Call for Papers - Lessing Society Session at the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 43rd Annual Meeting, San Antonio, TX, March 22-25, 2012

Poetologies of Progress:

Conceptions of Societal Advancement in Lessing’s Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts and Other Writings.  

The Lessing Society would like to encourage the submission of papers centered around the examination of notions of progress found in the works of G.E. Lessing. Die Erziehung des Menschengeschlechts (1777) will serve as a primary foil for discussions of Lessing’s progressive tendencies. Written as a critique of religious fundamentalism (à la Goeze), Erziehung imbricates itself within a historical context of ongoing social and political transformations as a diatribe for human betterment. Some possible discourses of progress open to analysis would be, but are not limited to:

Political (cosmopolitanism vs. nationalism, democracy vs. tyranny)
Social (emancipation of women, human rights, civil freedoms)
Technological/Cultural (didactic tools, like theater and literature)
Nature (early models of evolution, humans as nature’s telos)
Religious (hierarchization, tolerance, reason vs. salto mortale)

How do Lessing’s aesthetic theories, literary writings, dramas, theories of dramaturgy, and fables also evoke underlying ideologies regarding societal advancement? Submissions need not deal explicitly with Erziehung and critical interactions are encouraged.

Please submit your abstracts to Seth Berk <[log in to unmask]>, by September 15th, 2011. Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. 

“Der Schwärmer tut oft sehr richtige Blicke in die Zukunft: aber er kann diese Zukunft nur nicht erwarten. Er wünscht diese Zukunft beschleuniget; und wünscht, dass sie durch ihn beschleuniget werde. Wozu sich die Natur Jahrtausende Zeit nimmt, soll in dem Augenblicke seines Daseins reifen. Denn was hat er davon, wenn das, was er für das Bessere erkennt, nicht noch bei seinen Lebezeiten das Bessere wird?” (Erziehung §90)

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