Portraits and Poses Representations of female intellectual authority, agency and authorship in early modern and Enlightenment Europe
KU Leuven (Belgium, 21 - 22 March 2019), avant le 15 mai 2018

Annual Conference of the Dutch-Belgian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies
This conference seeks to address the various modes and strategies through which female intellectuals (authors, scientists, educators, and others) sought to negotiate and legitimize their authority in Early Modern and Enlightenment Europe (1600-1800).

The 17th and 18th centuries have often been described as a decisive period in terms of professionalization as well as disciplinary formation and/or consolidation in the arts and sciences. In the course of this period, learned women increasingly articulated an awareness of their public image and were actively involved in modelling these representations. There is a growing body of scholarship on such individual women’s (self)representation as intellectuals, that invites us to draw out its implications for early-modern cultural history more broadly.

Multiple questions arise when examining representations of female intellectual authority during the Early Modern period and the Enlightenment: which visual and/or textual strategies (e.g. portraits, paratexts and ego-documents) did women (and their critics) use to construct their persona in the emerging intellectual, scientific and literary fields; to what extent were these homogeneous, complementary or rather conflictual? And how did representations of personal and collective authority interact? For instance, when and why did women resort to their (private/public) contact with other (female) authorities, or rather shy away from gendered association and/or collaboration? And to what extent were these legitimizing strategies determined by historical context, geographical boundaries and social position?

The primary objective of this conference is to examine these modes and strategies of female self-representation from an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective. Papers should therefore move beyond individual case studies and address the conceptual and historiographic issues involved in studying processes of female intellectual legitimation.

We welcome submissions in the form of complete sessions (3 papers + response) or individual papers (20 minutes), preferably in English, on the following topics:
– Text and Image: Textual and visual representations of women as intellectual authorities
– Networks of Authority: uses of gendered associations (through paratexts, dedications, ego-documents) as strategies to gain authority;
– Disciplines: inclusion/exclusion strategies of and by women in emerging disciplines
– Markets and publication strategies: commercial strategies; branding female authority in the “public market”; discourse on fame/reputation and gender;
– Labels: conceptualizing/classifying female intellectuals and authors in early historiography and accounts of the cultural field.

Potential speakers are invited to submit a title and abstract of 300 words by May 15, 2018. These, accompanied by a short CV, can be sent to PortraitsandPoses@18e-eeuw.nl.

Notification of acceptance will be given by July 1st 2018. Selected papers will be published in a peer-reviewed edited volume after the conference; authors will be asked to submit revised versions of their conference paper by July 1st, 2019.

Organising committee: Dr. Beatrijs Vanacker | Prof. Dr. Alicia C. Montoya | Dr. Lieke van Deinsen | Prof. Dr. Anke Gilleir

Prof. dr. Alicia C. Montoya | Professor of French literature | Radboud University | Department of Romance Languages | P.O. Box 9103 | Nijmegen | The Netherlands | Tel. +31 24 3612152 | office: Erasmus building, 5.11

Principal Investigator, MEDIATE: Middlebrow Enlightenment – Disseminating Ideas, Authors, and Texts in Europe, 1665 – 1830: http://mediate18.nl/index.php