The summer duck by Mark Catesby (1684-1749)

Nature and Artistry

Annual Meeting of the East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies

University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Sayre N. Greenfield, program chair

The East-Central American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies will meet 2–4 October in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year).

The theme of the conference, keyed to the idyllic setting, is “Nature and Artistry" and will pay particular attention to the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755.

Anonymous French engraving of the earthquake.

The conference will commence Thursday 2 October with a reception (featuring heavy hors d'oeuvres) at 6:30 pm followed by a plenary panel at 7:30 pm, open to the general public. "The Lisbon Earthquake: Overviews" will feature Charles James of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center (U of Ca, Berkeley) and Russell Dynes of the Disaster Research Center (U of Delaware).

Both Friday and Saturday will have a full schedule of panels from 8:30 am to 5:30 pm. As usual, we will have an exhibit of books in the field by our members--if you want your book on display, bring a copy or two with you to sell or ask your publisher to send a copy--along with order forms--to the conference organizer.

Our plenary speaker on Friday evening after the banquet will be Professor Robert Markley of the University of Illinois (Champaign-Urbana), who will speak on links between Europe and Asia in the eighteenth century. He is editor of the journal Eighteenth Century: Theory and Interpretation, one of the authors of the DVD Red Planet: Scientific and Cultural Encounters with Mars (U of Pennsylvania Press), and author of the (more traditionally formatted) forthcoming book The Far East and the English Imagination: Fictions of Eurocentrism (Cambridge UP). His talk will also be open to the general public.

Saturday will feature Marie McAllister's presidential address at lunch. In the evening, the Aural/Oral Experience will attempt an abbreviated production of John Gay's famously satirical musical The Beggar's Opera of 1728. Whether nature or artistry will prevail in this pick-up production remains to be seen. Peter Staffel is the one to contact if you wish to participate as a singer, actor, or song stylist (

On Sunday, after the conference has officially ended, we will visit Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural marvel, Fallingwater (optional).

Those who have uncovered exciting material during summer research may wish to speak briefly (5-10 minutes) at the informal session entitled Current Research; or Adventures in the Archives. Inquiries should go to Jim May by 15 September (

Others may wish to bring assignments to share at the teaching roundtable (discussion topic for this year: teaching research methods in undergraduate 18th-century courses).

Graduate students are eligible to compete for the Molin Prize for best paper delivered by a graduate student attending EC/ASECS. Contact Linda Merians ( for requirements.

All giving papers or chairing panels must be members of EC/ASECS ($5 students, $10 regular members; $15 joint membership). Contact Linda Merians ( about joining.

The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg is a small, modern, tasteful campus on the southeast edge of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh. The buildings sit amid 213 acres of woods, fields, and streams in a suburban valley at the foot of the Allegheny Mountains. Greensburg is the seat of Westmoreland County, the first English-speaking county west of the Alleghenies. It contains the fine Westmoreland Museum of American Art and numerous restaurants, hotels, and bookstores within three miles of the campus. 

 For those who wish to explore the area, Pittsburgh lies a short drive to the west: home of the Carnegie Museums (Art, Natural History, Science, and Andy Warhol), and the Strip District, for the foodies among you. Thirty miles to the south of Greensburg lies Fallingwater, Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous fusion of art and nature (we plan to organize an excursion there). Fifteen miles beyond that is Wright’s Kentuck Knob, and, in a more 18th-century vein, Fort Necessity Battlefield and General Braddock’s Grave. Fifteen miles to the east of Greensburg is the charming town of Ligonier, home not merely to many antique stores and polo clubs but also to Fort Ligonier, a full reconstruction of the mid-18th-century fort.