Modernization and Intellectual Authority in US Literary Culture, 1750-1900

Symposium, July 2 to 5, 2009

Anglistisches Seminar in Cooperation with the Heidelberg Center for American Studies

Conference Location:
Internationales Wissenschaftsforum
Hauptstr. 242
69117 Heidelberg

This conference will explore how the emergence of literary professionalism shaped concepts of authorship and literary and intellectual authority between 1750 and 1900. We would like to encourage reflection on how structural changes – the widening of the readership, resulting from rising standards of education and literacy, and the accompanying extension of print capitalism, as well as the commodification of the book – affect late-eighteenth- and nineteenth-century views of intellectual authority. Another question worth considering is whether the cultural differentiation that began in the early republic and continued through the nineteenth century foreshadows the problematics of intellectual authority generally associated with later periods of more intensified professionalization (such as in the modernist avant-garde, or in the post-WWII institutionalization of criticism in the universities, or in the post-1960s “market place” of cultural theories).