UPDATE: [American] Stowe Society-deadline extended! (1/25/08; ALA 5/22-5/25/08)

full name / name of organization: 
Ryan C. Cordell
contact email: 

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Society will be sponsoring two panels at the upcoming American
Literature Association (ALA) Conference, held May 22-25, 2008 in San Francisco. More
information about the conference is available here:

More information about the Harriet Beecher Stowe Society and our panels is available here:

"Harriet Beecher Stowe and 19th Century Religious Communities"
     The Harriet Beecher Stowe Society invites papers that explore intersections between Stowe’s
life or works and the activities, ideals, domestic re-imaginings, philosophies, etc. of nineteenth
century religious communities. Much work has been done on the family as a site of private
emotional training or as an alternative space to the public sphere, but where do communities
such as Utopian communities, the Shakers, local church congregations, or even traveling
revivalists fit into our understanding of gender, of concepts of public and private, or of relational
possibilities in the nineteenth century? Does Stowe have consistent responses to religious
communities as extended families or alternatives to the family? Does she differentiate between
certain religious communities, such as the Quakers involved in abolitionist work, and others? Do
religious meetings constitute communities, or are they ephemeral gatherings of individuals?
How does she give voice to such “communities” â€" does she prefer to use techniques that display
multiple voices or a single voice and why? Are religious communities reflective of prevailing
views of gender and/or race or do they provide spaces in which to experiment with prevailing
views of national identity? These are only suggestions of possible directions in which to take this
call. Send 400-500 word abstracts by e-mail attachment to Lisa West at lisa.west_at_drake.edu
by January 25, 2008.

"Grieving Parents, Mourning Siblings in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Life and Writings"
     In an 1852 letter to Eliza Cabot Follen, Stowe suggests connections between her experiences
as a grieving mother and her investment in writing Uncle Tom’s Cabin. “…I have been the
mother of seven children, the most beautiful and most loved of whom lies near my Cincinnati
residence. It was at his dying bed and at his grave that I learned what a poor slave mother may
feel when her child is torn away from her. In those depths of sorrow which seemed to me
immeasurable, it was my only prayer to God that such anguish might not be suffered in vain.
There were circumstances about his death of such peculiar bitterness, or what seemed almost
cruel suffering that I felt I could never be consoled for it unless this crushing of my own heart
might enable me to work out some great good to others.” What are possible ways to interpret her
writing here about her own grief and its translation into empathy for the slave mother (and into
her novel), other than to simply take them at face value?
     The Harriet Beecher Stowe Society invites papers that explore families in mourning in Stowe’s
novels, essays, letters and other writings. This panel provides the opportunity to turn from the
powerful sentimental model of Little Eva and look instead at theoretical and cultural implications
for those real and fictional parents left behind: the effect of grief on character, the performance
of rituals, the process of moving through grief (including grief and depression), the possibility
that grief can be transformative, substitutions or reminders of a lost child, the role of writing in
the process of grief (epitaphs, commonplace books, letters and the insufficiency of writing to end
grief, etc. Possible questions to consider include: Is there overlap between descriptions of
parental grief and elements of tragedy? What literary forms are appropriate to convey grief as a
personal experience as opposed to a literary convention? How do descriptions of grieving
families suggest boundaries between family, friend and outsider? Is parental grief written about
as a universal experience that transcends history and race or is it embedded in thie text as
culturally specific? Are there differences in Stowe’s writing about parental grief before and after
the Civil War? Send 400-500 word abstracts by e-mail attachment to Lisa West at
lisa.west_at_drake.edu by January 25, 2008.

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Received on Thu Jan 17 2008 - 21:58:26 EST