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20th Century Sentimentalism, NeMLA, April 7-10, 2011
full name / name of organization:
Jenn Williamson / Northeast Modern Language Association
This panel invites papers examining uses of sentimentality in American literature spanning the twentieth century. Papers are encouraged that consider the ways 19th century conceptions of sentimentalism and the Culture of Sentiment have been transformed in the 20th century. Through lessons in “feeling right,” the 19th century sentimental novel often upheld white patriarchal power by teaching women to maintain familial relationships, sexual purity, religious piety, and strict rules of social decorum. Yet these novels also subverted existing power structures by arguing for women’s individual legitimacy and placing them, and the domestic realm, at the center of the new social order they promoted. As African American men and women began to appropriate sentimental tropes and the sentimental novel form, such authors argued for their own humanity and alignment with social norms, but they also examined the ways in which sentimentalism marginalized African American identities by excluding them from class and racial ideologies that promote white dominance. In what ways do 20th century authors strategically deploy modes of sentimentality in their writings? Do writers in the 20th century recognize the political efficacy of sentimental writing? How do 20th century cultural trends or critical understandings regarding gender, race, and class alter portrayals of sentimentality?
Please send 250-500 word abstracts, along with a brief CV, to Jenn Williamson (firstname.lastname@example.org) by September 30.
Please include with your abstract:
Name and Affiliation
Interested participants may submit abstracts to more than one NeMLA session; however, panelists can only present one paper (panel or seminar). Convention participants may present a paper at a panel and also present at a creative session or participate in a roundtable. Please do not accept a slot if you may cancel to present on another session.