Disruptive Labor: Early Modern Gender, Capital, and Illicit Work (7/31/22)

deadline for submissions: 
July 31, 2022
full name / name of organization: 
Kris McAbee and Jessica C. Murphy

Call for Contributions to a Proposed Collected Edition 

Disruptive Labor: Early Modern Gender, Capital, and Illicit Work

Disruptive Labor: Early Modern Gender, Capital, and Illicit Work interrogates how some labor is denigrated and yet simultaneously supportive of the formation of the capitalistic markets upon which European nations expanded empires. By focusing on how these patriarchal societies see specific types of work as gendered, this edition explores how the gendering of labor establishes dynamic markets as either culturally sanctioned or illegitimate and, in turn, grapples with how cultural approbation undergirds economic growth. 

We seek essays for this collection that respond to contemporary critical questions about the rhetoric of “disruption” when it comes to forces shaping the economic landscape. The controversial theory of “disruptive innovation” describes the emergence of new markets in the late-stage capitalism of the twenty-first century. Essays in this edition will take up the process of disruption in terms of gendered labor, tracing this rhetoric back to the early modern period’s developments in modes of work that contributed to the emergence of capitalism. 

This collection hopes to include essays that contribute to recent scholarship on the gendered division of labor in the early modern period, which challenges the dominant narrative of family-based production as the singular mode for women’s work. We also seek essays that participate in current intersectional and materialist conversations about labor in domestic, affective, social, and/or political terms. By employing the conceptual framework of disruption, this collection will bring together discourse on marginalized genders with analyses of other non-normative identities and practices, including those of queer, poor, disabled, and non-white subjects. 

Considering how gender functions in cultural attempts to prohibit, criminalize, or disparage marginalized workers or practitioners of unsanctioned professions provides critical insight into the development of human capital in the early modern period. In particular, the edition will explore what representations of such disruptive laborers tell us about the dynamic between subsistence pursuits and the accumulation of economic surplus in early modern burgeoning capitalism. By engaging with literary representations from a variety of genres, alongside official records and other primary sources, this edition considers how these disruptive economies depend upon and sustain already authorized systems. With attention to the interplay between marginalized identities, illicit labor, and social forces, this collection engages how unruly work at once economically disrupts the market and reinforces the status quo of power and authority.

Please send a 250-500 word abstract, including contact information, for a 6,000-8,000 word chapter to disruptivelabor@gmail.com by 31 July 2022.