CFP: The Early Modern Present RSA 2012, March 22-24 in Washington, D.C. / abstract deadline 6/4/2011 | cfp.english.upenn.edu
by Jessica C. Murphy
The rise of the Tea Party in the US is a daily reminder that the battle over the past has very real stakes in the here and now. Turn on Fox News or am radio, and you’re bound to learn that the founding fathers were all anti-government and pro-business or that the first American colonies failed because they were doomed as socialist experiments. This RSA conference panel seeks papers that consider the way modern political debates mobilize early modern thinkers, artists, and subjects — Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Milton, and countless others — for present purposes in the US or elsewhere. How is our period of study being re-narrated towards particular ends? What is our role, as academics, in responding to sloppy historicism, ideological distortion, and mythologies of the past? Is presentism unavoidable? Is it patently bankrupt or, on the contrary, a method we ought to embrace? In our classrooms, we often work to make early modern content relevant to our students’ worlds, drawing connections between the works we study and the societies and beliefs they find familiar and important. Papers, then, might also explore the continued relevance of early modern culture and history to 21st-century reality. Send paper titles, abstracts 200-250 words, university affiliation, and contact information to Sarah Hogan, email@example.com, by June 4th. Please use the subject title “RSA paper” in your email.