SCSECS Panel--Cheap Print: Chapbooks, Ballads, News, Scandal, and Other Ephemera

deadline for submissions: 
December 6, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
South Central Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies / SCSECS
contact email: 

SCSECS 2020: The Speedy Enlightenment: Moving, Racing, Quickening, and Otherwise Accelerating the Long Eighteenth Century,  February 7-8, Embassy Suites Hotel, St. Augustine FL

The theme for the conference is speed, and what was speedier in the 18th century than cheap print?

Chapbooks, ballads, news, & especially scandal were cheaply published and even copied by hand at a bewildering rate. This Other Print tradition was not only a vital part of everyday life, but also intersected with more canonic texts and types of production on many levels: parodying theater and other fictional characters, setting recent crimes or scandals to music that composers adopted for art music, creating 18th-century memes that crossed all levels of society--entertaining, educating, and occasionally ruining reputations irreparably.

This panel seeks to investigate Cheap Print & associated manuscript transmission at all levels: production, consumption/dissemination, and reception. Why was it produced and by whom? Although these items often present provenance challenges, discerning the contextual circunstanstances of their origins can be enormously illuminating. How were they consumed or disseminated? Ballad mongers and singers sold ballads through broadsheets and by the singing of them? Chapbooks could be available through booksellers but might also have graced the shelves and tables of contemporary coffee houses, which functioned as physical nexus for the communication of news and information. And finally, who collected these items that they might survive all the way up to the present and what if anything do they tell us? Stationers' records often list publications from the period, but many of those items are no longer extant. It is still important information that they existed at all, which can also be debated, but the work of collectors cannot be underestimated.

Please send 300-word abstracts to panel organizer Dr. Stacey Jocoy, Associate Professor of Musicology, Texas Tech, at before 6 December 2019.