|30 Sep 2005 - 1 Oct 2005
CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane, Cambridge, CB2 1RX
Katie Halsey (University of Cambridge)
Jane Slinn (University of Cambridge)
Conversation is a promiscuously employed concept in the eighteenth century, defined and redefined, appropriated and re-appropriated by many of the period's central interests, arguments and conflicts. Eighteenth-century writers on subjects as diverse as philosophy, aesthetics, legal theory and psychology call upon conversation as concept, ideal and trope to characterize the nature and forms of their texts as well as the social, political and artistic positions and practices to which they refer. Meanwhile thinkers across a similarly wide range of intellectual genres use the idea and ideal of conversation to explore spaces between readers and writers presupposed and imagined by their writings. During a period in which disciplinary boundaries are being renegotiated, the concept of conversation also facilitates thinking about the nature of knowledge, the means of its communication and the type of audience it seeks to address.
While this conference focuses on long eighteenth-century writing, we do not intend its emphasis to be exclusively historical or genealogical. Rather, we hope to facilitate dialogues between this particularly rich historical period and contemporary thinking about conversation. We encourage participants to consider how notions of conversation formulated in our own period (for example, psychoanalytic, philosophical or phenomenological) might be brought to bear on eighteenth-century conversations. Conversely, eighteenth-century conversational models may well have something to say about our own concepts of conversation and how these are located within the humanities and social sciences in their current form.