The Rhetoric of the Professions, 1600-1800

deadline for submissions: 
February 1, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Lyn Bennett & Trevor Ross / Dalhousie University
contact email: 

We are inviting proposals for a collection of essays on the rhetoric and representation of professionalism in early modern and eighteenth-century England.

The collection will explore the rise of professional discourse and professional authority during the pre-industrial period.  It will consider how certain forms of specialized labour came to be seen as the purview of professionals, that is, of self-regulating bodies of free practitioners who could claim a monopoly of knowledge and competence over their activity.   Contributors may examine entire professional fields or present specific case studies of practitioners, whether from the traditional “learned professions” (divinity, medicine, law, engineering) or the newer intellectual and cultural professions (art, architecture, authorship, science).  They may analyze, among others, examples of professional self-fashioning in trade manuals or other documents, literary and artistic representations of professionals, or critiques of the professions by lay and guild practitioners.  They may deal with the evolution and character of jargons, technical vocabularies, disciplinary genres, or discursive protocols.   They may address how professionals attempted to assert their independence from church or state, establish a system of credentials and rewards for their activity, or promote their work as providing disinterested objective counsel and service to others, including the public in general.  They may investigate how the members of a profession defined their field of expertise, the nature of their calling, the value of their activity to society, and the relation of their professional roles to their personal identity.     

Please send an abstract (300-400 words) along with a brief bio to the editors, Lyn Bennett ( or Trevor Ross ( by February 1, 2017.  An academic publisher has expressed interest in the project, and the editors will submit a detailed proposal to the press.