Readings and Representations of the Seventeenth Century
An academic conference to be held in Chetham’s Library, Manchester, 28th-29th January, 2011
During the restoration and eighteenth century, the civil war period was
consistently represented as a traumatic break in the history of England and the
British Isles, separating the institutionally and culturally modern Augustans from
either the primitiveness or idealised simplicity of the earlier epoch. Today, much
academic practice silently repeats the period’s self-representation as a century divided
between pre and post civil war cultures, everywhere from its job descriptions to
undergraduate survey courses. Among the effects of this division of labour is a
tendency for the earlier ‘Renaissance’ decades to be privileged over the restoration,
which is now popularly regarded as a poor relation to the eighteenth century.
This conference provides a forum for researchers in all disciplines whose work
spans all or any part of the long seventeenth century. As our titular quotations
from Clarendon’s History of the Rebellion and Swift’s sermon ‘On the Martyrdom of
King Charles I’ suggest, we also encourage papers discussing subsequent
representations of the period in all areas of culture. Concerns include but are not
• The comparative study of seventeenth-century writing, ideas, sciences, visual arts
and music before, during and after the civil war period; their material and
intellectual dissemination; their relationship to ideas of what constitutes the early
modern and the restoration.
• Constructions of the seventeenth century from the restoration to the present;
representations in literature, art, history and film; the cultural influence of the
seventeenth century on subsequent periods.
• The role critical theory plays in our reading of the period and/or narratives of the
long seventeenth century from within literary criticism and critical theory; e.g.
Leavis and Eliot on the Metaphysical poets, Walter Benjamin on the baroque,
Foucault on madness, Habermas on the public sphere.
• The study of non-canonical and marginalized texts and materials, and nationally
comparative readings of the period.
• The representation and reception of pre-seventeenth-century culture during the
seventeenth century; the place of the past in the period’s self representations.
Please send abstracts of 500 words by 15th October 2010 to James Smith
(Manchester) and Joel Swann (Keele): firstname.lastname@example.org. More
information will soon be available from www.chethams.org.uk.