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Call for papers “Dissent of the Governed, XVIII-XXI century“. A conference sponsored by the Charles Brockden Brown Society


October 3-5, 2019, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky


While the long-eighteenth century gave rise to “the consent of the governed” as a principle of legitimate government, this period also witnessed inventive forms of dissent by many who were presumed to have given, or who had never been asked for, their consent. Recent developments in the U.S. and across the globe spur to mind these earlier contexts in which the law was deemed immoral or incorrect. Black Lives Matter has powerfully challenged ideas of the law and its enforcers as supposedly neutral. High school students’ responses to the spate of school shootings raise questions about political rights and avenues of participation for the disenfranchised, in this case, the under-aged – but also non-citizens, felons, the homeless, and more. The uncertain legal standing of non-persons—Are corporations individuals? Who or what represents “the environment,” and on what basis?—recalibrate conventional understandings of consent and dissent. These issues provide a fitting opportunity to reconsider Brown’s time and our own. What were the forms of dissent in the final decades of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth? Who were the participants? How did contemporaries understand the impact of disagreement and disobedience on republicanism? On democracy? How was the Revolutionary tradition of dissent eventually tempered and managed by elites from the ratification of the Constitution onward? The Twelfth Biennial Conference of the Charles Brockden Brown Society invites papers on all aspects of dissent in the Atlantic World of the long eighteenth century. Topics might include:

  • Blurring of fact and fiction: fake news, propaganda, novel writing, hoaxes
  • “Social networks” from the Friendly Club to Facebook
  • Uses, manipulations of, and controversies over historiography and storytelling
  • Free speech (e.g., in the first amendment; its invocation in recent years as protection for hate speech or bias crime; issues of civility, etc.)
  • Populism, demagoguery, fears of tyranny
  • Protest
  • Violence performed by/upon marginalized populations (e.g., The Whiskey Rebellion, slave revolts, Pontiac’s War)
  • Women’s governance and dissent, within the family and the political community
  • Justice and inequality
  • Resistance to nationalism and imperialism
  • Dissenting religions
  • Dissenting regions
  • Racism and xenophobia

Organizers solicit proposals from a broad range of texts and practices beyond those associated with Brown and his writings alone. We also encourage interdisciplinary scholarship and work emphasizing non-U.S. literatures. Our conference culture aims to create a space of egalitarian consideration free from career-oriented and competitive attitudes, a place for new work to flourish. Thus we have no concurrent sessions, so that all may be heard by all. Due to time and space constraints, we may ask you to reframe your proposed talk as a brief (5-10 minute) presentation for inclusion within a roundtable format.


250-word proposal deadline: February 15, 2019. Please send a proposal in .docx format to

Travel Support for Graduate Students:

Some graduate student travel support will be available. Criteria for these travel subventions will favor students at the dissertation stage (over those in earlier stages of degree work) and those who have not previously presented at a CBBS meeting. Graduate students applying for a subvention should indicate their interest in a cover letter and provide information about whether or not they are ABD.

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