15-17 April 2009

Keynote Speakers

Professor Thomas Keymer (University of Toronto)
Professor Nicholas Rogers (York University, Toronto)

Call for Papers

2009 sees the 250th anniversary of the events and publications of 1759,
a crucial moment in British and global history, culture and ideas. To
mark the occasion, the Centre for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Queen's
University Belfast will be hosting an interdisciplinary conference on
the theme of '1759'. The conference will present an opportunity for
discussion and critical assessment of a year that, according to Frank
McLynn, should be 'as well known in British history as 1066'.

In the international realm, 1759 represented the turning point in the
Seven Years' War and a watershed moment in Britain's drive for colonial
dominance over France, with British military and naval victories making
national heroes of men such as Pitt the Elder, General Wolfe and (to a
lesser extent) Admiral Hawke. In literature, 1759 also saw the
publication of 3 canonical novels of ideas: Voltaire's 'Candide', Samuel
Johnson's 'The Prince of Abissinia' (later 'Rasselas'), and the first
two volumes of Laurence Sterne's 'Tristram Shandy'. In the arenas of
moral philosophy and aesthetic theory, Adam Smith outlined a rational
model of sympathy in the first edition of 'The Theory of Moral
Sentiments', while Edward Young published his 'Conjectures on Original
Composition', Alexander Gerard an 'Essay on Taste', and Edmund Burke the
second edition of 'A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origins of our Ideas
of the Sublime and Beautiful', with its important new introduction on
'taste'. Elsewhere in culture and commerce, 1759 also saw the opening to
the public of the British Museum; John Harrison's completion of
chronometer Number 4 (the eventual Board of Longitude prize-winner); the
formal suppression of the 'Encyclopédie'; the deaths of Handel and
William Collins; and the founding in Dublin of the St James' brewery, by
Arthur Guinness.

The '1759' conference will enable discussion of all of these topics and
anniversaries, and of the possible relationships between them. As we
shall ask: if 1759 was a key year not just in political and military
terms but also in literature, culture and thought, what are the links
between these events and achievements, and how can we account -
historically, culturally and theoretically - for their concurrence at
this specific moment? More broadly, we shall hope to explore the 1750s
as an understudied decade in the field of culture (as for instance in
the history of the novel), and the national and political repercussions
of the events of 1759, both within the Seven Years' War and beyond (for
instance in Ireland and in relation to Jacobitism). In the spirit of the
period itself, the conference will also encourage more general enquiry
into the relationships between history, literature, philosophy and
culture, along with self-reflexive debate about the academic
'anniversary' industry and the merits, and limitations, of focusing on a
single year in history.

300-word proposals are invited, for 20-minute papers. The deadline for
submission is 31 July 2008. Proposals should be emailed to the
conference organiser: Dr Shaun Regan, School of English, QUB
([log in to unmask]). For further information and a conference flyer,
please see the Centre's website:


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