Class in the Long Eighteenth Century: Britain and Beyond – CALL FOR PAPERS

Date / time: 5 June, All day

Class in the Long Eighteenth Century: Britain and Beyond - CALL FOR PAPERS


Conference | University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany | 4-6 April 2025

Class in the Long Eighteenth Century: Britain and Beyond

Call for Papers, deadline – 5 June 2024

The long eighteenth century witnessed a host of social changes that affected print culture to varying degrees. The centrality of urban culture, the pulse of individualism, the bourgeois clubs, the consumerist disposition of European nations, political confrontations, fiscal economies affected by war, trade relations, and travel circuits, all were part and parcel of that era. From the South Sea Bubble to the hunger riots of 1766 to the abolitionist attacks, the social structure of England proved to be both adaptable and resilient.

The lasting impact of classic critical interventions on class published in the 1960s-1980s by Eric Hobsbawm, E.P. Thompson, Christopher Hill and others is indubitable. Today, however, it appears that many cultural phenomena are primarily discussed with foci set on race or gender. Among the three very useful categories of race, class and gender, class has become somewhat unfashionable, with Paul Langford’s A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 (published in 1989) being the last major work dedicated to class in the eighteenth century.

Clearly, class and its discourse warrant a renewed inquiry as they underpin almost every other intellectual debate of the period. Our conference aims at augmenting the relevant issues of race and gender in the eighteenth century with reflections on their respective class dimension, and at bringing together a diverse range of approaches and methodologies.
Possible themes may include, but are not restricted to:

  • The advent of the middle classes
  • Social mobility and its perceived absence on the Continent
  • The French Revolution and its reception
  • Class anxieties and social unrest
  • Manners and Morals
  • Humanitarianism and institutions for the destitute
  • Travel writing and international perspectives on class in Britain
  • Economic changes
  • Class and the metropolis, and class beyond the metropolis
  • Class, authorship and literature
  • Class in Romanticism
  • Education and social ladder
  • Politics and religion
  • Philosophy
  • The visual arts and music
  • Class and material culture (architecture, furniture, fashion etc.)
  • Print media and public discourse
  • Class and nostalgia
  • Revisionist histories of class
  • Class, colonialism and slavery

Conference information
This conference will take place at the University of Duisburg-Essen (Germany), on 4-6 April 2025.

Conference languages
English and French

Prof. Dr. Christoph Heyl, Anjali Rampersad, M.A., Christian Feser, M.A.

Please e-mail your proposal (c. 250 words), contact information and a brief biographical note (c. 100 words) to the conference organisers ( by 5 June 2024.