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N°1 — 2017 Topic: Empire in the English-Speaking World, 17th-18th Centuries

Closed April 30, 2016

An International Conference hosted by Société d’Etudes Anglo-Américaines des XVIIème et XVIIIème siècles - 20-21 January 2017, Maison de la Recherche, Université de la Sorbonne, Paris

‘Empire’ is a useful, though controversial, point of entry for studying the historical process leading to the formation of our modern, globalized world. Along with mercantile capitalism and colonialism, European imperialism has largely contributed to shaping the world as we know it, fashioning many of its political borders, cultural practices and economic networks. Starting to take form in the early seventeenth century, the British empire began with the English settlement of North America and several islands in the Caribbean, and gradually asserted itself as a major world power with the establishment of private companies – chief among which the East India Company – to administer its colonies and overseas trade. Through their empire, the British disseminated their institutions, culture, and language, so that even the nations that emerged out of the empire had to define themselves through their attitudes to that concept. Such was the case for the United States, conceiving itself from the start as an ‘empire of liberty’, while for many British people the empire was, and still is to some extent, an essential part of their Britishness.

The goal of our conference is to take stock of current research on ‘empire’ in history, as well as in literature and art, and to highlight new avenues for research by adopting an interdisciplinary perspective. Suggested areas of reflection could include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • The theorization and articulation of the idea of the empire in various philosophical, literary and artistic forms, such as political treatises, court masques, propaganda writings, travel drama and travel narratives;

  • Historical research into the first stirrings of a global market, the triangular trade, as well as the circulation of goods connecting East and West (china, tea, sugar, silk, etc.);

  • The translation and circulation of non-European texts and other artistic forms and their reception;

  • The development of dissenting voices, in particular abolitionist literature and slave narratives in America.

Proposals in English or French (250-300 words) and a brief biographical statement (100 words) are to be sent by April the 30th, 2016, to the following organizers:

  • Professor Ladan Niayesh, Université Paris Diderot, LARCA (UMR 8225) niayesh [at]

  • Professor Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, Université Paris Diderot, LARCA (UMR 8225), rossignol [at]

Contacts at the Society level:

  • Professor Guyonne Leduc, Université de Lille 3, President of SEAA17-18 presidence [at]

  • Professor Pierre Degott, Université de Lorraine, Secretary of SEAA17-18 secretariat [at]

A selection of original papers presented at the conference will be published in the Society’s journal XVII-XVIII.

Besides individual papers, the conference will include a plenary talk by Professor Claire Jowitt (University of East Anglia), a round-table on ‘Whither the Empire ?’ chaired by Professor Steve Sarson (University of Lyon 3), and a special afternoon session on ‘Theatre and Colonization’ organized by Professor Bertrand Van Ruymbeke (University of Paris 8) and Dr Armelle Sabatier (University of Paris 2).

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