"Eighteenth-Century Infrastructure" Roundtable -- ASECS Conference (Williamsburg, VA 3/30-3/22, 2014)

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American Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies
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Recent years have seen intensifying scholarly interest in the relationship of public works to works of writing. Sewers, turnpikes, ports, and hospitals feature prominently in Anglophone literary imaginations from the King's Highway of Pilgrim's Progress to the psychiatric wards of Mrs. Dalloway. Conversely, the prose of planning literature has enabled collectivities to build themselves into being through concrete projects and fantastic utopias. This roundtable asks how an infrastructural turn in the humanities could contribute to our understanding of eighteenth-century British culture. The session invites proposals for five or six short presentations (no more than ten minutes each) from a variety of fields, including literature, history, architecture, art, music, and performance
studies. Potential topics might include built solutions to crises like disease and fire, the discursive and material
construction of "Turnpike-mania," the importance of postal networks to epistolary fiction, the (in)visibility of labor in
representations of civic edifices, the relationship of public spheres to public works, the applicability of a base superstructure model of the social order to Britain's built environments, the challenge of discussing eighteenth century
infrastructure without anachronism when words like "infrastructure" bear twentieth-century coinage, and
countless more.