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Readers and Writers in the Eighteenth Century
Princeton, NJ, May 2003


Princeton Eighteenth Century Society presents:

Readers and Writers in the Eighteenth Century: an Interdisciplinary Conference

May 3, 2003.
Princeton University.


The eighteenth century saw a huge expansion in the reading public as well as an
increasingly diverse range of literary productions. Novels, essays, discourses and
journals are only the beginning: anyone with a taste for letters - notables,
erudite provincials, country gentlemen, washerwomen and countesses - contributed a
book of poetry, a political tract, a little treatise on fluvial navigation or the
storage of grains. This is why the eighteenth century is such a rich period for
anyone interested in exploring the dynamics between readers and writers.

In an essay entitled "Readers Respond to Rousseau: the Fabrication of Romantic
Sensitivity," Robert Darnton sets about trying to "think the unthinkable," that
is, to recognize "[the Rousseauistic variety of reading] as a distinct social
phenomenon [that] should not be confused with reading in the present, for the
readers of the Old Regime lived in a mental world that is almost unthinkable
today." This conference attempts to do just that: to try and imaginatively recover
the specificity of the reader-writer relationship in the eighteenth century.

We encourage papers from a variety of disciplines and methodologies, ranging from
the abstract and conceptual to the materialist or statistical, from theoretical
analyses to histories of the book. We especially encourage work which takes an
interdisciplinary approach or rethinks our sense of texts and readers (for
example, by looking at how architecture is *read* by those who inhabit and create
it, how writers function as readers of their own texts, or how reviewers and
publishers create versions of texts and publics).

If you would like to present a 20-minute paper, please send a 250 to 300 word
abstract by March 15, 2003.

Contact: Lucien Nouis lnouis@princeton.edu