“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 is thrilled to have renowned scholar Dr. Mary C. Kelley, the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, as our keynote speaker. She has published extensively on Sedgwick and other 19th-century American Women Writers and her works include such notable books as Private Woman, Public Stage: Literary Domesticity in Nineteenth-Century America and The Power of Her Sympathy: The Autobiography and Journal of Catharine Maria Sedgwick.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
To register for the symposium or get more information about the conference program or outings in the Stockbridge area, visit the CMSS website at http://cmsedgwicksociety.org