Thinking (about) Automata in Descartes, Shaftesbury, and Diderot – 20 May 2019

Lecture by Dr. James Fowler

Thinking (about) Automata in Descartes, Shaftesbury, and Diderot

6 -7.30pm, Monday 20 May 2019

Keynes Library, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square. WC1H 0PD

The Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group is delighted to announce a forthcoming lecture by James Fowler, Senior Lecturer in French at the University of Kent.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, discussions of the soul in the secular sphere involved thinking about automata, and whether they might think. Breaking with Aristotle, Descartes uses the cultural phenomenon of automates (such as those he viewed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye) to suggest that, quite simply, all non-human animals are ‘bêtes-machines’. Shaftesbury is strongly opposed to this: refuting Descartes and Malebranche, he argues that all animals – including humans – should only be viewed as ‘clockwork’ when they are seized by fits. By contrast, Diderot (an admirer of Vaucanson) argues, in support of materialism, that humans can usefully be imagined as animal-machines – or indeed as living statues. This tendency in Diderot can be traced in his early (1747) translation of Shaftesbury, in which the automaton, as ‘automate’, is introduced where it least belongs: in the English Earl’s thought experiment concerning a ‘solitary creature’.

 

All are very welcome! Please note: this event is part of Birkbeck Arts Week 2019.

To reserve your free place, and to see the full programme of events, please go to:

http://www.bbk.ac.uk/annual-events/arts-week/arts-week-2019

 

For further information, please contact Dr Ann Lewis: a.lewis@bbk.ac.uk

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Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group – Artisanal Knowledge and Practical Aesthetics in the Eighteenth Century 9 May 2018

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group

Artisanal Knowledge and Practical Aesthetics in the Eighteenth Century

Postgraduate Workshop and Lecture by Ruth Mack (SUNY, Buffalo)

Wednesday 9 May, 4.30-8pm, Keynes Library, Birkbeck School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square

  1. 4.30-6.00: Postgraduate Workshop, organized by Robert Stearn

In her chapter ‘Hogarth’s Practical Aesthetics’, Ruth Mack asks: ‘what does it mean, exactly, to make a theory of beauty artisanally?’

In the first part of this workshop, postgraduate students and early career researchers will give short presentations on objects and problems drawn from their research. Responding to Ruth’s chapter, these will explore how diverse instances of image-making, cataloguing, classifying, reproducing, and theorising engage with artisanal knowledge, and the potentially troubled relation of such knowledge to theory and to the everyday.

In the second, Ruth will respond to these presentations, opening a discussion in which we will use her chapter and the materials presented to shape a conversation about the place of practical knowledge in eighteenth-century natural philosophy, aesthetic theory, artistic practice, and commercial production. What does it mean to call such knowledge maker’s knowledge, or to say that it is corporeal or embodied knowledge? How might such a framework account for desire and pleasure, or for the division of labour? We hope you can join us to think about these questions and more.

Presentations

  • Marianne Brooker (Birkbeck): ‘This Laborious, Expensive, and Arduous Undertaking’: Thomas Martyn’s Universal Conchologist (1784-7) and his ‘Principles of a Private Establishment’
  • Felicity Roberts (King’s College London): Sir Hans Sloane, Classification, Cataloguing, Detail and Delight
  • Rees Arnott-Davies (Independent): Jan van Rymsdyk’s Theory of Image Making
  • Robert Stearn (Birkbeck): George Bickham the younger’s Rococo Knowledge of Everyday Life
  • Miriam Al Jamil (Birkbeck): Dancer, Mistress, Venus, Queen: The Multiple Identities of a Statue

Attendees are encouraged to read Ruth’s chapter, ‘Hogarth’s Practical Aesthetics’, in Mind, Body, Motion, Matter, ed. M. H.McMurran and A.Conway (Toronto, 2016), which is available here: http://www.oapen.org/search?identifier=604622.

  1. 6.00-8.00, ‘Equiano and Craft’, Lecture by Ruth Mack

This paper examines the concept of embodied knowledge as it is worked out through Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative. Many of the questions brought to Equiano’s text over the past decade concern issues of authenticity and identity (asked in especially provocative form in Vincent Carretta’s biography of Equiano). I aim to examine the root of these debates over the location of identity in Equiano’s own thought. I will contextualize Equiano’s thinking about society in terms of related Scottish Enlightenment theories he would have known well. But the center of the paper will concern craft or maker’s knowledge and its strange fate in the formation of Equiano’s social theory. Here, I will look at the way craft is both embraced and distanced from the form of subjectivity Equiano wishes to claim, tainted as craft must be by its association with the slave’s merely bodily identity, as the slave trade conceived of it. Working through this tension in his relation to craft ultimately gives Equiano the terms for an ethnography of his African homeland that is both aesthetic and, ultimately, political.

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Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: 30 November 17

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group:

Reading Group, led by Emma Dowley, ‘Propaganda and Satire during the Jacobite Rebellion of ’45’

12-2pm, Thursday 30 November

Room 317, 43 Gordon Square

The last Jacobite rebellion of 1745/6 saw Charles Edward Stuart attempt to overthrow George II on behalf of his father, James. The growing market appetite for printed imagery that the rebellion spawned was consistent with a pattern set during times of political turbulence, reaching back to the Exclusion Crisis of the seventeenth century, but the volume of the output in 1745 and 1746 was unprecedented. The prints that are the subject of my thesis addressed the broader political and religious debates that were the principal causes of the division between the supporters of the house of Hanover and the exiled line of the Stuart dynasty. They attempted to paint as damaging a picture as possible of the Jacobites, France and the Catholic Church (the latter two presumed to be backing the rising), the ideological underpinning of Charles Edward’s mission and the potential consequences if he eventually succeeded. There is no evidence that the prints were part of a government orchestrated propaganda campaign, but Herbert Atherton has stated that, ‘their effect, taken in the context of the contemporary moment, may have given them the value of propaganda, especially when the tempo of polemic quickened’, as it did in 1745.

During the reading group session, I am interested in exploring to what extent these prints may be considered as propaganda, even if they were not officially sponsored. The preparatory ‘reading’ is the following three images:

The Invasion, or Perkin’s Triumph: http://digital.nls.uk/jacobite-prints-and-broadsides/archive/75241577?mode=zoom

The Highland Visitors: http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=1655512&partId=1&searchText=highland+visitors&page=1

The Fate of Rebellion:  http://digital.nls.uk/jacobite-prints-and-broadsides/archive/75241526?mode=zoom

Emma Dowley is a PhD student in History of Art at Birkbeck, working on anti-jacobite imagery in the eighteenth century.

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Eighteenth-Century Reading Group, Wednesday 1 February 2017, 12-2pm

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: Reading Group

Wednesday 1 February 2017, 12.00-2.00pm

Keynes Library, 43 Gordon Square

National and Cosmopolitan Antiquities in the Late Eighteenth Century (Irish, Scottish, German, Russian)

Readings chosen and introduced by:

Alexis Wolf (PhD candidate, English and Humanities, Birkbeck)

Catherine Angerson (PhD candidate, Cultures and Languages, Birkbeck)

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Royal Charter (1783), pp. 2-5.

Matthew Guthrie, Dissertations sur les antiquities de Russie (1795), pp. 6-15.

Ekaterina Romanovna Dashkova and Martha Bradford, Memoirs of Princess Daschkaw, Lady of Honour to Catherine II (1840), pp. 16-21.

Johann Gottfried Herder, ‘Extract from a Correspondence on Ossian and the Songs of Ancient Peoples’ (Auszug aus einem Briefwechsel über Ossian und die Lieder alter Völker) (1773) available online in German: http://www.zeno.org/Literatur/M/Herder,+Johann+Gottfried/Theoretische+Schriften/Von+deutscher+Art+und+Kunst/1.+Auszug+aus+einem+Briefwechsel

Gottfried August Bürger, Outpourings from the Heart on Folk Poetry (Herzensausguß über Volkspoesie) (1776) available online in German: https://www.uni-due.de/lyriktheorie/texte/1776_buerger.html

(English translations available)

Alexis Wolf will introduce the writings of Anglo-Irish sisters Martha and Katherine Wilmot, who travelled to Russia between 1803-1808 to live as the guests of Princess Yekaterina Dashkova, a major figure in the Russian Enlightenment, and recorded observations about the customs and songs of Russian peasants, relating them to Dissertations Sur Les Antiquities de Russie (1785) by Matthew Guthrie, a Scottish physician resident in St Petersburg and a Correspondent Member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, whose Charter is also included in the reading pack. The transnational practice of the Irish women and the Scottish doctor in Russia will be compared to German reflections on the poetry of Ossian through texts by Herder and Bürger introduced by Catherine Angerson.

To request copies of the readings, please email Luisa Calè, l.cale@bbk.ac.uk

 

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Birkbeck 18th Century Group – Autumn Term 2016 Events

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group, Autumn 2016

Tuesday 29 November,

6.00-9.00,

Keynes Library

Dr Kate Tunstall (Worcester College, Oxford) ‘Magots and Pagodes: The Politics and Aesthetics of Luxury in Eighteenth-Century France’

Chaired by Dr Ann Lewis

[link to illustration:]

Abstract: In this paper, which is part of a larger project on Diderot’s materialisms, I focus on Diderot’s various writings on luxury and, in particular, on the numerous and rather remarkable references he makes to magots and pagodes, objects of chinoiserie, one of which can be seen, for instance, in Boucher’s Woman on a daybed (Frick, 1743).

Bio: Kate Tunstall is University Lecturer in French at the University of Oxford and Fellow of Worcester College. She is the author of Blindness and Enlightenment (2011); she edited Self-Evident Truths? Human Rights and the Enlightenment (2012); she and Caroline Warman translated Diderot’s Le Neveu de Rameau together for the open access multimedia edition, which won the 2014 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Prize for Best Digital Resource. Most recently, her and Katie Scott’s new edition and translation of Diderot’s Regrets sur ma vieille robe de chambre appeared in the Oxford Art Journal.

Birkbeck 18C Reading Group:

Wednesday 7 December

12.00-2.00, Keynes Library

Dr Katharina Boehme (Regensburg) will introduce Vetusta Monumenta (1747) and selections from Stukeley’s Itinerarium Curiosum (1724).

http://dl.mospace.umsystem.edu/mu/islandora/object/mu%3A478

The session will consider three plates reproduced in Vetusta Monumenta, published by the Society of Antiquaries in 1747 in the first of seven volumes of large-scale, highly-finished copper-plate engravings of many different kinds of antiquities, printed between 1747 and 1906. The reading will consist of excerpts and illustrations from two works by William Stukeley (1687-1765). Stukeley was a leading figure in antiquarian debates in the first half of the eighteenth century and the Society of Antiquary’s first secretary. The publication of Itinerarium Curiosum (1724) marked the rise of the ‘domestic tour’ – a compound of travelogue, chorography and guidebook. Stonehenge: A Temple Restor’d to the Druids (1740) presents the results of Stukeley’s fieldwork at Stonehenge and suggests that Stonehenge had been erected as a place of worship by ancient British druids.

Katharina Boehm is Assistant Professor in English Literature at the University of Regensburg. Her main research interests are in British literature of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and in the history of science. Her first monograph, Charles Dickens and the Sciences of Childhood: Popular Medicine, Child Health and Victorian Culture (Palgrave Macmillan) was published in 2013. Her current project explores antiquarian cultures of the long eighteenth century and their impact on the novel and other contemporary prose genres such as the domestic tour and the historical romance. She is currently co-editing an annotated digital edition of the antiquarian plate book Vetusta Monumenta and a special issue of Word & Image entitled “Mediating the Materiality of the Past, 1700-1930”.

Contact Luisa Calè for the readings (l.cale@bbk.ac.uk)

 

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C18 and Dr Jacqueline Riding – Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion 23 June 2016

Jacobites

Please find below details of another event organised by the Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group. On Thursday 23rd June, 7-9pm, Dr. Jacqueline Riding will be talking about her new book, Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion, recently published by Bloomsbury. Dr. Riding is an alumna of the History of Art department at Birkbeck, and an Associate Research Fellow in the School of Arts. She will be joined in conversation by Dr. Sarah Fraser, whose biography of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat, won the Saltire First Book Prize in 2012.

Please do join us to hear more about the Jacobites, have a glass of wine – and for a chance to pick up a copy of Jacqueline’s book at a discounted rate! (cash only)

best wishes,

Kate Retford, Luisa Cale, Ann Lewis and Emily Senior

Dr. Jacqueline Riding, Associate Research Fellow, School of Arts, Birkbeck College

Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion

in conversation with Dr. Sarah Fraser, chaired by Dr. Kate Retford

Thursday 23rd June, 7.00-9.00pm

Room G02, School of Arts, Birkbeck, 43 Gordon Square WC1H 0PD

Dr Jacqueline Riding, BA in History (Leicester), MA in History of Art (Birkbeck), PhD (York). Her thesis subject was the British painter Joseph Highmore (1692-1780).

Former curator at the Theatre Museum, Guards Museum and Palace of Westminster, and founding Director of the Handel House Museum, since 2005 she has worked as a consultant for Museum/Galleries and Historic Buildings, including Tate Britain, Historic Royal Palaces, Wilton’s Music Hall and Turner’s House Trust, and for feature films, including Mr. Turner (Mike Leigh, 2014), Colette (Wash Westmorland, pre-production) and Peterloo (Mike Leigh, 2018).

She publishes and lectures widely on early-Georgian art and history. Her current projects are the imagery of Charles Edward Stuart, and London’s Foundling Hospital. Her book Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion has just been published by Bloomsbury (2016).

Dr Sarah Fraser, BA in English (Bristol), PhD (Edinburgh). Her thesis subject was obscene Gaelic poetry by the foremost Jacobite poet, Alexander Macdonald (Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair).

Her first book, a biography of Simon Fraser, Lord Lovat (c.1667-1747) entitled The Last Highlander: Scotland’s most notorious clan chief, rebel and double agent (HarperCollins 2012) won the Saltire First Book Prize in 2012. In April 2016, The Last Highlander shot to No.12 in the New York Times ebook Bestseller List, due to the appearance of Lord Lovat in Season 2 of the Starz hit series Outlander.

She has appeared on Radio and TV, including Highland Clans (BBC, 2013). Her second book, a biography of Henry Stuart, Prince of Wales (1594-1612), will be published by HarperCollins at the end of this year.

For further details, please contact Kate Retford: k.retford@bbk.ac.uk

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Artful Monkeys: The ‘Singeries’ of Marivaux – Tuesday 10th May 2016

Professor Melissa Percival

Artful Monkeys: The ‘Singeries’ of Marivaux

6pm, Tuesday 10th May

Room 101, 30 Russell Square

Unashamedly ‘moderne’, Marivaux’s writing displays a heightened awareness of the practices of imitation. A complex yet coherent thematics of ‘singe’ and ‘singerie’ can be found in his theatre, journalism and fiction. In Marivaux’s universe Arlequin, that most simian of creatures, paradoxically embodies a powerful humanity. Singerie can be an exaggerated physical display of contorsion and grimace; but it is also a social practice, a frequently pernicious form of ingratiation. Equally it pertains to the author’s own vanities and machinations.

In addition to Marivaux’s writings, this paper will make reference to Alfredo Arias’s controversial ‘monkey’ production of Le Jeu de l’amour et du hasard (1986) and to the painted singeries of Marivaux’s contemporaries Watteau, Audran and Huet.

All are very welcome! Do please pass this information onto anyone else who might be interested.

For further information, please contact Ann Lewis: a.lewis@bbk.ac.uk

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Birkbeck 18th Century Research Group: Reading Group, Tuesday 16 February 2016

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group: Reading Group
Date: Tuesday 16th February 2016
Time: 12.30-2 pm
Location: Room 112, School of Arts, Gordon Square

 

A Life Scribbled in the Margins: The World of Joseph Bufton of Coggeshall, 1650-1718

Brodie Waddell, Lecturer in Early Modern History at Birkbeck

Joseph Bufton was an inconsequential tradesman who lived a rather ordinary life in later Stuart Essex. However, unlike almost all of his contemporaries, he left a substantial collection of writings to posterity, comprising eleven volumes of notes, memorandum, extracts and even some poetry. He used the blank pages and margins of printed almanacs to chronicle his family, his trade, his community, his religion and his nation. Dr. Brodie Waddell will introduce Bufton and attempt to show why we should care about this obscure individual. What is the value of such a microhistory?

Dr. Waddell researches early modern English history, focusing on social relations, economic life and popular culture. His book is entitled God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720 (Boydell, 2012), and his most recent article is ‘The Politics of Economic Distress in the Aftermath of the Glorious Revolution, 1689-1702’, English Historical Review (April 2015).

In preparation for the reading group, please take a look at the selection of extracts from two of Bufton’s notebooks printed in Historical Manuscripts Commission, Report on Manuscripts in Various Collections, Vol. VIII (1912), pp. 569-92. Digital images of the original three of the volumes are available at: https://library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections-explore/167025. Alternatively, please contact Kate Retford k.retford@bbk.ac.uk for a copy.

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‘A Walk Around Eighteenth-Century Covent Garden’ – 1st December

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group:

Reading Group, led by Dr. Thom Braun, Department of History of Art, Birkbeck College

‘A Walk Around Eighteenth-Century Covent Garden’

12.30pm, Tuesday 1st December, Room 112, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square

The most famous image of someone walking in eighteenth-century Covent Garden is by William Hogarth: his Morning, from The Four Times of the Day. Please follow this link to see the print version – the only thing you need to ‘read’ in advance of the session:

http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details/collection_image_gallery.aspx?assetId=135713001&objectId=1401103&partId=1

In the eighteenth century Covent Garden piazza was the centre of a dynamic ‘round-the-clock’ urban space that encompassed a fruit and vegetable market, a theatre, artists’ studios, print shops, coffee houses, bagnios, and houses of ill repute. It was one of the defining spaces of eighteenth-century London, and, as such, it was represented across a range of media in a variety of ways. As well as being the subject of more than twenty paintings and scores of prints, Covent Garden is mentioned in contemporary novels, poems, continental guidebooks to London, and a range of other texts.

With its main focus on the visual, and starting with maps and mapping, this interdisciplinary session will look at a sample of topographical prints, all of which mediate the space in different ways. Through discussion of the images – and in relation to other insights that participants bring to the session – the aim will be to explore some of the ways in which a key metropolitan space was understood and represented through the century.

For further information, please contact Kate Retford: k.retford@bbk.ac.uk

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Professor Tita Chico: ‘Aesthetics, Mediation, and Difference: British Literature and Science’ – 10th November

Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group:

Lecture by Prof. Tita Chico, ‘Aesthetics, Mediation, and Difference: British Literature and Science’

6pm, Tuesday 10th November, Keynes Library, School of Arts, 43 Gordon Square

The Birkbeck Eighteenth-Century Research Group is delighted to announce a forthcoming lecture by Tita Chico, Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Maryland.

Professor Chico is the author of Designing Women: The Dressing Room in Eighteenth-Century English Literature and Culture (2005), and co-editor of Atlantic Worlds in the Long Eighteenth Century: Seduction and Sentiment (2012), with Toni Bowers. She is also editor of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation. This talk relates to her current book project, Experimentalism: Literary Knowledge and Science in the British Enlightenment.

For further information, please contact Ann Lewis: a.lewis@bbk.ac.uk

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