CFP: ASECS 2014 (Williamsb​urg)-Genre​s of Natural Science

full name / name of organization: 
Dr. Patrick Erben, University of West Georgia
contact email: 

CALL FOR PAPERS (accepted session)

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies(ASECS)

45th Annual Meeting

Williamsburg, VA March 20-23, 2014

Panel Title: "What to Do with Something New: Novelty, New Knowledge, and the Many Genres of Natural Science in the Colonial Americas"

It is now well known that the cultural turn in the history of early modern science and technology has thrown into sharp relief the ways in which political frameworks, economic structures, and cultural norms shape women's and men's scientific ideas about possibility and practicability in particular places at particular times. In this new discussion of the materials of scientific practice (Bleichmar and Mancall 2011, Klein and Spary 2010) and the materiality of scientific writing (Orrje 2009, Johns 1998) in learned natural philosophies and applied vernacular sciences alike, historians, historians of science and technology, and literary scholars have a much better understanding of the production and dissemination of natural scientific knowledge in the early Atlantic world.

This panel contributes to that multidisciplinary conversation by focusing on the literary genres contained within the category of natural scientific writing of the long eighteenth century. How did authors and agents of science—from across the Americas, including New France, New Spain, New Netherlands, New England, colonial Brazil, and German-speaking Pennsylvania (to name but a few of the distinctive but interrelated locales)—move fluidly between images and words, poetry and prose on the one hand and wide-ranging, material scientific explorations of geology, botany, horticulture agriculture, metallurgy, and chemistry on the other hand? How did they create new forms of natural scientific knowledge and new forms of expressing that knowledge, ranging, for example, from Baroque emblem poems that push at the borders of visual iconography and verse to explanations of metallurgical technologies and agricultural methods that reinterpreted the natural philosophies of antiquity for practices in the New World? By focusing on genre as a mode of analysis in different hemispheric, transnational, and translingual sites of natural scientific knowledge production in the eighteenth-century Americas, this panel engages current research that historicizes scientific reading practices (Chabás 2012, Husson 2012), information "revolutions" (Johns 2012), and the "new species of writing" in Anglophone letters (Bradbury 2003).

This session seeks participants from various disciplinary backgrounds (literature, history, history of science, art history, etc.) as well as multiple linguistic and geographic perspectives on the colonial Americas (including English, Spanish, Dutch, French, German, Native American, African American, and other traditions and languages).

Please send a 1-2 page abstract and brief CV to Dr. Patrick Erben, Associate Professor of English, University of West Georgia,

Dr. Patrick M. Erben
Associate Professor of English
University of West Georgia
(678) 839-6144
Author of: A Harmony of the Spirits: Translation and the Language of Community in Early Pennsylvania