship between suffering and entertainment in the novel. Please send a 500 word abstract and a brief CV to Andrea Fabrizio and Ruth Garcia at or by June 15, 2014