BSECS 52nd Annual Conference “Homecoming, Return, and Recovery”

Homecoming, Return, and Recovery

Date: 4th Jan 2023 to 6th Jan 2023

Venue: St Hughes College, Oxford

52nd Annual Conference British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

Theme: Homecoming, Return, and Recovery

Submission portal opening date: 1st July 2022

Event dates: 4th-6th January 2023

Venue:  St Hughes College, Oxford

(Please note we are following current situation and will update venue information as necessary).  

The annual meeting of the British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies is Europe’s largest and most prestigious annual conference dealing with all aspects of the history, culture and literature of the long eighteenth century. We invite proposals for papers and sessions dealing with any aspect of the long eighteenth century, not only in Britain, but also throughout Europe, North America, and the wider world. Proposals are invited for fully comprised panels of three papers, for roundtable sessions of up to five speakers, for individual papers of twenty minutes duration, and for ‘alternative format’ sessions of your devising. The submission portal for proposals will open 1st July 2022 and close in late October 2022.

As we write at the end of 2021, our sincere hope is that the 2023 BSECS conference will be a homecoming of sorts: a return to in-person conferencing as the society, the world, and many individuals recover from the global Covid pandemic. While recognising that there is an element of risk in this, and while assuring our members that we have robust plans for an online conference should the situation require it, our expectation is that we will again meet in person in 2023.

Homecomings and returns have always been a feature of family and community life, from prodigal sons to returning regiments, but in an era of expanding empire and global warfare people were travelling further, for longer, and returning with increasingly extraordinary tales of a world that was vaster and more complex than had hitherto been imagined—although while Europeans travelled mostly by choice, and, unless permanently emigrating, may have hoped for a return, those they enslaved had no such hope. Europeans returning from tropical regions often did so for their health, hoping to recover from diseases previously unknown to European doctors, but even for those who stayed at home illness and accident were never far away. While historical records and literature often focus on the acute phase of disease and injury, recovery is less well represented even though millions of people lived with the temporary or permanent aftereffects of illness. Communities and even nations were themselves often thrown into ‘recovery mode’, not only after epidemics but also following the ravages of war, famine, and political turmoil. Both homecomings and recoveries are commonplace scenarios in literature, often combined when a distant child returns to care for an ailing parent, and tell us much about people’s personal hopes, fears, and expectations in the face of circumstances often beyond their control. While proposals on all and any eighteenth-century topics are very welcome, this year our plenary speakers at the conference will accordingly be addressing the topic of ‘Homecoming, Return, and Recovery’, and proposals are also invited which address any aspect of this theme.

Enquiries: Any enquiries regarding the academic programme of the conference that are not answered on our website should be addressed to Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland via the BSECS email address