The Ephemeral, 1500-1800

Conference Website

University of California, Santa Barbara
Conference Date: April 21-22, 2017
Due Date: December 15, 2016

William Hogarth, "Gin Lane" from A Harlot's Progress
William Hogarth, “Gin Lane” from A Harlot’s Progress

The Early Modern Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara invites proposals for our annual conference, “Transience, Garbage, Excess, Loss: The Ephemeral, 1500-1800,” to be held on April 21 and 22, 2017. We are happy to announce our two keynote speakers: Elizabeth Heckendorn Cook (UC, Santa Barbara) and Jonathan Goldberg (Emory).

We invite presentations that connect broadly to our theme of ephemerality in early modernity. With the present rise of ephemera studies, we hope to investigate the limits, depths, and abilities of the ephemeral as it may pertain to literature, art, music, history, religion, philosophy, or other fields of inquiry. How is the ephemeral intimately connected to our study of early modernity? And what is at stake in plumbing what is, by definition, “short-lived” or “transitory”?

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

Im/permanence; im/materiality
Sanitation, disease, sickness, plague, sewage or early modern plumbing
Trash or the trashy
Fragility or frailty
Excessive femininity, sensibility, or emotional states
Social production, overpopulation, over crowding
Scavengers, pests, pestilence
Food, consumption, intoxication
Scarcity vs. plenty
The exile, itinerant, or transient
The pilgrim or pilgrimage
Textuality; the ephemerality of print
Art, artistry, or ornamentation
The object vs the subject
The transatlantic
Environmental stakes

We invite abstracts of 300 words or less and a 1-page CV to be sent to by December 15, 2016. In the spirit of the ephemeral, we envision both traditional conference presentations and also roundtables that engage with panelists, respondents, and audience.

Please feel free to contact the conference organizer, Jeremy Chow, at with any questions you may have.