W/Righting History: The Problem of Literary Historic Sites
American Studies Association Annual Meeting, October 11-14, Philadelphia
Nearly twenty years ago, literary historian Lawrence Buell set out to understand how the town of Concord, Massachusetts remembered Henry David Thoreau. He discovered that, “Little has been written about the phenomenon of canonization itself: that is, the rituals of remembrance through which those regarded for whatever reason as literary heroes become enshrined.” Little has changed in the intervening two decades. This panel seeks to correct that oversight by examining the connections between authors and tourists conjured at historical sites dedicated to the memory of American writers. What stories do these sites tell about their authors? How do literary history sites reconcile public interest in authors’ fictional worlds with the historical exigencies of those authors’ lived realities? Do literary history sites contribute to a kind of vernacular canonization and, if so, how does that process relate to what we in the academy mean when we speak of a literary cannon? Keeping in mind the conference’s larger theme of community connections, we are interested in papers that examine how the enshrinement of literary places gives meaning to their constituent communities.
We are particularly interested in the papers at the intersections of literary history, history of tourism, cultural geography, public history, and museum studies.
Please send, by January 15, inquiries or abstracts (no more than 500 words) and CVs for consideration to:
University of Kansas
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