CFP: [Graduate] Seminar on Interpreting the Shifting Texts of Dickinson and/or Whitman

full name / name of organization: 
Michael Gouin-hart
contact email: 

Call for Papers
Fourteenth Annual ALSC Conference
October 24-26, 2008
Sheraton Society Hill Hotel
Featuring a conversation with Jhumpa Lahiri,
Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author of Interpreter of Maladies (2000)

August 11, 2008

The Association of Literary Scholars and Critics (ALSC) invites papers for
its seminar on “Interpreting the Shifting Texts of Dickinson and/or
Whitman,” which is part of this year’s ALSC conference program.

Additional prospective members and current members alike are encouraged to
apply. Please see below for details.

Submission form and deadline. Submissions must reach us by September 12.
They should be sent to the Association’s office at On your
e-mail’s “subject” line, please give your name and other information in the
following form: “ALSC 2008, Dickinson/Whitman abstract by [First Name, Last
Name].” For details regarding submission length, please refer to the
individual instructions for each session.

• You must be a member of the ALSC in good standing to participate. ALSC
members receive a discount on conference registration.

• For more details about the conference program and information about how
to join the ALSC, visit our Website at

General Description of the Seminar Program
ALSC Conference Seminars have been part of our program since 2004. They
were inspired by the successful models of organizations such as the
Shakespeare Association of America and the Modernist Studies Association.
Seminar participants write brief position papers (2-4 pages maximum,
double-spaced) and share them with their fellow participants in advance of
the meeting, using a secure Webpage maintained by ALSC. Conveners often use
these pages to post prompting questions, to frame the discussion in
advance, and to provide a flexible mode of communication for their groups.
Each seminar features between ten and fifteen papers.

Paper titles and authors are listed in the conference program and on the
ALSC’s conference page. This often helps academic participants to obtain
travel funding from their home institutions. However, we do offer a limited
number of travel stipends, as well. The average award is $250, but
individual funding varies depending upon program demand and distance to be
traveled. Details of this program are available at
Senior scholars are eligible to apply for these seminars, but graduate
students and junior faculty especially are encouraged to do so. Seminars
run concurrently. Those admitted as participants in each seminar will
participate in the actual discussion, but all conferees are welcome to
attend one of the seminars as an auditor. Seating is limited however, as
the sessions are scheduled in smaller breakout rooms. Prospective auditors
are encouraged to arrive early.

Seminar One: Interpreting the Shifting Texts of Dickinson and/or Whitman
Saturday, October 25, 2008
8:30 â€" 10:15 a.m.
Convener: Don Share (Poetry Magazine)

Otherwise so different, Dickinson and Whitman have in common the fact that
their textual histories are complicated. Editorial controversies create
occasions for interpretation.

In Dickinson’s case, there are the variant versions, the unfinished poems,
the poems embedded in letters and so altered to suit the recipient,
versions blurring the distinction between verse and prose, the
idiosyncratic spelling and punctuation, and the fact that she did not
oversee her publication.

In Whitman there is the shifting ground of six editions of Leaves of Grass,
all supervised by the author, and involving revisions, omissions,
innovations of format (such as tables of contents and the grouping of poems
into sections), and the adding and dropping of titles.

What interpretive insights can be gleaned from these textual complications,
in the case of either poet or (where possible) both? Does it mean anything
about American poetry that the texts of its two foundational poets are so
unstable? What happens in the classroom when you make your students aware
of the textual controversies (or do you have reasons for concealing them)?
Do the conventions of nineteenth century print culture cast light on

Please send half-page abstracts or short papers (2-4 pages) as Word
attachments to The deadline is Friday, September 12, 2008.
All perspectives welcome; we hope to include participants who have lots of
experience in editing these poets as well as participants who have none.

Michael Gouin-Hart
Executive Director
Association of Literary Scholars and Critics (ALSC)
650 Beacon Street, Suite 510
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Phone: 617-358-1990 / Fax: 617-358-1995
Email: / Internet:

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Received on Tue Aug 12 2008 - 07:50:16 EDT