This two day workshop will be hosted in the Library of the Liverpool Athenaeum, which was founded in 1797 to provide ‘the conveniences and accommodation for the acquisition of knowledge…in a town of such commercial and national importance as Liverpool’. It will be introduced by a public lecture delivered by Dr. Gregory Lynall (English, University of Liverpool), and the workshop keynote, ‘What Mighty Contests!’: Trivial Pursuits and Card Games in the 18th Century, will be delivered by Prof. Joyce Goggin (Literature, Film and Media, University of Amsterdam) This year’s topic is ‘Trivial Pursuits’, as 2016 marks the tercentenary of John Gay’s Trivia, Or the Art of Walking the Streets of London (1716). Gay’s comedic poem directs the reader on the obstacles of street life (day or night); from choosing the correct footwear on a rainy day, to avoiding the theft of one’s wig. The poem provides advice on how to encounter the various characters of the street; how to know a whore and how to guard oneself from ballad-singers. Trivia questions what we conceive to be of little importance and what pursuits we can class as trivial. Bearing this in mind, we anticipate a wide-ranging and interdisciplinary discussion of the term ‘Trivia’ in every sense of the word.
Themes might include, though are not limited to:
• Taste, Worth and Value in Literature and the Arts
• Parlour games, pleasurable diversions and trivial pastimes
• Landmarks and pitfalls: mediating the city street as a physical and notional space
• ‘The changing Weather’: adapting to the signs of an evolving environment
• Playing by the rules: etiquette, apparel and the art of conversation
• Whores and hucksters: trappings, commodities and currencies
• ‘The skulking Thief’: Crime and public poverty
• Faces and crowds: Public interaction and social observation
• The City: Metropolitan and cosmopolitan life
• Travel: Cultural similarities and differences
Case studies are invited from all disciplines and covering any period within the long 18th century (ca 1650 to 1850). Contributions from all national contexts and those that explore global contexts are welcome. Refreshments and lunch will be provided. For further information, or to submit a proposal, please contact Anna Burton (firstname.lastname@example.org). Proposals should be submitted by 15 April 2016.