CFP: Henry James and Jane Austen (11/1/05; ACCUTE, 5/27/06)

full name / name of organization: 

"The Unconscious Master: Henry James and Jane Austen"

(27 May - 4 June 2006 at 75th Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences; the
ACCUTE conference will take place over 3-4 days within that timeframe)

Henry James, himself known as the Master, praised Jane Austen for her "little
master-strokes of imagination," suggesting that the reason for her high
reputation "has been in part the extraordinary grace of her facility, in fact
of her unconsciousness." While James may have been reluctant to acknowledge his
own debt to Austen's art, several writers and critics have linked the two. Tony
Tanner, for example, comments that James probably learned as much from Austen
as she had learned from Richardson. In Rudyard Kipling's story "The Janeites,"
one character quips that Austen didn't die barren, but left "lawful issue in
the shape o' one son; an' 'is name was 'Enery James."

Why did James characterize Austen as an "unconscious" artist? To what extent do
Austen and James share an understanding of the relation between fiction and
ethics? Are the similarities between their novels superficial, or can James be
seen as working within the same tradition? What do James's American girls (such
as Daisy Miller and Isabel Archer) owe to Austen's young women? Edith Wharton
has been called "Henry James's heiress"; what might we gain (or lose) by
thinking of James as "Jane Austen's heir"?

This panel proposes to examine connections between James and Austen, and to
begin to map the extent of their literary relationship. Papers might explore
the authors' approaches to the art of fiction, the country-house novel, and the
novel of manners and morals. Papers discussing thematic intersections in their
writings, as well as gender and class relations, are also welcome.

Paper proposals should be sent by November 1, 2005 via email to the panel
organizers at or

Proposals should be 300-500 words in length, and should clearly indicate the
originality or scholarly significance of the proposed paper, the line of
argument, the principal texts the paper will speak to, and the relation of the
paper to existing scholarship on the topic. A "Works Cited" section should also
be included. Submitters must be members of ACCUTE. Membership details are
available at

Those whose proposals are accepted by the organizers will be notified by
mid-November, and the panel will then be submitted for approval to the ACCUTE
vettors. Presenters whose papers are accepted will be expected to send the
panel organizers three copies of their paper and proposal, accompanied by three
copies of a 100-word abstract and a 50-word bio-bibliographical note by November
25, 2005.

Sarah Emsley
Expository Writing Program
Harvard University
8 Prescott Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Michèle Mendelssohn
Department of English Literature
The University of Edinburgh
David Hume Tower, George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9JX
United Kingdom

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Received on Fri Aug 12 2005 - 11:08:10 EDT