CFP: Sedgwick Society at SSAWW 2021

Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society at SSAWW 2021

Gender and Genre in the Long Nineteenth Century
The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society seeks papers that explore intersections of gender and genre in American writing from the early republic through the postbellum period. As women writers increasingly entered the literary marketplace after the American Revolution, they embraced a broad array of fiction and nonfiction genres. Economic and social pressures often—though not always—pushed women toward domestic romance and religious narrative and away from genres considered masculine, even as male authors participated in sentimental and reform discourse in genres like the temperance novel and the escaped slave narrative. Meanwhile, anonymous and pseudonymous publication sometimes enabled authors to step beyond the gendered boundaries patrolled by editors and publishers. This panel will showcase recent work that explores gendered aspects of literary genre—or literary aspects of gender—in the nineteenth century. Pedagogical approaches to gender and genre are welcome.
Send 200-word abstracts to Ashley Reed ( by February 15, 2021.

Illness, Disability, Death, and Survival in the Writings of Catharine Maria Sedgwick and Her Contemporaries
Though the times we are living in may be unprecedented for us, financial crisis, political instability, and epidemic disease were regular occurrences for Americans of the early nineteenth century, who experienced debilitating illness, lifelong disability, and early death as everyday facts of life. The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society seeks papers that address these and other questions as they are explored in the work of Sedgwick and her contemporaries:

  • How did the experience of illness produce, shape, or inhibit authorship in the nineteenth century?
  • How did nineteenth-century authors thematize illness, disability, death, and survival in their writing? 
  • How do nursing and other forms of caregiving figure in the writing of nineteenth-century Americans? 
  • How has recent scholarship on disability changed our understanding of nineteenth-century writing?
  • As teachers of nineteenth-century texts, how do we treat illness, disability, and death in the college classroom?
  • Does nineteenth-century writing on illness and death offer resources for us as readers, scholars, and teachers living through COVID-19?

Send 200-word abstracts to Ashley Reed ( by February 15, 2021.

Sedgwick in the Summer

Sedgwick Society Summer Webinars

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society announces a series of webinars featuring new works of Sedgwick scholarship. Invited scholars will discuss their recent monographs and address Sedgwick, her career, and her place in contemporary literary studies. 

Webinars are open to the public but registration is required; click the links below to register for each individual event. For more information or to join the Sedgwick Society, visit

Friday, July 31, 2 pm ET

Lydia Fash, author of The Sketch, The Tale, and the Beginnings of American Literature (University of Virginia Press, 2020)

Joe Shapiro, author of The Illiberal Imagination: Class and the Rise of the U.S. Novel (University of Virginia Press, 2017)

Hosted by Melissa Homestead


Friday, August 14, 3 pm ET

Brigitte Bailey, author of American Travel Literature, Gendered Aesthetics and the Italian Tour, 1824-62 (Edinburgh University Press, 2018)

Sandra Wilson Smith, author of The Action-Adventure Heroine: Rediscovering an American Literary Character, 1697-1895 (University of Tennessee Press, 2018)

Hosted by Jenifer Elmore


Friday, August 28, 3 pm ET

Martin Holtz, author of Constructions of Agency in American Literature on the War of Independence: War as Action, 1775-1860 (Routledge, 2019)

Ashley Reed, author of Heaven’s Interpreters: Women Writers and Religious Agency in Nineteenth-Century America (Cornell University Press, 2020)

Hosted by Jordan Von Cannon


2020 CMSS Symposium Postponed to 2021

As universities set limits on faculty and student travel because of concerns surrounding COVID-19, the Sedgwick Society has worked with Union College and the Doubletree Hotel in Schenectady, NY, to postpone our 2020 Symposium for one year. We want to remain ahead of this evolving situation and anticipate any potential disruptions to our conference attendees and their travel plans for summer.

We received a wonderful response to our CFP, and we hope that everyone who responded this year, along with everyone who has attended in the past, will plan to attend CMSS Symposium 2021. In the near future, we will formally respond to each individual who proposed a paper.
In looking ahead to the postponed Symposium on June 17-19, 2021, we are committed to open conference registration in August 2020, and we will offer a discounted membership renewal/registration bundle for those who register early.

We appreciate your understanding and support, and we hope to see you next year at Union College in Schenectady!


The Executive Board of the CMSS

Teaching Sedgwick Prize (Deadline: 3.1.2020)

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society announces the new Teaching Sedgwick Prize, which recognizes excellence and creativity in teaching the works of Catharine Sedgwick in a variety of contexts. To be considered for the prize, submit a detailed description of your teaching activity and any associated materials (lesson plans, writing prompts, etc.) documenting a teaching activity that you have carried out or will soon carry out. Submit these materials as e-mail attachments to Melissa J. Homestead (, President of the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society, by March 1, 2020. The winner will be announced in the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society Newsletter and the submitted materials published on the Sedgwick Society’s website. The winner will be awarded $100 and a complimentary registration to the 2020 Sedgwick Symposium in Schenectady, New York. The winner will also have the opportunity to lead a discussion about teaching Sedgwick at the symposium.

CFP: Sedgwick Society Symposium June 2021 (First Deadline: 2.24.2020)

Revolutionary Legacies: The Ninth Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society Symposium

June 17-19, 2021

Union College, Schenectady, New York

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society invites submissions for its ninth symposium, titled Revolutionary Legacies. The Symposium will take place June 17-19 on the beautiful campus of Union College in Schenectady, New York, and will honor both the Sedgwick family’s ties to the Albany and Hudson River regions and the area’s role in America’s many revolutions.

Although Catharine Sedgwick is strongly associated with the Berkshires region of Massachusetts, the Albany region was important to her family as well. Her father, Theodore Sedgwick, had strong ties to Philip Schuyler, who served as a General in the Revolutionary War and whose grand mansion looms over the Hudson River, and to Alexander Hamilton, one of Schuyler’s sons-in-law. Catharine’s brother Theodore practiced law in Albany and her sister Frances lived there with her husband. Catharine herself briefly attended school in the city and as an adult visited frequently, including passing through on her way to Saratoga Springs and points west and north. Sedgwick often portrayed the Albany and Hudson River Valley region in her fiction: characters in RedwoodClarence, and The Travellers reside in or travel through it. Most significantly, in her Revolutionary War novel The Linwoods, Sedgwick locates key events in the Hudson River Valley. 

The organizers of the Sedgwick Symposium invite papers that address any aspect of Sedgwick’s life and works, including but not limited to Catharine’s or her family’s ties to Albany and the Hudson River Valley. We also welcome proposals on other topics connected to the area or to the conference theme. Potential topics might include:

  • Literary engagements with the American Revolution by Sedgwick or other authors—including non-US authors
  • Women’s participation in the American Revolution, including nonwhite women’s experiences of war
  • Travel and tourism in New York and Canada in the era of the “fashionable tour”
  • Immigration, settlement, and native displacement in upstate New York
  • Abolitionism, women’s rights, and other reforms (2020 is the centennial of the 19th Amendment, with its roots in nearby Seneca Falls)
  • Religious revolutions of the Second Great Awakening, including those in New York’s “burnt-over district”
  • Dutch colonial legacies in early U.S. literature
  • Slavery and its aftermath in the state of New York
  • Women’s education in the early republic and antebellum America
  • Arts and culture of the Hudson Valley region, from the Hudson River School to today
  • The American Revolution in recent popular culture: HamiltonTurnTabooSleepy HollowPoldark, etc.
  • Strategies for teaching the works of Sedgwick and her contemporaries
  • Early American literature in the digital age

Send proposals of no more than 250 words to Ashley Reed ( by February 24, 2020 (first deadline). Due to the postponement of the 2020 Symposium, we will re-open the call for papers in the coming months to allow for additional submissions before our 2021 symposium

CFP: Sedgwick Society at ALA 2020

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society seeks proposals for a roundtable and a panel to take place at the American Literature Association Conference in San Diego, CA, May 21-24, 2020

A Roundtable on Jeffrey Insko’s History, Abolition, and the Ever-Present Now in Antebellum American Writing
The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society calls for 5-7 scholars to participate in a roundtable discussion of Jeffrey Insko’s recently published History, Abolition, and the Ever-Present Now in Antebellum American Writing (Oxford UP, 2018).  We are seeking scholars at various career levels and from different types of institutions to reflect on Insko’s work. Participants do not need to focus on the discussions of Sedgwick in the book’s second chapter but instead can address Insko’s treatment of any of the central authors (including Irving, Neal, Emerson, Douglass, and Melville); the significance of this scholarship for Sedgwick studies, studies of antebellum American literature, or theories of temporality; and/or key issues in Insko’s work, such as historicism and presentism, abolition, and literary Romanticism. The Ever-Present Now examines the meaning and possibilities of the present and its relationship to history and historicity in a number of literary texts of the past; specifically, the writings of several familiar figures in antebellum U.S. literary history—some, but not all of whom we associate with the period’s Romantic movement. Anchored by the impatient temporality of immediatist abolitionists, the book recovers some of the political force of Romanticism, which becomes clear when we foreground time, especially the time of now. Through close readings of texts by figures as different as Washington Irving, John Neal, Catharine Sedgwick, Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Herman Melville, the book argues that these writers, some explicitly and others implicitly, practiced forms of literary historiography that treat the past as neither simply a reflection of present interests nor as an irretrievably distant “other,” but as a complex and open-ended interaction between the two. In place of a fixed and immutable past with unidirectional movement, these writers imagine history as an experience rooted in a fluid, dynamic, ever-changing present. The political, philosophical, and aesthetic disposition Insko calls “romantic presentism” insists upon the present as the fundamental sphere of human action and experience and, hence, of ethics and democratic possibility.

Please send a brief abstract (100-200 words) outlining your intended focus in the roundtable to Ashley Reed,, by January 15, 2020. 

Panel: Nonhuman Life in Early America
The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society invites papers on the subject of nonhuman life in early America. 
This panel will consider forms of nonhuman life in early America as they appear in the work of Sedgwick and her contemporaries. Papers might address (but are not limited to): • nonhuman animals, whether domestic or wild • vegetative life • superhuman or supernatural life (angels, ghosts, gods, sprites) • exclusions from the human (the subhuman, the semihuman, the animalistic) • early America in/and the anthropocene

Please send abstracts of 250 words to Ashley Reed,, by January 15, 2020. 

NEH Grant Awarded for Catharine Maria Sedgwick Online Letters Project

CMSS Members Patricia Kalayjian, Deborah Gussman, and Lucinda Damon-Bach were recently awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to pursue the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Online Letters Project. Their project entitled, “The Letters of American Novelist Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867): An Online Edition” was funded in the NEH’s August 2019 award cycle. Read more on the NEH website.

Redwood, A Tale – Forthcoming Scholarly Edition by Jenifer B. Elmore

Redwood is the only one of Sedgwick’s six major novels that has not yet been published in a modern, scholarly edition.


Redwood, A Tale. (originally published in 1824 in two volumes; Sedgwick’s second novel; republished in 1850 in one volume with some revisions).

New edition edited and with an introduction by Jenifer B. Elmore. With extensive annotations and appendices. Editorial assistant: Rachel Sakrisson. 

Publisher:  Edinburgh University Press

Series:  Edinburgh Critical Editions of Nineteenth-Century Texts

Series editor:  Julian Wolfries

This book is available for purchase from the University of Edinburgh website HERE

CFP: Sedgwick Society Panels at ALA 2019 (Deadline: 1.15.19)

2019 American Literature Association Conference,
May 23-26, 2019, Westin Copley Hotel, Boston, MA

Send 200 word abstracts to Lisa West, by January 15, 2019.

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society is sponsoring a panel on:
Catharine Maria Sedgwick and the Gothic or Supernatural
While Sedgwick is associated with Federalist politics, reason, republican sensibility, and moral leadership, her writings do venture into the gothic, the uncanny, the supernatural, and the enchanted. This panel will explore the underexamined ways Sedgwick uses the gothic and the supernatural in her fiction and other writings. Panelists are encouraged to consider ways she responds to a transatlantic gothic tradition or to think about the religious supernatural. Panelists can build on ideas and papers presented at 2018 ALA or SSAWW. Papers are also welcome on writers who are contemporaries of Sedgwick, such as Washington Irving or Lydia Maria Child. Send 200-word abstracts to Lisa West, by January 15, 2019.

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society is sponsoring a roundtable on:
Sedgwick’s Letters: Material Letters, Transcribed Letters, Fictional Letters, Digitized Letters

This roundtable will put the exciting work of the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Online Letter (CMSOL) Project in conversation with theoretical approaches to “the letter” in a variety of contexts. CMSOL is an ongoing initiative with the goal of making the correspondence of Sedgwick held at the Massachusetts Historical Society publicly available in digitized form. This project is significant not only in developing the scholarly infrastructure of Sedgwick Studies but also in linking archives, scholars, and the general public. The project raises numerous ethical and pragmatic issues about reading, transcribing, and editing letters. We welcome short presentations on Sedgwick’s (or her contemporaries’) personal letters, letters embedded within novels, letters from abroad, or references to letters. Scholarly challenges in working with letters or family papers also welcome, as are presentations that consider the role of letter-writing within a broader literary culture. Send 200-word abstracts to Lisa West, by January 15, 2019.

CFP: Sedgwick Panel at SSAWW 2018 (deadline 2.10.18)

Society for the Study of American Women Writers Conference, Denver, CO
November 7-11, 2018

Call for Papers:

“Resisting Readers and Resisting Narrators within Sedgwick’s Works”  

Many of Sedgwick’s popular short writings are didactic in nature, leading readers toward desired, mostly conventional responses.  If Judith Fetterley valued the “resisting reader of texts, where can we find that message within Sedgwick’s writing? How are characters themselves resisting readers – and what kind of texts do they resist?  Are there multiple layers or dynamics of resistance within a text?  And what about the narrators?  In novels, Sedgwick often subverts the traditional didactic narrator voice, at times folding narration into letters, and at other times experimenting with other devices that destabilize the narrative voice. How does this narrative function challenge readers?

Ideally, this panel will not only explore instances of resistance but also consider reading and textuality in innovative ways.  In turn, these questions about reading and the nature of texts can influence the steps we take in recovering the work of Sedgwick and others: what texts we choose, how we present them to 21st century readers, and how we consider nontraditional forms of textuality or nontraditional methods of access.

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society is open to proposals that address writers other than Sedgwick if they otherwise fit the prompt.

Please send questions and 200-word abstracts to Lisa West, by February 10, 2018.