A Georgic Sense of Wonder [due Sept 15]

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American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS) - Williamsburg, VA - March 20-23, 2014

Does Georgic "begin in wonder"? Recent scholarship highlights the importance of georgic in the 18th century: Virgil's didactic poem on agriculture flourished in English translations, took root in various imitations, and branched out in new literary directions, while early modern georgic writers engaged with pressing issues of labor and trade, natural and cultural history, local place and imperial ambition. We now have at our disposal new ways of seeing both halves of Addison's definition of georgic: "the science of husbandry" as well as the "embellishments of poetry."

Might georgic itself have offered new ways of seeing the wonder in everyday life? Figures within Virgil's Georgics marvel at the relics of superhuman heroes unearthed by the ploughman or the supernatural restoration of the bees in Book IV, but the literary treatment of the soil or the bees themselves--without "special effects"--also seems to evoke a sense of wonder. For another (modern, non-Virgilian) example, Defoe seems to suggest that the growth of Crusoe's barley is still a marvel, even though it has a natural explanation. This session welcomes papers on formal Virgilian georgic verse as well as georgic aspects in other writings of the long 18th century.