CFP: Hotel in 19th-Century Literature and Culture, edited collection

full name / name of organization: 
Monika Elbert

Hotels and Inns in Britain and in the United States in the Long Nineteenth Century

We invite submissions for a collection of essays on the hotel in literary works, in journals and correspondences, in travelogues, or in other texts written or published during the long nineteenth century. Our predominant focus is on literary and cultural studies.

We want to concentrate on the long nineteenth century. Inns offering a bed and food to the weary traveler have existed since antiquity, yet textual accounts of the hotel or the inn as a space in which travelers from various social, regional, or national backgrounds, men and women, the old and the young, met and mingled became central to the traveling experience as a locus of self-discovery and self-assertion or of alienation and instability from the mid-eighteenth century onwards. In the long nineteenth century, traveling was facilitated by technical innovations (improved roads, railways), international and especially transatlantic travel became more frequent, and at the end of the century, an increased awareness of types of accommodation existed. The kinds of guesthouses one could stay in had become more differentiated: grand hotels, urban hotels, rural inns, and small pensions offered very different sorts of comfort and of human encounters. Literary and non-literary texts abound with accounts of real and fictitious hotels.

Our collection of essays seeks to examine this under-researched field. We invite fresh looks at old and new material, at real and fictitious hotels, splendid abodes as well as Gothic dwellings. The collection will be geographically restricted to Britain and the United States. Papers with a transatlantic focus (e.g. British travelers in American hotels, American travelers in British inns) are particularly welcome, but excursions of Anglo-American travelers to the Continent and their experiences with Continental accommodations are also of interest.

Possible topics:

Types of hotels and guests:
hotel, inn, grand hotel, guesthouse
country inns vs. urban hotels
hotels in various surroundings: seaside, mountains, cities, villages
institutions (how can Habermas's concept of the public sphere be applied?)
the hotel in contrast with other institutions
splendor vs. the back doors
encounters between different strata of society, men and women, individuals belonging to different nations/ethnicities
cultural contact, especially transatlantic contact
African Americans in hotels
hotels and war (e.g., the Civil War)
soldiers, merchants, travelers, explorers as guests
national cuisine and hotel menus

Real, virtual, and emotional spaces:
What does it mean to enter the threshold of a hotel—what does one leave behind, what kind of temporary home does one create, what elements of nostalgia arise, how does a sense of loss coexist with the draw of the new?
How does the hotel or inn offer a liminal space for exploration in the life of the author (or his/her protagonists)?
transitions (staircase, back doors), threshold spaces, liminality
architecture of inns: rooms, windows (looking out, panorama, seeing obstacles)
staircases (symbols of upward movement?)
spatial theory and the hotel
alienation, alterity
home away from home, homesickness
fleeting moments of enlightenment
judgmental attitudes towards the different, new, or other
suitcases full of memories, or souvenirs as kitsch (the hotel in a nutshell)
boundaries between self and other

The hotel, class, and the family:
attitudes towards servants or other travelers in hotels
elites and non-elites
the privilege of travel
the kitchen help/the landlady as family
status: class structure and class distinctions in hotels (rooms, eating arrangements)
children's experiences in hotels
chaperones and ladies in hotels
love stories in hotels

Unusual hotels:
the unspeakable in hotels
unmade beds, lost suitcases, unwelcome intruders, lost keys, unpaid bills
ghosts, haunted or Gothic hotels
unexpected encounters
assignations in hotels

We invite two-page proposals by the deadline of June 7, 2013. Please also include a short bio. If your proposal is selected, the final essay will be due on December 15, 2013. Please email the proposals to both of the following addresses:

Prof. Monika Elbert (Montclair State University, New Jersey),
PD Dr. Susanne Schmid (from April 2013: guest professor, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Germany),