CFP: Jonathan Swift in the 21st Century Back

‘Jonathan Swift in the 21st Century’. A conference co-sponsored by the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts and the Department of English, University of Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, February 23-24, 2018

Jonathan Swift was a traveller, in his imagination as well as in life, regularly making his way, by ship and by foot, back and forth between Ireland and England during major periods of his life. Swift also travelled through genres and voices, among men and women, and between politics and religion. His works have travelled as well, through space and time, in numerous editions, along with translations, responses, adaptations, abridgements, continuations, and illustrated versions.

This conference seeks to reconsider Swift and his works through a contemporary lens, exploring how they have travelled across three centuries and around the world. We invite papers that will think of a Swift for the 21 st century, keeping in mind our interests and concerns. Papers that map potential new directions for Swift studies are particularly welcome. The following are among—though not limited to—the perspectives from which Swift might be investigated:



Class and society

Colonialism and Post-colonialism

Gender and sexuality

Empire and Imperialism

Publishers and censorship

Book History

Political satire in poetry and prose

Role of pamphlet and other ephemeral forms of literature

Swift and science

Swift in translation

Gulliver Transformed

Anglo-Irish Literature

Role of rhetoric


Race relations


Appropriations, including things such as theme parks

The Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts at the University of Pennsylvania holds a number of collections relating to Jonathan Swift, including the Teerink Collection (early editions of Swift’s works), the Denison Collection (illustrated editions of Gulliver’s Travels), and books known to have been read by Swift or been part of his library as well as Swift-related manuscripts and publications, including many Dublin imprints, from the independent Swift scholar Archibald Elias. In honour of the 350th anniversary* of Swift’s birthday, an exhibition from the collections, ‘A Raging Wit: The Life and Legacy of Jonathan Swift’, will open in mid-February 2018 and run through May.

We invite proposals for papers, which should include the following:

 Short (300 word) abstract of the proposed paper;

 Brief (150-250 word) biography of the presenter;

 Contact information, including current email and institutional affiliation, if any.

Please submit all proposals to by July 1, 2017. The committee will review all submissions and make final decisions by August 1, 2017.