Additional sessions seeking participants for 2010 ASECS Annual Meeting 


The Novelty of Novels: A Pedagogy Roundtable

"The word Novel in all languages signifies something new."
Clara Reeve, The Progress of Romance (1785)

When we teach the eighteenth-century novel, we present students with a
deceptively familiar category. They expect the novels they read for our
courses to be like the novels they read for pleasure, but they instead
find these texts strange, disorienting, and sometimes unpleasurable.
Students often assume that the eighteenth-century novel is odd because
it is so old; our challenge is to reveal the ways in which the novel is,
even in its own time, very new.

This roundtable will consider the eighteenth-century novel as a
consciously innovative form.  Specifically, we ask participants to
reflect on the novelty of this genre-including evolutions in its form,
content, material circulation, authorship, and readership-in tandem with
the classroom strategies they have used to accentuate these
developments.  What forms of innovation do we privilege in our teaching
of this genre?  How did eighteenth-century readers themselves struggle
with these changes?  What is at stake in helping our students recognize
the novelty of these texts?  In many ways, the eighteenth-century novel
highlights a challenge common to all forms of teaching: how do we
communicate or define "newness"?

Interested participants should send abstracts to Jessica Leiman, Dept.
of English, Carleton College, One North College St., Northfield, MN
55057, or by email: [log in to unmask]


"Gender, Sexuality, and Happiness" (Women's Caucus) Danielle Bobker AND
Kathryn Steele, U. of Oklahoma, Bizzell Library 4, Norman, OK 73019;
Tel: (514) 848-2424 ext 2337; E-mail: [log in to unmask] AND
[log in to unmask]

Happiness is a common object of analysis these days. While self-help
gurus eclectically combine classical and theological notions such as the
good life (eudaimonia), providence, and nirvana to redefine and market
happiness, and demographers and positive psychologists increasingly
approach it empirically, seeking to identify "happiness indicators" like
marriage or income levels, cultural critics have begun probing the tacit
assumptions and effects of such discourses. Sara Ahmed (in New
Formations, 2008) argues that scholars working in this new field - many
of whom are feminists and queer theorists - suspend the belief "that
happiness is what we want, or that happiness is what is good" examining
instead how the promise of happiness operates to make us want certain
things and to see them as good. Thus new questions arise: What are
happiness's effects? Whose interests does it serve? What type of
subjects and social arrangements does it project, and how does it
enshrine them?

Our panel asks how happiness works to shore up forms of femininity,
masculinity, intimacy or eroticism in the philosophy, political theory,
literature, history, art, music, and science of the eighteenth century.
Papers may address gender and/or sexuality in happy forms such as
domestic novels, comedies, or conduct manuals, for instance; in the
happy endings of these or other written, visual, or performance texts;
or of the happy subjects projected by any of the period's many
meditations on happiness, such as Candide, Rasselas, Wealth of Nations,
First Principles of Government and Liberty, or The Declaration of
Independence. Papers exploring gender, sexuality, and utilitarianism,
providence, good luck, optimism, benevolence, pleasure, quiescence,
satisfaction, joy or one of happiness's many Others - sadness,
melancholy, disappointment, despair, pessimism - are also welcome.


"Gravitation: Laurence Sterne and the Abyss of Language" 
Peter DeGabriele, Mississippi State U.
AND Nathan Gorelick, SUNY-Buffalo; 
Dept. of Comparative 45 Literature, U. at Buffalo-SUNY, 
606 Clemens Hall, Buffalo NY, 14260; Tel: (646) 346-4910; 
E-mail: [log in to unmask], [log in to unmask]

While a good deal of critical attention has been paid to the obvious
relation between Laurence Sterne and John Locke, the mutual relation 
of both writers to the conceptual problem of language has been less 
appreciated. Briefly stated, it seems as though Locke's Essay Concerning 
Human Understanding maintains an almost obsessive commitment to the 
notion that language, and the signs of which it is comprised, should 
be solidified, such that the collective project of human knowledge might 
immunize itself from the contaminating effects of linguistic confusion. 
Sterne's novelistic appropriation of this obsession reflects a strong 
appreciation of Locke's work, but it seems to concern itself with the 
other side of signification: Tristram Shandy, for example, offers
a mode of literary enjoyment based upon the manipulation of linguistic
indeterminacy and its attendant confusion; it may be understood to 
cultivate a relationship to language that celebrates our inability to 
"say it all." This panel invites papers that explore this dimension of 
Sterne's work, including his Sermons, letters and novels. To what extent 
is this particular experience of language essential to the sentimentality 
of the text? Does sentimentality, for instance, (despite its focus on the 
body) depend on a distinction between the linguistic and the solidly 
material? How is indeterminacy productive of Sterne's unique position 
toward morality and belief? What does Sterne teach us about the possibility 
or impossibility of fully articulating or actualizing Locke's epistemology? 
Alternatively, does Sterne produce a re-reading of the standard relation 
of language to materiality in Locke? How might we align Sterne's work 
with other eighteenth-century philosophical interventions?


"New Directions in Dissent, Bunyan to Cowper" 
Lori Branch, U. of Iowa, Department of English, 
308 English-Philosophy Bldg., Iowa City, IA 52242; 
Tel: (319) 353-2466; 
Fax: (319) 335-2535; 
E-mail:  [log in to unmask]

This panel will hope to showcase innovative inquiries into the art,
theology, literature and culture of Dissent across the long eighteenth-
century, especially work that engages contemporary thinking about the 
rise of secularism and fundamentalism in modernity.

The German Studies Call for Papers List
Editor: Stefani Engelstein
Acting Assistant Editor:  Olaf Schmidt
Sponsored by the University of Missouri
Info available at: