2020 C19: Radical Materialisms

deadline for submissions: 
August 28, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Alyosha Edlebi / Cornell University
contact email: 

For most of its history, materialism was, as Althusser aptly phrased it, an “underground” tradition, dissident if not altogether heretical. And yet scholars have recently begun to show how this tradition infuses the thought of canonical figures in the nineteenth century, from Emerson to Thoreau and Melville, and how their once-overlooked engagement with objects and the material effectively subtends their ontologies and political commitments. This proposed panel invites essays that explore radical materialisms in the long nineteenth century, radical in both the sense of intellectually and artistically nonconformist and the sense of politically revolutionary. How do materialists rethink the orthodox ways of relating to objects, things, and bodies? How do they conceive of the capacities of matter as well as its resistance to human access, the limits of thought and representation vis-à-vis objects? What consequences does materialism entail for emancipatory politics? Particularly welcome are papers that take up the work of non-canonical figures in the century or reevaluate canonical ones from a materialist perspective.


The 2020 C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference will be held in Coral Gables, Florida from April 2-5, 2020. Please send 250-word proposals and a short bio to Alyosha Edlebi (ae344@cornell.edu) by August 28.