CFP: Unsettling the Gendered West (C19; Deadline 8.16.15)

CFP: Unsettling the Gendered West

C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
March 17-20, 2016 at Pennsylvania State University

This panel examines nineteenth-century women’s writing as a political tool for unsettling notions of the American West as masculine, anti-modern, and untouched. As recent work by Nina Baym and Krista Comer has shown, there is considerable work left to be done to account for women writers’ use of the West as an imaginative and political space. Likewise, new directions in gender studies, border theory, settler colonialism, and critical regionalism have made new conversations about the U.S. West as a setting for political and literary engagement increasingly urgent.

Organizing this panel around the theme of “Unsettling the Gendered West,” we invite contributions that examine the ways that women writers have located themselves in the West—both imaginatively and geographically—asking how these narratives have unsettled preoccupations with the West as an extension of the predominantly white, masculine public sphere. Examining these narratives, this panel will also evaluate gendered representations of the contested nature of the occupation of western territories and U.S. borders.

We are particularly interested in approaches that consider the impact of digital scholarship and evaluate the ways that new media unsettle, challenge, or even reinforce approaches to nineteenth-century American literary, historical, and cultural studies.

Possible topics include:

  • Women’s writing and borderlands

  • Gender and settler colonialism

  • Intersections of post-feminism, the post-western, and the post-racial

  • Texts about the West as spaces for debate

  • New readings of canonical western women writers like Willa Cather and Mary Austin

  • Ways that the critical landscape shifts by paying attention to neglected texts

  • New readings of under-read women writers

  • Women writers and the post-West or post-regionalism

  • Globalization and women’s writing in the West

  • Visualities in women’s novels about the West

  • The Western novel as a gendered genre

  • The gendering of anthropology in narratives about the West

Please send 250-word proposals and a brief bio to Sigrid Anderson Cordell ( and Carrie Johnston ( by August 16, 2015.