Marriage and Single Life in Catharine Sedgwick’s Writings
The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society seeks proposals for a panel on the question of marriage vs. single life in Sedgwick’s writings for the SSAWW Conference in Philadelphia, Nov. 4-8, 2015. This panel topic honors the 2015 publication of Deborah Gussman’s new edition of Sedgwick’s final novel, Married or Single?, which was originally published in 1857.
From early in her career until her last full-length novel, Sedgwick and her characters consider the question of whether it is preferable to marry or remain single—for what reasons and under what circumstances. Beyond the decision of whether to marry at all, Sedgwick and her characters—both male and female—explore issues of parenting, spousal abuse, divorce, widowhood, friendship, emotional fulfillment, financial dependence and independence, and women’s vocations and contributions to society beyond marriage and motherhood.
Proposals on these or other aspects of the issue of marriage vs. single life in any of Sedgwick’s writings are welcome, but the Society particularly encourages proposals that view marriage and/or single life in relation to the overall conference theme of liminality. Is it useful to consider either marriage or single life as a liminal state in relation to the other—or in relation to some other social category? Is long-term single life a liminal state, and, if it is, does it empower or disenfranchise those who inhabit it? If a society views marriage as the desirable, “normal,” human state, is it still possible to view married women as occupying a liminal space between her own individual identity and her husband’s identity?
Send proposals of no more than 250 words to Jenifer_Elmore@pba.edu by December 31, 2014.