Paths of Progress (?)

full name / name of organization: 
California State University, Northridge - Associated Graduate Students of English
contact email: 
agse2010@gmail.com

In historical periods of intense political unrest or in calls for social reformation, the written word has encompassed the energy and fervor of such revolutionary moments. From the political pamphlets distributed during the French Revolution to the Industrial Revolution that marked a monumental shift in the United States and around the world in regards to labor laws and technological advancements, the idea of “progress” and pushing social expectations forward into a new mode of thought has permeated our culture for centuries. However, as scholars sit in the 21st century and contemplate the social reforms of the past, how do we recognize this notion of “progress”? Do we in fact see instances of a move forward that mark a world improving in social, religious, sexual, and educational acceptance? Or does this same drive for “progress” exist in a constant struggle that never reaches an actual change in our culture? However one defines “progress,” the question still remains as to the implications of such a label as “progress” and what this means for us in the 21st century as we experience a new wave of social reformation that calls for change in our political, educational, sexual, religious, and literary culture.

AGSE invites submissions from graduate students of all disciplines on topics that address, complicate or illustrate the concept of “progress.” Please send abstracts of 250 words in .doc format to agse2010@gmail.com. Please include your full name, contact information, as well as institutional and departmental affiliation. Presentations will be 15-20 minutes in length and can be either a reading of a research paper/original creative work OR an oral presentation (visuals are encouraged).

The deadline for submissions is January 9, 2010.

AGSE welcomes Dr. Kevin Gilmartin as a special guest speaker for the Paths of Progress (?) Conference. Dr. Gilmartin, a professor of English at California Institute of Technology, is a well-known scholar of British Romantic literature. His 1996 book Print Politics: The Press and Radical Opposition in Early Nineteen Century England extended and complicated the understanding of British literature in the Age of Revolution by offering a more nuanced and finely-grained account of the politics of culture. His recent book Writing against Revolution: Literary Conservatism in English 1790-1832, explores how social and political unrest broadly reshaped the role of the writer in society. He is currently a Visiting Professor of Romantic Literature at the Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies at the University of York, UK .

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