CFP: Chester, Grace, and Dreiser: The Birth of An American Tragedy (12/31/05; 6/22/06-6/24/06)

full name / name of organization: 
Newlin, Keith
contact email: 

Chester, Grace, and Dreiser: The Birth of An American Tragedy
A Special 100th Anniversary Conference in Herkimer, NY

June 22-24, 2006

Call for Papers

            Herkimer County Community College invites scholars, students, and others to participate in an interdisciplinary conference entitled "Chester, Grace, and Dreiser: The Birth of An American Tragedy." The conference marks the centennial anniversary of the famous 1906 trial of Chester Gillette, the resident of Cortland, NY, who was convicted of and executed for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Grace Brown of South Otselic, NY. The trial attracted national media attention, and its story inspired Theodore Dreiser's renowned novel An American Tragedy, which in turn inspired the classic film A Place in the Sun.

            The conference will take place in Herkimer, NY, the site of the trial and the village that Dreiser fictionalized as "Bridgeburg." In addition to scholarly panels devoted to the Gillette-Brown case and its fictional and film adaptations, tentative plans include displays of artifacts and documents relating to the trial, a reenactment of the trial by a local theater company, screenings of the films related to Dreiser's novel, tours of the jail and courthouse where Gillette was held and tried, and an excursion trip to the murder site on Big Moose Lake.

            The conference welcomes papers exploring any of the social, legal, literary, psychological, or cultural aspects of the Gillette case. Multimedia presentations are encouraged. Of especial interest are papers exploring such questions as the following: Why does the Gillette murder case, and later fictional adaptations, still hold the public's interest after nearly a century? Why did the Gillette murder trial in particular, and other famous American trials in general, become such media sensations? Would Chester Gillette/Clyde Griffiths/George Eastman still be convicted in today's society and a modern court of law? Why did the Gillette case become such a good basis for a novel? How did fact evolve into fiction and the different versions of the story evolve over time? Prospective panelists should submit a proposal or completed paper to be presented in no more than twenty minutes, together with curriculum vitae, to the address below by December 31, 2005. Email !
 submissions are welcome.

Jeffrey Steele
Instructor of History and Social Science
Herkimer County Community College
100 Reservoir Road
Herkimer, NY 13350
Fax: (315) 866-7253

Notes: Herkimer, NY is located on exit 30 of the New York State Thruway (I-90), roughly midway between the cities of Albany and Syracuse. It is also within driving distance of many other locations related to the Gillette case such as Cortland, South Otselic, Big Moose Lake and Auburn. Conference details are currently being finalized and will be posted on the website of the International Theodore Dreiser Society, . Specifics on fees, meals, housing, and transportation options will be forthcoming shortly. For the most up to date conference information contact HCCC's Office of Community Education at (315) 866-0300 ext. 8251 or .

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Received on Wed Oct 05 2005 - 12:21:07 EDT