CFP for MLA 2023 (San Francisco): Comparative/Global 18th c. Studies

Allison Bigelow Discussion

Dear colleagues,

Here are 2 panels organized by the comparative 18th c. studies forum for MLA 2023. Both are guaranteed sessions. Please share with scholars in your networks. Our executive forum offers an additional level of mentoring for early career scholars. If you'd like to have us review your conference paper beforehand, or help you shape it into an article afterward, we will put you in touch with the scholar closest to your field. Our names are here, Sarah Benherrech (environmental humanities in the Francophone world, esp. the Caribbean) was elected this year, but MLA hasn't added her to the page, yet.

I'm happy to take questions from anyone who is interested in submitting an abstract.

Sincerely, Allison

Race, Temporality, and Periodization: Rethinking 18th-Century Studies (Roundtable)

The “eighteenth century” named and analyzed by eighteenth-century studies has proven pliable in the figuration of the “long eighteenth century.” But to what extent does the persistent attachment to this historic period—even an elongated version of it—preclude certain critical approaches to the materials we study? Is “the eighteenth century,” as Katherine Binhammer argues, “a colonizing temporality” anathema to Indigenous ways of knowing? Does it perpetuate a fiction of historical closure that obscures continuities between the past and the present? By definition a Eurocentric measure of historical time, is “the eighteenth century” also a white formation that reproduces racialized relations in the historical measure of time and space? Does “the eighteenth century” name something that still invites inquiry and scrutiny, and to what extent might we continue to turn it over to find new critical purchase? Is there a “short eighteenth century,” an “indefinite eighteenth century”? This roundtable considers the theoretical and political work performed by these various ways of periodizing and imagines what might be made possible in our field by critical temporalities beyond enumerated “centuries.”

10-minute presentations on the politics of historical periodization and how “the eighteenth century” might be approached via different models of temporality. 200 word abstract & brief CV to and by March 15 2022.

Anglo-Dutch Exchanges in the 17-18c World

How did two nations separated by ninety miles of salt water establish rival patterns of resource extraction, settler conquest, capital finance, and maritime logistics that came to govern life the world over? This roundtable addresses the global impress of Anglo-Dutch relations in the 1600 and 1700s, from the North Sea to Indonesia to Surinam to Manhattan to the Cape of Good Hope. Papers might address questions of dynastic power within and beyond early modern Europe, theories of territoriality as applied over land and at sea, the formal art of multi-lingual treatises, codes of bourgeois merchant conduct, the role of immigrants as an industrial workforce, resistance to Anglo-Dutch imperial ambitions from Indigenous peoples and competing colonial powers, the historical trace of old conflicts in texts like Washington Irving’s History of New York and cryptic toponomies like Spuyten Duyvil, and the methodological problems of archival knowledge and representation that such investigations pose. 

Presenters will deliver ten-minute papers in a roundtable format, leaving ample time for discussion. Please send a 200-word abstract and brief CV to David Alff ( by March 15 2022. This panel is sponsored by the Comparative 18th Century Forum.