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“Population” at Rutgers-New Brunswick

October 6, 2016 @ 9:00 am - October 7, 2016 @ 5:00 pm

The Rutgers Nineteenth-Century Workshop invites submissions on the topic “Population” for its annual two-day conference.

Frances Ferguson (University of Chicago) will give the keynote lecture.

The nineteenth century turned the very old concept of “population” into a newly central actor in the realms of politics, arts, and science.  The burgeoning field of statistics, the widespread institution of national censuses, the rise of racial “science” and sociological theory, the prominence of social observation as a genre in periodical literature, the flourishing of massive fictional projects designed to encompass the varieties of national character: the period saw the dawn of multiple tools for assessing, naming, and describing populations, and making them central to the administration of bodies and states, the imagination of historical progress and decline, and the shape of artistic ambition.  We invite papers that address the new prominence of population as a key player in politics and culture. How did the concept vary in different national and professional contexts, and how did it interact with other rubrics of organization like race, nation, class, and gender? How did population cut across or reinforce the ideology and practice of slavery and empire? What were the cultural consequences of population’s prominences? What legacies of nineteenth-century theory of populations are still with us today, and how adequately do our current theories account for nineteenth-century realities?

Essays will be circulated in advance to all participants; the workshop format will permit the focused discussion of these essays across two days of convivial conversation. Workshop participants will include nineteenth-century scholars from various fields—history, art history, the history of philosophy, and a broad range of modern literatures—at Rutgers and in the greater NY/NJ area. The workshop will cover the travel and housing expenses of those chosen to present their work.

Applications should be sent to David Kurnick ( by Monday, April 18; they will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary group of scholars. Applications should include a description of the proposed paper (1-2 pages) and a brief cv (no more than 3 pages).  Applicants will be notified by mid-May if they will be included in the program.


October 6, 2016 @ 9:00 am
October 7, 2016 @ 5:00 pm


Alexander Library | Teleconference Lecture Hall
169 College Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901 United States
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