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American Writers During Their Twilight Years: "Final" Works from
America's First Three Generations
This collection of essays will focus on the "final" or â€œlateâ€ works of
important American authorsâ€”authors whose major works were written in the
nineteenth century or the early twentieth century and whose life spans
and literary careers were long enough for the writers to have lived
through, at least, two major literary movements. The writers who
published in the twentieth century will be limited to authors who grew
up, from birth to early adulthood, in the nineteenth century.
*The collection will begin with the late works of authors like Washington
Irving and James Fenimore Cooper, who passed away in the 1850s, and will
end with late works by authors born in the 1860s and 1870s, like Edith
Wharton or Theodore Dreiser. The middle of the collection will include
final works by authors whose careers began and ended in the nineteenth
century. The collection will cover three generations of American
writers. The collection will focus on major authors who continued
writing into old age and had achieved a level of fame.
*A study of the final works of American writers offers a way of viewing
American literary history from the antebellum and post-bellum nineteenth
century, through the early twentieth century, in the purview of a "long
nineteenth century" approach of literary study. The study will include
final works, from the late 1840s, on one end of the spectrum, to the late
1930s, on the other.
*With rare exceptions, the final works of authors are often neglected by
scholars in favor of masterpieces of an author's early and middle
career. However, final works, in their subject matter and style, as well
as in their strengths and failings, provide unique insights into authors'
views on their careers, on mortality itself, on spirituality, and on the
direction of the nation as a whole. Final works offer important
knowledge aboutâ€”and are often material evidence forâ€”how authors dealt
with old age. In addition, final works give readers a sense of how
authors responded to profound changes in literary/artistic movements, new
technological advances, and major historical events over the course of
their lifetimes. Finally, such a study would enable dynamic discussions
of literary influence, in terms of how the writers in question responded
to new influences, and how they saw how their own work had influenced
other artists in the younger generation.
*Contributors for this collection will have to define what the "final
work" or â€œlast workâ€ is for a particular author: is the final work
defined as the final work published in the author's lifetime?; should it
be defined as the author's last new creative work as opposed to his or
her last publication, which may have been a revision of earlier
unpublished material?; is the final work the manuscript that the writer
was working on just before death, and which has been published
posthumously? How a scholar identifies a "final work" or â€œlast workâ€
depends on how one answers the above questions for a particular writer.
It can be difficult to identify what an author's final work is, and the
collection will be predicated on this recognition.
*Authors under Discussion: There are many possible authors that could be
included in such a collection. In addition to the authors already named,
like Cooper and Irving, essays in the collection might consider final
works by John Greenleaf Whittier, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William Wadsworth
Longfellow, Frederick Douglass, Louisa May Alcott, Susan Warner, Sara
Willis Parton, William Dean Howells, and Henry James. We are interested
in fiction and non-fiction, as well as works of poetry. Currently, we
have solicited essays on Rebecca Harding Davis, Sarah Orne Jewett, and
*Timeline: Please send a 250 - 350 word abstracts for proposed essays
(5,000 â€“ 7,000 words in length) and an updated CV by December 20, 2008.
Attachment files should be in Microsoft Word format. We will reply to all
abstracts in January 2009. Selected essays, 5,000 â€“ 7,000 words in MLA
format, will be due by Monday, June 15, 2009.
We will submit an initial prospectus, with a chapter outline, to
publishers in January and February 2009, to be followed by manuscript
submissions in summer 2009. We intend to set up panels on this topic at
one or more major national conferences in 2009 and 2010 to market the
project further. Of course, conference participation will be optional.
Please send inquiries and abstracts by e-mail to:
Address e-mails to co-editors:
Dr. Jeffrey Hotz
Assistant Professor of English
East Stroudsburg University
Dr. Brian Flota
Visiting Assistant Professor of English
Oklahoma State University
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Received on Sat Oct 04 2008 - 10:47:14 EDT