CFP: [18th] SCSECS: Crime and Deviance in Eighteenth-Century British Literature

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Dwight Codr
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"Criminal Values: Representations of Crime and Deviance in Eighteenth-Century British

Charles Johnson wrote in 1734 that if one were to write “an universal History of Robbers, of all
Ranks and Degrees, from the Beginning of the World to this Time, our Scheme would be as
extensive, as if we proposed to write a History of all Nations.” To extrapolate a bit, if the history
of robbers is a history of nations, then the history of nations would also be a history of crime.
Johnson’s remark takes on special resonance in light of those foundational political narratives of
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that we associate with the increasing importance of
private property and the so-called liberal subject. In what ways do criminal narratives inflect,
reflect, or otherwise engage with dominant and emergent ideologies of the state, the citizen, and
property? If modern novels owe much of their formal and thematic existence to those criminal
tales (of pick-pockets, prostitutes, horse-thieves, highwaymen, pirates, and house-breakers),
and if those same novels were factors in the definition of modernity, then it follows that the
criminal is in at least one sense the foundational figure for our modernity. As is the case with
any breakdown in the system of law, the rioting and looting that followed Hurricane Katrina
exposed the fragility of the polis â€" whether the subsequent reinstatement of the law exposed it
even more is an equally good question. I would like to invite scholars to present papers that
consider any aspect of criminal biography or novels about criminal figures, popular
representations of crime and deviance in the period, legal issues pertaining to such matters as
evidence, testimony, conviction, and sentencing, as well as papers directly concerned with the
intersection of liberal political thought and criminality. Electronic submission of abstracts is
preferred, and please include your abstract in the body of an email sent by December 1, 2007 to

Dwight Codr

Assistant Professor
Department of English
Tulane University
New Orleans, Louisiana

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Received on Mon Sep 10 2007 - 19:02:39 EDT