CFP for SSAWW 2015: Rejoining the Conversation: Oakes Smith’s The Western Captive (2.5.15)

CFP for SSAWW 2015: Rejoining the Conversation: Oakes Smith’s The Western Captive

Over the past decade, assorted published essays and conference papers focusing on Elizabeth Oakes Smith have added to our understanding of her life and career, and her inclusion (by Susan Belasco) in the Bedford Anthology of American Literature in 2007 has made her work newly available for our teaching, but she remains in a canonically “liminal” position: publicly popular and even “over-exposed” in her own time, she has not yet achieved the status of a “natural” reference in our critical conversations and teaching about women writing in the antebellum period.  

Broadview’s forthcoming publication of a new edition of Oakes Smith’s 1842 novel The Western Captive, edited by Caroline Woidatalong with Irene Di Maio’s forthcoming essay on the German language translation of the novel in 1846, promises to bring Oakes Smith’s figure across the new canonical threshold.  While some critics have already situated Oakes Smith’s “first Indian novel” in the context of Child’s Hobomok and Sedgwick’s Hope Leslie, a broader critical discussion of The Western Captive (and the full range of her writings on Native American subjects, including those included in Beadle’s Dime Novel series) promises to renew and revitalize our critical understanding of a wide array of texts representing White/Native American relations in early American literature.

How does Oakes Smith’s historical and regional choice for her setting (The Indiana Territory in the first decade of the nineteenth century) lead us new views of women’s writing on that region and the politics of such choices? How might Oakes Smith’s processes of research (her correspondence with Jane and Henry Schoolcraft, for example) compare to other writers’ preparation for such projects?  How might the conditions of The Western Captive’s publication as an early paperback determine its relation to similar novels of its time, and perhaps delay its recovery?  What are the marks—textual or historical—that put The Western Captive in conversation with other literary works of its day, or other political and ideological debates of its time?

These questions are meant only to suggest a range of possibilities for topics, but overall, papers that bring Oakes Smith’s work into relation with works already in the critical conversation will be given special consideration.

Please send queries or 250-word abstracts to by February 5, 2015.