Hosted by Penn State University, March 17-20, 2016

C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists seeks paper and panel submissions for its fourth biennial conference, which will take place March 17-20, 2016 at the Nittany Lion Inn at Penn State University in State College. We invite individual paper or group proposals on U.S. literary culture—broadly conceived—during the long nineteenth century.

Our conference theme is “Unsettling,” which takes its inspiration from recent revisionist approaches to the methodologies, geographies, languages, and texts that disturb, divert, and reconstitute American literary, historical, and cultural studies. Leaving open ended what is being unsettled, the theme challenges the notion of a defined field focusing on a specific set of texts. In contrast to the assumption of a shared practice or single canon, “unsettling” recognizes the fragmented and contradictory condition of US and American literary studies. The Program Committee is particularly interested in challenging the belief that questions of race and racism are settled. If anything, recent events from Ferguson to the immigration debates point to the unfinished business of race, ethnicity, and nationalism and the ongoing relevance of the nineteenth century and its antecedents. “Unsettling” also points to the effects of a historical period when the United States sought new settlements and sometimes took territory by force. How did the effects of political organization, economic conditions, and social hierarchies in the nineteenth century leave unsettled today’s socio-political challenges? How has the field responded to a transformation in what is studied as part of literary culture? How have new approaches, methodologies, and archives opened the field of study?

Topics and approaches might include but are not limited to transnational, hemispheric, and oceanic studies; the impact of new media and digital technologies on research and teaching practices in the field; critical race, ethnicity, indigeneity, border and diaspora studies; historicism, surface reading and theory; history of the book and print culture; critical geography and global approaches; gender, sexuality, and queer studies; religion, belief, and secularization; democracy and citizenship; the body, age, affect, and disability studies; science and technology studies; spectatorship, collecting, and museum studies; migration, multilingualism, and translation; theories of the archive and the canon.


C19 welcomes proposals for roundtables, workshops, dialogues, and novel presentation formats, as well as traditional panels and individual paper submissions. We are especially interested in proposals that reflect a diversity of institutional affiliation, academic rank, and disciplinary background. Please include at least four presenters on a panel. All group proposals must leave time for discussion (each session is 90 minutes long). Individuals seeking potential collaborators may wish to use the discussion board on C19’s Facebook page.

C19: 2016 will once again feature a series of seminars, which were introduced at the 2014 conference in Chapel Hill. Seminars will provide participants the opportunity for a collaborative conversation around a particular topic. Each seminar will be capped at 15 participants and will be run by leaders with expertise in the topic. Each participant will submit a five-page position paper before the conference to be read in advance by the other participants; time in the seminar itself will be reserved for discussion. Seminar participants will be listed in the program.

Further details on submissions and C19 can be found here.