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CFP: Apples of Discord: Technology and Social Media in the Eighteenth Century (American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Conference, Toronto, 8–10 APR 2021)

This roundtable aims to consider print technology as a social media phenomenon in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century, with its impact on emerging concepts of self and community, public and private, personal and political. Approaches that explore parallels between these early days of print culture and the first twenty years of Internet culture are specifically welcomed. In the transition from the embodied media of oral rhetoric and coterie writing (face to face) to visual (or virtual) self-representation, aimed at a semi-anonymous and unlimited readership, endlessly and silently reproduced, adapted, altered, reconstructed, recontextualized, “construed” and constructed, we can see parallels to many of the issues and anxieties of the internet age. Similar, too, to today’s social media is the blurring of private expression and public self-representation, as well as the instability of the readership between semi-known and fully anonymous. Topics could include visual self-representation in print medium; politicizing the personal (for example, the incivility that marked Augustan print culture); gender dynamics around public and private self-representation (still distressingly relevant); social media fictions generating political fact; the role of newspapers and periodical literature; blurring of private expression with public self-representation in multiple print forms; use of the note and letter, “writing to the moment” in novel and real life.

Katherine Quinsey, University of Windsor; (

Proposals should be sent directly to the session chairs no later than September 15, 2020. All participants must be members in good standing of ASECS or of a constituent society of the International Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies. Membership must be current as of December 1, 2020 for inclusion in the program.

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Relevant research areas: North America, 18th Century

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