Banner: SCSECS 2024

The Book and the City

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Portland, Oregon
March 1-2, 2024

Submit a paper proposal! Deadline: December 23, 2023

This year, the Annual Meeting of the South Central Society for Eighteenth Century Studies will be held in one of the most thought-provoking cities in contemporary America: Portland, Oregon. The theme of the conference will be "The Book and the City," but papers on all aspects of the long eighteenth century are welcome.

Portland has long attracted readers and writers, and two of its most iconic establishments pay respect to that heritage. Powell's City of Books, an independent bookstore opened in 1971 and occupying an entire city block in Downtown Portland, features roughly two million used and new books, at very good prices. The site of our conference, The Heathman Hotel, has long been the out-of-town residence for visiting authors. The Heathman calls its lobby a library for good reason: the walls are adorned with shelves full of signed first editions written by the hundreds of authors who have stayed at the Heathman. From the moment of arrival, books and bibliophilia will surround all conference attendees. And although a "boutique" hotel, the Heathman offers a special rate for conferees: $149 per night for single and $169 for double. (Shoulder dates with the same rates both before and after the conference are available for those who wish to extend their trip to the Pacific Northwest.)

decorative elementdecorative elementWe have a number of panels on the docket already (see below). If you'd like to participate in any of these panels, send your brief paper proposal to the Chair of the panel.

True to its past practice, SCSECS welcomes panels and papers on all subjects relating to the long eighteenth century, focusing on any region of the globe. If you'd like to deliver a paper on a topic other than those listed below, send your brief paper proposal to John Scanlan, the Chair of the conference:

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The theme of our conference, The Book and the City, suggests a number of possible starting points for panels and papers. London authors and their libraries; John Gay's Trivia; policing and crime in fact and fiction; lexicography and lexicographers; Swift and the city; Bernard Lintot and Edmund Curll; Shakespeare editions; law and literature; literary fraud and piracy, and David Hume and the Advocates Library. Obviously, this list, drawn mainly from topics relating to British literary culture, is only a beginning.

But we aspire to present at our conference a variety of methods of understanding, and your paper need not be associated with the theme of the conference. Whether your topic arises from your interests in music, politics, history, linguistics, painting, portrait busts, prosody, cartography, geology, economics, neuroscience; etc.; and whether it addresses sources or issues most directly concerning French, German, British, American, African, Caribbean, Chinese, or "Atlantic" culture, your panel proposal or paper proposal is welcome!

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Proposed Panels to Date

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decorative elementAsia in the Eighteenth Century (Susan Spencer:

decorative elementBeyond, Between, or Against the Nation State (Dave Mazella:

decorative elementThe City and the Bookie: Risk, Chance, Gambling, and All Other Forms of Unpedictability in Art, Literature, Science, and Thought (Kevin Cope:

decorative elementEdinburgh, Books, and the Eighteenth Century (Peter Fosl:

decorative elementThe Eighteenth Century and the Classics: In Honor of John Burke (Susan Spencer:

decorative elementGenres of Improvement, Equilibrium, or Decline (

decorative elementInterdisciplinary Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century (Kathryn Duncan:

decorative elementLaw and Literature (John Scanlan:

decorative elementPolitics, Theology, and Principles: Moral Responses to Crisis (Gloria Eive:

decorative elementReligious Publishing in the Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly:

decorative elementShakespeare and the Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly:

decorative elementYale and the Study of the Eighteenth Century (John Scanlan:


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While much of our time will be occupied with the conference, there will be plenty of time in the late afternoons to explore Powell's, the restaurants, the sites of recent protests (which feature in some cases statueless pedestals), and nearby Washington Park, home of the Rose Gardens and the Oregon Zoo. Students of the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt will note that one of the world's great collections of Humboldtian penguins is housed at the Oregon Zoo!

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