Aesthetic Narration in Nineteenth-Century America (3/01/10; MLA '11)

full name / name of organization: 
Dan Colson
contact email: 

CFP: "Aesthetic Narration in Nineteenth-Century America"

In 1849, Elizabeth Peabody writes in her Aesthetic Papers that the "'aesthetic element' in our view neither a theory of the beautiful, nor a philosophy of art, but a component and indivisible part in all human creations." Thus implicated in the everyday landscape of nineteenth-century American lives and in their "human creations," Peabody's definition of the "aesthetic element" becomes a crucial part in understanding how nineteenth-century Americans narrated their lives. Following both Peabody's definition and the more recent trend to emphasize the aesthetic's position not as an idealized theory or philosophy somehow separate from the world that creates it but as an aesthetic "experience" rooted in material reality, this panel explores the use of aesthetic "experience" in the narration of nineteenth-century American lives.

The Graduate Student Caucus, an affiliate organization of the MLA, invites papers from graduate students that seek to explore the connections between aesthetic production and narration. Such papers could consider the wider meanings of aesthetic "experience," asking, for example, how narration changes with readership or with performance. We especially encourage submissions that examine interdisciplinary aesthetic forms, aesthetic texts that have been re-narrated (in parodies, adaptations, etc), or texts that seek alternative forms of narration. Some questions you may consider include, but are not limited to, the following: How do nineteenth-century American texts address the role of narration? How is the aesthetic used to narrate American lives and/or bodies? How does the aesthetic narrate class, gender, or racial differences? How are various aesthetic forms limited in their attempts to narrate these stories?

Presentations should be around fifteen minutes in length. Please submit an abstract of 300 to 500 words by March 1st to with "Aesthetic Narration Panel Submission" in the subject heading.

For further information please contact:
Dan Colson
Department of English
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign