CFP: Sedgwick Society Symposium – June 2017 (Deadline 12.9.16)

Announcing Our 8th Symposium!

“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 December 9, 2016, to Lisa West, CMSS Second Vice-President for Programs:

To register for the symposium or get more information about the conference program or outings in the Stockbridge area, visit the CMSS website at

CFP: CMSS in France (SSAWW International Conference July 2017)

FRANCE!!! FRANCE!!!! FRANCE!!!!! FRANCE!!!! FRANCE!!!! And Sedgwick

CALL FOR PAPERS – Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society

SSAWW Conference, Universite Bordeaux Montaigne, France, July 5-8, 2017

The first international SSAWW conference has the following focus:

“Border Crossings: Translation, Migration and Gender in the Americas, the Transatlantic and the Transpacific.”

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society wants to submit a complete panel for this conference. Abstracts and cv are due by June 22, 2016 to Lisa West at

We accept all proposals for papers addressing

“Border Crossings in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Writings”

Suggestions include:

ways in which Sedgwick’s short writing crosses genre boundaries

travel writing

Clarence’s vision of an international space

crossings of water and landscape in Hope Leslie

cultural crossings in various texts


religious crossings

narrative borders, innovative narrative techniques

allusions, crossings between and across different texts

marriage or other relationships as interpersonal border crossings

juxtapositions of urban and rural space, or intersections of the New York and Boston worlds

letters in A New England Tale, Hope Leslie or other texts

crossings between the imagination and reality or between this world and an alternative world (in religious or political sense)


the boundaries of domestic space

From SSAWW General Call for Papers:

“Border Crossings: Translation, Migration and Gender in the Americas, the Transatlantic and the Transpacific”

“To maintain a continuity with our previous conference (in Philadelphia, November 2015) on liminality and hybrid lives, we would like this first SSAWW conference in Europe to address the significance of “border crossing[s]” in the lives and works of American women writers. Such experiences have always been important to American women. Early diaries and travel notes left by 17th– and 18th-century women provide us with valuable records of and about their migratory experience to the New World and their lives and experiences in America. Besides offering more records of such experiences, the 19th century also witnessed an explosion in travel writing, fiction, and poetry treating with travel, as growing numbers of American women writers could afford to travel across Europe and more widely.”

“The conference theme invites participants to explore the broad spectrum of possibilities generated by such cross-cultural interactions, as well as the challenge consequently posed to literary canons. How has this experience affected women writers’ worldview and conception of language? To what extent do their modes of exploration differ from that of their male counterparts? How important were such contacts in allowing women writers to develop a consciousness of otherness and/or forge a community of feeling and experience transcending national and/or cultural barriers?”

“Crossings have always involved a necessary stage of transition, transformation, and consequent redefinition of the self that questions the very stability and permanence traditionally associated with women’s conventionalized roles. Thus we are very happy to consider writers using the idea of border crossing and travel symbolically or metaphorically as well as literally: early female travellers, explorers, and adventurers crossed borders in more ways than one, often by transgressing gender expectations, using this experience or awareness to reshape the conventions of many genres.”

CFP – American Literature Association (Extended Deadline 01.23.16)

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

The Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society invites proposals for two panels at ALA.

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.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: January 23, 2016.

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

The Just Read One Sedgwick Story Challenge (by June 2017)

The goal of this challenge: To raise public awareness of the writings of Massachusetts Sedgwick author Catharine Maria Sedgwick (1789-1867), whose 20 books and over 150 short stories earned her national recognition and international fame in the nineteenth century as one of the founders of American fiction (including literature for children).


Background:  The literary recovery of Sedgwick’s writings and reputation has been progressing steadily since the first new edition of her novel Hope Leslie in 1987. Her work is now included in all the major anthologies of American literature for college-level study, but elementary- and secondary-level teachers and the general public remain less aware of her work. Sedgwick wrote for very young readers as well as mature readers. This challenge invites readers of all ages and from all walks of life to read (or listen to) one of Sedgwick’s stories, and then to share their responses, questions, and thoughts, which will (with permission) be posted to a website aiming to promote the reading and teaching of Sedgwick’s work.



  1. A volunteer steps forward who is willing to read (and possibly transcribe) one of Sedgwick’s stories, and contacts Professor Lucinda Damon-Bach, English Department, Salem State University: (978) 542-6377.
  2. Professor Damon-Bach will help you to select a story appropriate to your anticipated audience and provide you with a photocopy of the story (from its 19th-century source).
  3. After reading (and possibly transcribing) the story (see specific transcription advice below), the volunteer practices reading the story aloud, and prepares some questions to ask after sharing the story with his/her audience (whether children, friends, family members, elders, etc.).
  4. The volunteer reads the story aloud to his/her audience, and afterward records (or asks listeners to record) some of their thoughts, questions, and reactions.
  5. The volunteer then writes up the read-aloud event, describing his/her audience (approximate age-range, gender/race, setting), and summarizing the audience’s reactions to the story, quoting some of the individual questions and responses, if possible (citing names is optional, depending on permission of auditors). Please include any written responses, if applicable).
  6. This descriptive transcript (as Word document, please) is then e-mailed to Professor Damon-Bach, who will arrange to have the responses and any teaching ideas/recommendations posted on the Society website


Sample Reading Response Questions to Ask Your Audience:

1. How does this story connect to you personally, to our world, to other stories you’ve read or heard?

2. What questions do you have about this story?

3. What parts of the story are different from (or similar to) life today, and what did you learn or wonder about that?

4. What ideas do you have about how to teach this story?

5. Who would you recommend this story to, and why? And of course any questions of your own design!

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.

CMSS at SSAWW – Nov. 4-8th, 2015

CMSS at the Society for the Study of American Women Writers

For those attending the SSAWW’s Triennial Conference November 4-8th, 2015 in Philadelphia, please find below a list of Sedgwick-related panels including our Society-sponsored panel and the Sedgwick Tea.


Wednesday, November 4th 5:00 – 6:15 pm

Wednesday Special Welcome Roundtable Panel

Syllabus Exchange Roundtable

Melissa Homestead, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, “The Nineteenth-Century American Novel and the Marriage Plot”

Friday, November 6th 8:55 – 10:10 am

Session 7-G FR: To Be or Not to Be (Married) in Catharine Sedgwick’s Fiction (Ballroom D) Catharine Maria Sedgwick Society Panel

Chair: Deborah Gussman, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey

Michelle Gaffner Wood, Cedarville University, “Inhibiting the Liminal: The Architecture of Single Life in Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Fiction”

Jordan Von Cannon, Louisiana State University, “Neither Married Nor Single: Sedgwick’s Alternate Paths of Female Development”

Saturday, November 7th 9:30 – 10:50 am
(There are three concurrent panels all with Sedgwick-related presentations)

Session 14-A SA: Issues in Recovery and Editing: A Roundtable with Editors in the Legacies of Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers Book Series (Ballroom C)

Deborah Gussman, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, “Recovering an Author’s Late Work: Catharine Sedgwick’s Married or Single?

Session 14-E SA: Teaching American Women Writers with Digital Tools, Platforms, and Projects Roundtable (Ballroom B)

*Including                                                                                                                         Christiane Farnan, Siena College, “Catharine Maria Sedgwick, Hope Leslie, and”

Session 14-G SA: Transatlantic Sympathy, Stowe, and Sedgwick (Flower)

Lucinda Damon-Bach, Salem State University, “‘My Readers Will Thank Me’: Transatlantic Sympathy in Sedgwick’s Letters from Abroad to Kindred at Home

3:10 – 4:30 pm
Session 18-A SA: Literary Tea and Book Celebration (Cook)

Save the Date for the 2014 Sedgwick Society Symposium

sedghead.jpg You are cordially invited to join us for a “Grand Excursion” to St. Louis in honor of Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s 225th birthday and the 160th anniversary of her own trip to the Midwest in June 1854.

The 8th CMSS Symposium will be held Thursday, June 5 through Sunday, June 8, 2014; please hold these dates!

Registration details and a call for papers will be distributed soon; in the meantime, you can prepare for the Symposium by reading Sedgwick’s “The Great Excursion to the Falls of St. Anthony.”