Self-Promotion and Self-Aggrandizement: Accelerating Literary Legacy through Nonfiction

deadline for submissions: 
December 31, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Lindsay Emory Moore, South Central Society for Eighteenth Century Studies
contact email: 

Self-Promotion and Self-Aggrandizement: Accelerating Literary Legacy through Nonfiction

This year, Martin Scorsese started a debate about "good cinema" when he boldly asserted that all movies in the Marvel universe were not cinema because "cinema is an art form that brings the unexpected," where superhero movies are formulaic, and nothing is at stake (New York Times 2019). Scorsese's opinion piece inspired multiples of movie critics, other directors, actors, and moviegoers to respond, either agreeing or disagreeing with him. This debate also motivated questions about the definition of an "art form" and who is qualified to define that term. Specifically, a lot of people criticized the obvious self-serving nature of a film director (who had a movie coming out) attempting to define himself as a creator of an art form and his movies as "art."

Likewise, in the eighteenth-century, writers constantly tried to define what "good literature" was in a way that included their own works or those of their friends and mentors. Beginning in the Restoration, long eighteenth-century writers engaged in pamphlet wars and wrote encomiums and invectives to one another through play dedications and satires—including mock epics and imitations. Writers also composed nonfiction genres such as literary criticism, biographies, collections of letters, and literary histories, wherein their attempted to situate themselves or their friends in a “Literary” framework (and by contrast, they attempted to situate their literary enemies outside this framework). We can trace a kind of adjudication of “Literature” through these genres in the eighteenth century.

This is a panel at the 2020 SCSECS Conference in St. Augustine, FL and is interested in the ways writers of the long eighteenth-century (American, British, or otherwise) used nonfiction genres such as life writing, literary criticism, literary history, pamphlets, author's notes, etc. to create a literary legacy for themselves or members of their literary coterie. You may also discuss how writers of this period used these types of writings to create negative literary legacies for their competitors and enemies. 

Please submit a brief paper proposal to Dr. Lindsay Emory Moore at LEMoore@collin.edu by December 31, 2019. Lindsay Emory Moore is a Professor of English at the Spring Creek campus of Collin College in Plano, TX.