Call for Papers: C19 conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico (March 22–25, 2018)


Acts of Consumption: Performance, Bodies, Culture

Whether eating and drinking or purchasing consumer goods, consumption in the nineteenth-century United States was understood to be radically significant, and that significance in turn prompted a wide range of performances, from temperance meeting testimony to blackface minstrelsy to consumer boycotts.  These spectacles—often public but sometimes private—became integral to nineteenth-century mass culture.  We are seeking paper proposals for a panel that will examine the intersection of performance and consumption in this era.  How did consumption allow people to perform particular class, gender, or racial identities?  Why is the body, and transformation of the body, so central to performances of consumption?  How do specific readerships or audiences redefine the acts of consumption on display, and how do particular consumer objects dictate the behaviors of both consumers and their observers?

We welcome submissions from scholars working in literature, history, performance studies, art history, visual culture, media studies, and associated fields. Please submit a 300-word abstract and a short CV to Erin Pearson ( and Michael D’Alessandro ( no later than September 1.

Fantasies of Reading

What are our enduring critical fantasies about reading? How might greater attention to the limits of reading affect the methods and claims of C19 Americanist scholarship?

From the fantasy of the ideal reader, to preoccupations with critical reading, to claims that reading produces liberation; there are stories about reading that we persist in telling ourselves, despite ample evidence to the contrary. This panel seeks to identify and investigate the fantasies literary critics hold constant in their discussions of how reading works, who gets to read, and the conditions under which texts are composed and received. In so doing, the panel will demonstrate how these investments reveal the uncontested assumptions of our work and ask why certain fantasies seem above reproach even as we integrate methods of new historicism, book history, history of reading, quantitative analysis, and much more into our work.

Please send 300-word abstracts to Sam Sommers ( by Sept. 5

Call for Proposals: C19 Podcast Episodes

C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists is pleased to announce the launch of an official C19 podcast. The podcast will be a stage for public scholarship on American literature, history, and culture that can engage an audience of C19 members, students, alt-ac professionals, researchers, teachers, librarians, enthusiasts, the public, and friends. We invite proposals for individual podcast episodes from organization members. Suggested initial deadline for proposals: June 16. After this date submissions will be open and considered on a rolling basis to accommodate for C19 members’ work schedules and to allow for timely episode proposals in response to developing events.

No previous experience podcasting required. Resources and guides will be provided by the C19 Podcast Subcommittee.

We seek proposals on any topic relating to long nineteenth-century American literature, culture, and history. Episode topics might include

–       Archival discoveries (such as the recently recovered new Walt Whitman autobiographical novel The Life and Adventures of Jack Engle );

–       Discussions of new books in the field, new scholarly trends, or new J19 issues;

–       Appearances by granting agency officers or editors of journals or presses;

–       Previews of upcoming conferences or symposia;

–       Resources and/or workshops on conference proposals, writing a dissertation, or applying to a conference, or starting a newbook project;

–       NTT scholarly life and resources;

–       Reports on academic activism, pedagogy, and inclusion, past and present;

–       Considerations of current political, cultural, and social developments in the context of the nineteenth century; for instance, the president’s recognition of the contributions of Frederick Douglass or comments about the Civil War

–       Discussions of pedagogical approaches in the classroom

–       Tips for undergraduates, graduates, and/or junior faculty on navigating the academic or alt-ac landscape.

Possible formats may include narrative exposition, interviews, readings and analyses of underrepresented texts, and panel discussions. While individuals may produce episodes, we also encourage collaborative work. We invite submissions from all ranks including graduate students and non-tenure track faculty as well as collaborations between senior and junior scholars. Although the C19 Podcast Subcommittee will assign producers to help guide the technical development of episodes, applicants will be expected to produce their own audio files; any requirements for significant production assistance from the Subcommittee should be noted in the proposal. Episodes should be about half an hour in length. The projected launch date for the start of the first season is Fall 2017.

Proposals should be no longer than 250 words and should include the topic of the episode; the episode format (such as interview or narrative history); additional participants (if any); and relevant scholarly and technical qualifications related to the subject. Please email proposals and a CV (2 pages max) to Please place C19podcast along with the title of the proposal in the subject line of the email.

Questions? Contact Xine Yao, Subcommittee Chair (

“C19 in the Classic Hollywood Imaginary”

This panel explores Hollywood’s phantasmagoric C19 through the double- consciousness of the late 1930s and early 1940s, as economic depression opened onto to a climate of international fascism, genocide and world war.  How did the 19th century come to signify the ideologies, dreams, and anxieties of an American culture on the brink? This historical precipice enabled what  arguably is Hollywood’s richest creative period.  With the Great Depression and the advent of sound cinema, through the end of the Second World War, Classic Hollywood imagined the 19th-century through an explosion of genres. This session focues on the historical biopic (featuring John Brown as villain in The Santa Fe Trail); the proto-Civil War melodrama (Bette Davis’s Jezebel); and settler colonial conquest (in John Ford’s Stagecoach), to suggest several powerful examples.  This session seeks to initiate a conversation about how the 19thc functioned in the classic Hollywood imaginary.  Proposals featuring women’s pictures, westerns, gothics, and biopics encouraged; and work on films featuring Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, or Olivia De Havilland is encouraged particularly.  Please send proposals to Julia Stern at by July 15.

“Transcendentalist Intersections: Literature, Philosophy, Religion,” University of Heidelberg, Germany, July 26 – 29, 2018

Sponsored by the Ralph Waldo Emerson Society, the Margaret Fuller Society, and the Anglistisches Seminar and Center for American Studies at the University of Heidelberg

At its first meeting in 1836, the Transcendental Club declared an “organ of spiritual philosophy” to be essential to the project, and, when The Dial came forth in 1840 under Margaret Fuller’s editorship, its subtitle—“Literature, Philosophy, and Religion”—was meant to convey both the breadth and depth of the movement’s aims.  As Emerson introduced it, the ambitious new journal would “share [in such] impulses of the time” as “special reforms to the state,” “modifications of the various callings of men,” “opening a new scope for literature and art,” “philosophical insight,” and “the vast solitudes of prayer.”

In the spirit of The Dial, and with its subtitle too, the organizers of “Transcendentalist Intersections” invite paper proposals seeking to do justice to that breadth and depth of the movement, generously construed. For this multi-disciplinary, international conference dedicated to new scholarship on American Transcendentalism, we are particularly interested in proposals engaging literature, philosophy, and religion, and especially encourage not only literary scholars but historians, philosophers, theologians, and others to share their ideas.

·       With regard to literature, we welcome papers examining texts and authors traditionally ignored or cast as “minor”; such forms as journalism, literature of reform or revolt, correspondence, travel writing, history, philosophy as literature; relations between literature and visual or musical arts; biographical approaches; transnational dialogues; reception history, the history of the book and the relevance of literary institutions; and revisionist approaches to or paradigms of Transcendentalism.  We encourage papers that address the convergences and tensions between literature and philosophical issues on the one hand and/or issues of religion, spirituality, or the sacred on the other.   

·       With regard to religion, we especially invite papers discussing the entanglements of Transcendentalists (major or minor) with other 19th-century American religious movements such as the Second Great Awakening, the Holiness and Spiritualist revivals, Catholic immigration, and the emergence of groups centered around new “American Scriptures” such as Mormonism. We are interested in the engagement of Transcendentalists with various Christian theological debates and scholarly discourses of the time, such as the higher criticism, the “New Christianity” of the Saint-Simonians, the Christian socialism of the Abbé Lammenais, the pantheism of Pierre Leroux, and the comparative study of religion. We also encourage papers investigating the contribution of Transcendentalists to the construction of religion as a category or of particular religious traditions (e.g. “Hinduism” or “Buddhism”); as well as Transcendentalism’s role in the coming of the modern paradigm of “seeker spirituality.”

·       With regard to philosophy, we encourage proposals in all of the subfields that have been so vigorously engaged by Transcendentalist scholars in recent years.  This would especially include work on the Transcendentalists in relation to social and political philosophy (e.g., feminism, antislavery, liberalism, democracy, socialism, environmentalism, human rights); religious philosophy (e.g., secularism and post-secularism); ethics (e.g., Kantian and post-Kantian, pragmatist ethics, virtue ethics); metaphysics (e.g., “neo-Platonism, Romantic theories of being and selfhood, Nietzcheanism, post-metaphysics”); epistemology (e.g., agnosticism, fallibilism, anti-foundationalism, skepticism); and aesthetics (symbolism, theories of metaphor and poetic expression, art and social reform, translation, and (again) music and the visual arts).

Please direct abstracts (300-500 words) and two-page CVs by August 1, 2017 to any of the members of the conference planning subcommittee: Charlene Avallone, Dan Malachuk, or Jan Stievermann

Research Support Grant Program, Maine Women Writers Collection

The Maine Women Writers Collection at the University of New England in Maine solicits applications for its Research Support Grant Program, intended for faculty members, independent researchers, and graduate students at the dissertation stage who are actively pursuing research that requires, or would benefit from, access to our holdings.

Grants range between $250 and $1000 and may be used for transportation, housing, and research-related expenses. Applications will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary panel of staff from the MWWC and faculty from the University of New England.

Deadline for applications: December 1, 2016

For application instructions and more information, go to

“Where and When: Evolving Concepts of Place, Space, and Time in the Writings of Sedgwick and Her Contemporaries”

Commemorating the 150th Anniversary of Sedgwick’s death in 1867 and The 20th Anniversary of the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, June 7-10, 2017 — The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, Massachusetts

From her first novel, A New-England Tale; or Sketches of New-England Character and Manners (1822) to her last, Married or Single? (1857), much of Catharine Sedgwick’s writing, like the writing of many of her contemporaries, is geographically and historically specific. While a significant body of criticism has treated the elements of history and locality in Sedgwick’s works, far less scholarship has explored the ways in which her depictions of settings reflect changing ideas about both place and time over the course of her career. How did Sedgwick’s understanding of her native Berkshires, the larger region of New England, and the nation as a whole evolve as her physical and personal life, her professional career, and the United States advanced and matured? How did her perception of the passage of time, of cultural change, and of history itself evolve as political expansion, economic development, and technological innovation rapidly changed the look, the breadth, and the pace of American life from the 1820s to the Civil War?

Commemorating the 150th anniversary of Sedgwick’s death and the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, the Society will return to Sedgwick’s home town of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to convene its 8th symposium from June 7-10, 2017. The Society invites proposals that consider Sedgwick’s legacy—how it grew over the course of her career and how it has evolved in the century and a half since her death—as well as the work of Sedgwick (or one of her male or female contemporaries with links to Sedgwick) through the lenses of place, space, and time broadly construed—including studies of setting and historicity as well as more contemporary theoretical approaches to time, space, and the environment. Papers might:

  • Explore evolving ways of reading/representing the landscape in works by Sedgwick and her contemporaries
  • Make connections between new technological developments, such as railroads and telegraphs, and changing perceptions of space and time in literature
  • Explore the state of the union as reflected in evolving depictions of place
  • Discuss the role of historic sites, cemeteries, place names in fiction and in national identity
  • Rethink the “transcendental” movement in terms of space and time
  • Elucidate cultural histories or popular culture representations of iconic New England scenes, such as the Concord Bridge, Ice Glen, Sacrifice Rock/Laurel Hill, Mount Holyoke, or Monument Mountain
  • Envision new roles for Sedgwick’s works in the classroom or interpret ways in which the teaching of Sedgwick and her contemporaries has evolved over nearly fifty years of recovery scholarship
  • Demonstrate ways in which digital humanities and online archives impact scholarly research on Sedgwick and her contemporaries
  • Theorize changing perceptions of domestic life, familial relationships, and the meaning of “home”: how might the “domestic” be reframed in terms of space, place and time?
  • Focus on the material distribution of texts (letters, periodicals, transatlantic republishing) in Sedgwick’s time and how these distribution methods relate to space, place and time
  • Explore ways in which considerations of geographic and/or historic specificity support, reiterate, and/or challenge larger theoretical notions of geography and/or history
  • Elucidate the life cycle or developmental paradigm of nonhuman entities:  plants, landscapes, mountains, art, nations, communities
  • Construct or deconstruct conceptual boundaries and binaries, such as country/city; past/present; colony/metropole; village/nation
  • Demonstrate how places that are geographically distant become connected through narrative
  • Describe ways in which concepts of space, place and/or time are constrained or distorted by gender, race, age, ethnicity or other factors
  • Track a specific place or moment in time across a variety of texts by different writers
  • Examine indirect experiences of geographic places or historic moments through the use of art, storytelling, monuments, news, or other forms of representation

These are among the many possibilities—as usual, all Sedgwick-related topics are welcome!

Please e-mail proposals of approximately 200-400 words by November 30, 2016, to Lisa West, CMSS Second Vice-President for Programs:

To register for the symposium or get more information about the conference program or outings in the Stockbridge area, visit the CMSS website at


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