Objects of Inquiry and Exchange: Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context

full name / name of organization: 
Christina Ionescu, Mount Allison University, and Ileana Baird, University of Virginia

Submissions are being sought for a collection of essays tentatively titled Objects of Inquiry and Exchange: Eighteenth-Century Thing Theory in a Global Context. Whereas the temporal expanse of the "long" eighteenth-century has been repeatedly emphasized, its spatial inclusiveness and thematic coincidences beyond British (or British colonial) boundaries are still insufficiently addressed. This volume invites papers that may fill in this informational gap: they will focus on how the increased production and circulation of things during the century has encouraged processes of cultural, scientific, and commercial exchange that justify its consideration from a more globalizing perspective. The main goal of the volume is to cover geographical and cultural areas insufficiently mapped out in eighteenth-century studies (the Near and Far Orient, South-Eastern Europe, the Russian and Ottoman Empires, the Nordic countries, Black Africa, and Latin America) by exploring them through the material and narrative circulation of emblematic or familiar objects that represent them literally and culturally. The possible topics include (but are not limited to):
• objects in intimate spaces and the emergence of domesticity;
• (im)proper objects and the public sphere;
• exotic things in travelogues and scientific investigation;
• automatons, fossils, totems and the scientific inquiry;
• collectibles, souvenirs, gifts and the epoch's emerging interest in antiquarianism and the culture of the museum;
• gigantic and monstrous objects and the gothic imagination;
• anthropomorphized objects;
• it-narratives as forms of picaresque fiction and anti-luxury discourse;
• persons as things: the reifying mechanism of the satire;
• desirable things and associated practices (advertising, fashion, shoplifting);
• the traffic in china, fabrics, spices, and perfumes and the emerging interest in Orientalism;
• things as fetishes and objects of exchange;
• curious, magical, and ritual objects;
• the role of commodities in bringing geographically alien spaces together.
Ideally, the collection will highlight patterns of similar or divergent trends, behaviors, or themes that will reconfigure our understanding of the East/West (and North/South, for that matter) dichotomy by tracing down paths of commercial and intercultural exchange. Our goal is to provide a more accurate representation of the relationship between literature and material culture during the century from a comparative perspective that aims to elucidate whether the synchronicity is a matter of influence or coincidence. Consequently, our call for papers encourages submissions from scholars involved in cross-departmental research, both domestically and abroad.
Please send abstracts of 300-500 words and a brief bio to Ileana Baird at ifp4a@virginia.edu, and Christina Ionescu at cionescu@mta.ca by October 15, 2010. The deadline for manuscripts will be January 31, 2011.