Periodisation: Pleasures and Pitfalls

One-day conference at All Souls College, Oxford – June 3rd 2014

Keynote Speaker: Professor James Simpson, Harvard
What do we mean by ‘medieval’? When does ‘late eighteenth-century’ become ‘Romantic’? What on earth is ‘Early Modern’? How did these categories come about in the first place? Papers are invited for a one-day conference on the advantages and problems of periodisation, which aims to interrogate the literary-historical categories that govern the way we organise, teach and think about literature. We invite 250-word abstracts for 20-minute papers on any aspect of periodisation. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

• period boundaries: should ‘boundary’ mean ‘division’ or ‘meeting point’?
• periods of literature which have suffered comparative critical neglect, and potential reasons for this neglect;
• the study of English Literature in universities and the validity of periodising approaches;
• the history of periodisation: what kinds of literary histories have critics and writers produced in the past, and how do they differ to the habits of periodisation now current?
• political and economic factors: do these provide imperatives for the shaping of the canon?
• are certain genres and forms conceived of as ‘characteristic’ of particular periods? What does this say about the way in which periods are established?
• radical alternatives: if we choose not to organise literary history by ‘period’, what might we do instead?

Please send your abstracts to the conference convenors, Clare Bucknell and Mary Wellesley, by February 1st 2014:
Full Details (BSECS Website)

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