Deadline for submissions: June 2, 2017
Full name/name of organization: Stefan Schöberlein
Contact email:
The Long Media Century: American Literature and Technology in the 1800s

Special Session at the South Atlantic MLA 89, Nov. 3-5 2017 (Atlanta).

The nineteenth century has, in many ways, laid the foundation for much of the media still in use today: Be it in the telegraph’s first steps into digital code, devices that began to record or transmit sounds, or bulky typing machines to ease and structure textual production, the 1800s saw the birth of what could be called modern media technology. Still, the effects of this watershed moment on the literatures of the time—especially in a US context—remain a somewhat neglected topic in academia. This panel thus invites papers on the intersections, cross-inseminations, and conflicts between American literature in the long nineteenth century and media technology (broadly understood). It welcomes close readings as well as media-theoretical and -historical approaches that answer questions like: How did US poetry and prose encounter new media technologies? What broader cultural trends did they enable or problematize? What generic and stylistic effects resulted from the technological takeover of the scene of writing? What discourses of euphoria and repression sprang up around certain technologies? How did popular culture (via periodicals, dime novels, performance, etc.) encounter these novel modes of data storage and transmission? By June 2, please send a 300 word abstract, short bio and/or CV, and A/V requirements to Stefan Schöberlein, University of Iowa, at