01/05/2019 – call for papers BrANCA 4th symposium: “Scaling the Nineteenth Century”

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What, when & where

BrANCA 4th Biennial Symposium: Scaling the Nineteenth Century

Monday 16th – Tuesday 17th December 2019

Nottingham Trent University / University of Nottingham

BrANCA: The British Association of Nineteenth Century Americanists seeks proposals to its fourth biennial symposium on the theme of “Scaling the Nineteenth Century,” which will take place 16th-17th December 2019 at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham, UK. We invite individual or group proposals on all aspects of U.S. literature and culture during the long nineteenth century (comparative approaches are particularly welcome).

Reflecting on Wai Chee Dimock’s influential analysis of literature’s relationship to “deep time” in a 2013 issue of Critical Inquiry, Mark McGurl noted that Dimock’s work, like his own ongoing project on “the posthuman comedy,” was a sign of “the appearance of the problem of scale in modern literary history.” For both McGurl and Dimock the prompt for this new alertness to scale is the turn to the Anthropocene, with its recasting of human culture as part of much vaster realm of geological and climatological processes. But over the past decade there have been many other spurs for many other literary scholars to address many other problems of scale: from the challenges presented by digitization’s expansion of the accessible archive, to the re-conceptualizations demanded by a move away from the region and the nation to the Atlantic and the Oceanic, to the controversies engendered by the contest between old and new hermeneutical dispositions such as symptomatic and surface reading. Meanwhile, whatever side they have taken in these debates, all literary scholars in universities have been exposed to the growing dominance of scale, as neoliberal metrics continue to infiltrate teaching, research and administration.

These questions and concerns are not restricted to one period or one location, but nonetheless nineteenth-century America is a particularly productive time and place to take the measure of the “problem of scale.” The U.S. in the long nineteenth century was a key node, for example, in: the social, political and economic networks that fuelled industrialism’s growing dominance over nature; the growth of print and other communicative technologies into mass media; the rise of modern imperialism; the ascendance of secular hermeneutics; and the expansion of schooling to the general population. Moreover, America’s writers were often peculiarly attuned to the complexities of scale. The work of Dickinson, Melville, Emerson, Whitman and many others moved fluently between the local and the global, the land and the sea, the human and the cosmic.

We invite papers on all these sites, and everywhere in between. Topics might include but are not limited to the scales of relationship between:

Nature and Culture
Long and Short Temporalities
Distant and Close Reading
Depth and Surface Reading
Archive and Text
Nation and Hemisphere
Pedagogical Theory and Practice
Text and Market
Individual and State
Metropole and Province
Populations and Generations
Human and Non-Human

Deadline & how to apply

250 word proposals for individual 20-minute presentations (including a provisional title and brief biography), 1000 word proposals for pre-organized panel or roundtable sessions, and all general queries should be sent to Dr. Stephanie Palmer at stephanie.palmer@ntu.ac.uk and Dr. Matthew Pethers at matthew.pethers@nottingham.ac.uk by Wednesday 1st May 2019.

More information about the symposium and BrANCA and its activities can be found via http://www.branca.org.uk/symposium19.html

Other info, Links & conditions

More information about the symposium and BrANCA and its activities can be found via http://www.branca.org.uk/symposium19.html

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