Call for Panelists: Confess and You’ll Feel Better! Cultures of Interrogation in the Long Eighteenth Century (ISECS, Edinburgh, 14-19 July 2019)

The interrogation was a crucial method to obtain information and to establish truth in the eighteenth century, especially but not only in criminal justice and police settings. This panel for the 2019 ISECS conference in Edinburgh seeks to address the interrogation as a way to investigate the links between power and truth in the long eighteenth century. We insist on the dialogical nature of the interrogation, highlighting power, negotiation, exchange and resistance across different settings, fields and approaches.

To complete our panel, we invite papers on the theories (e.g. in laws, manuals, reflections), practices (e.g. in interrogation records) and representations (e.g. in literature, art, ego-documents) of interrogations, as well as methodological reflections on the use of sources produced by interrogations. We encourage participants to reflect to the uses of the body (e.g. gestures, violence, voice, sensuality), emotions and sensations (e.g. anger, remorse, pain, fear, shame), knowledge and technology (e.g. torture techniques, psychology, physiognomy, local knowledge), spaces and places (e.g. use of space to convey power, monumental courtrooms) and language and words (e.g. use of translators, different dialects, social differences). Through all this, we will attend to the role of gender, age, race and class in the interactions of the interrogation. We explicitly also welcome papers that go beyond the traditional Western European and Northern American perspective, in order to develop a broad and comparative view of the interrogation.

Together, the papers will shed new light not only on the history of the interrogation, but also on the production of power and truth in eighteenth-century culture.

Interested participants are invited to send an abstract of max. 2000 characters to or by 1 December 2018.

Image: Alessandro Magnasco, Interrogations in Jail, c. 1710. Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.