Firsts and Firsting in the Long Eighteenth Century: Special Panel at the Canadian Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (Niagara Falls, Oct. 10-13, 2018)

Lauren Beck's picture
Call for Papers
May 10, 2018
Ontario, Canada
Subject Fields: 
Early Modern History and Period Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, Indigenous Studies, Race Studies, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Firsting is the process through which an act or accomplishment, a circumstance or phenomenon generated by man, is represented as having occurred for the first time. Firsting necessarily implies seconding and lasting as concomitant processes that help structure historical exchanges. Firsting involves complex issues that conflict our present, including those of race and ethnicity, gender and sexuality, religion and language, and place of origin. Firsting inscribes performance as a form of accomplishment, which then implicates physical and intellectual accomplishments that are often gendered in nature. These issues inform firsting within scholarship devoted to a diverse range of fields, from classics and Ottoman studies, to Latin American and African studies, and particularly during and following the Enlightenment, which is the focus of this panel.

This panel seeks to engage with the topic of firsting during the long eighteenth century from an interdisciplinary perspective, and to bathe light on the following areas of inquiry:

1. How does Enlightenment-era scientific practice contribute to the need to first?

2. What are the impacts of western firsting on Indigenous peoples anywhere in the world?

3. How is firsting gendered and/or racialized?

4. Where in the world are firsts acknowledged and celebrated; and lasts?

5. Why does firsting grow so consequential during the Enlightenment?

6. What constitutes disappearance and lasting in the balance of firsting?

We hope to craft a dynamic panel composed of scholars from any discipline that intersects with eighteenth-century studies to approach the subject-matter creatively and critically. Proposals for contributions (length to be confirmed upon acceptance of the panel) should not exceed 150 words, and it should be accompanied by a brief bionote of about 100 words, and sent to Dr. Lauren Beck ( by May 10, 2018.


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