About ECTI

From the Editors

 
July 2017

When Joel Weinsheimer and Jeff Smitten took over Studies in Burke and His Time in 1976 and rechristened the journal The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation two years later, the new editors noted that “since its inception . . . the journal has continually expanded its scope, growing from a concentration on Burke and politics to its present multidisciplinary breadth.” If that impetus toward interdisciplinary expansion broke new ground in the 1970s, the forty-year history of ECTI demonstrates the commitment of the current editors to ongoing dialogues among different approaches to the eighteenth century: feminism, postcolonialism, cultural studies, the new economic history, science studies, and the history of ecology, among others. As the first journal to bring the discourses of theory into eighteenth-century studies, ECTI remains open to rigorous, self-critical examinations of the ways in which we read literature, history, and global culture between 1660 and 1830. Yet in the last forty-plus years, our understandings of “literature” and “culture” have themselves undergone a significant revaluation. The nature of interdisciplinary studies imagined in the 1970s has long since been transformed, in this journal and elsewhere, into a range of dialogic inquiries that continually redefine our understandings of the long eighteenth century and the ways that we teach and write about it.

The essays published over the past four decades reflect our commitment to work that pushes readers to think anew in theoretically self-conscious terms. As every issue of The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation indicates, we define “the eighteenth century” in broad terms. Our contributors give voice to a range of cultural and national traditions, and testify to the significance of multi-disciplinary work in twenty-first century scholarship. While the term “theory” in our title comes from an earlier time, the so-called “theory wars” of the 1970s, the subtitle of the journal—Theory and Interpretation—signals our continuing commitment to theoretically-informed rigor and variety, where the very terms of analysis are themselves subject to scrutiny. If the academic terrain today looks very different from that of 1978, our editorial commitment to innovative scholarship remains unchanged. The articles we publish represent some of the best cutting-edge work in the field–analyses of major authors and texts as well as historical questions about social class, the emergence of capitalism in Asia as well as Europe, international trade, imperialism and colonialism, nationalism, gender and sexuality, ethnicity and race, sympathy, the abolition movement, medicine and the body, the grotesque, and historiography, among many other topics.

In addition to articles, The Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation publishes substantive Essay-Reviews, 1200 to 2000 words in length, that discuss recently published scholarly works in the contexts of current developments and debates in and among disciplines. Given the number of books in eighteenth-century studies published each year, the Essay-Reviews’ in-depth analyses signal another instance of ECTI’s commitment to and promotion of cutting-edge scholarship and continuing dialogue.

Robert Markley, University of Illinois
Tita Chico, University of Maryland