Emerson Society at the Thoreau Annual Gathering 2019 CFP

Transcendentalism:  Men and Women Conversing

In a collaborative call from the Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott Societies, we invite proposals for papers to be presented at the next Thoreau Gathering in Concord, MA (July 11-14, 2019) on dialogues between men and women of  the Transcendentalist movement. When Emerson looked back at Transcendentalism, in “Historic Notes of Life and Letters in New England,” he recalled men and women who read adventurously, became friends, formed a club for conversation, and launched a magazine. They were talkers as well as solitaries.  Across the apparent divide of gender, what did they have to talk about?

Papers might closely study an individual dialogue or consider the broader dynamics of two or more writers within or alongside the movement.  All conversation was not face-to-face; instead, in keeping with the Gathering’s 2019 theme, “Nature, Technology, and the Connected Life,” it was also  made possible by the post office that delivered letters, the railroad that enabled travel, and the print industry that opened authorship in books and periodicals.  The following list suggests only some areas of possibility :

  • Mary Moody Emerson’s exchange of letters with Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Mary Moody Emerson’s conversation with Henry David Thoreau, as reported by Thoreau
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson’s exchanges of letters and opinion with Margaret Fuller
  • Fuller editing Thoreau as editor of the Dial
  • Much more on the Dial:  perhaps Caroline or Ellen Sturgis’ poems and their reception, or any dialogues within or between issues
  • Fuller’s social vision in re Orestes Brownson’s or Theodore Parker’s or W.H. Channing’s
  • Fuller’s Conversations, with vs. without male participation
  • Elizabeth Palmer Peabody and Bronson Alcott as educators at the Masonic Temple school
  • Peabody publishing Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” in Aesthetic Papers
  • Thoreau and the women of his family as antislavery activists
  • Interactions across gender at Brook Farm or Fruitlands
  • Louisa May Alcott and her father
  • Louisa May Alcott’s fictional or poetic representations of Emerson and/or Thoreau
  • Lydia Maria Child on the movement from New York:  definitions and satires; her own practical Transcendentalism (urban reform, antislavery , Croton water) vs. Emerson’s or Thoreau’s or ?
  • Fictional refractions of Emersonian thought by Elizabeth Oakes Smith, Mary Gove Nichols, Margaret Sweat, or ?
  • Caroline Dall as sponsor of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Woman” at the 1855 Boston women’s rights convention
  • Acknowledgement of or resistance to Emerson or Thoreau or another male transcendentalist  by your choice of feminist author or activist
  • Dall’s history of the movement in “Transcendentalism in New England” (1895)
  • The gender divide and its overcoming in history or criticism of the Transcendentalist movement

This will be a peer-reviewed panel.  Please send one-page proposals and short c.v.’s to Phyllis Cole (pbc2@psu.edu) or David Greenham  (David.Greenham@uwe.ac.uk) by Nov. 26.  Decisions will be made by Dec. 15.  Inquiries are welcome at any point.

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