Vexing Gender in Nineteenth-Century American Women's Writing (critical anthology)

full name / name of organization: 
Mary Ellen Iatropoulos
contact email: 
maryiatrop@gmail.com

Call for Abstracts:
Critical Anthology on Gender in Nineteenth-Century American Women's Writing

When existing conditions actively work to suppress women’s expression, how can the female subject assert herself? Performing female selfhood becomes a vexed notion in the context of nineteenth-century American women’s writing, in which women faced “separate spheres” ideology, the cult of domesticity, and other complex and often-contradictory social circumstances necessitating private performance of idealized gender roles as a means towards securing financial survival in the public sphere. A paradox of feminine self-representation emerges; revealing themselves by concealing themselves, even as women work to approximate themselves to idealized, “natural” femininity, part of that performance entails obscuring the labor required to undertake it.

With idealized femininity being both conscious performance and survival strategy, how does the space between depiction of and satire/critique of gender roles manifest in women’s writing from this time? What strategies do women writers employ to problematize idealized femininity and manipulate patriarchal expectations to achieve greater degrees of agency? How, through their literary works, do nineteenth-century American women writers engage the space between performing idealized gender roles and affirming or challenging those roles, to depict the female subject negotiating between real self and role self to navigate the world? This panel seeks essays investigating the relationship between engaging, endorsing, and repudiating restrictive gender roles in nineteenth-century American women’s literature.

Topics for investigating the relationship between engaging, endorsing, and repudiating restrictive gender roles in nineteenth-century American women’s literature may include: the cult of domesticity, the Poetess figure, antebellum aesthetics, slave narratives, literary sentimentality, variations of the “angel at the hearth,” etc.

Essays focusing on works by specific writers are welcome, as are comparative essays investigating thematic connections throughout a selection of works. Applicants to the NeMLA 2014 panel of the same title are especially encouraged to apply.

Please send 500 word abstracts to Mary Ellen Iatropoulos at maryiatrop@gmail.com by noon on Thursday, May 15th, 2014. If accepted, chapter drafts will be due 9/1/2014, with final drafts due in February of 2015.

Abstract Deadline: 5/15/14

Please include with your abstract:

Name and Affiliation

Email address

Postal address

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CFP Website: https://sites.google.com/site/vexinggendercfp/

cfp categories: 
american
cultural_studies_and_historical_approaches
gender_studies_and_sexuality
journals_and_collections_of_essays