NEASECS 2012 Wesleyan University, CT: The Courtesan-Celebrity

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This panel invites papers that explore the period's textual engagement with female notoriety. Defoe's Roxana (1724), for example, follows the earlier tradition of the whore biography, reimagined as a spiritual autobiography. These "histories" of whores, written about and by women from both poor and privileged families, are unsparing in their social critique; these women's grievances include the lack of proper education for girls, abuse, poverty, incest, and sexual predation. Yet, a few "high-profile" courtesan-celebrities like Nell Gwynn and Kitty Fisher relished the limelight, and whose lives became popular and profitable subjects in the print market. To what degree can we trace female notoriety between Restoration and Stuart popular fiction and the early novel? How do narratives by and about courtesans or whores interrogate feminine sexual politics and subjugation? These questions sketch only a few possible entry points of consideration. The panel welcomes diverse approaches and methodologies. Email 200-word proposals for 15-20 minute papers to Kathleen Alves at by May 1st.

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