Welcome

Thomas Gainsborough, “Wooded Landscape with a Cottage and Shepherd” (1748-1750). Oil on Canvas. Yale Center for British Art.

The 18th-Century Common offers a public space for sharing the research of scholars who study eighteenth-century cultures with nonacademic readers.

We present short digests of our research in accessible, non-specialized language, along with links to original texts, objects, and images, as well as resources for further reading.

New posts appear below.  You can explore topics in “Collections,” informal posts on our “Blog,” and descriptions of 18th-century material around the web at the “Gazette.” Click “Editors and Advisors” to browse by post author.

Learn more about The 18th-Century Common


The 18th-Century Common is currently seeking contributions in the following areas:

  • (For & Against) Cognitive Science and 18th-Century Studies
  • New Directions in 18th-Century Feminist Studies: Developments of the Field in the Twenty-First Century
  • The Age of Wonder: Science and the Arts in the 18th Century
  • Rethinking the Intersections of Romantic-Age Literature & Science: New Approaches to Mary Shelley’s Representation of Science & Technology in Frankenstein
  • Travel, Exploration, and Empire in the 18th-Century

See this post for more information.


Latest Posts

Appropriating the Restoration: Fictional Place and Time in Rose Tremain’s Restoration: A Novel of Seventeenth-Century England

Appropriating the Restoration: Fictional Place and Time in Rose Tremain’s <em>Restoration: A Novel of Seventeenth-Century England</em>

It was the sixties—albeit the 1660s—a time for tricksters, rakes, subversive women and sexual energy on the stage. It was a time of fun for those with the means to partake of it. The “good old days” are, of course, always better from a distance, but writers on through the twentieth century found the Restoration an apt setting for their fictions about prostitution, political intrigue, and tragic or comic historical events, especially for the cinema.

What the Abyssinian Liar Can Tell us about True Stories: Knowledge, Skepticism, and James Bruce’s Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile

What the Abyssinian Liar Can Tell us about True Stories: Knowledge, Skepticism, and James Bruce’s <em>Travels to Discover the Source of the Nile</em>

In 1773, James Bruce of Kinnaird returned to Europe after a decade of travel and study in North East Africa and Abyssinia (present-day Ethiopia). Initially, the knowledge he brought back with him was favorably received by notable figures like the great naturalist the Comte de Buffon, Pope Clement XIV, King Louis XV, and Dr. Charles Burney, ethnomusicologist, composer, and father of author Frances Burney. But as time went on, the public began to grow suspicious of some of his stories, such as his claims that he had eaten lion meat with a tribe in North Africa or that Abyssinian soldiers cut steaks from the rumps of live cows, then stitched the cows up again and sent them out to pasture.

Waverley, Scotland’s Referendum, and Scottish Identity

<em>Waverley</em>, Scotland’s Referendum, and Scottish Identity

Now that Scots have voted to remain with the United Kingdom, perhaps it is more appropriate to recognize that the vote was also held during the bicentennial of Walter Scott’s Waverley—a novel that at once celebrates a distinctively Scottish identity and defends the established Union as a valuable political arrangement. This complex statement of Scotland’s union with England has echoes in the referendum itself.