Genre Trouble in Early Modern England (1500–1800)
CFP: “Genre Trouble in Early Modern England (1500–1800)”
Friday 11th March 2022, 9:30–4pm (Online)
Queen Mary University of London and Sorbonne Université
Keynote: Dr Kathryn Murphy (University of Oxford)
Early modern writings frequently resist neat or easy generic categorisation. Subject to interpretation, pastiche and modification, generic categories offer flexible guidelines rather than a strict set of rules. This one-day conference aims to look at generic experimentation, hybridity and innovation in early modern writing as a way to better understand the period’s multiple and evolving conceptions of genre.
In the last decade, scholars have come to accept and even embrace generic complexity and variety as a common feature of many early modern texts, in particular in the wide category of “life-writing”. This has led to reappraisals of both canonical and lesser-known texts, as well as the recovery of previously neglected genres such as mother’s legacies, conversion narratives and biblical verse paraphrase. Recent companions to early modern literature and women’s writing have also established a more specific and varied generic classification to better represent the generic engagements of writers of the period. And in archival research it has become common for literary scholars to pay closer attention to the genre ascribed to manuscripts –– on bindings, title-pages, flyleaves, or in catalogues –– with these initial descriptions increasingly thought to be of crucial value. Genre, that is, is back: raising questions of interpretation, formal development, kinds of contextualism and literary value –– with its capacity to bring about new categories of understanding, which appear, evolve and disappear, often leaving early modern texts unfamiliar and strange.
We will be particularly interested in investigating questions about the emergence, popularity, evolution and decline of genres; about how best to track generic changes and developments; and about the relationship between a choice of genre and a writer’s socio-cultural role. We are further interested in asking about early modern conceptions of genre and demonstrations of early modern genre-consciousness.
Topics can include, but are not limited to:
- Early modern genre theory (traditional genre categorisation, treatises, definitions)
- Early modern libraries and genre classification
- Print and genre (editors, printers, booksellers, catalogues)
- Manuscript and genre
- Genre and society (social rank, gender)
- Uncategorisable texts
- Generic hybridity
- Evolution of genres (characters, dialogues, meditations etc)
- “New” genres (imported from abroad, reception of classical genres)
- Writers’ genre-consciousness (prefatory material, letters, titles)
- Readers’ genre-consciousness (organising, annotating, miscellanies, commonplace books)
Abstracts of 150–200 words and short bios to be submitted to Katie Ebner-Landy (QMUL) and Emma Bartel (Sorbonne Université, VALE) at firstname.lastname@example.org by 15 December 2021. We welcome 20-minute papers by scholars at all stages of their careers. A special issue of the conference proceedings will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal for publication.