Deviant Thinking: Early Modern Philosophy and the Enlightenment

Blond Odalisque

François Boucher, French, 1752, Oil on canvas, 23.2 x 28.7 in. 1166

15-17 November 2017
University of Sydney

What the Enlightenment stands for has been subject to much discussion in recent years, and many valuable contributions have been made that help us to understand better the significance of this period. This conference takes this discussion further by connecting up the Enlightenment with the early modern period and the “rebellious” ideas that were already formulated and passed around during this time. We seek papers that bring into focus the many challenges philosophers of the 17th and 18th century posed to established intellectual, political, religious and social norms. These challenges touch on a diverse range of topics, spanning from fundamental questions concerning the status of the human being in the natural world, and the prospect of gaining knowledge of that world, to the redefinition of sentiment and affect as defining features of the moral potential of humanity. Reflections on the foundations of the state, self-governance and the rights of individuals and groups often followed on from these questions and thereby led to a novel engagement with the conditions that structure and shape human life.

SIHN's Enlightenment Thinking Project will be hosting this conference, a central aim of which is to use the wider discussion of 17th- and 18th-century thought to launch a new series, the Australasian Seminar in Early Modern in Philosophy (ASEMP). In future years, ASEMP will be held at rotating locations at universities in the Australasian region. By establishing this conference series, we seek to provide a regular opportunity for high-quality discussions of research presentations in early modern philosophy, while encouraging closer collaboration and network opportunities between Asia-Pacific and Australian universities. Each conference will have a mentoring stream that teams up PhD students and early career researchers with senior scholars to prepare conference submissions for publication.

Call for Papers

We are interested in receiving abstract submissions on the following subjects:

  1. Early modern and enlightenment ideas that in some important respects deviated from the norms established in 17th and 18th century thought.
  2. Philosophical thought that questioned or challenged ideas that are today understood as central ideals of the Enlightenment.
  3. Interpretations of early modern and enlightenment ideas/figures that deviate from standard interpretations of those ideas/figures.

We also welcome submissions (for both papers and panels) on early modern topics that fall outside the main conference theme.

The deadline for the submission of abstracts (max 800-1000 words) for conference papers (30 minutes presentation time) is 30 June 2017. Please prepare your submission for anonymous review and add a separate cover sheet with your details.

Please email your submission to Anik Waldow.

The full programme will be posted at the end of August after the peer-review process has been completed.


Confirmed Speakers



Official conference hotel:
Vulcan hotel
500 Wattle St
Ultimo NSW 2007
Rates: single rooms from $200.
To receive the 10% discount for conference attendees, you must use the following promotional code “SIHN2017” when booking via the website

Other options nearby

Sancta Sophia College
8 Missenden Rd, Camperdown NSW 2050, Australia
Graduate House Single Rooms with ensuite.
Please note that hotel accommodation bookings are to be made directly with the hotel by contacting

Rydges Camperdown
9 Missenden Road, Camperdown, NSW 2050
Rates: $149-$179.
10 minute walk to University.

Alishan international Guest House
100 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037
Rates: dorm $45pp; single en suite $120-145; double $135-145; family $165.
5-10 minute walk to University.

Glebe Point YHA
262 Glebe Point Rd, Glebe NSW 2037
Rates: dorms $60pp; rooms $148 twin/double adult; weekly prices and member rates available.
20 minute walk to University.

Royal Hotel
370 Abercrombie Street, Darlington 2008
Rates: $79 single; $109 double/room for shared bathroom; weekly rate $280-340/week/room
5-10 minute walk to University.
Facilities: rooms have a desk, internet connections. Bistro and bar downstairs, common kitchen, laundry, TV room.

Billabong Gardens
5-11 Egan Street, Newtown 2042
Rates: Dorm from 1-6 person/room en suite or shared bathrooms: $25-175 per room with weekly rate.
5-10 minute walk to University.
Facilities: free wireless internet, lounge with Widescreen TV and Internet terminals, fully equipped kitchen, coin operated laundry. Great location for restaurants and cafes but quiet at night.

Natures and Spaces of Enlightenment

Colonel Blair with his Family and an Indian Ayah

Johan Zoffany, German, 1667-1769, Colonel Blair with his Family and an Indian Ayah, 1786, Oil on canvas. Photo: © Tate, London [2017]

13-15 December 2017
Griffith University and the University of Queensland

David Nichol Smith Seminar in Eighteenth-Century Studies XVI

Conference poster

A preoccupation with the idea and use of ‘nature’ was an important characteristic of the Enlightenment. Long considered a pivotal moment in the development of modernity, the Enlightenment is now also regarded as a turning point in the emergence of the Anthropocene, as new conceptions of the relationship between human society and the natural world influenced all manner of discourses and practices, from politics to aesthetics, theology to botany, gardening to pet-keeping, and industrial production to colonial governance. But the meanings and purposes of nature were heterogeneous, giving rise to a number of diverse Enlightenments. As an intellectual movement as well as a social process, which varied according to geographical region, the Enlightenment was experienced in different ways by different peoples in different places. Placing emphasis on feeling no less than reason, it also took different forms in different genres of art and writing. And this plurality multiplied as the reach of European empires grew and Enlightenment attitudes and activities migrated to new spaces, where they were transformed by local circumstances. Far from being a monolithic phenomenon, the Enlightenment comprised a cluster of interacting but opposing tendencies, from nationalism to globalism, secularism to revivalism, liberalism to conservatism, and libertine excess to moral reform.

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