Conference: Tobias Smollett at 300: the work of writing

Страна: Великобритания

Город: Milton Keynes

Тезисы до: 01.12.2020

Даты: 14.05.21 — 15.05.21

Е-мейл Оргкомитета:

Организаторы: History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) at The Open University, UK, and History of Books and Reading (HOBAR) research collaboration based in the Department of English and Creative Writing at The Open University, UK, and the Institute of English Studies, Uni



Tobias Smollett (1721–1771) probably wrote more words than any other writer in the eighteenth century. This has often been overlooked because the words were not always his own. Smollett laboured over vast works of compilation, including historical works, reviews, magazines, translations and compendiums. Even his novels – which sit a little awkwardly in the stories that have been told about the rise of the novel – embraced a similar practice. As a result, Smollett has never been quite able to achieve the reputation which he rightly deserves – that is, as one of the great literary figures of the mid-eighteenth century.

Next year will mark the three-hundredth anniversary of Smollett’s birth and this provides the excuse to ask some questions about his ‘work of writing’. This is the kind of work that might stand as an image of the Enlightenment; it is also a labour that, as Smollett predicted, exhausted him and contributed to his death. We will want to ask how Smollett understood the task that he set himself. Is it right to speak of him as a historian or translator or critic or poet or novelist or hack? How can we understand the kind of creativity Smollett shows in his work? What might this tell us about the work of writing in the eighteenth century – or how might it change our understanding of the Enlightenment itself?

This online conference invites papers on Tobias Smollett and/or the ‘work of writing’ in the eighteenth century. Whilst we are looking to re-evaluate Smollett’s work on the three-hundredth anniversary of his birth, we also welcome papers on related figures or practices that help to contextualise and understand it. Some topics might include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Historical writing
  • Hack work
  • Reviewing and periodical writing
  • Translating
  • Writing in instalments 
  • Editing and abridging
  • Compilation
  • Mediation and remediation
  • Medical writing
  • Scottish writing 
  • Creative and critical writing
  • Smollett’s work today

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