August 29, 2017 by Mattie Burkert
The deadline is approaching for proposals for the 2018 annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in Orlando, Florida. Please consider submitting an abstract for the roundtable I’m co-chairing, or one of the other fantastic panels. Here’s our CFP:
58. “Age of Unreason: Enlightenment in the ‘Post-Truth’ Era” (Roundtable)
Mattie Burkert, Utah State University, AND Seth Rudy, Rhodes College; mattie [dot] burkert [at] usu [dot[ edu and rudys [at] rhodes [dot] edu
In 2004, Bruno Latour reflected on the conflicted attitude humanities scholars hold towards the intellectual legacies of the eighteenth century: “While the Enlightenment profited largely from the disposition of a very powerful descriptive tool, that of matters of fact, which were excellent for debunking quite a lot of beliefs, powers, and illusions, it found itself totally disarmed once matters of fact, in turn, were eaten up by the same debunking impetus.” In our moment of “post-truth” and “alternative facts,” Latour’s observation has new immediacy. The relativism and constructivism of humanities critique have been adapted by political movements seeking to delegitimize scientific inquiry and the free press. Unexpectedly, we as scholars may find ourselves having to defend the Enlightenment legacies we have so long questioned. This panel asks how we might do this work without losing sight of important critiques of Enlightenment rationalism. Do eighteenth century studies have a privileged role in these debates? How can we strategically teach eighteenth-century battles over empiricism, induction, fact and fiction, and “fake news” in the classroom? Finally, is there a way to use this moment to argue for the urgency and relevance of the work we do as eighteenth-century scholars and teachers?