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Call for Papers 2014

by Dan Tripp last modified May 02, 2013 09:28 PM




Chapel Hill, North Carolina

March 13-16, 2014

Hosted by the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill


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. The conference website contains complete details about submitting paper or panel proposals.

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.

Topics and approaches might include but are not limited to: nature, landscape, and the built environment; the ethics of land-sharing and resource management; public spaces and parks; theories of democracy and democratic life; literary collaborations and collectivities; collective forms of labor, including unions, syndicates, parties, and interest groups; utopias; information networks and their protocols; distributed, flat, or other "open" systems of communication; imagined alternatives to intellectual property and copyright; new conceptions of authorship; the politics of access and archiving; communitarian legacies and new media practices (the “digital commons”); pre-capitalist or non-capitalist economies or modes of value; common law; common sense; commonwealths; common tongues and the vernacular; the commonplace and everyday; local, regional, or transnational knowledge; non-Anglophone publics; destruction and reconstitution of indigenous commons; pedagogical practices; beliefs and values that we, as a field, hold in common; why Commons now?

As common ground in all its meanings seems more elusive than ever, with the privatization of once-public places, the dismantling of public education and social programs, and the degradation of the environment, C19 affirms the idea of the Commons as a vital occasion for retrieving an American tradition rooted in collective imaginings. We particularly welcome presentations that address the rich cultural, political, and literary history of our conference location in North Carolina and that draw on the unique resources of the campus: the Wilson Rare Book Library (with the largest collection of Civil War novels in the world), the Southern Historical Collection, the Southern Folklife Collection, the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History, the American Indian Center, the Ackland Art Museum, and the digital resource Documenting the American South.



In keeping with our theme, we invite imaginative formats that emphasize conversation and interactive dialogue. In this vein, we will introduce seminars to the C19 conference this year. Seminars will provide participants the opportunity to have a collaborative conversation around a particular topic. Seminars will be capped at 15 participants and be run by a leader with expertise in the topic. Each participant will submit a five-page position paper before the conference to be read in advance by the other participants so that seminar time can be reserved for discussion. Seminar topics will be announced shortly.  Seminar participants will be listed in the program.

Individual and group proposals may be imagined within a variety of session formats, including but not limited to thematically related talks (with or without respondents); roundtables addressing developments, key debates or new publications in the field; seminars on pedagogy; support sessions on professionalization and publication; dialogues on archival finds and under-appreciated works; and Pecha Kucha-style slide/talk presentations. Sessions that feature participants from a range of institutions and academic ranks will be given preference. All group proposals must leave time for discussion (each session is 90 minutes long). Individuals seeking potential collaborators may wish to use the discussion board on C19’s Facebook page.

Conference participants are limited to one appearance on the program in a substantive role (that is, as a presenter, roundtable participant, or respondent), and one appearance as a session organizer, chair, or speaker/facilitator on a professional support session. Participants are allowed to present a paper and join a seminar.

Submission Instructions

All proposals must be submitted by email to by 11:59 pm EST on September 30th. Use the following format for the subject line of your email:  individual, group OR seminar proposal/last name and first initial of person submitting. Example:  Individual proposal/López S. Please assist us by attaching a single document in .PDF, .DOC, or .DOCX format with the following information in exactly the order listed:


For Individual or Group Proposals

  • Paper or Session Title.
  • Name, institutional affiliation, discipline, position or title, and contact information of presenter including email address and phone number (for sessions: list organizer first, then each presenter).
  • Abstract of the rationale and content of the paper or session: up to 250 words for an individual submission; 500 words for a group proposal, giving specifics about what each member will contribute.
  • Brief (2-3 sentence) scholarly biography of each presenter.
  • Describe the format of the session (for group proposals) and give indication of any audiovisual needs or special accommodations.


For Seminars

  • Title of the seminar to which you are applying.
  • Name, institutional affiliation, discipline, position or title, and contact information of presenter including email address and phone number.
  • Abstract of up to 250 words giving a rationale for participation in the seminar and a brief summary of the position paper.
  • Brief (2-3 sentence) scholarly biography.
  • Seminar applicants should list one alternate seminar choice in case their first choice is filled.


Queries may be addressed to All 2014 conference participants must be current members of C19.

C19 Program Committee

Jennifer DeVere Brody, Program Committee Member
Raúl Coronado, Program Committee Member
Teresa Goddu, Program Committee Chair
Eliza Richards, Conference Coordinator
Karen Sanchez-Eppler, C19 Vice President

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