CFP: [18th] 1759: An Interdisciplinary Conference

full name / name of organization: 
Dr Shaun Regan
contact email:

15-17 April 2009

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:
Professor Thomas Keymer (University of Toronto)
Professor Nicholas Rogers (York University, Toronto)

2009 sees the 250th anniversary of the events and publications of 1759, a
crucial moment in British and global history, culture and ideas. To mark
the occasion, the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Queen’s
University Belfast will be hosting an interdisciplinary conference on the
theme of '1759'. The conference will present an opportunity for discussion
and critical assessment of a year that, according to Frank McLynn, should
be ‘as well known in British history as 1066’.

In the international realm, 1759 represented the turning point in the
Seven Years’ War and a watershed moment in Britain’s drive for colonial
dominance over France, with British military and naval victories making
national heroes of men such as Pitt the Elder, General Wolfe and (to a
lesser extent) Admiral Hawke. In literature, 1759 also saw the publication
of 3 canonical novels of ideas: Voltaire’s 'Candide', Samuel
Johnson’s 'The Prince of Abissinia' (later 'Rasselas'), and the first two
volumes of Laurence Sterne’s 'Tristram Shandy'. In the arenas of moral
philosophy and aesthetic theory, Adam Smith outlined a rational model of
sympathy in the first edition of 'The Theory of Moral Sentiments', while
Edward Young published his 'Conjectures on Original Composition',
Alexander Gerard an 'Essay on Taste', and Edmund Burke the second edition
of 'A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of our Ideas of the Sublime
and Beautiful', with its important new introduction on ‘taste’. Elsewhere
in culture and commerce, 1759 also saw the opening to the public of the
British Museum; John Harrison’s completion of chronometer Number 4 (the
eventual Board of Longitude prize-winner); the formal suppression of
the 'Encyclopédie'; the deaths of Handel and William Collins; and the
founding in Dublin of the St James’ brewery, by Arthur Guinness.

The 1759 conference will enable discussion of all of these topics and
anniversaries, and of the possible relationships between them. 300-word
proposals are invited, for 20-minute papers. Proposals should be emailed
to the conference organiser: Dr Shaun Regan, School of English, QUB
( The submission deadline is 31 July 2008. For further
information and a conference flyer, please see the Centre’s website:

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