Hidden Gems from Fleet Street: New Perspectives on Non-Canonical and Popular Eighteenth-Century Literature
Beginning with the pamphlet wars during the Restoration and ending with authors serving as critics to one anothers’ writings in the Romantic period, the eighteenth century was rife was debates about how to define and identify good literature. Authors such as John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Thomas Gray, William Wordsworth, and many others served as adjudicators of good literature by chastising others’ work in their prefaces, poetry, pamphlets, and mock epics. Theater history and book history however, tells us that some of the works of these dunces were widely popular and important in their own right—regardless of how derided they were by their peers. Colley Cibber, for instance was not only the King of Dunces in Pope’s Dunciad IV, but a well-known actor and theater manager who wrote a genre-bending narrative of his own life that included a kind of manual for effective acting.
The purpose of this panel is to interrogate the claims of the dominant writers of the day and re-examine poetry, novels, life histories, essays, plays, etc. that served as the butte of jokes and satires of the day and strive for a fresh perspective on these writings. In doing so, we can slough off the ideologies and prejudices that wrote the literary history of the eighteenth century.
Please send paper proposals to Dr. Lindsay Moore at firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of the day on Thursday, November 29th