2021 SSAWW Triennial Conference – Theme and Call

SSAWW 2021 Conference November 4-7, 2021

Royal Sonesta Harbor Court Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland

View the full CFP, calls for panels and roundtables, and submission details HERE

View the call for SSAWW Awards HEREEXTENDED Deadline 2.22.2021

American Women Writers: Ecologies, Survival, Change

“Ecologies, Survival, Change” celebrates the many women across the Americas whose creative work fosters survival and envisions change by exploring the systems in which we live, labor and love. Toni Morrison is our touchstone: her works powerfully remind us that humans, however implicated in damaging structures, can also resist them through networks that sustain and transform.

We offer the term “ecologies” to signify the dynamic, interlocking systems that make up our world, from networks of family and friends to entrenched processes of environmental exploitation to hierarchies of race and gender.  Material and discursive, natural and human created, entrenched and emergent – ecologies integrate diverse, even conflicting, values and effects.  As the novel coronavirus demonstrates, global pandemics and other crises make many ecologies hyper-visible, calling attention to the sustenance which some provide while exacerbating the destructiveness of others.  

Our conference embraces the capacity of creative work to represent existing ecologies and to imagine alternative ones. While we encourage papers, panels, roundtables, and workshops that explore our theme, however, our 2021 conference is not restricted to them. As always, we encourage panel proposals from affiliated societies. As we meet in Baltimore for the first time, we also welcome contributions that highlight the city’s women writers and artists, organizers and organizations.

In the spirit of creating ecologies that sustain us, the 2021 conference will offer numerous opportunities for community-building and personal and professional flourishing: workshops, mentoring, and brainstorming sessions for colleagues at all stages, from graduate students to retirees; opportunities for meditation and exercise; meetings with journal editors; roundtables and discussions about distance teaching and learning. We will also unveil the SSAWW Digital Recovery Hub, a network of scholars grounded in diverse feminist methods which provides resources for digital project consultation and technical assistance for scholars engaged in the recovery work of American women writers.

While we’re planning a face-to-face conference for November 2021, we are monitoring the ongoing situation with COVID-19 and will prepare contingencies as the situation continues to evolve

Proposals for panels, roundtables, and individual papers are to be submitted no later than February 22, 2021.  Details on proposal submissions will be forthcoming.  Please check our website and the SSAWW listserv for future updates on our 2021 Triennial Conference.

Recovery Hub for American Women Writers Debut Project Call

Recovery Hub for American Women Writers

Call for Pilot Projects–Eligible for Consultation, Cultivation, and Peer Review


The Recovery Hub for American Women Writers supports projects recovering the work of women writers by providing digital access to forgotten or neglected texts and/or extending them with network mapping, spatial analysis, multimedia storytelling, innovative contextualization, and the distant reading of massive datasets. The Recovery Hub explores the intersecting relationships between feminist practice, content, and technical specifications with an awareness of the ways that the design and implementation of technology can exclude and objectify people. Though there are notable exceptions, the digital humanities is not often geared in content or design toward addressing, attracting, or educating women or people of color. Committed to cultivating a community of diverse scholars as well as inclusive project content, the Hub’s Advisory Board aims for at least 50% of its affiliated projects to recover Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, and LGBTQIA+ stories, texts, experiences, and voices. The Hub is a mechanism for pooled funding bids and offers hands-on consultation to navigate project management, quality control, sustainability, and peer review in order to increase the quantity and quality of recovery projects focused on American women writers. The Hub fosters collaboration, mentorship, and community-building among women working in the digital humanities while seeking feminist and decolonial approaches to the creation, curation, design, sharing, and archiving of digital content. Read the Recovery Hub for American Women Writers full Mission Statement.

The Recovery Hub has undergone a year of planning, and we are now seeking volunteers who would like to pilot our services. We are currently hiring consultants and plan to begin offering consultation in May 2021. Because we will assess our process and methods during this pilot phase, all participants will be asked to provide feedback on their experiences with the Recovery Hub.

Serving as a Consultant 

Apply Now

Join a network of consultants, built of researchers, educators, technicians, librarians, and community leaders with a variety of skills and experiences who are interested and invested in the recovery of the works of women writers using digital methods. This network can help those working on new and growing digital projects engage in the recovery of women’s writing. Consultants will advise projects members on what technologies can be explored and will lead them to information, resources, and methods. Consultants will have a general familiarity with the digital humanities, experience with current tools and methods, and an awareness of projects that can serve as models. Consultants will commit to working with the Hub for one year and be paid $25 per hour of consultation. Consultants will be compensated for undergoing webinar training, as well. They should expect to support a wide range of projects that approach the Recovery Hub each year and participate in monthly meetings with Recovery Hub staff. 

Seeking Sustained Support through Project Cultivation

Apply Now

Each year The Recovery Hub for American Women Writers will provide significant support for two digital projects in their early phases. Project cultivation can range from guidance through the process of textually encoding a small edition to more in-depth support, including but not limited to creating a project charter, formulating a research design, learning new technologies, searching for funding, and hosting on the Hub’s servers. Projects eligible for support include digital editions of letters, books, short fiction, and other texts as well as experimental projects that explore mapping, visualization, and other content-rich methods. The Hub’s editorial platform is designed to support scholars who want to encode their recovered documents using the best technical and sustainability standards but who have limited experience with the digital humanities. For examples of the range in project types and sizes the Hub supports, see Alex W. Black, Brigitte Fielder, and Johanna Ortner’s Just Teach One: Early African American Print edition of Frances Ellen Watkins (Harper)’s Forest Leaves, Kevin Mcmullen’s Fanny Fern in the New York Ledger, or Jordan Von Cannon’s Transatlantic Departures: Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Travel’s Abroad.

Project cultivation support is available for researchers at any rank, with or without institutional affiliations. Recovery practitioners who are awarded project cultivation will also receive a $2,000 stipend to support their work on the project during the Hub’s pilot phase. Practitioners are expected to dedicate at least 80 hours of work to the project throughout the course of the year and attend meetings and training with the Hub’s staff. Complete the application no later than March 15, 2021, to have your project considered for pilot cultivation beginning April 1.

Requesting Peer Review

Request Now

The Recovery Hub for American Women Writers peer reviews digital projects at various stages of completion. Projects are publicized by SSAWW, reviewed in Legacy, and included in a twice-yearly showcase on the Hub website. Peer-reviewed projects will also be featured in a pedagogical forum where educators at the K-12 and college level can access professionally produced teaching materials, including assignments, video interviews, and examples of student work. The Hub’s peer review process is grounded in feminist practice; reviewers use an open model that emphasizes one-on-one mentorship and encourages project directors to build upon and cite the work of other feminists. The Hub also values the iterative nature of digital projects by offering in-process peer review even at a project’s earliest stages. An article outlining the results of peer review will be published on the website with each project to model best practices and demonstrate the value of digital recovery work. Submit requests to be included in the pilot peer review process no later than March 15, 2021.

If you have questions, reply to recoveryhub@siue.edu

CFP: Roundtable – Pedagogy and the Archives at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline: 1.27.2021)

Roundtable: Pedagogy and the Archives – CFP for SSAWW 2021

In their new article “What We Want Students to Remember: Archival Recovery as a Sustainable Critical Praxis” (2020), Heather Fox and Amanda Stuckey model how teaching with archives can “study its intended function and potential purposes over time can be a form of recovery that takes a holistic view of the process” (21). As 2020 disrupted teaching and largely halted archival recovery projects, it also drove women out of the workforce at alarming rates. If we look to any possibilities of recovery in 2021, we want to think about processes for women’s work, women’s writing, and reimagining how we recover American women writers with undergraduates. This roundtable invites 5-10 minute presentations that share innovative approaches to integrating archives into the undergraduate classroom and that pose corresponding questions or present challenges for discussion. Possibilities include classroom incorporation of specific archival materials, assignments involving archival research, rhetorical analysis of archives, and opportunities for students to create archives.

Roundtable contributors are particularly encouraged to consider: interrelations among archives, power relations, public memory, and pedagogy; what constitutes an archive; silence, violence, absence, and archival sustainability, archives and recovering women writers, women’s bodies in archives, undergraduate project models and collaboration with special collections librarians and archivists, collaboration with private collections or public cultural institutions outside of the university, creating community partners, teaching computational methods to surface patterns at scale in digital archival collections, teaching archives in the pandemic.

Please contact Kirsten Paine (klp78@pitt.edu) or Denise Kohn (dkohn@bw.edu) to submit a proposal by January 27th, 2021.

SSAWW at ALA 2021 Boston, MA (Deadline: 2.12.2021)

The Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW) at ALA 2021

Open Topic

The Society for the Study of American Women Writers (SSAWW) seeks proposals for a guaranteed panel at ALA 2021, July 7 – 11 in Boston, Massachusetts. All proposals on American women writers and their work will be considered, regardless of time period or genre. Submit proposals, 300 word maximum, along with a brief cv to Dr. María Carla Sánchez, mcsanche@uncg.edu by February 12, 2021.

CFP: Margaret Fuller Society at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline: 1.24.2021)

CFP: Feminism(s) and American Land: Examining Early Feminist Ecologies Through Legacies of White Extractivism (Deadline 1.24.2021)

The Margaret Fuller Society is seeking proposals for conference papers examining the intersections of proto-feminism, early conservationism, “frontier” writing, and race. Margaret Fuller’s Summer on the Lakes, 1843 is remembered for its insightful comparative approach to women’s gender roles across American regions and its attention to scholarly process in its accounts of the Midwestern American “frontier;” at the same time, it performs crucial justificatory work for the “Manifest Destiny” model of Indigenous displacement and frames the land as a resource to be mined for white feminist visions of vigor and evolving economic independence–a vision which depends on the exclusion of Indigenous women from narratives of teleological gender progress. In light of this complex, fascinating, troubling legacy, the Margaret Fuller Society is seeking paper proposals for a special session, including but not limited to:

  • new examinations of Fuller’s travel writing using Indigenous Studies and Critical Race Theory lenses,
  • essays which engage with Fuller’s influences, interlocutors, and intellectual successors in terms of their racialized relationships to American land,
  • explorations of Black feminist engagements with “frontier” writing and the American landscape/ecosystem,
  • discussions of Indigenous gender systems of the era, particularly in terms of what is occluded in Summer on the Lakes from perspectives of Ojibwe, Chippewa, Ottawa, and related nations,
  • papers rethinking feminist relationships to American land through queer studies or trans studies lenses,
  • discussions of white feminist teleological thought and its affects,
  • examinations of the place of whiteness within 19th century gender theories, particularly as they relate to narratives about American land and specifically the “American West” or the “frontier.”

The Fuller Society is particularly interested in proposals which substantively engage with writers and scholars of color.

Interested scholars should send a 100-300 word proposal to EaganSDean@gmail.com by 1.24.2021. Applicants will be informed within the week of the deadline as we will be submitting the pre-formed special session by 2.1.2021.

Eagan S. Dean

Advisory Board, Margaret Fuller Society

Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers University

(he/they)

CFP: Black Women Writing Nature in the 19th Century at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline EXTENDED: 1.22.2021)

CFP for SSAWW November 2021:

Black Women Writing Nature in the 19th Century

Deadline Extended: January 22, 2021

In Black Nature, Camille Dungy brings together poems about the natural world from four centuries of African American writing. In Black on Earth: African American Ecoliterary Traditions, Kimberly N. Ruffin emphasizes the range and variety of African American responses to nature: “Although societal impediments mean that African Americans are intimately familiar with environmental alienation on an individual as well as a collective level, this fact does not obliterate African American artists’ imaginative responses to nature’s splendor” (16). This panel will consider Black women writers’ responses to the natural world across the long nineteenth century, considering how these women represent individual and/or collective alienation from nature as well as how they represent the splendor of non-human nature. Ecocritical approaches to Black women’s writings across a range of genres and print contexts are welcome. Please send abstracts (250-300 words) and biographical notes (not to exceed 60 words) to barrettf@duq.edu by January 22, 2021 (deadline extended)

CFP: Willa Cather Foundation at SSAWW 2021 (TWO Panels) Deadline 1.22.2021

CFP: Two panels sponsored by the Cather Foundation,

“Unsettled Landscapes: Willa Cather and Others” and “Willa Cather and Other American Women Writers: Genealogy, Friendship, Intertextuality, Competition”

at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline 1.22.2021)

Unsettled Landscapes: Willa Cather and Others

Willa Cather’s landscapes and places feature prominently and memorably in her work, as well as in the imaginations of her readers. Her novels and stories range across time and space, from New York City and the Southwest, to the Great Plains and Quebec. While many of Cather’s works are historical, she writes her landscapes and settings vividly and with presence, with readers commonly remarking that her places almost feel like characters. In “Landscape as a Provocation: Reflections on Moving Mountains,” feminist geographer Doreen Massey argues that “both space and landscape could be imagined as provisionally intertwined simultaneities of ongoing, unfinished, stories.” Massey critiques our tendency to view landscapes as a part of history and places as fixed and stable, and instead proposes viewing them as unsettled, evolving, adaptable, and possessing agency. This shifts our reading of landscapes away from the human-centered view and instead exposes how intertwined and interconnected the human and nonhuman truly are. If we read the landscapes and places in the texts of Cather and other American women writers through this lens, what new narratives emerge about these written landscapes and about the places that inspired them?

Please submit as e-mail attachments a proposal of 250-300 words and a brief bio (50-60 words) to mhomestead@unl.edu

Willa Cather and Other American Women Writers: Genealogy, Friendship, Competition, Intertextuality

In public, Cather tended to hold herself apart from both her female predecessors and her contemporaries, positioning herself as the exceptional woman writer. For this panel, we invite new inquiries into the Cather’s connections to other American women writers. What might it mean to put her in a genealogical relationship with the nineteenth-century popular novelists she sometimes scoffed at? Now that Cather’s letters are being published and can be quoted, what new interpretations might be advanced about her known friendships with figures such as Sarah Orne Jewett, Zoe Akins, Zona Gale, and Dorothy Canfield Fisher? Who was her competition in the literary market, and how might her sense of competition with her contemporaries have shaped her fiction? What intertextual relations might be traced with later women writers engaging her legacy?

Please submit as e-mail attachments a proposal of 250-300 words and a brief bio (50-60 words) to mhomestead@unl.edu

CFP: Childhood, Literacy, and Print Ecologies in American Women’s Writing at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline: 1.22.2021)

Childhood, Literacy, and Print Ecologies in American Women’s Writing

at SSAWW 2021


To what extent were children imagined into the audiences of nineteenth-century women’s fiction? What sorts of children were included or excluded from the literary cultures of women’s fiction, and to what extent did such fiction respond to, emulate, or reject other mass market cultural forms designated for children? How did educators, activists, religious societies, and publishing houses intervene in cultural debates about what literature was appropriate for children? And how did women writers respond to such interventions? This panel will explore the relationship between the growth of mass print, the expansion of children’s literacy, and the representation of both phenomena in nineteenth-century women’s writing. We welcome proposals on any genre of women’s writing from the long nineteenth-century, and are particularly interested in those that draw upon a range of methodologies. By January 22, please send a 250-300 word abstract, contact information, and a brief (50-60 word) bio to egowen@bu.edu and sophiaap@bu.edu

CFP: Environmental Literature and Class Politics at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline: 1.18.2021)

Panel: “Environmental Literature and Class Politics”
Submission Deadline: January 18, 2021

The conference theme of “Ecologies, Survival, Change” affords a timely opportunity to explore the investment of women’s environmental writing in themes of socioeconomics or class politics.

This panel will explore the multiple ways women writers deeply engage both the natural world and issues of class and wealth disparity. Panelists’ papers might address such questions as:

1. What questions arise if we position literary works at the crossroads of nature writing and socioeconomics?

2. How do women writers interested in an environmental consciousness and income inequality articulate their concerns about the exploitation of both the earth and those socioeconomically disadvantaged?

3. How do concerns about vulnerability, deprivation, limited resources, exploitation, oppression, development, distributive justice, mitigation, and education equally apply to financial struggles and an environmental conscience?

4. How do women write about the environment through the lens of the Capitalocene, a framework theorized by scholars who consider climate chaos as a crime perpetrated by wealth and power against the poor and the natural world?

4. How do women writers narrate ecological inequity and differentiated access to ecological resources?

5. How do women writers explore the ways that ecology, territory, terrain, and landscape intersect with racial and class distinctions?

Please submit a proposal of 250-300 words, with a brief biographical paragraph or a CV. Email as a pdf attachment to Debby Rosenthal (drosenthal@jcu.edu) by Monday January 18, 2021.

CFP: Fluid Meaning in 19th Century Women’s Writing at SSAWW 2021 (Deadline: 1.22.2021)

CFP for SSAWW 2021: Fluid Meaning in 19th Century Women’s Writing 

In “The Prospect of Oceanic Studies,” Hester Blum writes that the sea offers a “methodological model for nonlinear or nonplanar thought” which the scholar must address materially and metaphorically, drawing attention to how “the sea was simultaneously workplace, home, passage, penitentiary, and promise.” American women writers found in the ocean both connection to and separation from the wider world. This panel considers how 19th century women writers use the slipperiness of the ocean, its promise and peril, to thwart seemingly stable boundaries, institutions, and ideologies such as race, gender, and class. We welcome papers on any genre of women’s writing in the long 19th century which engage with or make use of the sea as a destabilizing and fluid force. By January 22nd, please send your abstract (250-300 words), institutional affiliation, contact information, and a brief bio (no more than 50-60 words) to pac262@cornell.edu and/or sps258@cornell.edu.  

CFP: Roundtable: Discovery, Recovery, and Its Responsibilities in the Digital Age (1.18.2021)

CFP: Roundtable: Discovery, Recovery and its Responsibilities in the Digital Age

at SSAWW 2021

One can only feel giddy (if not somewhat overwhelmed) by the vast expanse of untapped treasures awaiting in the digital archives.  While certainly not a panacea for what Susan Belasco in 2009 observed as academe’s marginalizing infrastructure, digital platforms including library databases like American Periodical Series; the free and broadly accessible HathiTrust and Chronicling America; and institutional digital archives have exponentially increased opportunities for discovery, recovery, and more nuanced understanding of authors’ lives, productions, and contexts.  

And yet.  These untapped treasures also pose tricky ethical questions and scholarly dilemmas on individual and institutional levels.  Boundaries, definitions, and categories may be loosening, but nevertheless continue to girdle recovery and scholarly publication opportunities.  Further, and relatedly, is that “writing describes only a fraction of how cultural representations may be produced,” as Legacy’s description of its Profile feature recognizes.  How does the digital archive speak to this, and how do scholars handle situations wherein recovery focuses on the written rather than the writer?  How do feminist scholars honor what Travis Foster and Timothy M. Griffiths refer to as “our role as caretakers” (“Introduction” to Legacy: American Women’s Writing and Genealogies of Queer Thought” 7)? What does it mean to have an ethics of care? When does it complement or conflict with what it means to do due diligence as scholars? 

This roundtable invites participants to share their own experiences and reflect on discovery, recovery, and responsibility in the digital age.   

Submit abstracts of 150-250 words to Nicole Livengood, nl002@marietta.edu, by January 18th.