full name / name of organization:
Call for Papers
Panel Title: Women’s Poetry and the Firesides
38th Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
March 1-4, 2007
This panel seeks papers that explore the relationship between nineteenth-century women poets and the Fireside poets (or other popular but now non-canonical male poets). I’m particularly interested in papers that explore the way male poets responded to the successes of women poets. Please send a 300-word abstract to higgins_andrew_at_yahoo.com by Sept 15, 2006.
Deadline: September 15, 2006
Abstract of the Panel:
The goal of this panel is to draw on the research being done in nineteenth-century women’s poetry to illuminate the work of the Fireside poets. Over the past 15 years, some of the richest scholarship in nineteenth-century American literature has been done on women’s poetry. Cheryl Walker, Paula Bennett, Mary Loeffelholz, Elizabeth Petrino, and others have greatly broadened our understanding of 19th-century poetry as a whole. Interestingly, though, the male nineteenth-century poets who were popular, poets such as Whittier, Longfellow, and Holmes – the Fireside Poets – have received relatively little scholarly attention over the past half century. Yet in simple terms of books sold and general reputation, the Fireside Poets occupied a central position in nineteenth-century American poetry, and any understanding of nineteenth-century American poetry must take them into account. The premise of this panel is that one very profitable way of understanding the
Fireside poets and how they functioned in the nineteenth century is through the scholarship on women’s poetry. Many of the conventions and features of women’s poetry – the use of the sentimental aesthetic, the use of traditional poetic forms, the rejection of the individualist romantic aesthetic, the prevalence of occasional verse, the view of poetry as a form of political rhetoric – can also be found in the Firesides. And many of the reasons given for drumming the Firesides out of the canon and the anthologies are the same as those given for keeping women poets out all along. But what, precisely, is the relationship between these poets? The assumption (mostly unexplored) has seemed to be that women poets were responding to male poets. In some cases, such as Phoebe Cary’s parodies of Longfellow or Celia Thaxter’s relationship with Whittier, this was certainly true. But it’s also possible that these male poets, acutely aware of the poetic marketplace and
women’s success in it (witness, for example, Longfellow’s denigration of poetesses in Kavanagh) were quietly responding to popular women poets. Lydia Huntley Sigourney, for example, prefigures the work of Longfellow in some intriguing ways. And though he does not explore connections between Longfellow and specific women writers, Eric L. Haralson has suggested that Longfellow’s popular success was in large part due to his ability to clothe a largely feminine psychology in an otherwise masculine discourse. Looking at these connections can help fill a major gap in our understanding of the place and function of poetry in nineteenth-century American culture.
SUNY New Paltz
I'm moving from one position to another. Beginning in August I can receive mail at:
SUNY New Paltz
75 South Manheim Blvd
New Paltz, NY 12561
For the complete Call for Papers for the 2007 Convention, please visit: www.nemla.org.
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA panel; however panelists can only present one paper. Convention participants may present at a paper session panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable.
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or write Jennifer Higginbotham: higginbj_at_english.upenn.edu
Received on Sat May 27 2006 - 13:27:11 EDT