CFP: Distance 2020, 3-14 August

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Deadline: 5pm BST 29 June

The University of York’s Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies and the University of Melbourne’s Enlightenment Romanticism Contemporary Culture Research Unit invites PhD and MA students to join their first ever virtual postgraduate conference on ‘Distance’ from 3-14 August 2020

The long eighteenth century saw the experience of cultural distance through overseas exploration, empire, travel and trade. The diverse interactions led to comparisons with other states, subjects, languages and traditions. In 2020, physical and social distance has once again become a defining feature of our society, and this virtual conference invites all to consider how our current situations can bring a new appreciation for how distance was integral in the communities and cultures of eighteenth-century society.

To accommodate the new physical restrictions in our own academic landscape, the conference will be held virtually. It will operate on a combined platform:

Postgraduate presenters will be advised and supported in pre-recording presentations. These will be uploaded onto a dedicated google site for conference delegates.

Keynote speeches and other conference activities will take place on Zoom at scheduled times during the conference period. These will run at time’s that enable international participation, and will be recorded.

We welcome abstracts for either traditional papers of 20 minutes or lightning talks of 3-5 minutes in length. Traditional papers will be organised into standard three-paper panel formats, and lightning talks into smaller, more informal, roundtables to prompt discussions throughout the conference.

Paper and lightning talks may explore topics including, but not limited to:

Encounters: Cultural, political and religious, communities and diasporas, imperialism, transatlantic families

Empire: The East India Company, slavery and the anti-slavery movement, colonialism and country houses.

Production: Textual, visual, physical and liminal spaces of production, trade

Communication: Circuits, networks, conversations, epistolary practices

Mobility: Transportation, social mobility, trans-national movement Material Culture: Tokens of affection, popular consumption, clothing and embodiment

Space: Architectural design, religious, private vs. public, emotional boundaries, intimacy, personal boundaries

Exploration: Travel narratives, stadial theory and scientific racism, cartography, natural science observations

Please visit the conference website and submit abstracts under the “Apply” tab on the homepage: by 5pm BST 29 June 2020:

Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 6 July 2020. If you have any questions, please email

Twitter: @Distance_2020