Frederick Douglass and Herman Melville: A Sesquicentennial Celebration
New Bedford, Massachusetts / 22-26 June 2005
Keynote Speakers: Henry Louis Gates, Jr.; Sterling Stuckey; Eric Sundquist
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the publication of both Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom and Melville's Benito Cereno, the Melville Society, the Frederick Douglass Institutes of West Chester and Rochester, The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, the New Bedford Historical Society, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum will host a conference examining the works, lives, and contexts of these two prodigious, encyclopedic writers who spanned most of the nineteenth century. The conference will take place in the historic town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where both young men spent time, and it will bring together scholars interested in the range of nineteenth-century American literatures, examining issues of authorship, gender, audience, race, politics, religion, travel, rhetoric, and aesthetics.
Proposals are welcome from a variety of perspectives and in a variety of session formats (talk, roundtable, and so on). Possible topics include the following:
comparative analyses of texts by Douglass and Melville
convergences and divergences between Douglass’s and Melville’s lives, careers,and critical reputations
Douglass and Melville in the contexts of U. S. or world literatures
teaching Douglass and Melville
critical, creative, and popular responses to the two writers.
This list is meant to be suggestive, not prescriptive. Panels and papers on either Douglass or Melville are welcome. Proposals are especially encouraged that reach toward the comparative goals of the conference: the effort to see what friction, heat, and light are generated by juxtaposing the two writers, their contexts, and their traditions.
In addition to papers, the conference will include literary readings, exhibitions, and performances. Tours will be given of Douglass's and Melville's New Bedford, underground railroad and whaling sites, the new Melville Society Archive in New Bedford, and the city's rich African American, Cape Verdean, West Indian, Portuguese, and Anglo inheritance. Excursions to Nantucket and environs will be available.
Send one-to-two page proposals for papers, panels, or roundtable discussions to Samuel Otter, English Department, 322 Wheeler Hall #1030, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-1030, firstname.lastname@example.org; or to Robert S. Levine, English Department, 3101 Susquehanna Hall, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, email@example.com.
Proposals should be postmarked by 15 June 2004.
For additional information on the conference, consult the web site of the New Bedford Whaling Museum (click on "Melville Society Cultural Project").
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