Panel Proposal: Imagining Religion, Imagining the Americas
c19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists
May 20-23, 2010
This panel stages a conversation between two keywords in nineteenth century studies—religion and the Americas. While nineteenth-century scholarship has always been attentive to the work of religion in culture, recent work has suggested the need for a deeper examination of this critical category. This panel’s first goal is to broaden our understanding of what nineteenth-century writers, speakers, devotees, and skeptics meant when they talked about religion. Such an inquiry asks us to flesh out in new ways our conception of the Americas as the site of religious writing, as a desired object for colonial power brokers, as a primary affiliation for those in resistance, and as a frame for critical inquiry. What did it mean to live in the nineteenth–century Americas as a “religious” subject, and how should these experiences inform the critical turn toward hemispheric, transnational, and global studies? I seek papers that explore this intersection across literary genres and national boundaries, attending to the diversities of belief and practice that the term religion encompasses. Papers treating religions other than Protestantism are especially welcome.
Questions papers might address include:
• How did definitions of religion shift over the century, and to what end?
• How did religion help subjects to imagine the Americas? In particular, how did religion organize subjects in space and time?
• What conceptions of religion did colonial authorities bring into the nineteenth-century Americas? How were they transformed by major shifts in colonial power over the century?
• What role does the historical conflation of white Protestantism with the generic category “religion” play in religion’s cultural work?
• How does the project of imagining religion in the Americas relate to the development of race, gender, and sexuality?
• What forms of power and resistance do shifting imaginations of religion enable? What role does religion play in colonial attempts to form proper “habits of the heart” (Ann Laura Stoler)?
• How do religious affects map the relations between the self and others and between the self and the world?
• Other questions about the interplay between imagining religion and imagining the Americas not listed above.
Please forward a 200-word abstract and a two-page C.V. to Toni Wall Jaudon at toni.wall.jaudon AT gmail DOT com by September 15, 2009.
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