Hilton PortlandI got back from the meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies in Portland, OR, on Sunday. This is a picture of the hotel from the ASECS website. I arrived on Thursday afternoon and starving for something to eat. It was a great conference. I enjoyed all of the panels I attended, and the little sightseeing that I did while there was also a lot of fun.

Let’s start with the important part: the panel I organized on “Representations of Jews in the Eighteenth Century.” I had received a large number of proposals for the session but could only accommodate four papers. Ultimately, I chose to include scholars from four different fields: one from an English department, one from history, one from religious studies, and one from a modern languages department. All four papers were excellent, and I was really proud to have brought them all together.

The only problem with the session was that it was scheduled for the final time on Saturday evening, 5:30 to 7 pm. Since this was the last session of the conference and since people were either leaving to go home or going out to dinner, etc., we had a relatively small number of people in our audience: only about 8. Despite the low turnout, it was a really good session, and I hope we can put another one together for next year.

Maria EdgeworthMost of the other panels I attended ended up being about late eighteenth-century women novelists. On Friday morning, I went to the 8 am session on “Locating Maria Edgeworth.” I’m extremely pleased with myself for going to an 8 a.m. panel! The session was really good. I especially liked Emily Hodgson Anderson’s paper, “Maria Edgeworth’s Helen and the Limits of the Eighteenth-Century Novel.” (I think she might have changed the title of her paper, but I forgot to write down the new title if she did. This is the title in the program.) Her paper was a brilliant neo-formalist reading of Edgeworth’s last novel. Really smart stuff. (The picture to the right is a portrait of Edgeworth from Wikipedia)

On the flight out to Portland, I started reading Marilyn Butler’s biography of Maria Edgeworth. It’s been a fascinating read. (I haven’t finished it yet, though I also read it on the flight home.) Reading the biography made the panel even more interesting. I’m also working on an article on Edgeworth right now, so it was really stimulating to hear such good work on this novelist. I feel inspired to get my article done so I can join the ranks of Edgeworth scholars!

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