C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists seeks paper and session submissions to its third biennial conference, which will take place March 13-16, 2014 at the Carolina Inn and the beautiful University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill campus.
We invite individual paper or group proposals on any aspect of U.S. literary culture—broadly conceived—during the long nineteenth century, including those that bring insights from visual, sound, or performance studies into conversation with literary and textual studies. Our conference theme is “Commons.” The Commons has a contested history in nineteenth-century America. At its simplest, “Commons” constitutes a mutually held resource (lands, goods, communal labor, intellectual property, civic values). It refers to shared political, economic, social, and cultural practices that may seem at odds with the period's investment in individualism and privatization. Still, the nineteenth century worked to establish a variety of institutions, practices, and spaces committed to commonality. These range from Brook Farm to Hull House, from the National Mall to Central Park, from the Smithsonian Institution to local history museums and lending libraries. Commons customs include everything from commonplace books and the practice of reprinting to worker cooperatives and utopian communities. In selecting the theme of Commons, we seek papers and sessions that identify collective sites of mutuality and contestation, whether literary, historical, material, methodological, disciplinary, or conceptual. Inspired by new work in digital humanities, by collaborations across disciplines, and by increasing scholarly engagement with social and environmental questions, the organizers of C19 wish to put into practice a value expressed by Bruno Latour: “The critic is … the one who offers the participants arenas in which to gather.” We also wish to acknowledge the challenges and limits of the Commons addressed by nineteenth-century thinkers—conformity, intolerance to dissent, unacknowledged exclusions, and mob mentality.
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