Banner: SCSECS 2024

The Book and the City

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This year, the Annual Meeting of the South Central Society for Eighteenth Century Studies will be held in one of the most thought-provoking cities in contemporary America: Portland, Oregon. The meeting will be held on Friday, March 1, and Saturday, March 2, 2024. While papers on all aspects of the long eighteenth century are welcome, the theme of the conference will be The Book and the City.

Below, you will find a few highlights to explore at the venue, and a list of our proposed panels to date. Panels are still accepting paper proposals at this time, so if your idea for a presentation fits one of these topics, please send an inquiry directly to the panel chair. If you have an idea that doesn't seem to fit, contact the SCSECS President, John Scanlan, at

The deadline for proposing individual papers and full panels with a complete slate of presenters has been extended to Monday, January 15.



Portland has long attracted readers and writers, and two of its most iconic establishments pay respect to that heritage. Powell's City of Books, an independent bookstore opened in 1971 on the site of a car dealership and occupying an entire city block in Downtown Portland, features roughly two million used and new books, at very good prices. (Consistent with the hopes of many who make pilgrimages to Powell's, the store ships any number of books to anywhere in the continental United States for under just under $15!) The bookshop is so large that a fold-out map is required to navigate the place. Their website:

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The Heathman Hotel lobby

The Heathman Hotel

The site of our conference, The Heathman Hotel, has long been the out-of-town residence for visiting authors. The Heathman calls its lobby a library for good reason: the walls are adorned with shelves full of signed first editions written by the hundreds of authors who have stayed at the Heathman. From the moment of arrival, books and bibliophilia will surround all conference attendees. And although a "boutique" hotel, the Heathman offers a special rate for conferees: $149 per night for single and $169 for double. (Shoulder dates with the same rates both before and after the conference are available for those who wish to extend their trip to the Pacific Northwest.)

Click here to be taken to a reservation page dedicated to our conference.

Problems with your reservation? Call the Heathman at 503-241-4100. If they can't sort it out, contact Lyssa Avatia at 503-790-7135 (her direct line) or  


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Portland city train


The Heathman Hotel is in downtown Portland, in an arts district, two blocks from Pioneer Courthouse Square, a travel center. Public transportation in the city is good, efficient, and inexpensive. The public system consists of MAX light rail, Portland Streetcar, and TriMet bus. All have stops within two blocks of our hotel. MAX light rail goes to and from the airport to within a few blocks of the hotel. While most of the restaurants and points of interest are within a ten- or fifteen-minute walk, the Portland Streetcar and TriMet bus allow conferees quick and easy transportation for those who choose not to walk.

Portland International Airport is a gem, at least compared to many big city American airports. Spacious, clean, few long lines, and many shops featuring local goods.

Amtrak trains arrive at Portland's Union Station, a wonderful old train station, now on the National Register of Historic Places. The wall hangings alone, depicting scenes from the station's past, make Union Station worth a visit.

And both Uber and Lyft service Portland, with short wait times in downtown Portland.

Union Station historic plaque
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Café bar


True to the city's inclusive approach to contemporary urban life, downtown Portland boasts a number of restaurants, offering many cuisines and price ranges. One introductory guide featuring an easy click to restaurants' websites is the following:

Such lists typically leave out the delightful, less expensive sandwich and coffee shops, of which Portland has many. For example, one block from the Heathman Hotel is Caffé Umbria, a stylish European coffee shop featuring fresh baked goods and various drinks. Also nearby is the Park Avenue Café, a superb spot for ample deli sandwiches.  

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Portland's famous rose garden  

Points of Interest

a Humboldt penguin

Two of the four most well known destinations in Portland are only two blocks from The Heathman Hotel: the Portland Art Museum ( and Oregon Historical Society (

Those willing to venture to beautiful Washington Park, easily accessible via MAX light rail, will be able to visit the famed International Rose Test Garden ( as well as the Oregon Zoo ( Students of the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt will note that one of the world's great collections of Humboldtian penguins is housed at the Oregon Zoo!

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Morning Fun Runs

On Friday and Saturday mornings, the chair of the conference will host early morning fun runs to various historical sites around the city and to the banks of the Willamette River. What better way to spark those endorphins in preparation for a day of intellectual excitement!


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Proposed Panels to Date

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decorative elementAsia in the Eighteenth Century (Susan Spencer:

decorative elementBeyond, Between, or Against the Nation State (Dave Mazella:

decorative elementThe City and the Bookie: Risk, Chance, Gambling, and All Other Forms of Unpedictability in Art, Literature, Science, and Thought (Kevin Cope:

decorative elementEdinburgh, Books, and the Eighteenth Century (Peter Fosl:

decorative elementThe Eighteenth Century and the Classics: In Honor of John Burke (Susan Spencer:

decorative elementGenres of Improvement, Equilibrium, or Decline (Dwight Codr:

decorative elementInterdisciplinary Studies in the Long Eighteenth Century (Kathryn Duncan:

decorative elementLaw and Literature (John Scanlan:

decorative elementPolitics, Theology, and Principles: Moral Responses to Crisis (Gloria Eive:

decorative elementReligious Publishing in the Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly:

decorative elementShakespeare and the Eighteenth Century (Brett McInelly:

decorative elementYale and the Study of the Eighteenth Century (John Scanlan:


Again, papers on any aspect of the long eighteenth century are welcome. Got an idea that doesn't fit any of the topics above? Send an email and a brief description of your proposed paper to

The deadline for proposing individual papers and full panels with a complete slate of presenters has been extended to Monday, January 15.



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SCSECS Home Page

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