CFP "American Aging and Adolescence" - C19 (March 13-16, 2014, UNC-Chapel Hill) Submit by 9/15

full name / name of organization: 
Sari Edelstein & Allison S Curseen

Call for Papers: American Aging and Adolescence [Due Sept 15]

C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists, Third Biennial Conference, March 13-16, 2014, UNC-Chapel Hill

In the 1840s, Thomas Cole's Voyage of Life paintings were as popular as engravings of George Washington had been in an earlier generation. The widespread interest in Cole's panoramas, which rendered the human life cycle in four distinct stages, indicates just how fixated on maturation many nineteenth-century Americans were. In a century often associated with the nation's adolescence, a pervasive interest in individual and social development linked social theorists, urban planners, novelists, and others. From the rhetoric of the Young America movement to concerns about child indentures and orphans to the playground movement and other progressive reforms, aging and maturation emerged as sites of analysis and anxiety.

Embracing the conference theme of "Commons," we welcome papers that address how this attention to age and normative maturation engaged the notion of a national commons. To what extent might adolescence be a necessary formulation for an American commons? How do common spaces figure in nineteenth-century narratives and practices of development? In what ways were stages of life made "common" by nineteenth-century institutions?

Potential topics might include but are not limited to:
-coming-of-age fiction and its figurations of the life course
-child-rearing and the development of rural and urban landscapes
-representations of aging and decline
-alternatives to or rejections of new models of maturation and aging
-age restrictions, legal regulations, and scientific discussions of maturation
-depictions of adolescence in advertising and periodical culture
-anxieties about improper development and mixed-age socialities
-adolescent cultures as sites of resistance or homogenization

Please send a 250-word abstract and a brief (2-3 sentences) scholarly biography to Sari Edelstein ( and Allison Curseen ( by September 15.