CFP (ALA 2013): Melville's Bibles Beyond Moby-Dick

full name / name of organization: 
Zach Hutchins / Herman Melville Society
contact email: 

With Melville's Bibles (2008), Ilana Pardes rebooted the study of Herman Melville's relationship to religion and the Bible, placing Moby-Dick in the context of contemporary exegetical practices. Her pivotal work situates Melville's most famous novel among "an impressive array of interpretive discourses—from literary renditions of biblical texts to traditional commentaries (among them, Calvin's commentaries and rabbinic lore), Gnostic mythos, popular sermons, political speeches, comparative accounts of religions and mythologies, and biblical encyclopedias" (2). A recent surge of scholarly interest in Clarel—Melville's primary statement on matters of faith and spirituality—foregrounds the need to extend this work of religious contextualization beyond Moby-Dick, and this panel seeks papers that reconsider Melville's engagement with religion in his short fiction, poems, lectures, or other novels. Essays might address questions such as: Do Melville's religious views evolve over time and in response to the emergence of new exegetical tools or texts? How does Melville represent non-Christian religions? What role does genre play in the battle between Darwin's "prosing Science" and Rama's unearthly "verse"?

Papers responding to these or other, related questions are solicited for one of two panels sponsored by the Herman Melville Society at the 2013 meeting of the American Literature Association (May 23-26) in Boston. Please send proposals of up to 300 words and a CV or brief biography to Zach Hutchins ( by January 3, 2013.