Calls for Papers


American Literature Association Conference – Boston (May 25-28, 2017)

Session #1: TIME, MEMORIALS AND ANNIVERSARIES (3 or 4 15 to 20-minute papers):
How is “time” referenced in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s writings?  Does her sense of time seem consistent at moments with Wordsworth’s “spots of time”?  Is there more that can be said about her “anachronistic imaginings,” to take a phrase from Jeffrey Insko’s 2004 essay, “Anachronistic Imaginings: Hope Leslie’s Challenge to Historicism?”  What about her attention to memory, memorials, and monuments, and how space and visual culture relate to notions of time?  What about anniversaries, rituals and annual or seasonal celebrations? This panel invites proposals on these and other issues related to the perception of time, the passage of time, and the celebration of times past in Sedgwick’s writings or the writings of her contemporaries.

Please send abstracts to Lisa West, V.P. for External Conferences, CMS Society



American Literature Association Conference – San Francisco (May 26-29, 2016)

Session #1 (15 to 20-minute papers): “Catharine Sedgwick’s New England”

A New England Tale
(1822) was one of the first of Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s novels to be republished and garner critical attention. Since its recovery, there has been increased interest in other early American women writers, such as Hannah Foster, Susannah Rowson, and Lydia Maria Child. There also has been a surge of interest in the American novel written before 1820. This panel seeks scholarship on “Catharine Sedgwick’s New England” that situates the work of Sedgwick and other American women writers in the increasingly global public sphere of the early nineteenth century. Papers might address (but certainly aren’t limited to) the transatlantic genre of the “village sketch”; New England religion in the context of the Second Great Awakening and global encounters with non-Christian peoples (particularly relevant in the current political climate); Sedgwick and the rise of the early American novel and/or the rise of the American short story; women writers in public; writing about New England as a response to (or retreat from) the responsibilities of nationhood; relationships between early American authors and their European friends/family/publishers/correspondents.

Session #2:   “Teaching Catharine Maria Sedgwick” (roundtable–10-min talks/presentations)

With the recent republication of Clarence and Married or Single?, and the growing online inventory at “Sedgwick Stories: The Periodical Writings of Catharine Maria Sedgwick,”, more Sedgwick texts are available for the classroom. The ongoing “Just Read/Teach One Sedgwick Story” challenge invites even wider readership. This panel will focus on reading/teaching Catharine Maria Sedgwick at all levels.  Papers do not need to focus on the newest editions. Instead we welcome all papers addressing teaching Sedgwick in this new era when more texts are available in print and through the web. Particularly welcome are papers on teaching future teachers, teaching high school students, teaching in alternative classrooms, and foci on other specific student populations.

Please send abstracts to Lisa West, V.P. for External Conferences, CMS Society.


American Literature Association Conference, Boston, May 20-24, 2015

Single Life in the Antebellum Imagination

Proposals due December 30, 2014 (Note extended deadline!)

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society seeks proposals for a panel on the various manifestations of single life for both men and women in fiction and non-fiction by Sedgwick and her contemporary writers. Papers might consider spinsterhood and bachelorhood, whether by choice or by default; delayed marriage; widowhood; divorce; celibacy for spiritual reasons; or any other angle on the single life as depicted in antebellum fiction or non-fiction.

Send proposals of no more than 250 words to Jenifer Elmore by Dec. 15, 2014.


Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, Philadelphia, November 4-8, 2015

Married and Single Life in Sedgwick’s Writing

Proposals due December 30, 2014 (Note extended deadline!)

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 by December 15, 2014.


Great Excursions: Travel and the 19th-Century Literary Imagination
A symposium sponsored by the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society

June 4-7, 2014
Hilton St. Louis Downtown, St. Louis, MO

Much of Catharine Sedgwick’s writing features an excursion of some kind, but none as fantastic in both scale and scope as her “Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony” in June 1854. In the span of 20 days, Sedgwick and approximately 1,000 other excursionists traveled 3,600 miles by rail and steamboat as guests of the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad, the first railroad to reach the Mississippi River from the east coast. Participants traveled individually by train to convene in Chicago, continued west together by rail to Rock Island, Illinois, then north by steamboat toward the headwaters of the Mississippi—beyond St. Paul/Minneapolis to the “Falls of St. Anthony”—then headed downriver to St. Louis before returning to their (mostly) New England homes. The celebrity tour—comprised almost exclusively of northern men (with some women but very few southerners)—included notable politicians, historians, clergymen, scientists, doctors, bankers, publishers, and authors, including Caroline Kirkland and Elizabeth Oakes Smith.

In her letter-cum-sketch “The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony,” Sedgwick claimed that her 1854 adventure was “an illustration and proof of the advancement of true civilization.” “Proof” to whom? What kind(s) of “advancement”? And what does she mean by “true civilization?” These questions prompt others: What about a journey is “worth” paying attention to and/or commemorating? How does travel change Sedgwick? What are her various purposes in writing about her travel or a particular destination? How does an excursion “transport” or “transform” her/her characters/her readers?

In honor of Sedgwick’s 225th birthday and her 1854 Midwestern trip (the farthest west she ever traveled), the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society will convene its 7th symposium in St. Louis, MO, June 5-8, 2014. The Society invites proposals that consider the work of Sedgwick (or one of her contemporaries with a direct link to Sedgwick) through the lens of the “excursion” broadly construed—literal or imaginary or stylistic “travel” away from, toward, or through any of topics addressed in her “Great Excursion” sketch or other works, such as:

·         the cultural significance of “great excursions”
·         travel literature/literal excursions and the picturesque
·         material culture, transportation, foodways, hospitality
·         fictional excursions
·         immigration, cultural and religious conversions
·         literary representations of the Midwest in Sedgwick’s works
·         transatlantic travels and literary networks
·         reading/representing the landscape
·         the state of the union as reflected in narratives of travel
·         the role of historic sites, cemeteries, place names in commemoration and national identity
·         changing perspectives of slavery, gender roles, education, and the economy
·         pedagogical approaches/teaching “adventures” with Sedgwick or others

Please e-mail proposals of no more than 250 words by Feb. 21, 2014, to Jenifer Elmore, CMSS Second Vice-President for Programs.


American Literature Association Conference, Washington, D.C., May 22-25, 2014

Catharine Sedgwick in/and Washington, D.C.: A Roundtable Conversation

At least once in her lifetime, Catharine Maria Sedgwick traveled to Washington D.C. During her first known trip to the capital in January 1831, she visited the Supreme Court and the legislature, and through family friend Vice Pres. Martin Van Buren met President Jackson. She spoke with Justice Joseph Story; Chief Justice John Marshall called on her; and she was appalled by the vehemence of the Southerners’ debate in the legislature as the nullification crisis emerged. In later years she wrote to various politicians about current issues (including Cassius Clay regarding his anti-slavery scheme). Despite her ongoing interest in politics and legal issues—as early as age fourteen she joked with her father that she had “become quite a politician”—little has been said to date about her specific connections to the nation’s capital. This roundtable seeks to launch a new conversation about Sedgwick’s lifelong interest in government/legal issues, politics/political action, and writings (personal letters and/or publications), grounding our comments in primary sources and opening up new avenues for research.

Please contact Jenifer Elmore and/or Lucinda Damon-Bach if you are interested in participating in this roundtable session, briefly describing your possible contribution, by January 25, 2014. (If 5 participants come forward, each would speak for approximately 7-8 minutes, in order to preserve a full 30 minutes of the session for whole-group discussion.) Any new work on Sedgwick’s life or writing will be considered.

American Literature Association Conference, Boston, May 23-26, 2013

“SKETCHING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY,” co-hosted with the Washington Irving Society

Washington Irving in many ways made his reputation as a writer of sketches; Catharine Maria Sedgwick is known for her novels, but her sketches were perhaps  as well known if not more widely read.  This panel, co-sponsored by the Washington Irving Society and Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, aims to explore the popularity and aesthetics of the literary sketch in the United States through the long nineteenth-century. Papers that approach the topic from novel perspectives, including, but certainly not limited to, aesthetics, politics, religion, the culture of gift and souvenir books, travel writing and periodical writing, are especially welcome.  Please e-mail proposals and abridged CVs to Christopher Apap at no later than Wednesday, January 23.


The Sedgwick Society will also welcome papers on Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s work that do not fit the theme of the Irving/Sedgwick panel. Scholars who have work to present on Sedgwick that falls outside the parameters of the “sketch” panel should send abstracts to Lucinda Damon-Bach, President.


Transatlantic Women II: Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers Abroad

OPA Centro Arte e Cultura, Florence, Italy 

6-9 June 2013

Sponsored by the Harriet Beecher Stowe Society, the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, and the Margaret Fuller Society

Nineteenth-century American women writers moved—culturally, intellectually, and geographically—in a transatlantic, even a global world.  Following the success of our 2008 conference in Oxford, England, Transatlantic Women II relocates to Italy:  a scene rich with significance for Stowe, Sedgwick, Fuller, and their contemporaries for travel and Anglophone expatriation; “old world” emblem in classical, renaissance, and romantic traditions; site of revolutions.  The conference organizers see Italy also as a takeoff point for investigations further afield.  We solicit papers that examine American women writers at any point in the long nineteenth century, engaging as readers or travelers with Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.  Areas of interest include:

  • Tourism, travel, destinations, geographies in all literary and journalistic expression
  • Correspondence, conversation, networks, clubs, salons linking Americans and counterparts abroad
  • Reading of English, European, or global texts in the U.S. and of American texts abroad: educational and literary formations, encounters and controversies, reviews, translations
  • Exoticism, orientalism, colonialist and anti-colonialist perceptions of the Middle East, Africa, and Asia
  • Wars, revolutions, insurrections as experienced, fictionalized, interpreted as politics and history
  • Narratives and representations of American immigration
  • The body abroad:  travel, health, invalidism, sexuality, medical treatments and therapies
  • Reform and activist engagements:  peace congresses, antislavery meetings, women’s rights and suffrage organizations, labor movements; observations of European education, philanthropies, reform movements
  • Literary celebrity tours, ethnic and cultural performances at expositions
  • Religious representations: transnational origins, traditions, communities (Catholic, Jewish, Protestant); encounters with non-Western traditions and texts; spiritualism and theosophy; missionary narratives
  • Narrations of and perspectives on the Black Atlantic; slavery and American racial politics
  • Aesthetics, visual culture, performance art, exhibitions:  commentary on art, landscape, architecture, music, theater, opera, ballet, folk performances, museums, commemorative and memorial sites

All conference participants must be members of at least one of the sponsoring author societies at the time of registration.  For further information about the conference contact the conference directors: Beth L. Lueck ( or Sirpa Salenius ( Email 250-word proposals and one page CVs by 2 November 2012 to the program committee, chaired by Phyllis Cole and Larry Reynolds.

American Literature Association Conference, San Francisco, CA, May 24-27, 2012


The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society invites papers that address how we can position Catharine Maria Sedgwick within the “long nineteenth century” rather than position her solely within the early Republican era. Papers might include her influence on later writers such as Wharton or could consider her 1850s writings. They also could theorize how we can teach or study her as an author responding to “nineteenth century” issues in a broad way.

Due Jan 27th to Lisa West.

SSAWW-Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, Denver, CO, October 10-13, 2012


This roundtable will discuss ways we are using technology in teaching 19th century women’s literature. Presentations can focus on a particular course that has been developed, use of a particular technology, or separate assignments that have asked students to use digital sources. Presentations can also focus on theoretical issues that are raised by the use of technology in the classroom, challenges that have been met, and problems that have been solved (or not solved).

Respond to Lisa West by Jan 30th.


C19 – Society of 19th Century Americanists, Berkeley, CA, April 12-15, 2012

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society invites papers on Sedgwick and the long 19th century for the C19 conference on “Prospects: A New Century.”  Papers might include studies on Sedgwick’s influence on later writers, such as Edith Wharton.  They might address how Sedgwick’s ideas on women, governance and/or religion could be read as “prospects” for later decades in addition to being commentaries on the early republican period with which she is more commonly linked.  They might focus on her later writings. They might focus on her theories of history, particular the connection between the past and the future. Utopian societies, benevolence (with its just rewards), and marriage are all ways Sedgwick’s topoi suggest an interest in how characters invest in their futures.

 Please send 250-word abstracts and contact information to Lisa West by Sept. 26.


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