The Future of the Eighteenth Century

The face of London is now indeed strangely altered. Since March, its residents (along with most of the rest of the world) have been confined to their homes as a little-understood and rapidly-transmitted virus has swept the world. London was one early epicenter for the pandemic, New York another. Madrid. Milan. Rio. The hardest hit […]

Our Scholarly Future

(Or, SEL’s Recent Studies in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century) Because of my recent experience with a second Studies in English Literature omnibus review, I decided to take a bird’s-eye view of the first two decades of the twenty-first century of eighteenth-century studies for the “Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Future of the Profession” panel at […]

This Ship We’re In

In Fall 2019, I spoke at a workshop in my department on “Decolonization in the Classroom,” where I was asked to discuss how one approaches the teaching of eighteenth-century British literature through a “decolonizing” methodology. Since the 2015 release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s Calls to Action, Canadian universities among other institutions […]

What Kind of Future are We Making?

Last fall at my home institution SUNY Buffalo, amidst a crisis in college-wide decisions about graduate education, two of my colleagues called a faculty meeting by petition. This was no light matter; they activated a section of the bylaws of the College of Arts and Sciences that had not been touched in decades. The meeting […]

A History of the New Eighteenth Century

The eighteenth century has always been new. Ab ovo, Tristram Shandy might say: right from the egg. Even when it lay in the future—or maybe especially when it did—it was new. Take, for instance, John Dryden’s Secular Masque (1700), written in the fledgling months of that new century. Literary historians and critics usually think of […]

Snapshots of a Disappearing Field

This is no time to mince words. The state of French eighteenth-century studies is so dire that I have difficulty imagining that elsewhere it’s even close to business as usual. The future of eighteenth-century studies is now. If colleagues and administrators can’t be convinced, and convinced very soon, that the eighteenth century still has a […]

The Shape of Things to Come

(Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Community College) When I attended the “Eighteenth-Century Studies and the Future of the Profession” panel at MLA 2020 in Seattle, I felt compelled during the Q&A to point out the underrepresentation of faculty from community colleges and other teaching-intensive institutions among the panelists as well as in the audience. This mattered […]

We Must Keep Moving

When Jonathan Sachs asked me to participate in this round table, I immediately accepted. What could be more important or sustaining, at this moment of precarity, than talking with colleagues I admire about the future of our field? I could spend my very short time arguing with clichéd and uninformed narratives of the decline of […]

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