ACLA 2010 - Diverse Materials: Reimagining Things in Nineteenth-Century Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Erich Werner, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
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[ ABOUT ACLA 2010 ]
The American Comparative Literature Association's 2010 Annual Meeting will take place in New Orleans, Louisiana, on April 1-4, 2010 (Thursday evening through Sunday noon).

Led by theorists like Jules Prown, Elaine Freedgood, and Bill Brown, the emergence of material culture as a thriving scholarly field has energized many literary critics, inspiring them to ask new and provocative questions about the "things" that populate literary texts. This seminar will be an inquiry into how such questions might enrich our study of nineteenth century literature(s), a period when diverse, transnational phenomena like the rise of consumer culture, debates about slavery and the slave trade, realist and naturalist literary movements, and so on, reconfigured and reimagined relationships between persons and things, subjects and objects.

What can we discover hidden among the objects that furnish (some might say, clutter) the pages of nineteenth century literature? What connections can we find between seemingly disparate literary texts and traditions, countries and continents? What historical, economic, and cultural backgrounds reveal themselves only with a closer inspection of the furnishings and knickknacks, tools and textiles that pass, however fleetingly, through literary texts?

In keeping with the conference theme, the seminar will pay special attention to the creole and the cosmopolitan. Above all, we are looking for proposals that consider "hybrid" things and their mixed origins, meanings, and uses. This means we'll confront the imported and the exported, the exotic and the domestic(ated), the regional, the national, and the transnational--asking all the while how things, texts, and cultures mutually interweave.

**Important note: All paper proposals must be submitted on the ACLA conference website, located at Just select the "Diverse Materials" seminar from the menu accessible from the submission page and your abstract will go directly to the conference organizer. **

If you have any questions prior to submitting your abstract, please don't hesitate to contact the seminar co-chairs, Erich Werner ( and Joanna Lackey (