Attention and Distraction

deadline for submissions: 
January 31, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Cambridge University Pre-1750 Graduate Conference

Attention and Distraction: A Graduate Conference

University of Cambridge
 | April 20, 2018

Sponsored by the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

The Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge is pleased to announce its annual graduate conference on literature before 1750, to be held on Friday 20April 2018.

Proposals are invited from MA students, PhD students, and recent graduates for papers on the theme of “Attention and Distraction.” For pre-modern readers, what did it mean to “attend” (or fail to attend) to a text? What roles do boredom and distraction have to play in the reading process? How do we attend to pre-modern literature in our moment of supposedly short attention spans?

Topics might include:

  • The attention economy
  • Readerly distraction and boredom
  • Prayer and concentration
  • Popular entertainment and divertissement
  • "Information overload" 

Proposals are due Wednesday 31 January 2018. They should include a title, brief abstract (200 words), and a short biography including your university and department affiliation. Speakers will present for 15 minutes, with time for questions at the end. 

Travel grants for speakers are available, and lunch and refreshments will be provided. 

Please direct proposals and questions to For more information, please visit our website at