The “Long” 18th Century?
This issue of Journal18 takes off from the ubiquity of the phrase “the long nineteenth century.” Proliferating in calls for participation and panel descriptions–not to mention its prominent position in the description of this journal–if the mark of an elongated eighteenth century is inescapable, we propose that this terminology merits further scrutiny. What is meant by the “long” eighteenth century? From which vantage points, and for whom, is it long? And to what ends has this elongation been directed?
It is our contention that we must understand the rise of a “long” eighteenth century alongside the significant transformation of art historical inquiry into expanded geographical and cultural terrains. Since 2003, the study of eighteenth-century art has been enriched by a new commitment to “worlding,” even if decolonizing art histories remains an ongoing and incomplete project. As a result, habitual chronological slices, whether defined by European political history or by European stylistic shifts (e.g., Baroque, Rococo, Neoclassical), have been ripe for reconsideration as scholars have asked new questions about the transmission and sedimentation of practices, experiences, and art objects around the world. When the focus on histories of colonialism and slavery forces us to look anew at the bodies, lands, and knowledge presented in art, how do our narratives change and how do the sites and objects of our inquiry shift? What are the implications of this broadened scope of inquiry for habits of locution and the habits of mind that underwrite them? While the habitual slicing up of Britain’s eighteenth century to 1688–1815 is not that far out of alignment with France’s 1643–1815, it looks very different from the perspective of, for instance, South Asia, where an end point has tended rather to be located in the 1830s. What impact, if any, has a “worlding” of art history had upon our thinking about the relative length or shortness, narrowness or breadth, of the eighteenth century? What conceptually binds an eighteenth century once we have taken up the project of tracking the entanglements of art, commerce, and empire across worlds? For whom is the eighteenth century long, from what vantage points, whether local, regional, or transregional, and to what ends? And what relationship does this designation have to the equally omnipresent “long” nineteenth century, as well as to accounts of the Enlightenment, its seductions, and its repercussions?
We invite contributions that reflect upon a “long” and “broad” eighteenth century–its contours, analytic possibilities, and limits. We particularly welcome submissions that explore new models for tracking intellectual and artistic through-lines and inheritances, and that spur us to rethink periodization, or stylistic terminology that has been too often limited in its utility by being yoked to the goal of a successional narrative telos. Authors are encouraged to explore this wide-angle view by way of one term, one object, one phenomenon, or one margin. We welcome interventions that originate in art history or in other allied humanistic disciplines.
Issue Editors: Sarah Betzer, University of Virginia & Dipti Khera, New York University
Proposals for Journal18 issue #12 THE “LONG” 18TH CENTURY? are now being accepted.
Accepted participants will be invited to virtually convene for a panel in February 2021 under the auspices of the College Art Association annual conference for presentation and collaborative workshopping of their contributions.
Information on how to apply for CAA panel, sponsored by the American Society for 18th Century Studies, THE “LONG” 18TH CENTURY?: https://caa.confex.com/caa/2021/webprogrampreliminary/meeting.html
Co-chairs: Sarah Betzer, University of Virginia and Dipti Khera, New York University
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