I am seeking a third paper for a proposed special session for the 2013 MLA in Boston entitled “Imagining Socialism in Late-Nineteenth-Century American Literature.”
While “Socialism” is currently invoked as nothing more than a dirty word, it was substantially more than that in nineteenth-century American literature. Conditioned by the profound crises of a boom and bust economy, readers were hungry for alternatives, and narratives of socialism helped them imagine what life under a different, cooperative system might mean.
Currently, I have two papers, one that explores the potentially destructive tendencies of socialism in Ignatius Donnelly’s dystopian Caesar’s Column and another that explores socialism as foreign contagion in William Dean Howells’s A Hazard of New Fortunes.
For a third paper, I would be interested to see papers that take a positive view toward socialism and/or fiction that represents it negatively. Texts should go beyond anti-capitalist sentiment alone, actively imagining and playing out in narrative socialist alternatives, where “socialist” could refer to a number of different communitarian and cooperative forms of social organization. Especially welcome would be papers that think about the kinds of cultural or ideological work with which novels of socialism (again, for and/or against it) are engaged.
Please send, via email, a 250-word abstract and CV to Matthew Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org by March 15, 2012.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Department of English
(715) 346-4307 Email: email@example.com
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