UPDATE: "The Picaresque Novel in the Long Eighteenth Century": abstracts due Aug. 29, 2014

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International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, Rotterdam, July 26-31, 2015
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CFP: “The Picaresque Novel in the Long Eighteenth Century”
International Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
July 26-31, 2015, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Andrew Bricker
Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities (2014-2016)
Department of English, McGill University

Scholars often point to Thomas Nashe’s The Unfortunate Traveller (1594) as the first picaresque novel in English. But the English picaresque only truly begins to flourish, it seems, during the long eighteenth century, contaminating a range of generic categories and inhabiting a variety of guises: adventure fiction, travel narrative, spiritual autobiography, criminal biography, prose satire, the novel itself, and on and on. And yet the literary category of the picaresque, a term that only comes into use in the nineteenth century, simply does not exist during this period.

This panel seeks presentations that address two interrelated questions, and that account for the profound role the picaresque played in literary production during the long eighteenth century not only in England but also across Europe. First, in the absence of the blanket category “the picaresque novel,” how did writers from the eighteenth century understand the tradition within which they worked? That is, did such novelists as Henry Fielding and Tobias Smollett, deeply influenced, for instance, by Alain-René Lesage’s Gil Blas (1715-35), see their own novels as extensions of a tradition running all the way back to their sixteenth- and seventeenth-century continental forbears like as Lazarillo de Tormes (1554) and Simplicius Simplicissimus (1669)? Second, in what ways do we see picaresque elements travelling during the eighteenth century? That is, how do these earlier and contemporary models start to migrate to other literary forms and shape the production not only of the novel itself but also of, for instance, satire, life writing, children’s literature, and so on? My goal with this panel is to reinvigorate the study of the picaresque in the long eighteenth century—to see this unstable generic designation as, nonetheless, one of our most important transhistorical literary categories.

Please submit presentation abstracts (200-300 words) by August 29 to Andrew Bricker at andrew.bricker [at] gmail.com

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