Started in the early years of the 21st century by Peter Wagner (Campus Landau, Universität Koblenz-Landau) and Frédéric Ogée (Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot), the Landau Paris Symposia on the Eighteenth Century are, above all else, a truly European and international venture. The organizers intend to unite both younger dix-huitièmistes from France and Germany (but also from other European countries: Britain and Italy are, for instance, represented in the first volume of proceedings) and internationally known scholars in the field of eighteenth-century studies.

One of the aims of LAPASEC is inspired by the opening of Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey of 1768. "They order", says the narrator Yorick at the beginning of Sterne's ingenious and unfinished travelogue, "this matter better in France". We never actually learn what it is that the French order better than the English, but Sterne's alter ego provides a witty and deeply humane (English Protestant) view of what we would call the French mentalité today - ways of thinking and the common customs governing social intercourse and the aesthetics of drama and literature. From this perspective, LAPASEC has been organized less for the younger to learn from established scholars but rather with the Enlightenment idea of a "société de gens de lettres" providing a forum for the discussion of national and specialist approaches to be presented, discussed and critiqued.

Secondly, unlike other (national) societies in Europe and symposia on particular authors (e.g., the Münster symposia on Jonathan Swift), LAPASEC does not intend to restrict itself to literature and literary criticism with a focus on the age of Enlightenment. Inspired by the interdisciplinarity successfully practiced for many years by the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (but restricting the number of participants to a small group of scholars), the new series welcomes scholars from such fields as art history and criticism, history, philosophy, literary criticism, English and other European literatures, and the performing arts (drama and music). We thus hope to foster the discussion and the interdisciplinary exchange of methods, approaches and theories much in the way practiced by Sterne's Yorick in fiction, and, in practice, by the Baron d'Holbach when he emigrated from Edesheim (a village very close to Peter Wagner's university campus) to Paris and provided an open house for Diderot and his friends.

Thirdly, LAPASEC as an international venture with a European basis intends to focus not on topical, biographical or antiquarian subjects but rather on ideologies and aesthetics. If particular meetings have been concerned with fields that might also be approached topically (eg., the conferences on ruins and the sketch), our focus was on the mentalities and the aesthetics in which these subjects were discussed in the age of Swift, Sterne, Diderot, Wollstonecraft, and Austen. Alternating between Paris (Université Paris 7 - Denis Diderot and Landau (Campus Landau of Universität Koblenz-Landau), the conferences are organized annually. To date, LAPASEC meetings have been held on representation (2003), ruins (2004), performance (2005), the sketch (2006), and taste (2007).

The best papers selected by the organizers and editors will be published in the series with the same title as the conferences by Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier (WVT Trier). We are very grateful to Dr. Otto, the publisher, for giving us not only a forum for our enterprise but also the freedom we requested in editorial matters we would not have found elsewhere. The first volume on Representation and Performance collects outstanding contributions to the symposia held in Landau in 2003 and 2005. Volume II will present innovative papers from the symposia in Paris on ruins (2004) and the sketch (2006).

Prof. Dr. Peter Wagner

Institut für Fremdsprachlichen Philologien, Fach Anglistik
Universität Koblenz-Landau, Campus Landau


Prof. Dr. Frédéric Ogée

UFR d’études anglophones
Université Paris7
Denis Diderot F-75004 Paris