Call for Papers

This colloquium will gather scholars from a wide range of disciplines to study the intersections between public finance, politics and literature during Britain's so-called Financial Revolution. (The term "British" is used loosely to refer to all constituent parts of the United Kingdom and also to Ireland and the colonies. The term "literature" is broadly defined to include newspapers, pamphlets, treatises, novels, plays, and prints.)

Authors must write for a non-specialist audience. Papers need not offer original research so long as authors aim to make the principal findings of their own discipline readily accessible to scholars working in other fields.

Graduate students and emerging scholars are particularly encouraged to contribute.

The colloquium organizers invite papers addressing one or more of the specific questions addressed below. Their hope is to choose two papers from each of the broad subject areas identified. Proposals for papers on other questions in the same general subject areas will be considered but will not be accepted unless they address broad questions that would be of interest to a non-specialist, interdisciplinary audience.

The innovations in finance

  • How effectively did British governments capture the savings made possible by the growing use of paper money?
  • Why didn't paper money and banking spread to Ireland at the same that they became prominent in England and Scotland?
  • How and in what proportions did contemporaries make use of the various kinds of "currency" available at the time (including specie, Bank of England and goldsmith notes, army debentures, Irish land debentures, tallies, etc.)?
  • Exactly what roles did the three large chartered corporations play in British public finance during this period?
  • How did the rise of Exchange Alley alter parliamentary methods for raising public revenue?
  • How did colonial systems of public finance compare with the framework in place in England?

The impact of financial innovation on politics

  • Did the emergence of a long-term public debt alter the day-to-day workings of British politics in any significant, verifiable way?
  • Did the South Sea Bubble and public reaction to it significantly alter the course of British discourse about public finance and politics?
  • To what extent were politicians able to use widespread ignorance of the admittedly complex inner workings of public finance to manipulate public opinion to their own ends? And what were the mechanisms of such manipulation?
  • Did the rise of the Bank of Scotland have an effect upon that country's politics and public finance similar to the one exercised in England by the Bank of England?
  • Did the innovations in public finance increase the readiness of English administrations to go to war?
  • Did the revolution in Britain's public finances affect its relationship with the colonies and, if so, how?

Financial innovation as portrayed in contemporary literature

  • How seriously should we take contemporary literature complaining of stock jobbing and various other forms of corruption in the London stock market?
  • Is there any substance to the claim of Swift and other contemporary pamphleteers that the political influence of government financiers grew significantly during this period at the expense of the landed interest?
  • Did contemporary English theatre and poetry offer any meaningful or insightful commentary on the financial revolution?
  • Were the somewhat dismissive attitudes expressed toward paper currency in the writings of Hume and Smith typical of contemporary attitudes in general?

The political functions of contemporary writing on public finance

  • Who was the intended audience for contemporary pamphlets on matters of public finance?
  • What political function was served by the numerous critiques of the latest schemes in French public finance that were regularly published in Britain?
  • For whom was the projecting literature written and to what purpose?
  • Did the criticisms of recent innovations in public finance featured in contemporary newspapers have any real impact on government policy?
  • Did fictional literature, poetry, theatre or lithographs have a significant impact upon contemporary attitudes toward public finance?

Proposals may be submitted to any of the colloquium organizers listed below. Proposals of 250 words are due 15 June 2007. The program will be announced in December 2007. Accepted papers will be due on 1 May 2008 and will be circulated among colloquium participants in advance. The colloquium is an initiative of 'Money, Power and Print', an association of scholars interested in an interdisciplinary approach to the Financial Revolution. The association hosted similar colloquia at Regina, Saskatchewan (2004) and Armagh, Northern Ireland (2006). Further details are available at