Deadline for submissions: June 1, 2017
Full name / name of organization: South Atlantic Modern Language Association
Contact email:
Following the South Atlantic Modern Language Association’s 89th Conference’s theme of “High Art/ Low Art: Borders and Boundaries in Popular Culture,” abstracts are invited for the Pre-1900 American Literature Panel, titled

“Scribbling Americans: Appropriation and Subversion in Literary Arts High and Low”

In Novels, Readers, and Reviewers Nina Byam looked to nineteenth-century periodicals to confirm the so-called triumph of the novel in America between 1840 and 1860. Byam contends that the enthusiasm and preponderance of periodical reviews of novels of the era confirm the preeminence of the genre. This argument has largely gone unchallenged. In Preaching and the Rise of the American Novel (2013), however, Dawn Coleman challenges Byam’s conclusion by extending Byam’s investigative scope beyond periodicals to include antebellum conduct manuals. Conduct manuals, Coleman asserts, informed the tastes of the American readership as much as periodicals of the period, but conduct books were far less enthusiastic in their assessments of novels. Hence, the genre’s rise was far more halting and problematic than Byam’s argument allows.

To overcome the hesitancy of many American readers to indulge in novel reading, antebellum novelists, Coleman contends, used the authority of preachers and sermonic rhetoric in their novels, offering novels seemingly less scandalous overall because morally beneficial in portions.

This panel invites abstracts for papers that explore the ingenuity of American authors in overcoming those barriers or boundaries (moral, social, aesthetic) raised in opposition to their art. Papers may explore the ways authors (not just novelists) appropriate more acceptable cultural discourses to make disparaged literary forms or themes more palatable. Topics might include, but are by no means limited to, the use or adaptation of political pamphlets, epistolary form, guide/travel books, sermons or religious tracts, conduct literature, etc., in fictional works.

Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to present their papers at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association’s 89th Annual Conference on November 3–5, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

By June 1, please email a 250 word abstract along with a current CV, and audio/visual requirements, to Joshua Boyd at and Benjamin Crawford at

SAMLA 89 conference information can be found at