Pleasure's Potential: Religion and Leisure in the Long Eighteenth Century

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East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (EC/ASECS)
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This panel seeks papers that explore the intriguing relationships among religion, leisurely pursuits, and pleasure in the long eighteenth century. These connections include religion's complex engagement with the period's entertainment practices and changing social spaces as well as the idea of religion as a leisurely pursuit with its own pleasures. Participants are invited to consider (but are not limited to) the following questions:

- How do religious critiques of entertainment or leisure activities reflect changes in eighteenth-century social dynamics?

- How might categories of blasphemy, obscenity, or immorality intersect with an emerging culture of pleasure and/or eighteenth-century religious thought?

- In what ways do changing religious ideas and devotional practices produce, critique, or inform new accounts of pleasure?

- How might the habits of leisurely or devotional reading influence the function, composition, and reception of eighteenth-century texts? What about more public forms of entertainment?

In Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper suggests, "Leisure…is a mental and spiritual attitude" that reaches beyond one's "strictly limited function" as a worker to "the faculty of grasping the world as a whole and realizing [one's] full potentialities as an entity meant to reach Wholeness." The eighteenth-century pursuit of leisure and entertainment might therefore articulate an account of humanity's potential and purposes. This panel will contribute to the theme of "Leisure, Pleasure, and Entertainment in the Eighteenth Century" at the 45th Annual Conference of the East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, hosted by the University of Delaware, November 6-8, 2014.

This panel welcomes proposals from all disciplines and methodological approaches. Please direct abstracts to Donovan Tann at by June 15, 2014. Please include your name, contact information, and affiliation with your submission.