The C19 conference is again offering seminars that emphasize conversation and interactive dialogue as an alternative to traditional paper and roundtable formats. Seminars will provide participants the opportunity to have a collaborative conversation around a particular topic. Seminars will be capped at 15 participants and will be run by co-facilitators 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 participants will be listed in the program.

Seminars will convene for two hours at the conference. Confirmed participants will pre-circulate 5-page papers to fellow seminar members in advance of the seminar. The due date for the 5-page papers will be determined by seminar leaders; when seminar leaders have requirements that differ from these terms, they will indicate so in their description or in correspondence with participants.

To apply for a seminar, submit a title and an abstract (not to exceed 250 words) of the 5-page paper you propose to pre-circulate to the seminar. Members of the Program Committee and the relevant seminar leaders will select participants from these proposals. Please note that you do not need to submit the 5-page paper itself when applying to the conference.

The submission deadline for seminar applications is September 30, 2017. To apply, please visit


  1. Childhood Teleologies: Climates of Growth
    Seminar Leaders: Anna Mae Duane and Karen Sánchez-Eppler

Childhood is a place where national, racial and scientific arguments coalesce. In childhood, time unfolds as teleology–towards adulthood, towards power, and success. Though, of course, trajectories of development are invariably more fraught and precarious than such naturalizing progress narratives admit. The nineteenth century proved a particularly volatile period for understanding and organizing the individual life cycle. In the process, childhood adhered to new conceptions of the environment, of nation, race, gender, and of time itself. The temporal loops of childhood–recalling the past and projecting the future–express the survival anxieties of the Anthropocene.

For this seminar we seek essays that think about how childhood reframes our approaches to nineteenth-century American teleologies of individual, national, and global time. The seminar will explore tropes of childhood growth and survival, in order to deepen questions about the climate of linear development, as they play out in settler colonialism, as they are rejected in queer time, as they affect disability rights, and predict environmental degradation, to name a just a few possible topics.

Anna Mae Duane is Associate Professor of English at the University of Connecticut. She is the author of Suffering Childhood in Early America: Violence, Race and the Making of the Child Victim (U Georgia, 2010); the editor of The Children’s Table: Childhood Studies and the Humanities (U Georgia, 2013); Child Slavery Before and After Emancipation: An Argument for Child-Centered Slavery Studies (Cambridge 2016), and the co-editor of Who Writes for Black Children?: African American Children’s Literature Before 1900 (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). She is also the co-editor of Common-place: The Journal of Early American Life.

Karen Sánchez-Eppler is L. Stanton Williams 1941 Professor of American Studies and English at Amherst College. She received her PhD from The Johns Hopkins University in 1990. The author of Touching Liberty: Abolition, Feminism and the Politics of the Body (1993) and Dependent States: The Child’s Part in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (2005), she is currently working on two book projects The Unpublished Republic: Manuscript Cultures of the Mid-Nineteenth Century US and In the Archives of Childhood: Playing with the Past. Her scholarship has been supported by grants from the NEH, ACLS, the Newberry Library, the Winterthur Library, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Fulbright Foundation. She is one of the founding co-editors of The Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth and past President of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists.

  1. C19 Environmental Humanities
    Seminar Leaders: Teresa A. Goddu and William Gleason

The Environmental Humanities is a rapidly emerging interdisciplinary field that seeks to apply humanistic thinking (literary, historical, cultural, philosophical, artistic) to urgent environmental questions and concerns. Its approaches are necessarily diverse and its modes of knowledge dissemination are often public and collaborative. Our seminar seeks to establish the project as well as the stakes of doing Environmental Humanities within C19 studies. In short, what is C19 EH? Are there particular methods, materials, motives, or meanings that are foundational to the field? And, perhaps most crucially, how can C19 EH inform and help address the pressing climate concerns of C21? Our goal is to use the seminar as a place to foster the development of C19 EH by both consolidating our understanding of the field’s current forms and identifying promising future trajectories.

To that end, participants are invited to submit a five-page position paper that proposes a single keyword critical for C19 EH that will contribute to the seminar’s broader conversation. Keywords may be either C19 or C21 in origin but your argument should make a case for how your term links the two. Keywords should signal significant issues, methodologies, concepts, texts, genres, or modes of scholarly communication. They can be established or unexpected, settled or contested. Our hope is that, taken as a whole, the proposed keywords will help map the field’s contours, highlight its stakes, and provoke lively debate.

Teresa A. Goddu teaches at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Gothic America: Narrative, History, and Nation (Columbia UP) and Selling Antislavery: U.S. Abolition and the Rise of Mass Media (forthcoming from U of Pennsylvania Press). She is currently developing a research agenda in the environmental humanities centered on contemporary climate fiction. She serves as the organizer for the C19 Environmental Humanities cluster.

William Gleason teaches at Princeton University. He is the author of The Leisure Ethic: Work and Play in American Literature, 1840-1940 (Stanford UP) and Sites Unseen: Architecture, Race, and American Literature (NYU Press), which was named a runner-up for the 2012 John Hope Franklin Prize in American Studies. He is also co-editor of three books, including (with Joni Adamson and David N. Pellow) the 2016 volume Keywords for Environmental Studies (NYU Press).

  1. Pacific Intersections
    Seminar Leaders: Hsuan L. Hsu and Paul Lyons

From the 1820s onward Asians and Pacific Islanders worked and formed communities in the western US and circulated and settled across Oceania. Ships, ports, and work camps functioned as labor-atories of racial formation, connecting race to labor and resource extraction within the expanding networks of missions, garrisons, consulates, and plantations of nascent empires. In examining interrelated Asian and Pacific racial (and gendered) histories within the contexts of settler colonialism and nineteenth-century imperialism, and as articulated with the histories of other groups (Native Americans, Latinos, and African Americans), archipelagic and intersectional approaches might provide alternative genealogies for the “transpacific.”

This seminar aims to trace the geographies of racial capitalism and the “intimacies of four continents” (Lowe) in and across what Damon Salesa terms the Brown Pacific. What archives and methods would do justice to histories of conquest, genocide, displacement, trade, migration, racialization, and cross-racial intimacy so constitutively passed over in accounts of the Pacific as extension of the US frontier or arena for inter-imperial struggles? How can we think “in” as well as “across” the Pacific, juxtaposing nineteenth-century views of the Pacific Ocean as a globalizing element that, in Melville’s words, “zones the whole world’s bulk about,” with decolonizing/decolonial insights from indigenous Pacific scholars? How did Pacific discourses “zone” time as well as space, differentiating populations according to ideas of the primitive, the coeval, and futures utopian and dystopian? How did cultural practices, technologies, biological materials, and ecological understandings move (or not move) across Pacific sites, and how did these intersect with racializing processes? We are particularly interested in projects on Pacific and Trans-Pacific topics that would benefit from feedback emphasizing comparative and/or intersectional methods.

Hsuan L. Hsu is Professor of English at the University of California, Davis and an affiliate of the graduate groups in Cultural Studies and Geography. His publications include Geography and the Production of Space in Nineteenth-Century American Literature (Cambridge 2010), Sitting in Darkness: Mark Twain’s Asia and Comparative Radicalization (NYU 2015), Broadview editions of Sui Sin Far’s Mrs. Spring Fragrance and Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson and Those Extraordinary Twins, and a forthcoming Penguin edition of John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta. He is currently writing a book about atmospheric stratification and olfactory aesthetics.

Paul Lyons is Professor of English at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, and an affiliate member of the Center for Pacific Islands Studies. His publications include a monograph, American Pacifism: Oceania in the U.S. Imagination (Routledge 2006), and a co-edited Special Issue (With Ty P. Kawika Tengan) on Pacific Currents (American Quarterly [2015]), which worked at the junction of Pacific Studies and American Studies.

  1. Expanding Forms: a Writing Workshop
    Seminar Leaders: Sarah Mesle and Sarah Blackwood

What are the environments that our writing, as 19th century Americanists, create? In what environments can our writing thrive? Rather than a content-based seminar, “Expanding Forms” will focus on the practical questions of creating new written modes for our knowledge. Writing in different voices is vital for both academics and the students they teach. The current moment is in many ways structured by political and institutional precarity, but it is also marked by new access to publishing spaces and an eagerness, on the part of many academics, to reach different audiences with their perspectives and expertise. At the same time, the urgencies of this moment mean that scholars have knowledge that general audiences particularly need. This seminar will be a platform for participants to explore writing and publishing content — from short form opinion pieces to longform cultural criticism and even trade monographs — that springs from their specific knowledge base but speaks to broader contexts.

The workshop will focus on moving academic argument into new genres. Applicants should submit two writing samples: 4-5 pages of academic prose/argument and 4-5 pages on the same topic but differently voiced and aimed. Workshop discussion of these precirculated materials will emphasize the strategies the participants employ or might employ in moving between academic and public audiences, specifically thinking about angle, voice, and narrative arc. We will also discuss strategies for including these topics as a part of undergraduate (and graduate) classroom experience: how might our assignments change to reflect the opportunities for circulation outside academia? The academic sample might be a precis or overview of a project, a section of a larger piece (essay or chapter), or a description of an archive or interest. The public writing sample might take many forms; one aim of the seminar will to be draw on our collective skills as readers to help each of us as writers to see our own work differently, and imagine forms for our expertise beyond what we might envisage individually. Most centrally, we aim in this seminar to create a climate marked by collaboration, experiment, and expansiveness.

Sarah Blackwood and Sarah Mesle are the cofounders and editors of the magazine Avidly and NYU short book series Avidly Reads. Both have written for many venues and audiences. Sarah Mesle (USC) is a Senior Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books; Sarah Blackwood (Pace University) is represented by David Black Agency and completing a trade book springing from her column at The Hairpin, “Parenting by the Books.”

  1. Dissonant Archives: The History and Writings of Nineteenth Century Afro-Latinas
    Seminar Leaders: Nancy Raquel Mirabal and Gema Guevara

The objective of this seminar is to design an analytical framework that nuances the reading of race, the aesthetics of beauty, and the multi-vocal heterogeneous Afro-Caribbean / Afro-Latina communities during the nineteenth century when slaves, newly freed slaves and a vibrant urban black/ mulato middle class sought economic mobility and political solidarity. At the same time, it will also examine how Afro-Latinidad was configured within, around, and through nineteenth century definitions of race, which were always in the making. The central question is how nineteenth century Afro-Latinos self-represented rather than how they were represented in contemporary texts. This in turn raises the problematics of the paucity of formal archives.

Employing Michel Rolph Trouillot’s oft-cited notion of an “unthinkable history” and the need to theorize the active productions of silences and their uses, this seminar’s primary concern is to theorize the meaning of “archive,” to dissemble its uses, and to expand archival logic, narrative and memory by including other forms of sources such as print and visual media. This seminar will employ an integrative approach using photography, digital humanities, literary histories, and historical documentation to accommodate the broad Afro-Latinx experience of the nineteenth century.

Nancy Raquel Mirabal is Associate Professor of American Studies and Director of the U.S. Latina/o Studies. She has published widely in the field of Afro-diasporic studies and is author of Suspect Freedoms: The Racial and Sexual Politics of Cubanidad in New York, 1823-1957 (NYU Press, 2017). She is also a co-editor with Deborah Vargas and Larry LaFountain Stokes, of Keywords in Latina/o Studies (NYU Press, 2018). Her next project examines the politics of archival spaces, dissonant discourses, and spatial inquiry

Gema Guevara is an Associate Professor of Latin American and Caribbean Literature at the University of Utah. Her publications include articles on nineteenth Cuban nationalism, race and gender formation, Afro-Cuban music, and U.S. diasporic studies. Guevara works primarily with hybrid texts to recuperate the gendered and racialized discourses that promoted mestizaje, mulatez and whitening. She is completing her book manuscript, The Sound and Silence of Race: Contesting Cuba’s Racial Project from the 1830s -1920s. Guevara’s broader research interests include contemporary popular culture, diaspora and immigration in US Latina / Latino Studies and Afro-Caribbean music.

  1. Performing Citizenship in Hostile Climates
    Seminar Leader: Koritha Mitchell

By voting for Donald Trump, 63 million Americans communicated their belief that successful women and people of color had forgotten their “proper” place. His election (and the attending hate crimes) joined a long-standing tradition of what I call know-your-place aggression, whereby the success of marginalized groups inspires aggression as often as praise. Whenever those who are not straight, white, and male see themselves as citizens and behave accordingly, they encounter a backlash of violence—both literal and symbolic, both physical and discursive. Violence shapes American citizenship.

As Performance Studies has become more influential, critics understand that performance is not simply about make-believe or fabrication; it has material consequences and solidifies identities. Scholars must combine this awareness with a willingness to grapple with the fact that violence is productive, not simply destructive. It produces circumstances that reward some and punish others. Also important: performances can both affirm identities and negate them. When others’ performances violently deny one’s citizenship, for example, it is difficult to avoid receiving the message, which is designed to affect how one moves in the world.

This seminar will explore the benefits and challenges that emerge when scholars committed to the long nineteenth century think violence and performance together. How have violence and performance shaped the experiences of marginalized groups? People who were women and/or of color? People who were not Christian? People who were not straight and/or whose minds and bodies were not considered normal? How did the performances of marginalized figures empower them to survive and sometimes thrive? How did they show awareness of the death-dealing power of other people’s performances? Also, how have violence and performance shaped the experiences of those with the unearned advantage of resembling the archetypal citizen?

Koritha Mitchell is an associate professor of English at Ohio State University who specializes in African American literature, racial violence throughout U.S. literature and contemporary culture, and black drama & performance. She examines how texts, both written and performed, have helped terrorized families and communities survive and thrive. Her 2011 study Living with Lynching: African American Lynching Plays, Performance, and Citizenship, 1890 – 1930 won book awards from the American Theatre & Drama Society and from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Mitchell’s articles include “James Baldwin, Performance Theorist, Sings the Blues for Mister Charlie” (American Quarterly) and “Love in Action,” which draws parallels between lynching and anti-LGBT violence (Callaloo). She is currently revising her book manuscript “From Slave Cabins to the White House: Homemade Citizenship in African American Culture,” and she is editor of the forthcoming Broadview Edition of Frances Harper’s 1892 novel Iola Leroy.

  1. In/Civility
    Seminar Leaders: Tavia Nyong’o and Kyla Wazana Tompkins

This seminar invites participants interested in the relationship between violence and civility in any aspect of hemispheric American and U.S. culture, politics, history and literature during the long nineteenth century. As scholars of performance, literature, and politics with a particular interest in the histories and futures of race and sexuality we are interested both in the violence that civility produces as well as the violence and the incivility it claims to suppress. We particularly welcome scholarship and archival projects that examine the aesthetic and political technologies through which discourses of civility and their attendant violences produce, reproduce and transform citizenship categories. In defining civility broadly we would also like to explore cognate terms like class, respectability, reasonableness, dissent, politeness, rudeness, crudeness, sex, deviance, civilization, and civics as they pertain to both political and cultural life. In short, this seminar examines civility across multiple scales of politico-aesthetic analysis from the legislative and juridical to the lives of performance and literature to the everyday. We are also interested in critical engagements with concepts of wildness and the wild that transect discourses of progress, civility, and violence. The gesture to performance, and the broad sense of scale in this call for participants is meant to signal a desire to think together about interdisciplinary archival and critical practices. We welcome scholars working in minoritarian and under-utilized archives, as well as work that rethinks the relationship between archives and cultural memory.

Participants are asked to submit a five-page paper, of no more than 1600 words including notes and bibliography, to be shared with all seminar participants, as well as one very short or extracted primary document of no more than five additional pages (this document can be as short as a single page).

Tavia Nyong’o is Professor of African American Studies, American Studies, and Theater Studies at Yale University. He works on the visual, musical, and performative dimensions of race, gender, and sexuality, from the nineteenth century to the present. His first book, The Amalgamation Waltz: Race, Performance, and the Ruses of Memory(Minnesota, 2009), won the Errol Hill Award for best book in African American theatre and performance studies. He is completing a study of fabulation in black aesthetics and embarking on another on queer logics of sense. Nyong’o has published in venues such as Radical History Review, Criticism, GLQ, TDR, Women & Performance, WSQ, The Nation, Triple Canopy, The New Inquiry, and n+1. He is co-editor of the journal Social Text and the Sexual Cultures book series at New York University press. He regularly blogs at Bully Bloggers.

Kyla Wazana Tompkins is an Associate Professor at Pomona College, joint appointed to the Program in Gender and Women’s Studies and the Department of English. She was also chair of Gender and Women’s Studies for seven years. She received her PhD in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford University. Her scholarly writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Women and Performance, American Quarterly, J19: The Journal of Nineteenth Century Americanists, Lateral: The Journal of the Cultural Studies Association, as well as Social Text, Lateral and ASAP/Journal. Her first book, Racial Indigestion: Eating Bodies in the Nineteenth Century won the Lora Romero first book award of the American Studies Association in 2013. She has written for Avidly, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books, for Bully Bloggers and has also reviewed books for the New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books. In the spring of 2016, Kyla was the co-editor of a special double issue of GLQ: Gay and Lesbian Quarterly entitled On The Visceral. She is on the Board of J19 and the Southern Foodways Alliance.

  1. Feminist Critical Regionalism and the Climate of Western Literary Studies
    Seminar Leaders: Jennifer S. Tuttle and Jean Pfaelzer

This seminar takes up Krista Comer’s call to advance feminist critical regionalism in studies of the US West, a region invoked here as a material and discursive construct. Recent scholarship by Susan Kollin, Neil Campbell, Chadwick Allen, José Limón, and others on the shifting signifier of the West has powerfully reconceptualized the region as fluidly postwestern, boundlessly rhizomatic, globally trans-indigenous, and deeply local. These reframings of the field are vital, yet Comer observes that “we grapple still as critics” with neglected feminist and decolonial concerns regarding the politics of space, mobility, and flow—“with the fact of immobilities, uneven development, frictions. Who moves when, [and] under what conditions?” (p. 9). This seminar invites papers that use the conference theme of “climate” in innovative ways to navigate paradoxes of mobility and space in intersectional feminist studies of the US West.

How, for example, might reconceiving the West as a wind-blown zone of circulation, stasis, transfer, and exchange within the larger Pacific world recover and resituate women’s agency, further illuminate queer and gender-innovative creative expression in and about the region, and provide interpretive access to the lives and voices of women heretofore overlooked in 19th-century western literary studies, especially indigenous, African American, Chinese American, Chicana, Latina, LGBTQ, and working-class women? Polar Easterlies and equatorial Trade Winds blow from east to west across North America and the Pacific; in the latitudes between them, Westerlies follow a reverse course, roaring from west to east. On the crests of these winds and in their zones of convergence, concurrent and competing agendas have been pursued. As metaphors these winds may inspire new ways of approaching women’s lives and texts in the West of the long 19th century–as a gateway to and a space within the imperial Pacific; a nexus of human trafficking and trade; a site of captivity, exclusion, and transgression; an oceanic zone of Native survivance; or an unmoving, persistent Aztlán. Participants may work within the metaphor of wind or consider other approaches to illuminating western women’s cultural production, but we especially encourage those who engage with the theme of climate.

(Krista Comer, “Thinking Otherwise across Global Wests: Issues of Mobility and Feminist Critical Regionalism,” Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities, vol. 10, 2016.

Jennifer S. Tuttle is Dorothy M. Healy Professor of Literature and Health at the University of New England, where she directs the Maine Women Writers Collection and co-founded the Women’s and Gender Studies program; in 2017 she completed a term as editor of Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers. She is editor of the first recovered edition of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s 1911 western The Crux (2002) and co-editor of Charlotte Perkins Gilman: New Texts, New Contexts (2011, with Carol Farley Kessler) and The Selected Letters of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (2009, with Denise D. Knight). Her published essays on Gilman, María Amparo Ruiz de Burton, and Owen Wister explore intersections among gender, medical discourse, and western literary studies. She is currently working on a book about American nervousness in women’s writing of California and the imperial Pacific.

Jean Pfaelzer is Professor of English, Asian Studies, and Women and Gender Studies at the University of Delaware. She is the author of California Bound: The History of Slavery in the American West (2018); Driven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans (2007); Parlor Radical: Rebecca Harding Davis & the Origins of American Social Realism (1996); and The Utopian Novel in America (1984) and editor of The Rebecca Harding Davis Reader (1995). Among her forthcoming books is Muted Mutinies: Slave Revolts on Chinese Coolie Ships. Jean recently helped to curate I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story for the Smithsonian Museum of American History. She appears in two PBS specials airing this year: “1882” and a PBS/CCBS special on Chinese immigration. In 2015 she was featured on CSPAN3’s “African American Slavery and the Underground Railroad in California.”

  1. Indigenous Textualities: Native Americans, Writing, and Representation
    Seminar Leader: Hilary E. Wyss

From tattooing to pictographs to pen and ink textual productions, Native Americans have been producing their own stories since long before contact. Recent scholarship has celebrated the range of indigenous expression, arguing that we need more effective strategies for reading and engaging with indigenous texts. Whether reading English-language documents, those shaped and defined by indigenous writing systems such as the Cherokee syllabary, or even understanding the nature and meaning of tattoos and other pictograph signs, modern scholars have pushed against the limitations of traditional academic definitions of literacy, education, genre, and form, acknowledging the inadequacy of such terms in fully engaging with Native structures of meaning and expression. This methodology instead calls for scholarly collaboration with contemporary Native communities in shaping their representation, whether that be in the form of digital archives or literary and/or historical studies.

This seminar welcomes proposals that engage with indigenous literacies broadly defined. Together we can consider whether today’s climate is indeed conducive to the kind of community engagement that such scholarship calls for. When Standing Rock and NoDAPL are so recently in the news, what is the role of scholars of nineteenth-century indigenous writing and representation? What are the perils and promise of this kind of work, and how might we usefully collaborate with each other on projects and approaches that will define and shape the field in the years to come?

Hilary Wyss is the Allan K. Smith and Gwendolyn Miles Smith Professor of English at Trinity College, where she teaches classes in Native American studies and early American literature. She is the author of English Letters and Indian Literacies: Reading, Writing, and New England Missionary Schools, 1750-1830 (2012); Writing Indians: Literacy, Christianity, and Native Community in Early America (2000), and with Kristina Bross, Early Native Literacies in New England: a Documentary and Critical Anthology (2008). She served as President of the Society of Early Americanists from 2011-13.

To submit a proposal for the 2018 conference, go to Submissions are due by September 15, 2017.