From the Editors

Three Upcoming Fora at Republics of Letters

Cover graphics by Michelle Jia; image from

Dear Readers,


The editors at Republics of Letters are excited to preview three fora coming to Arcade in the near future. The first is a forum on “Noise” slated to appear later this year, edited by David Ellison (Griffith University), Bruce Buchan (Griffith University), and Peter Denney (Griffith University).  Contributors will include Denise Gigante (Stanford University), Nicola Parsons (University of Sydney), Lisa O’Connell (University of Queensland), John Gascoigne (University of New South Wales), Neil Ramsey (University of New South Wales), and Harriet Guest (University of York), among others.  Topics will range widely, from the conversation piece in eighteenth-century culture to Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year, from cross-cultural communication between the British and the Pacific to noise and vision in military literature, and from domestic soundscapes to noise and political culture in the late eighteenth century. 


A second forum, on “Beauty and Form,” will appear early next year, edited by Thomas Pfau (Duke University) and Vivasvan Soni (Northwestern University). The editors offer this provocative preview:


The concepts of beauty and form are as old as Western philosophy itself. In Plato, they are the foundation for our love of the good. And yet, by a curious paradox, even though these concepts have been perennial features of the philosophical landscape ever since, we witness with the rise of systematic aesthetics in the eighteenth century their marginalization, denigration and divorce from ethics. Concepts like the sublime, the new and even the zany acquire an unprecedented prestige as the aesthetic concepts associated with modernity, while beauty and form come to be allied with a staid premodern or neoclassical love of order and hierarchy, or else with a bourgeois aesthetic of commercialization and kitsch. However, today, there are signs that a significant reappraisal of this legacy is underway, tied to an intuition that concepts like beauty and form may well be indispensable to humanistic inquiry, and perhaps even urgent remedies for the disorientations of modern life. Issuing from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds, these six essays by distinguished scholars and intellectuals present a detailed conceptual analysis of a particular moment in this history.


Contributors will include Natalie Carnes (Baylor University), Robert Pippin (University of Chicago), James Porter (University of California-Irvine), Gaby Starr (New York University), Jonathan Loesberg (American University), and Jonathan Kramnick (Yale University), who will address subjects ranging from recuperations of beauty as disruption of class hierarchy, justification and modernism in J.M. Coetzee’s Elizabeth Costello, beauty and perceptions of pleasure, the long death of art from Hegel forward, a challenge to the binary of utility and aesthetics, and a unique view of beauty through poetic images of the moving body. 


A third forum, edited by Alexander Regier (Rice University) on the topic of “Sport and Literature,” will appear late next year. 


The Editors, Republics of Letters