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, akreed@vt.edu, 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, akreed@vt.edu, 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.

Expected Release February/March 2021

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. 

Title page of 1824 edition

Publisher:  Edinburgh University Press

Series:  Edinburgh Critical Editions of Nineteenth-Century Texts

Series editor:  Julian Wolfries

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

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

Send 200 word abstracts to Lisa West, lisa.west@drake.edu 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, lisa.west@drake.edu 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, lisa.west@drake.edu 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, lisa.west@drake.edu by February 10, 2018.  

CFP: Sedgwick Society Panels at ALA 2018 (Deadline 1.15.18)

Call for Papers
American Literature Association Conference
San Francisco, CA May 24-27, 2018

SESSION 1: Roundtable: Sedgwick and American Enchantment

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society calls for 5-7 scholars to participate in a roundtable discussion of Michelle Sizemore’s recently published American Enchantment: Rituals of the People in the Post-Revolutionary World (Oxford UP, November 2017). Participants do not need to focus on the discussions of Sedgwick in the final chapter but instead can address Sizemore’s treatment of any of the central authors (such as Hawthorne, Irving, Brackenridge, and Brown); the significance of this scholarship for Sedgwick Studies; and/or key issues in Sizemore’s work, such as thinking of “the people” as a process rather than as a substance or understanding “enchantment” as a contingent state of embodied cognition.

A description of the book is as follows: The demise of the monarchy and the bodily absence of a King caused a representational crisis in the early republic, forcing the American people to reconstruct the social symbolic order in a new and unfamiliar way. Social historians have routinely understood the Revolution and the early republic as projects dedicated to and productive of reason, with “the people” as an orderly and sensible collective at odds with the volatile and unthinking crowd. American Enchantment rejects this traditionally held vision of a rational public sphere, arguing that early Americans dealt with the post-monarchical crisis by engaging in “civil mysticism,” not systematic discussion and debate. By evaluating a wide range of social and political rituals and literary and cultural discourses, Sizemore shows how “enchantment” becomes a vital mode of enacting the people after the demise of traditional monarchical forms. In works by Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, Catharine Sedgwick, and Nathaniel Hawthorne–as well as in Delaware oral histories, accounts of George Washington’s inauguration, and Methodist conversion narratives–enchantment is an experience uniquely capable of producing new forms of popular power and social affiliation. Recognizing the role of enchantment in constituting the people overturns some of the most common-sense assumptions in the post-revolutionary world: above all, that the people are not simply a flesh-and-blood substance, but also a mystical force.

Please send a brief abstract (200 words) outlining your intended focus in the roundtable to Lisa West, lisa.west@drake.edu, by January 15, 2018.

SESSION 2: Panel: Sedgwick (and others) Beyond Unitarianism

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society seeks papers that invite discussion of religion in Sedgwick’s life and writing. In particular, the society hopes to complicate an understanding of Sedgwick’s Unitarian beliefs; call attention to her use of a variety of religious affiliations and doctrines; consider the role of secularism in her work; and investigate connections between religion, education, morality, and fiction. Papers that address contemporaries of Sedgwick, particularly other women writers or religious theorists, will also be considered.

Please send an abstract of 250 words to Lisa West, lisa.west@drake.edu, by January 15, 2018.

Sedgwick Society News & Notes

Welcome to the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society News & Notes

A special thank you to Ellen Foster for maintaining the society’s print version of the newsletter for so many years.  In this digital version, we’ll post calls for papers, bi-annual spotlights on research in progress, conference reports, publication announcements, tales from teaching, and (brief) articles on Sedgwick, as well as other queries and notes.


If you would like to contribute an item, please email Jordan Von Cannon, CMSS Vice President for Communications and Newsletter.