Panel on "Commons Within and Beyond Nation"

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C19: "Commons," Third Biennial Conference, March 13-16, 2014, UNC-Chapel Hill
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In recent years, scholars invested in a historical materialist approach have offered an analysis of the early national period that views the American populace as comprised of various classes, factions, and sects whose interests both divided and extended beyond the boundaries of nationhood. These studies complicate the dominant narrative in which America is viewed as a national common unified by abstract ideals, and they allow us to consider such major events as Shays's Rebellion and similar Regulatory movements, the Northwestern Indian War, the Quasi-War with France, the Revolution of 1800, the War of 1812, the Barbary Wars, the Missouri Compromise, and other instances not as moments of crisis for a predetermined national body but instead as a collection of conflicts carried out between various groups with competing interests.

As a means of bringing such an analysis to bear on the literature of the period, this panel wishes to explore how fiction, poetry, drama, newspapers, essays, and other cultural productions of the period can be seen as essential to understanding how various groups theorized belonging, exclusion, conformity, and dissent in order to consider themselves as a group in common and in opposition to other groups. This plays out in various forms including the political invectives of early American newspapers, the Federalist tendencies of the early American novel, the transatlantic merchant class's adoption of the sentimental narrative, ideas of separate spheres and the middle class in domestic fiction, theories of racial difference in captivity, Barbary, and slave narratives, and so on. We invite paper proposals on literature and other cultural productions written prior to 1830 that explore how a materialist approach can bring new light to theories of literature and the commons.

Please send paper abstracts of 300 to 500 words and a brief (2-3 sentence) scholarly biography to David Lawrimore at by 15 September, 2013.