ASECS 2015: Minor Authors and Minor Genres: Re-examining the Creation of the Eighteenth-Century Literary Canon
By the end of the eighteenth-century, thanks to literary histories such as Samuel Johnson's Lives of the Poets and Thomas Warton's The History of English Poetry, along with the beginning of literary criticism, the framework of the eighteenth-century canon we still use today had already been created. Writers who were lauded by Johnson and Warton as the writers of the age are for the most part still anthologized and taught in undergraduate courses in today's universities. However, an entire oeuvre of white male authors of the dominant political party—such as Elkanah Settle, Colley Cibber, and Warton himself—are relatively unexplored even though they exerted influence over literary culture as City Poet and Poets Laureate, respectively. The corresponding state-sponsored poetry and drama these men wrote have generally been coded as minor. The assumption to date seems to have been that these authors and their works are minor because they are simply bad; this panel will consider other hypotheses:
•How did certain genres become coded as minor?
•Which authors were writing major genres and which authors were writing minor genres?
•What were the different rhetorical purposes of these major/ minor genres?
•Did authors become coded as major or minor as a result of the genre they were writing in, OR did genres become minor as a result of which authors were employing them?
Essays that focus on economic or material culture approaches to the creation of major or minor authors or genres are welcome. Please send an approximately 250-word abstract to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 15, 2014.