This year, one of the most prestigious academic conferences in the region will be held right here in Geneva. Hosted by a different college or university each fall, the Northeast American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (NEASECS) will hold its 2008 NEASECS Conference at Hobart and William Smith from October 30 through November 2.
So who is it that the Colleges will be hosting? NEASECS is a branch of the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies (ASECS) that brings together its scholarly members from the northeastern region of the United States and eastern Canada. Both NEASECS and its parent organization approach the study of the 18th century from a multidisciplinary approach, examining its culture, literature, arts and history.
As the host school, the Colleges are supporting the conference in several ways, providing some of its funding, offering the campus for lectures and adding many HWS professors to the list of those presenting, including Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Neeta Bhasin and several others, said Professor of French and Francophone Studies Catherine Gallouet, ASECS member and the conference’s organizer.
The theme of this year’s conference is ambivalence. The topic was suggested by Assistant Professor of History Matt Kadane, said Gallouet. “We immediately pounced on it. Part of what I love as someone who studies the 18th century is that the period carries all of its ambivalence at the surface-it’s not ossified.”
“We are supposed to go back to the difficult subjects, even the worst aspects of our colonial history. The 18th century is different here. Sullivan’s Campaign is the region’s big claim to fame but is hardly worth celebrating. The maps of the slaughters are hair-raising,” said Gallouet. Regardless, she explains that, “We never escape our history if we don’t unearth and unpack it.”
To accomplish that goal on a broad range of topics, “We’re bringing people from all over to our little corner of the world here in Geneva,” said Gallouet. The conference has speakers from many academic disciplines, ranging from art history to English and philosophy to American studies as well as French and German studies. “We have scholars from Oxford, France and Belgium. We wanted the conference to be as open and varied as possible.”
This year’s NEASECS conference includes lectures from professors at the Yale British Art Center, Tufts University and the San Fransisco Conservatory of Music. Two highlights of the weekend’s schedule are its plenary speakers: Alan Taylor and Julia Douthwaite. Taylor is a 1996 Pulitzer Prize Winner and University of California, Davis professor of history. Douthwaite is a Guggenheim Fellowship Recipient as well as Notre Dame’s associate provost for international studies and professor of French.
In addition, HWS will host an on-going Book Exhibition of books by participating HWS scholars in the library. A second ongoing Book Exhibition will also be held at the Geneva Ramada Lakefront Hotel.
“HWS students and professors can attend the entire conference,” explained Gallouet. “We ask only that professors register with the provost.”
To see the entire 2008 NEASECS Conference Schedule, click here.