The South Sea Event (ASECS)

deadline for submissions: 
September 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
contact email: 

The South Sea Event: 300 Years Later

2020 marks the 300th anniversary of the South Sea Company event. We choose this term because it is both less familiar and less contested than the word “bubble,” and thus it might help reframing an occurrence that has most frequently been described in ways that now seem overly narrow: in terms of its similarity to the share price collapse in 1719 of the French Mississippi Company, in terms of the “extraordinary popular delusions” of the masses, in terms of its validation of civic humanist doubts about the permanence of credit and paper instruments of exchange, and in terms of its long-term effects on the stock market and the economy. This panel invites papers that seek new approaches to the South Sea Event in the light of recent and seemingly endless financial crises in Western modernity. This panel invites scholars to speculate and interrogate the links between the South Sea Event and the trade in enslaved persons, as well as the connections and rivalries between the South Sea Company and other imperial and slaving institutions of the eighteenth century, such as the Royal Africa Company. We further invite scholars to consider how the emergence of new structures of law, finance, fictions of liberalism, and paradigms concerning governments and governing might have emerged in the wake of the event. In short, this panel invites new work on the South Sea Event, work that seeks to rethink that event in theoretically fresh and in ways that are politically relevant for the times in which we are now living.

Please send abstracts of 100-200 words to either of the following by September 15:

John O'Brien, University of Virginia; jobrien@virginia.edu

Dwight Codr, University of Connecticut; dwight.codr@uconn.edu