JOHN NEAL (1793-1876):
American Critic and Novelist
At the 2009 Society of Early Americanists Meeting in Bermuda, seven papers concentrated on John Neal, the critic, novelist, poet, dramatist, and so-called “Wild Fellow,” even though no single session had been set aside to discuss his work, and even though that work is all out of print. During the subsequent discussions, Neal’s work easily drew the more attention than other subjects. Neal’s work on antebellum American race, gender, history, nationalism, and literary criticism generated energetic discussions of a broad variety of subjects. This was not entirely surprising: for months, Americanists of various stripes have long been claiming that Neal was “ripe for revival.” In the current trans-Atlantic and revisionist moment in American literary studies, Neal’s work is overdue for reconsideration, and a number of scholars already have projects underway to reopen the conversation.
Fritz Fleischmann is already at work on a Neal biography, so we would like to propose a collection of essays addressing any and all aspects of his work and career. This might range from his role in Baltimore’s Delphian Club and his essays in The Portico, his early novels (Keep Cool , Logan , Seventy-Six , Randolph , and Errata ), his famous Blackwoods Essays (1824/5), his plays, his poetry, his history-writing, his middle novels (Brother Jonathan , Rachel Dyer  or The Down-Easters ), any aspect of his later journalism, feminism, and finally his later novels and stories. We have in mind no particular methodological or theoretical paradigm or model, but rather are simply seeking essays that will reveal Neal as a figure who can no longer be absent from our conversations about literature, fiction, and culture in the early republic.
Queries, abstracts, proposals, etc., should be directed to Edward Watts, Michigan State University (firstname.lastname@example.org) or David Carlson, California State University-San Bernardino (email@example.com). We foresee a due date sometime around the end of the calendar year. Once we have a reasonable list of proposals, we will begin contacting appropriate presses.
201 Morrill Hall
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48823
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