The Society for the Study of Rebecca Harding Davis and Her World welcomes proposals for two sessions at the next meeting of the American Literature Association. The conference will be held May 25-28, 2017 in Boston, MA. For further information about the conference, please consult the ALA website at www.americanliterature.org.
1. Joint Session with the Louisa May Alcott Society: Rebecca Harding Davis (1831-1910) and Louisa May Alcott (1832 – 1888) witnessed dramatic changes in American culture throughout their lifetimes. As authors, they explored a variety of genres, including realist fiction (often oriented toward reform), gothic fiction, children’s literature, essays, and journalism. Both women viewed aspects of the Civil War firsthand, were troubled by the effects of industrialization and the factory system, critiqued the position of women in nineteenth-century culture and advocated for women’s rights. They also at times examined the tension between philosophical ideals and the pragmatic demands of daily life. Both women experienced the vicissitudes of publication, recognition, and careers in authorship. Davis and Alcott met during a visit Davis made to Concord in 1862. About this meeting, Alcott wrote in her Journal for May 1862 “Saw Miss Rebecca Harding, author of ‘Margaret Howth,’which has made quite a stir, and is very good. A handsome, fresh, quiet woman, who says she never has any troubles, though she writes about woes. I told her I had had lots of troubles; so I write jolly tales; and we wondered why we each did so.”
The two authors encountered each other again years later, and Davis recorded their meeting in Bits of Gossip (1904):
Years afterward she came to the city where I was living and I hurried to meet her. The lean, eager, defiant girl was gone, and instead, there came to greet me a large, portly, middle-aged woman, richly dressed. Everything about her, from her shrewd, calm eyes to the rustle of her satin gown told of assured success.
Yet I am sure fame and success counted for nothing with her except for the material aid which they enabled her to give to a few men and women whom she loved. . . . Louisa Alcott wrote books which were true and fine, but she never imagined a life as noble as her own.
To explore the connections between these two significant 19th-century women’s voices in greater depth, the Rebecca Harding Davis Society and the Louisa May Alcott Society will offer a joint panel at the American Literature Association in May 2017. We invite papers that examine how Alcott and Davis treat or respond to any of the issues mentioned in the opening paragraph.
2. Open Topic Session: We welcome proposals that engage any aspect of Davis’s work and are especially interested in new readings of neglected texts. Presenters must be members of the Society for the Study of Rebecca Harding Davis and Her World. For information about joining the society, please visit our website at http://scotus.francis.edu/rebeccahardingdavis/
Deadline: January 20, 2017
Please send a 200-250 word abstract to :
Middle Tennessee State University
Job Posting: Assistant Professor of English (Early Americanist), Valdosta State University. Due 1-9-2017
The Department of English invites applications for an academic tenure track faculty position. In addition to teaching a standard 4/4 load per academic year (graduate and undergraduate courses in area of expertise), responsibilities include research leading to publication and service at the department, college, and university levels.
Must have a PhD in English with a specialization in pre-1865 American literature. Preferred subspecialties include multi-ethnic American literatures (Native American, African American, and/or ethnic literature of the Americas) and global perspectives (transatlantic, transnational, and/or hemispheric).
Preferred teaching experiences include composition and world literature.
The Department of English at VSU offers a versatile major focused on the study of language and literature designed to help students develop the critical, analytical, and writing skills employers seek.
By January 9, 2017, please submit a cover letter, CV, 3 letters of recommendation, and official transcripts to https://valdosta.peopleadmin.com/postings/12058
“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 as our keynote speaker the renowned scholar Dr. Mary C. Kelley, the Ruth Bordin Collegiate Professor of History, American Culture, and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan. Dr. Kelley 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 our extended deadline December 9, 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