Circulating Enlightenment: The Negotiations of Eighteenth-Century Literary Culture in Britain

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In July I will be involved with the Circulating Enlightenment: The Negotiations of Eighteenth- Century Literary Culture in Britain conference, hosted by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at the University of Edinburgh, and organised by Dr. Adam Budd.

For more information, see the poster below.



March 24, 2015 – Announcements & Notices

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Georgian townhouses, Circus Place, Edinburgh

CFPs, conferences, and articles that have recently caught my attention:

CFP: Printmaking in Scotland in the 18th Century (St Andrews, 4 Dec 15)

CONF: Materialities of American Texts and Visual Cultures (New York, 9-10 Apr 15)

CFP: Tourist guidebooks: where the vocabulary and the images of Cultural Heritage meet (Pisa)

CONF: Irishness? Changing Perspectives on Irish Identity, 1700-1914 (University of Edinburgh, 14th May 2015)

CFP: Animating the Georgian London Town House, 17 March 2016

Eighteenth-century country houses loom large in the British national consciousness. Yet, for every great country house from this period, there was usually also a town house. Wilton is much visited and discussed, but we know so much less about its counterpart in London: Pembroke House. Chatsworth has officially been recognised as one of the country’s favourite national treasures, but most of its visitors know little of Devonshire House, which the family once owned in the capital. In part, this is because town houses were often leased, rather than being passed down through generations as country estates were. But, most crucially, many London town houses, including both Pembroke House and Devonshire House, no longer exist, having been demolished in the early twentieth century.

            Following on from the ‘Animating the Eighteenth-Century Country House’ conference in March 2015, this related event will seek to resurrect the lost town houses of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, exploring the position they once occupied in the lives of families and the nation as a whole. Some – such as Spencer House – have survived; others have left fragmentary traces; others have been completely destroyed and can only be  recreated on the basis of inventories and descriptive accounts. There is much still to be uncovered about the collections of paintings, sculpture and decorative arts which these buildings once housed as well as about their furnishing, their architecture and gardens, and what refashioning occurred over time.

What was the significance of the town house for families such as the Devonshires and Pembrokes? How much time did they spend in London, relative to their sojourns in the country, and was one home considered more important? How did this vary between families? How did owners arrange their possessions between their houses? London town houses were often the setting for elite socialising, so is it the case that they would house their owners’ most impressive works of art? Was Joshua Reynolds right to bemoan in 1787, on learning that the Duke of Rutland was to keep Poussin’sSeven Sacraments at Belvoir Castle, that ‘the great works of art which this nation possesses are not (as in other nations) collected together in the capital, but dispersed about the country’? When and why were items moved between town and country, and are there discernable patterns over the period? Were London town houses opened to the public in the same way as country houses, and what did visitors say about what they encountered?

As well as mapping the relationship between the town house and the country house, this conference will also explore the geography of London: the location of these properties (especially within the West End), the most important estates (such as the Bedford or Grosvenor estates), and the reputations which various areas accrued. How did these houses position their owners in the complex social and political milieu of Georgian London, and what roles did they play in the lives and activities of those who owned, leased and inhabited them? How was this different for men and for women? And what was the significance of owning a town house freehold, leasehold – or just renting one for a season?

Proposals for contributions are welcomed from art historians and historians working on all aspects of eighteenth and early nineteenth-century town houses, including architecture, painting, sculpture, the decorative arts and garden history.

Abstracts for 25 minute conference papers should be no longer than 300 words in length, and should be accompanied by a short biography (of no more than 100 words) detailing any work or recent publications of particular relevance.

Please send abstracts and biographies by FRIDAY 8th MAY 2015 to

Ella Fleming at the Paul Mellon Centre:

March 10 – Announcements and Notices

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Maria Sibylla Merian, Plate 1 from Dissertation in Insect Generations and Metamorphosis in Surinam, 1719.

CFPs, conferences, and articles that recently caught my attention:

CFP: Aphra Behn Society Biannual Conference: Women in the Global Eighteenth Century

CFP: Theories of the Object in the Art of the Americas, A Session at SECAC, Pittsburg, October 21-24, 2015

CFP: ARTis ON issue 1: Decorative Arts

CFP: Illusionism and Interference in Early Modern Sculpture, (Vancouver 22-25 Oct 15)

CFP: The Skin of Objects: Rethinking Surfaces in Visual Culture (Norwich, 27 Jun 15)

CFP: Object Lessons, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, UK, October 3, 2015

CONF: The Housing Question: Nomad Seminar in Historiography (San Diego, 12-3 Mar 15)

February 24 – Announcements & Notices

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CFPs, seminar announcements, and articles that caught my attention this week:


The Picture Gallery, Longford Castle © The Earl of Radnor, Longford Castle

Conference – Animating the 18th-century Country House

Conference: Surfaces (15th-19th Centuries) (New York, 27 Mar 15)

CFP – ‘Objects in Motion: Material Culture in Transition‘, CRAASH, University of Cambridge:

CFP – Remembering and Forgetting: Cultural Memory Across Disciplines, University of Stirling, 30 May, 2015

CFP: Satire and Caricature as Mediators of Cultural Trauma (Pittsburgh, 21-24 Oct 15)

Seminar – Queen Mary Eighteenth-Century Studies Seminar 2014-2015, Wednesday 11 March 2015, 5.15 pm, ‘Exhibiting the Eighteenth Century’, Joanna Marschner (Historic Royal Palaces), Moira Goff (The Garrick Club), Alex Werner (Museum of London)

February 7, 2015 – Announcements & Notices

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CFPs, seminars, and articles that caught my attention this week:


George Stubbs, The Kongouro from New Holland, 1772. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

Conference: Exotic Anatomies: Stubbs, Banks & Cultures of Natural History (London, 9 Mar 15) 

CFP – Beyond the Coffee House: Masculinities and Social Spaces in the Long Eighteenth Century

CFP – Matter and Materiality in the Early Modern World, 12 June 2015, University of Cambridge:

Paper – ‘Entangled Objects? The Material Culture of Cross-Cultural Negotiations: Habsburg–Ottoman Diplomacy (1527–1648)‘ Wednesday 18th February 2015, Bateman Auditorium, Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge, 5-6pm

Seminar – CRAASH Things That Matter, 1400-1900 Seminar Series: ‘Drinking Things‘, 11 February, 12:00-14:00, University of Cambridge:

Article – Faramerz Dabhoiwala on ‘The Secret History of Same-Sex Marriage‘

Article – ‘Teach or Perish‘  The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Book Review: Orianne Smith, ‘Romantic Women Writers, Revolution, and Prophecy: Rebellious Daughters, 1789-1826’

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My review of Orianne Smith’s Romantic Women Writers, Revolution and Prophecy: Rebellious Daughters, 1789-1826, is featured in the latest issue of the Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies (37:4), pp. 557-558. Access it here (login required).


#AcWriMo 2014

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For many academics, the most challenging aspect of the writing process is just that: the writing. Between the mountain of books that are always left to read, the fear of not living up to the material which you are discussing, and the various other engagements we all have, writing can be an intimidating and daunting process.

Thanks to the thriving online community of academics however, I know this is something in which I am not alone. As we become more comfortable with discussing issues of anxiety, mental health, and the huge amounts of work expected within academia, it seems that we are simultaneously becoming more comfortable with discussing their practical effects and manifestations, in this case, how such pressures can inhibit or even prohibit writing. At the same time, members of this online community are collaborating to find possible solutions to these problems. One of these solutions is #AcWriMo, or Academic Writing Month. Inspired by #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), AcWriMo was established by Charlotte Frost of PhD2Published, with a view to encouraging participants to establish better (and less stress-inducing) writing patterns for their future academic research. Coming from the ‘little and often’ school of thought, AcWriMo is motivated by the belief that writing every day will not only make you a more productive academic, but a better writer in the long run.

For those of you who are new to AcWriMo, the guidelines are as follows:

1. Decide on a goal – This might take the form of hours to be spent writing or a number of words to be written per day/week, or could more generally be a list of the projects that you wish to complete during AcWriMo.

2. Declare it – AcWriMo is an inherently social undertaking, which takes advantage of a variety of social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, in order to create a community of engaged and supportive academics. It is to this audience to whom you declare your AcWriMo goals, providing accountability for either meeting (or not meeting) them. The best way to do this is to sign up on the AcWriMo spreadsheet, which includes spaces for your name, twitter handle, goals, plan, achievements and a daily progress log.

3. Draft a strategy – Deciding how and when you are going to write is crucial to succeeding during AcWriMo. Personally, I prefer long, clear spaces of time in which to write unimpeded, which, thanks to the administrative and pedagogical demands of academia, often means that writing gets pushed to the bottom of the to do list. However, one of my AcWriMo goals for this year is to learn to write whenever I have a free moment, even if what I come to write isn’t a perfectly polished piece of prose by the end of it – what matters is that I’m writing every day. One of the great things about AcWriMo is that it actively encourages its participants to be experimental – to write outside of your normal habits and timeframes, and using new techniques to do so. My favourite productivity hacks that I’ve discovered in previous AcWriMos have been the famous Pomodoro Technique, and PhD2Published’s own PhDometer2, a downloadable application which tracks and marks your writing progress.

4. Discuss progress on twitter – As well as declaring your goals publicly at the beginning of the month, regular updates via twitter will help to keep you accountable, whilst at the same time letting you know how everyone else is getting along. Use the #AcWriMo hashtag to find updates from fellow participants and to publicise your own progress.

5. Don’t slack off – This seems relatively obvious, given that this is a month dedicated towards making you as productive as possible, but it’s an important point to remember throughout the month. With marking, teaching prep, and various applications to get done this month, it’s tempting to think that you’ll just write tomorrow. However, the whole point of the exercise is to highlight that there’s NEVER going to be a good time to write, but if you’re committed to even a small amount every day, it will soon mount up, even when working on all of those other, similarly pressing, projects.

6. Declare your results – Announce your results at the end of the month. As the guidelines state on PhD2Published, we’re all human and will have varying levels of success during the month, but knowing what didn’t work is as important as knowing what did.

In the spirit of things, at the end of the month I’ll publish another post on here discussing my AcWriMo 2014 experience, including my goals and whether I met them, the methods I used during it, and what I’ll be taking forward into 2015. Good luck writing!