New Histories of Eighteenth-Century Satire (5/31/09 -- 10/8-11/2009)

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Christopher Vilmar / ECASECS
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Eighteenth-century satire was, as contemporary observers knew, thoroughly implicated in the circumstances of secular history. Yet many of these contemporaries defended satire by explaining its acrimonious intervention in current affairs as incidental to its articulation of sacred moral truths. Samuel Johnson’s definition captures this felt tension: “A poem in which wickedness or folly is censured. Proper satire is distinguished, by the generality of the reflections, from a lampoon which is aimed against a particular person; but they are too frequently confounded.” And even today explanations of satire still tend towards a kind of “generality” that explains away many historical details as incidental or secondary.

This panel seeks papers that supplement formal or theoretical approaches by turning attention to the intractable historical particulars of satire. Approaches may include, but are not limited to: satire as historical intervention, satire and the representation of eighteenth-century life, the history of satire and its criticism, economic history and its relationship to satire, visual culture and satire, satire and the history of the book, satire as technology (whether secular or sacred), readings of “minor” satires and satirists (conceived broadly), and so on.

Please send abstracts of no more than 500 words by May 31, 2009, to Christopher Vilmar, Assistant Professor of English, Salisbury University.

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