SEA Seventh Biennial Conference, Philadelphia, 3-5 March 2011

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Society of Early Americanists
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The Society of Early Americanists' Seventh Biennial Conference, 3-5 March 2011, Philadelphia


Panel Chair Name: Deeanna Rohr

Affiliation: SUNY at Albany

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Panel Title: "Mysticism in America"

Call for Papers (200-300 words):

This panel will provide exegeses of the effect that mysticism has had in defining, redefining, "undefining," or presenting language and the logos in "America" within the 17th and 18th Centuries. It will not merely discuss mysticism or the practices of mystics nor will it just address mystical readings of literary texts from this time period; rather, it will explicate the role of mysticism in forming and reforming the self, time, language and logos of "America" during these centuries.

The rationale for the panel arises from a long history of mysticism in "America." It is well-known that America began with what could be argued as an act of mysticism: Puritans believed Providence had communicated "directly" with them to label "America" as the "Promise Land." However, mysticism specifically became a topic of contention with Antinomianism, and the "direct" communication for which Anne Hutchinson and Mary Dyer fervently argued that they possessed. Mysticism changes dramatically in the 18th Century with that of Jonathan Edwards, whose mysticism revolves around a logos that takes possession of the individual through nature. Likewise, in 18th Century, Ann Lee, founder of the Shakers in America, becomes possessed by the logos, to such a point that her followers believed her to be the logos, as she is named Ann the Word. Her mysticism also challenges definitions of America as her entrance into the geography, culture and politic takes place just before the Revolution (1775). Moreover, her illiteracy and identity as the logos present and challenge conceptions of literacy and its function within "America."

This panel will consist of 4 presenters, each presenting for 15 minutes.

Please send abstract to Deeanna Rohr (SUNY at Albany) by September 20, 2010.