MCEAS/OIEAHC Conference on Sexuality in Early America
In the last two decades, the history of sexuality has emerged as an important and dynamic field of inquiry. By historicizing matters once understood as universal and eternal, scholars have connected sexual behaviors and desires to specific political, social, and economic contexts. Many have discovered links between this seemingly private realm of human experience and broader structures of power. Still others have questioned the coherence of the category of sexuality itself. With few exceptions, early American scholars have remained on the margins of this new field. Mindful of this omission, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture announce a conference on Sexuality in Early America, c. 1500-1820. Scheduled for March 2001 in Philadelphia, the conference aims to examine the relationship between sexuality (defined broadly to include desire, behavior, and attitudes) and the conditions and institutions of early American society (also defined broadly to include New France, the Caribbean, and the Spanish borderlands). Successful applicants will be asked to expand their proposals to thirty pages, and these drafts will be pre-circulated to all conference participants. Following the conference and authors' revisions, the papers will be published in a special issue of the *William and Mary Quarterly*.
Papers that present fresh theoretical perspectives, cross-cultural comparisons, or new empirical data are encouraged. Especially desirable are papers that use such approaches to challenge current histories of sexuality in early America. Although there are no set topics for papers, all papers should directly address sexual matters--as opposed to the broader issues of gender--in a context that will enhance our knowledge of early America. For example, papers might research the comparative impacts of colonization on European or Native American sexual behavior; the role of sexuality in the colonization process; changing images of sexual bodies; the sexualization of racial categories; the erotic discourses of discovery, revolution, or early nationhood; relationships between popular mores and legal or religious strictures; the rise of regionally distinct patterns of sexual attitudes or behavior; the economic, familial, or demographic contexts of changing sexual behaviors; sexual aesthetics in the visual arts, fashion, or print culture; the sexual cultures of cities and public spaces; medical views of sexuality and reproduction; or the dynamics of bawdy humor. Papers that embrace a more broadly synthetic approach or question the applicability of modern concepts of sexuality to early America are also welcome.
Paper proposals must be postmarked by February 1, 2000. These proposals should include a brief c.v. and a five-to-ten-page prospectus. The prospectus must explain the substance of the proposed paper, the sources used, and how the essay will reassess or enhance our current understanding of sexuality in early America. Scholars at all points in their careers are urged to apply. A steering committee composed of Sharon Block, Kathleen Brown, Bruce Burgett, Patricia Cline Cohen, Richard Godbeer, and Martha Hodes will screen proposals and arrange sessions and commentators. Direct questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Send seven copies of the proposal to: Sexuality Conference, OIEAHC, P.O. Box 8781, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8781.
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