Acolytes and Adversaries of Newton (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies)

Ari Margolin's picture
Call for Papers
September 15, 2018
Colorado, United States
Subject Fields: 
British History / Studies, Early Modern History and Period Studies, European History / Studies, French History / Studies, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology

Acolytes and Adversaries of Newton

2019 ASECS Meeting, March 21-23, 2019, Denver, Colorado

This panel calls for papers that consider how Isaac Newton and his scientific theories were depicted in literature, painting, and theatre during the long eighteenth century. Work on Newton’s influence on Enlightenment culture and society, most notably J.B. Shank’s The Newton Wars (2008) and Michael R. Lynn’s 2006 monograph on science and public opinion, have drawn attention to his paradoxical status as both an essential figurehead of reason and natural philosophy and as an enemy to scientific independence and freedom. While the representation of Newton as an anti-scholastic, ‘modern’ philosopher is far from a new theme – per the works of Voltaire and Algarotti – his active ties to the ‘ancient’ ways of alchemy, biblical study, and his suspiciously esoteric gravitational theory have sparked a new interest in recent scholarship such as in Sarah Dry’s The Newton Papers (2014) and Robert Iliffe’s Priest of Nature (2017). Given his profound cultural presence as a ‘scientific giant’, we seek to address a series of questions about Newton’s inconsistent ‘image’ in the Republic of Letters: to what extent did Newton as a public figure influence quarrels on science? How did Newton influence literary device and theatre? How was Newton himself represented in fiction?

Preferred language of presentation is English or French, but papers in Spanish or Italian will also be considered. Citation of documents in other languages are also welcome when accompanied by an English translation.

Please send an abstract of 250 words or less to panel chairs Erika Mandarino ( AND Arianne Margolin ( by 15 September 2018. Please include with your abstract a list of any audio-visual needs or special scheduling requests if you have any at this time.


Some notes from ASECS about the 2019 meeting: 

Anyone who submits a paper proposal to more than one session must notify the organizers of all sessions involved. Otherwise, session chairs may decide among themselves in which session the paper will be presented or whether the paper will be excluded entirely.

All participants must be members in good standing of ASECS or of a constituent society of ISECS. Membership must be current by 15 October 2018 for a participant to be included in the program and to receive pre-registration materials. You may join or renew your membership at

Contact Info: 

Erika Mandarino, Tulane University

Arianne Margolin, Colorado College

Contact Email: