Essay Collection: Social Networks in the Long Eighteenth Century: Clubs, Literary Salons, Textual Coteries

full name / name of organization: 
Ileana Baird, University of Virginia
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The editor of this collection commissioned by Cambridge Scholars Publishing invites proposals for a volume of essays tentatively called Social Networks in the Long Eighteenth Century: Clubs, Literary Salons, Textual Coteries. The papers will address the networks of relations developed during the eighteenth century among groups with common literary, political, and moral concerns. The focus of this collection is twofold. On the one hand, it encourages explorations of literary clubs and salons, such as the Kit-Cat Club, the Scriblerians, the Hillarians, or the Bluestockings, which developed around issues of common concern, or around intellectual elites eager to promote their own ideological agenda. On the other hand, it explores networks of relations described by particular literary texts, such as Alexander Pope's Dunciad, or Charles Johnstone's Chrysal, that orbit around important literary or political figures of the day (Colley Cibber, John Dennis, Edmund Curll, John Wilkes, etc). The essays are expected to demonstrate how relevant these social networking strategies were to the context of eighteenth-century world, and how similar they are to the congeries of new practices affecting and inflecting the digital public sphere of today.

Some possible topics may include (but are not limited to):

• Eighteenth-century coffee-houses and the culture of sociability;
• Clubbing and the issue of "common concern";
• Social networking strategies (political, cultural, gender-based, etc.) in the eighteenth century world;
• The role of clubs and other associations in "improving" knowledge and behaviors;
• Literary alliances and/or wars;
• Conflicting views on publicity (the Scriblerian vs. the Spectatorial model, etc.);
• Elite vs. marginalized groups (dunces, women, slaves, reader communities, etc.);
• Antiquaries, virtuosi, collectors, and the emerging culture of curiosity;
• Cultural and political alliances and their importance for an emerging celebrity culture;
• Cross-national networks and their role in launching pan-European fashions and trends;
• Cultural networks mediated by translation;
• Women associations and their agendas;
• The role of various forms of association (clubs, coffee houses, literary salons, communities of readers, etc.) in the formation of the public sphere;
• Romantic modes of sociability (circles of sedition, lecture, theatre, and shopping aficionados, etc.).

The proposals should address broader issues related to celebrity culture and the implications of these various forms of association for the emerging public sphere of the time. I also welcome proposals that consider innovative methods and approaches―such as the use of digital technologies in analyzing complex data, social network analysis, assemblage and graph theory, network visualization, etc. One of the goals of this collection is to highlight possible similarities (or differences) between the eighteenth-century social networks and modes of communication and today's social media boom.

Please send abstracts of 300-500 words and a brief bio to Ileana Baird at by March 31, 2013. The deadline for manuscript submission will be August 31, 2013.