Eighteenth-Century Studies 47 (Winter 2014)

Posted in journal articles by Editor on February 19, 2014

Eighteenth-Century Studies 47 (Winter 2014) | Special Issue: Eighteenth-Century Easts and Wests


Chi-ming Yang, “Eighteenth-Century Easts and Wests: Introduction,” pp. 95–101.

ecs.47.2_frontThe essays in this “Eighteenth-Century Easts and Wests” issue of Eighteenth-Century Studies inaugurate the journal’s institutional relocation from California to New Haven, by way of India, China, Russia, and the Levant. Far from peripheral, the histories and perspectives that emerge from these sites are central to their interdisciplinary remapping of traditional eighteenth-century encounters of enlightenment and of imperialism. The virtues of a collection that is organized at this moment in time by an East-West rubric are several: it signals a regional, relational, and critical orientation that at once refuses the catchall, and too often Eurocentric, categories of the “exotic” or the “global,” and yet invites questions of comparison across and between cultures. Although seemingly axiomatic, it also calls into question its own bipartite structure of analysis by foregrounding the heterogeneity of the Easts and Wests under consideration here. The vector of a Pondichéry, Morocco, Andalusia, or Kiakhta shifts in relation to the particular local or intra-regional network of exchange in which it is situated. At the same time, the attention to place, and the importance of place to textual and archival analysis, keeps us attuned throughout to the larger structures of European and Asian states, companies, and institutions, as well as the continuing role of Western institutions in structuring the distinctions between Orient and Occident that open up fields of inquiry even as they push Asia to the margins of the modern academic mainstream. . . .

Matthew W. Mosca, “The Qing State and Its Awareness of Eurasian Interconnections, 1789–1806,” pp. 103–16.

This article examines the response of the Qing state to two instances in its foreign relations that required long-distance coordination between overland and maritime frontiers: the implementation of a rhubarb embargo in 1789 and the emergence between 1792 and 1806 of clear links between affairs at Kiakhta and Canton. It argues that Qing emperors and minsters had the intelligence capabilities to perceive that their empire was encircled within global networks of economic exchange and political rivalry. Unlike their Russian and British competitors, however, they pursued their interests primarily by seeking to break rather than forge these connections, designing their frontier as a series of discrete sectors rather than one integrated entity.

Kristina Kleutghen, “Chinese Occidenterie: The Diversity of ‘Western’ Objects in Eighteenth-Century China,” pp. 117–35.

The eighteenth-century Chinese taste for European things was met less by importing foreign goods than by domestically producing occidentalizing works of art, a diverse category of objects that can be termed “occidenterie.” This essay redirects the previous consideration of occidenterie from the Jesuit mission and imperial court painting toward a diversity of examples that span geography, material, format, and social class. The various ways in which Chinese occidenterie produced in different places and for different audiences employed elements connoting the West, thereby acquiring their foreign or exoticizing auras, more accurately reflects the empire-wide complexity of this phenomenon.

Danna Agmon, “The Currency of Kinship: Trading Families and Trading on Family in Colonial French India,” pp. 137–55.

In the French colony of Pondichéry, French and local actors alike drew on the shared idiom of kinship to strategically advance their political and commercial agendas. Recent scholarship has shown that the structures of family underlay early modern European state building and imperial expansion. This essay deploys this insight in the colonial context, to examine how indigenous families in the Tamil region entered into the European colonial project. For native commercial brokers, involvement with European newcomers could actually strengthen local family ties. Simultaneously, French employees of the Compagnie des Indes were eager to insert themselves into Tamil networks and did so by deploying public and inscribed performances of kinship.

Suzanne Marchand, “Where Does History Begin?: J. G. Herder and the Problem of Near Eastern Chronology in the Age of Enlightenment,” pp. 157–75.

This essay treats the very long set of debates concerning biblical and oriental chronology in early modern Europe down to the time of J. G. Herder and William Jones in the later eighteenth century. It shows that sacred chronology remained a burning issue for Herder; controversy about dating “oriental” texts did not wane, even as a series of newly-readable, original texts made their way westward. What did happen in Herder’s lifetime, however, was that a more specialized classical philology began to set the standards for what counted as wissenschaftlich, making it more difficult for scholarly “orientalists” to make the case that the cultures that they studied really had been at the forefront of cultural developments.

Nabil Matar, “Christians in the Eighteenth-Century Ottoman Mashriq,” pp. 177–94.

The article examines a selection of writings and icons by and about the Christian Arabs of the Middle East. Living under Ottoman rule, from Syria to Egypt, they became aware of an Arabic linguistic identity that helped them write and translate numerous chronicles, disputations, theological commentaries, sermons, and histories, in verse and prose. At the same time, they engaged the larger Muslim population in dialogue. While their legal status was that of second class dhimmis, they enjoyed their own religious space, by far more secure than was allowed minorities in the European World of expanding empires.

Srinivas Aravamudan, “East-West Fiction as World Literature: The Hayy Problem Reconfigured,” pp. 195–231.

This article focuses on the reception history of translations of Ibn Tufayl’s Hayy ibn Yaqzan and how natural theodicy, empiricist experimentalism, and philosophical fiction influenced eighteenth-century England. Discussing the status of Ibn Tufayl’s ideas in relation to Edward Pococke, John Locke, Robert Boyle, and Daniel Defoe allows scholars to go beyond the East-West dichotomy and instead create an opening from eighteenth-century studies onto recent debates around world literature. Using Hayy as a prism, we can understand the opportunities as well as the drawbacks of a world literature paradigm, as theorized by Wolfgang von Goethe, Erich Auerbach, and more recent scholars.

R E V I E W  A R T I C L E S

Ruth P. Dawson, “Actress Images, Written and Painted, Famed and Defamed, British and German,” pp. 233–35.

Review of Mary Helen Dupree, The Mask and the Quill: Actress-Writers in Germany from Enlightenment to Romanticism (2011); Laura Engel, Fashioning Celebrity: Eighteenth-Century British Actresses and Strategies for Image Making (2011); and Gill Perry with Joseph Roach and Shearer West, The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons (2011).

Suzanne Desan, “Gender, Intimacy, and Politics in the French Revolutionary Era,” pp. 236–40.

Review of Andrew Cayton, Love in the Time of Revolution: Transatlantic Literary Radicalism and Historical Change, 1793–1818 (2013); Lindsay Parker, Writing the Revolution: A French Woman’s History in Letters (2013); and Annie Smart, Citoyennes: Women and the Ideal of Citizenship in Eighteenth-Century France (2011).

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