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ASECS 2015 - Manuscript Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Roundtable
full name / name of organization:
American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
Manuscript Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century: A Roundtable
The eighteenth century’s reputation for bookishness can be traced to its proliferation of print material. Authors, poets, and publishers masterminded the production of Grub Street doggerel, the popularity of novels, the circulation of daily newspapers, the culture of collecting and gathering texts, and the wide dissemination of many more print forms. The richness of this printed archive continues to yield fruitful insights into eighteenth-century literary life. But alongside this flurry of printed texts, manuscript production and circulation also thrived throughout the long eighteenth century. From the licentious satires and clandestine newsletters of the Restoration era to the diaries and letters of mid-century travelers, from handwritten cookbook collections to commonplace books, manuscripts can extend our archive in many directions. This roundtable will assess the roles of manuscripts in current eighteenth-century scholarship across a range of topics, genres, and decades. What particular challenges and pay-offs does manuscript study involve? How can attentiveness to non-print material broaden our understanding of eighteenth-century literary culture, readership, genre? When can attentiveness to manuscript texts reshape our understanding of well-known printed works? How can digital humanities introduce eighteenth-century manuscripts to a wider audience? Participants will present brief papers discussing the role of manuscripts in their current research, leaving ample time for a roundtable discussion of methodologies, challenges, developments, and future directions of manuscript study in the long eighteenth century.