Monthly Archives: July 2013

Libaries and digital humanities: CFPs for ASECS 2014

There are some exciting panels being proposed at the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 2014 (Williamsburg, VA).I’ve reproduced the CFPs here.

First, there a number of panels on libraries (including one by your own blogger):

“The Private Library” Stephen H. Gregg, Dept. of English and Cultural Studies, Bath Spa U., Bath, BA2 9BN. E-mail:
This session aims to examine the private library in the long eighteenth century. Possible topics of discussion might include: the reconstruction of reading experiences / study practices in the library; recording, annotating, and marking in the library; the cultural, political or ideological functions of collecting books or the display of learning; design, layout, order and space;; ‘lost’ libraries / collections and their reconstruction; the representation of the private library in literature or in letters of the period. Finally, the session would also be interested in questions of methodology, approach and disciplinarity.

“Print Culture and Dissent in the Long Eighteenth-Century Atlantic World” (The Bibliographical Society of America) Kyle B. Roberts, Loyola U., Chicago, History Dept., 1032 W Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60660. E-mail:
This panel explores the role print culture played in religious mid educational knowledge exchanges across the eighteenth century as a means of opening discussions about dissenting practice in the Atlantic World.  This panel will ask several key questions: how might these interactions and exchanges enrich our understanding of thedimensions of religious, educational, and cultural practice in the transatlantic dissenting community? What can be
learned from the successes or failures of the many efforts to propagate and disseminate forms of dissenting knowledge? How might exploring the reception or dismissal of particular books alter our understanding of dissent? Papers that examine these questions from the perspectives of the history of the book, the history of reading, and the history of libraries are especially welcome.

“Libraries and Booksellers” (The Bibliographical Society of America) Laura Miller, U. of West Georgia, Dept. of English, 1601 Maple Street, Carrollton, GA 30118. E-mail:
The study of libraries and booksellers is essential for understanding the circulation and management of information in the long eighteenth century. This panel seeks proposals for 15-20 minute presentations on booksellers and libraries. Topics might include—but are certainly not limited to—private collections, university libraries, subscription libraries, the book trade, “bestsellers,” or the connections between libraries, booksellers, and readership.

There are also two panels sessions being proposed under the auspices of the Digital Humanities Caucus

“Practicing Digital Pedagogy.” Benjamin Pauley, Dept. of English, Eastern Connecticut State U., 83 Windham St., Willimantic, CT 06226. E-mail: AND Stephen H. Gregg, Dept. of English, Bath Spa U., Newton Park, Newton St Loe, Bath, BA2 9BN, UK. E-mail:
The ASECS Digital Humanities caucus invites proposals for a session on digital Humanities and pedagogy. Presentations might examine the opportunities (and challenges) that digital methods present for teaching the eighteenth century, or might address approaches to teaching digital methods in the eighteenth-century studies classroom. What kinds of insights are digital approaches especially well-positioned to yield for students? How might the kind of “making” that has often been a hallmark of digital humanities work complement or extend the kind of analytical work we still want students to do? How do we embed practical instruction in working with digital technologies alongside our teaching of our subjects? How do we help our students to develop a measure of methodological self-consciousness about digital approaches even as we introduce them to those methods? Presentations sharing insights drawn from practical classroom experience are highly encouraged, but more general reflections on the place of the digital in teaching eighteenth-century studies are welcome, as well.

“Digital Approaches to the Material.” Tonya Howe, Dept. of English, Marymount U., 2807 North Glebe Rd., Arlington, VA 22207. E-mail: AND Mark Vareschi, Dept. of English, U. of Wisconsin-Madison, 600 North Park St., Madison, WI 53706. E-mail:
This panel, sponsored by the ASECS DH caucus, solicits work addressing the role of the digital humanities in the study of eighteenth-century material culture. How can digital approaches help us theorize, imagine, or represent the objects and experiences of a lived world? What challenges does material culture pose for the digital humanities? What is the relationship between the study of material culture and the digital humanities, conceived as an ethos of practice? Topics might include theatrical performance, public and private space, print culture, the circulation of objects. We seek a variety of approaches- project overviews, theoretical work, individual critical examinations–and are open to non-traditional presentational formats. Please send brief proposals, including a statement of presentation format, to co-chairs Tonya Howe ( and Mark Vareschi (

See also

And a reminder that there will be a THATCamp ASECS2014

CFP: Defoe Society panels at ASECS 2014

There are two exciting panel sessions being proposed under the auspices of the Daniel Defoe Society for the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies 2014 (Williamsburg, VA). Details of the Call for Papers are here:

‘“A True-Born Englishman’s a Contradiction’: Nation, Identity, and Verse 1660-1830.” Andreas Mueller, University of Worcester, Henwick Grove, Worcester, WR2 6AJ, United Kingdom. E-mail:
The eighteenth century was, as Linda Colley has suggested in Britons: Forging the Nation 1707-1873, the time when ‘a broad sense of British national identity’ was ‘superimposed on much older allegiances’. Verse publications such as Daniel Defoe’s The True-Born Englishman (1700), which was frequently republished throughout the century and beyond, provided a platform for an interrogation of the relationship between the individual and national history, and a means for contesting dominant and emerging notions of Englishness and/or Britishness . Extending the period covered by Colley’s seminal study to include the years from 1660, proposals are invited for papers that explore late seventeenth- and eighteenth-century verse productions by Defoe and other
writers of verse in relation to the broadly defined concept of national identity.

“Defoe and his Contemporaries: Trauma, Memory, and the Mind.” Kit Kincade, Dept. of English, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN 47809. E-mail:
This panel seeks to investigate Defoe, and his contemporaries, expressions of trauma and how it manifests itself through depictions of memories, how the memory might work, or how the mind processes the trauma.

Defoe and Descartes’ beast-machine: a brief bibliography

HoundRecently, I became rather obsessed with two small pieces in Defoe’s Review of March 27th, 1705 and the ‘Supplement of January 1705’ (published after March). They debate the extent to which dogs can reason. Researching the contexts for this involved a deep dive into the complex history of the debate about reasoning animals, the animal soul, and Descartes’ ‘beast-machine’ as outlined in his Discourse on Method. The debate spun across religious, philosophical, classical, literary, journalistic and scientific writings for over a century after. But I particularly needed to map out the writings published in the years immediately before Defoe’s 1705 piece.[1] The results revealed a gratifying surge in the English debate from around 1690. Below I’ve listed these, in chronological order, with some very brief notes to indicate their position. In addition, Charles Morton – Defoe attended Morton’s Newington Green Dissenting Academy – clearly engaged in the debate in his own teaching, in a section entitled ‘Appendix of the Soules of Brutes’ in his MS dissertation ‘Pneumaticks: Or the Doctrine of Spirits’ (Morton is skeptical about the beast-machine).

T. Lucretius Carus the Epicurean philospher his six books De natura rerum done into English verse, with notes. Trans., Thomas Creech. Oxford: printed by L. Lichfield for Anthony Stephens, 1682. It had reached a fifth edition by 1700. (Creech’s notes acknowledge the possibility of animal rationality but not the logical consequence of the immortality of an animal soul).

Essays of Michael, Seigneur de Montaigne in Three Books. Trans., Charles Cotton. London, 1685. This had reached a third edition by 1700. (This is positive about animal rationality and willing to concede significant likenesses between human and animals).

Plutarch’s morals translated from the Greek by several hands. London: printed for T. Sawbridge, M. Gilliflower, R. Bently [and seven others], 1691; vol 5. Translations of the Moralia appeared from the 1680s, but only volume 5 included the two tales that debate animal rationality: ‘Which are more Crafty’ and ‘That Brute Beasts make use of Reason’. New editions in 1694 and 1704. (These two tales are sympathetic to animal reasoning).

John Ray, The wisdom of God manifested in the works of the creation being the substance of some common places delivered in the chappel of Trinity-College, in Cambridge. London: printed for Samuel Smith, 1691. Numerous expanded editions, including a fourth in 1704. (Strongly anti-Cartesian).

Gabriel Daniel, A voyage to the world of Cartesius written originally in French, and now translated into English. London: printed and sold by Thomas Bennet, 1692. (Satire on Cartesianism).

John Dunton, The Young-students-library containing extracts and abridgments of the most valuable books printed in England, and in the forreign journals, from the year sixty five, to this time … by the Athenian Society. London: printed for John Dunton, 1692. This contains That Beasts are meer Machines, divided into two Dissertations: At Amsterdam by J. Darmanson. (Anti-Cartesian).

Athenian Gazette, Feb 11, 1693. Reprinted in The Athenian oracle: being an entire collection of all the valuable questions and answers in the old Athenian mercuries. … By a member of the Athenian Society. London: printed for Andrew Bell, 1703-04. Vol. 1:504-507. (Goes over both sides of beast-machine debate).

Antoine Le Grande, An entire body of philosophy according to the principles of the famous Renate Des Cartes in three books, (I) the institution … (II) the history of nature … (III) a dissertation of the want of sense and knowledge in brute animals. Trans. Richard Blome. London, 1694. (Important dissemination of Descartes’s ideas in English).

‘The Turtle, or an Elegy, by Clarissa’, in, Gentleman’s Journal, or the Monthly Miscellany, III (August, 1694), 222.

Malebranch’s Search after truth. London: printed for J. Dunton, 1694-95. Trans. R. Sault. (Cartesian).[2]

John Norris, An essay towards the theory of the ideal or intelligible world.  Part II. London: printed for S. Manship and W. Hawes [1701]. Vol. 2, the chapter entitled ‘A Digression concerning the Souls of Brutes, whether they have any Thought or Sensation in them or no?’ (Certainly perceived as Cartesian, but allows for some doubt about the absolute difference between human and animals). [3]

William Coward, Second thoughts concerning human soul. London: printed for R. Basset, 1702. (Argues that body and soul are one entity and so for the parity of human and animal soul).[4]

John Toland, Letters to Serena. London: printed for Bernard Lintot [1704]. (Mechanistic debate about motion that implies similarity between animal and human matter).


The image is a detail from ‘The Refreshment’, 1818. Courtesy Mills Library, McMaster University, and from the files of the McMaster journal Eighteenth-Century Fiction.

[1] I was aided by Erica Fudge’s Brutal Reasoning. Animals, Rationality, and Humanity in Early Modern England. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 2006, Keith Thomas’s magisterial Man and the Natural World, 1500-1800 (1983), and Wallace Shugg’s earlier ‘The Cartesian Beast-Machine in English Literature (1663-1750)’ (Journal of the History of Ideas, 29: 2 (1968)). I was able to refine some of this research and find additional material via searches on ECCO, EEBO and the ESTC.

[2] Clearly, Dunton was deeply interested in disseminating all sides of the animal-machine debate coming from continental Europe.

[3] John Locke, letter, 21 March 1703-4. The Works of John Locke in Nine Volumes, (London: Rivington, 1824 12th ed.). Vol. 9.

“Men of Mr. Norris’s way seem to me to decree, rather than to argue. They, against all evidence of sense and reason, decree brutes to be machines, only because their hypothesis requires it; and then with a like authority, suppose, as you rightly observe, what they should prove: viz. that whatsoever thinks, is immaterial.”

[4] Norris and Coward are particularly interesting because they are name-checked in Defoe’s The Consolidator: Or, Memoirs of Sundry Transactions From the World in the Moon, also published in 1705.