Recording Nature in the Early Atlantic World, 1750-1830 October 8-10, 2015

full name / name of organization: 
Charles Brockden Brown Society
contact email: 

250-word proposal deadline: March 30, 2015

Please send proposal in .docx or .doc format to Elizabeth Hewitt (
If you have any questions, please contact: Duncan Faherty (

The Charles Brockden Brown Society invites proposals that take up the broad theme of nature in the 18th and early 19th centuries. Although best known as a novelist, Charles Brockden Brown was also an armchair natural historian who died while beginning a large work of science, A System of General Geography. We encourage presentations that focus on nature writing broadly configured and those that consider the trope of the 'natural' so essential to Enlightenment epistemology and ontology. In what ways did writers and artists strive to represent, reproduce and organize the natural world of the Americas in textual and visual media? How is imaginative writing integral to the fields of natural science – botany, zoology, geology, geography, cartography, and climatology? In what ways did the emerging disciplines of social science – political economy and statistics—offer an approach to the natural world that depended on the fundamental premises of literary writing (metaphor and metonymy)? How did early American writers discuss and represent problems of scarcity and conservation that have plagued ecological thinkers for centuries? In what ways did the engagement with American and Caribbean flora and fauna revise theories of the natural world? How did the appeal to nature fundamentally orient American and Caribbean rac(ial)ist 'science'? How did the study of the American natural world facilitate transatlantic scientific discourse? How is nature manipulated both materially and tropically in the imperialist world?

We hope the conference, to be held in the historic Ybor City neighborhood of Tampa Bay, will be the occasion to cultivate scholarship about the men and women who tried to describe, narrate, categorize, illustrate, map, sing, dramatize, and versify the natural world.

Recording Nature in the Atlantic World will be the tenth biennial conference organized by the Brown Society. Although we are an author society, we solicit proposals from a broad range of texts and practices beyond those associated with Brown and his writings alone. We also encourage interdisciplinary scholarship and work emphasizing non-U.S. literatures. Our conference culture aims to create a space of egalitarian consideration free from career-oriented and competitive attitudes, a place for new work to blossom. In this light, we have no concurrent sessions, so that all may be heard by all. Because of time/space constraints, we may ask you to reframe your proposed talk as a brief (5-10 minute) presentation for inclusion within a roundtable format.

Travel Support for Graduate Students:
Four travel awards of $500 each for graduate student participation will be awarded, funded by the Brown Society. Criteria for these travel subventions will favor students at the dissertation stage (over those in earlier stages of degree work) and those who have not previously presented at a CBBS meeting. Graduate students applying for a subvention should indicate their interest in a cover letter and provide information about whether or not they are ABD.