CFP: Pop Enlightenments: The Eighteenth Century Now

deadline for submissions: 
June 18, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Emrys Jones and Madeleine Pelling
contact email: 

Contemporary depictions of the long eighteenth century – whether drawn from historic sources or responding imaginatively to the era’s multifarious legacies – regularly captivate TV, film and theatre audiences and gamers alike. Increasingly, scholarly biographies provide the basis for big budget biopics, eighteenth-century narratives are adapted in new and experimental ways, objects from museum collections are replicated in cultures of fandom, and academics are invited onto sets as consultants. During a global moment in which the representation and deployment of history in the public sphere are subject to new and urgent scrutiny, we ask what function film, television, gaming, theatre and more can perform when depicting the eighteenth century in our modern world? Can such works speak to perceived eighteenth-century ideas and values and, simultaneously, the shifting paradigms of our own time? How, and why, should we engage?

Pop Enlightenments will bring together scholarly essays and interviews with creative industry professionals. Building on conversations begun in Emrys Jones’s Pop Enlightenments podcast, it takes a broad approach to explore how eighteenth-century forms and narratives are variously taken up, recycled and re-visioned in contemporary media. It asks which histories are being told and by whom.

We seek proposals for chapters from scholars, including early career researchers. Particular areas for analysis and discussion might include, but are not limited to:

  • The eighteenth century’s imaginative currency in contemporary popular culture
  • The representation (or misrepresentation) of historical crimes and traumas
  • Intersections between eighteenth-century models of culture and our own
  • Considerations of genre and audience expectation
  • Contrasting international contexts for adaptation and re-creation
  • Recent shifts in historiographical discourse, and industry responses to these

We welcome contributions discussing any cultural sources from the last twenty years. The list below, while not exhaustive, provides some examples of possible focus points.

Potential contributors are requested to send 300-word abstracts to and by 17th June 2021.


Works of Interest






The Great


The Scandalous Lady W


Turn: Washington’s Spies

Black Sails



Catherine the Great


Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell




Amazing Grace

The Favourite

Portrait of a Lady on Fire


The Duchess

A Little Chaos

Marie Antoinette

Mary Shelley

Bright Star

Beauty and the Beast

Last of the Mohicans

The Patriot

Pirates of the Caribbean

Interview with a Vampire

Sleepy Hollow

John Adams

Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

The Royal Affair

Love and Friendship

Rob Roy

Lady J




The Madness of King George




Assassin’s Creed III, IV, Rogue and Unity

The Council

Return of the Obra Dinn

We. The Revolution

Banner of the Maid