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Please send all abstracts for all panels to Sharon Alker at Abstracts are due by February 15th, 2013.

Defoe's Afterlives

Panel Chair: Nicholas Seager

In recent years, scholarly attention has turned to the "literary afterlives" of certain major authors, whose works, personality, or reputation has exerted an influence on later cultural production in the form of fictionalizations of their life, adaptations of their works, and other popular responses, from blogs to literary forgeries, that have ensured that writers like Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens have in a certain sense never died. This panel invites considerations of the afterlives and appropriations of Defoe and his works, particularly beyond the eighteenth century. Prospective panelists may choose to address the following, though it is by no means a prescriptive list:

Proposals that address Defoe's global afterlives, tracing his cross-cultural reception and appropriation, are very welcome.

Crime in the Age of Defoe

Panel Chair: Christopher Flynn

Daniel Defoe was well acquainted with criminals and crime, as were other others in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Defoe wrote biographies of famous criminals, spent time in Newgate and the pillory, and riddled his novels with criminal actions and actors. This panel will focus on crime, criminals, prisons, courts, punishment, and related issues in the period.

Defoe’s Energy

Panel Chair: Christopher Loar

Patricia Yaeger has recently asked how the study of literature and culture might change if critics were to situate authors and texts not in literary periods but in cultures of energy--for example, twenty-first century “petroculture,” so dependent on massive expenditures of energy derived from oil. Defoe’s texts take us through a variety of temporalities, from African savagery to ultramodern London; what forms of energy drive these varied cultures? How does the production and expenditure of energy manifest itself in Defoe’s texts and those of his contemporaries? What makes things happen? Might a study of the energy behind texts give us access to wider questions about the relationship between material and literary cultures? Possible paper topics might include human and animal labor; wind power and shipping; coal; wood and deforestation; windmills; rivers; or questions about periodization and material culture more generally.

Public Intellectualism and the Eighteenth Century
Sponsored by Digital Defoe: Studies in Defoe & His Contemporaries

Panel Chair: Katherine Ellison

The editors of Digital Defoe would like to sponsor a panel on the topic of “Public Intellectualism and the Eighteenth Century,” which would complement the journal’s special anniversary issue to be published in October of 2013. Panel participants will be invited to submit their work for publication in the special issue. The panel invites considerations, as formal papers/presentations or as more informal but analytical personal narratives, about how the interdisciplinary fields of eighteenth-century studies, broadly researched and taught, have and could be shared across a diverse range of audiences, inside and outside the classroom and beyond academic publications.

Topics may include, but need not be limited to: the history and concept of public intellectualism defined, the figure of the public intellectual in eighteenth-century texts or events; popular understanding of the eighteenth century; analyses of the public, the public sphere, crowds, swarms, mobs, etc.; publishing and publication; cultural attitudes toward intellectualism, historical and current, and their influences on eighteenth-century studies; blogs, wikis, Facebook pages, digital projects, television, film, video games, and other social media that communicate eighteenth-century studies to larger audiences; the role of the teacher as public intellectual; the classroom as intellectual public space; the impact of public intellectualism on particular fields relevant to eighteenth-century studies, such as disability studies; children’s and adolescent literature as sites for public intellectualism; etc.

The Island Motif in Defoe and His Contemporaries

Panel Chair: Leah Orr

Crusoe’s island has long captured popular attention, and has come to stand for much more than a simple geographic location. How does this mythic symbol fit with other representations of islands in the early eighteenth century? Other authors, including Longueville, Swift, Aubin, and Haywood, also use islands in their fiction. This panel invites proposals for papers on all aspects of “islands” in the literature or culture of the early eighteenth century. Possible topics might look at islands in other castaway narratives, pirate narratives, travel writing, satire, or allegory, or at “islands” as a cultural myth or symbol. Papers comparing Defoe’s islands to other representations in the eighteenth century are welcome, as are papers focusing on a single author or work.

Graduate Student Panel: New Directions in Defoe Studies

Panel Chair: TBA

This panel invites paper proposals from graduate students working on Defoe and related topics, including the rise of the novel, early eighteenth-century journalism, nonfictional prose, authorship studies, or political writing and poetry. Abstracts will be circulated among participants in advance to foster discussion, and a senior scholar will act as a respondent.

Defoe on the Globe: Is there any nature in the eighteenth century?

Panel Chair: Lora Geriguis

From “The Storm” that gave him his start as a journalist, to the animals that roam the landscapes of his novels at the twilight of his career, Defoe’s works engage the global environment in a wide variety of ways. Environmentally conversant readings of works by Defoe and his contemporaries are solicited for this panel. Ecocritical readings of individual works, or papers that investigate the particular challenges attendant upon those who engage ecocriticism in their study of the eighteenth century, are equally welcome. The question posed in the panel title was raised during the second meeting of the Defoe Society in 2011. This panel seeks papers that will help further that conversation.

Piratical Contemporaries

Panel Chair: Manushag Powell

This panel seeks papers that address Defoe’s own pirates (such as “Captain Avery,” “Your Old Friend Captain Bob,” or the Madagascar lot), as well as the treatment of pirates by contemporary authors including Charles Johnson, Alexander Smith, Penelope Aubin, and so forth. Questions under consideration might include: what motivates the translation of historical pirates into literary representations? What changes (or traditions) are required by such transpositions? How do pirates interact with the demands of genre? How do authors interact with the realities of pirates and piracy? Of what use are narrative pirates? Both historical and literary / cultural perspectives are welcome. Please send questions or abstracts of 200-250 words.

Defoe's Self-Reflexive Prose

Panel Chair: Rivka Swenson

Characterized by some as a careless hack and by others as an author of masterpieces, Defoe was in fact a skilled writer who spend considerable time thinking about and developing his craft--and, in interesting moments here and there, writing about it. This panel seeks papers that showcase Defoe in any of his meta-narrative or meta-fictional (in the case of his fiction) modes. For instance, in his History of the Union, he discusses at length the hard work of fashioning a narrative "thread"; his explanation illuminates many of the aesthetic and political choices he made in the History 's organization, its imagery, its elisions and conflations, its rhetoric. Are there similar moments in The Compleat Tradesman? Or Colonel Jack? Many of his fictional and nonfictional prose writings contain such enlightening, writerly moments of self-awareness. Calling attention to the artificiality of narrative, these moments are important clefs for Defoe's formalist aims in a given work.

Fables, local and global, 1660-1740

Panel Chair: Stephen Gregg

The fable was a highly visible genre in the literary culture of late seventeenth and early eighteenth-century England: as the title to Dryden’s own collections of translations indicated – Fables, Ancient and Modern – the diversity allowed within the term was generous. Moreover, European fables were extended and enriched by those from the Middle-East, India and China. And, of course, as analyses driven by animal studies and ecocritical concerns have recently emphasised, the animal fable was one of the most significant modes of this genre and which figured in both European and Oriental tales. The fable, then, is fascinating for its multiformity; a dynamism that powered the sheer variety of the purposes for which its was shaped in England, including debates about philosophy, gender, politics, cultural difference, empire, literary aesthetics and taste, the human / animal divide, and even economics. Finally, it is curiously pivotal as a mode through which the movement between local and global can be tracked, in terms of geographical source and destination, but also in terms of intent and transformation, or local meaning and global effects. This panel will consider any aspect of fables and fabling by Defoe or his contemporaries.

Defoe and Sermonic Literature

Panel Chair: Laura Stevens

This panel seeks to place Defoe’s writings into dialogue with contemporaneous sermons, examining overlaps in their subject matter, their rhetoric, and their generic features. Papers are welcome that consider how exactly his work was influenced by sermons, and how he sought to intervene in homiletic discourse as well as ecclesiastical debate. Potential topics might include sermonic interludes in Defoe’s novels; Defoe’s approach to collation, exhortation, scriptural quotation and other typical features of sermons; the influence of individual preachers or preaching traditions; Defoe’s response to theological controversies ranging from the Sacheverell riots to deism.

Defoe and Female Novelists, and our History of Novels: A Roundtable Discussion

Roundtable Chair: Laura Stevens

The past three decades have seen an explosion of interest in, and knowledge of, female authors of eighteenth-century prose fiction. With this change has come a dramatic alteration in the traditional “rise of the novel” narrative that is so central to our understanding of eighteenth-century British literature. This panel is proposed as an opportunity to step back and assess the current state of scholarship on eighteenth-century novels, focusing in particular on how the rise of scholarship on female authors has altered our understanding of canonical male figures such as Defoe. Questions to be discussed include: What is the place of Defoe within a feminist canon? How has attention to figures such as Manley and Haywood also brought him greater attention, and how has this significant restructuring of the scholarly enterprise simply altered the questions we ask of him and his writings? How has feminist scholarship served to enhance, alter, or critique the “great author” model of literary criticism?

The Social Networks of Daniel Defoe

Panel Chair: Victoria Warren

While interrogating 21st-century definitions of "social networks," this panel will examine the term vis-à-vis the long 18th century, and each paper will offer a substantiated perspective on the theme of Defoe and his contemporaries. The panel’s parameters are flexible, focusing on Defoe’s lifetime, England and/or (his) additional social “connections” in the British Isles, or in the colonies (or beyond). Which people (as individuals or in groups) can be seen as part of his “social network," and in what way? How do we invoke the term for Defoe's time? Do our digital forms of communication invite parallels with 18th-century forms of social networks? Panelists' foci will determine this exploration of England 1660-1731 when something we could call "social networking" was pivotal (e.g., a burgeoning of coffee- houses, various clubs/organizations, and print-culture—and Defoe).

The Scottish Question: Defoe and his Contemporaries on Scotland

Panel Chairs: Sharon Alker and Holly Nelson

As we approach a Scottish Independence Referendum in 2014 and begin to consider how an independent Scotland might thrive internationally (and Defoe turns in his grave), it is an apt time to consider whether there is material in the writing of Defoe that might complicate the overt and explicit support Defoe the agent crafted in support of the Union. When we consider Sharon Alker and Holly Nelson his writing as a whole, rather than just the Scottish writings, or when we consider his work alongside that of his contemporaries, can we locate material that might engage with cross- border relations more broadly or trans-national relations in such a way that reformulates our perspective of Defoe’s Scotland? Papers are welcome on Defoe and other authors in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries who are grappling with cross-border relations.

Recent research in Global Defoe

Panel Chair: TBA

If you have an innovative new idea about Defoe Studies that doesn’t fit any of the above panels, this might be the panel for you. This panel is open to a variety of different topics and approaches to Global Defoe. 


Page last updated on November 13, 2012.