CFP: Distraction and Attention in the 18th-C. (9/15/06; ASECS, 3/22/07-3/25/07)

full name / name of organization: 
Natalie Phillips
contact email: 

Distraction and Attention in Eighteenth Century

How did the eighteenth century not only represent, but also handle problems
of readerly attention and distraction? According to Lord Chesterfield,
"there is not in all the world a surer sign of a small and paltry mind than
inattention." Hume described the mental stretch needed to retain skeptical
doubt as requiring endless self-discipline. At even the slightest
interruption, he wrote, "the Mind, like a spring, would relax." This panel
seeks to contextualize such representations of by bringing together
scholars of literature, art, and music who are interested in the history of
attention. Those interested in applied neuro-psychology, philosophy of
mind, and histories and theories of reading are also especially welcome.
Questions might include: what problems does the potential distractability
of the eighteenth century reader and thinker pose to writers and
philosophers of the age? how is the mind imagined to be contained,
restrained, and harnessed to a subject? what formal techniques do various
genres use to hold their reader's interest?

The deadline for proposals for this ASECS panel is September 15th, 2006.
Please email short abstracts to Natalie Phillips at or
mail them to Natalie Phillips, Margaret Jacks Hall, Stanford University,
Bldg. 460 Serra St., Stanford, CA 94305.

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Received on Wed Aug 16 2006 - 19:56:51 EDT