SAMLA - Hawthorne Society (4-6 Nov. 2011)

full name / name of organization: 
Hawthorne Society / South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)

In the American Notebooks (1841), Hawthorne writes, "If we would know what heaven is before we come thither, let us retire into the depths of our own spirits, and we shall find it there among holy thoughts and feelings." And in the following year (1842), he notes, "This dull river has a deep religion of its own; so, let us trust, has the dullest human soul, though, perhaps, unconsciously." Hawthorne thus shares sentiments with his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, when Emerson notes in his quintessential American Romantic essay, "The Poet," that all of us are poets and mystics. Accordingly, says Emerson, it is the poet's task "to awaken the sleepers who do not see that all creation, down to the most quotidian, participates in beauty and divinity." And he adds, "When the poet sings, the world listens with the assurance that now a secret of God is to be spoken." In such an Emersonian sense, Nathanial Hawthorne is one of America's nineteenth-century key "poets" who sings forth beauty, divinity, and the secret of God in his short stories. Our panel invites Hawthornian scholars to explore those messages of beauty, divinity, and the secrets of God as discovered and revealed throughout Hawthorne's short stories. How, for example, do his short story protagonists, including his minor characters, exemplify Hawthorne's aesthetics? His understanding of spirituality? His portrayal of human nature by his highlighting humanity's divine or transcendental nature? And what is Hawthorne's message to and for our modern world? In other words, what "song" or "songs" do Hawthorne's short stories sing to us, we who live and breathe and move in a technological, fast-paced, interconnected society, yet more frequently than not remain as fragmented, buffeted individuals? By May 30, 2011, please send abstracts to Charles E. Bressler, Indiana Wesleyan University, at