Collection on Religion and Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers (Proposals due 7/15/09; Essays due 11/15/09)

full name / name of organization: 
Mary Wearn / Macon State College
contact email: 

Call for Submissions
In response to a newly charged and religiously inflected global, political landscape, Stanley Fish provocatively argued in 2005 that religion would likely "succeed high theory and race, gender, and class as the center of intellectual energy in academe." Despite Fish's predictions, secular critics have been slow to embrace religion as a focus of critical inquiry. This scholarly elision has left a particularly unfortunate gap in our understanding of the life and literature of nineteenth-century American women. Women's culture of the era was, in fact, immersed in religious doctrine and practice, most often within Christian contexts, and many female authors of the period deployed representations of faith and faith communities to various cultural ends. Yet nineteenth-century scholars—and feminist scholars in particular—have been reticent to employ the rubric of religion in their literary analysis. The critical void has led to a narrow view of religion and nineteenth-century American women—a false sense that feminine religious experience of the era was homogeneous and bounded by a largely unexamined faith in a repressive, mainstream Protestantism.

Embracing the complexities of religion in nineteenth-century women's culture—both its repressive and revolutionary potentiality—this edited collection seeks to articulate how female authors deployed, revised, challenged, and, in some cases, rejected conventional theologies and doctrines. Exploring the greatly diverse expressions of, reactions to, and uses for religion in women's texts of the era, this volume will explore how female authors repurposed religious sentiments for their own spiritual, cultural, or political ends. Without neglecting repressive elements of institutionalized religion, this text will emphasize the subversive and sometimes empowering treatment of religion in the work of nineteenth-century American women writers.

Essays are sought on all aspects of religion and nineteenth-century American women writers. Topics may include but are not limited to:

•Feminine heterodoxy and heresy
•Uses of conventional Christianity for radical political ends
•Representations of non-Christian faiths
•African American resistance to (and/or through) mainstream Christianity
•Feminine spiritual struggles
•Religion and social reform
•Conversion experiences and narratives
•Intersection of feminist and religious thought
•Piety and female cultural power
•Religion and motherhood
•Female preachers
•Women and the Bible
•Women and religious reform
•Evangelicalism, Spiritualism, Pentecostalism, or revivalism.

Project Requirements and Timeline:

July 15, 2009—1 page proposals and 1 page CVs due (send in .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf format).

August 15, 2009—Responses to proposals will be emailed.

November 15, 2009—Completed essays of not more than 25 pages due (send in .rtf, .doc, .docx, or .pdf format).

Send all queries, proposals, and essays to: While email is the preferred means of communication, hard copies may also be sent to:

Mary Wearn
Macon State College
Department of Humanities
100 College Station Drive
Macon, GA 31206