Columbia, Columbus, Columbianism: The Admiral's Metamorphoses in Nineteenth-Century America

full name / name of organization: 
Zach Hutchins/C19: The Society of Early Americanists

As the historian Thomas Schlereth noted in an essay from which this panel takes its name, the memory and image of Christopher Columbus were appropriated by citizens of the United States for a wide variety of purposes during the long nineteenth century. A feminine personification of the new republic signifying liberty and progress was named Columbia in his honor; the exploits of a newly recovered historical Columbus were invoked in support of western expansionism and Manifest Destiny; and the naturalization of various ethnic groups was a process of Columbianism, whereby the Admiral's status as an immigrant to the New World rhetorically sanctioned the integration of Italians, Jews, and other groups into the American body politic. This panel proposal for the 2016 gathering of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists seeks essays unsettling or expanding this foundational understanding of the most common ways in which the memory of Columbus was formulated. Submissions might address:
• literary works portraying Columbus, from the poems of Joel Barlow, Philip Freneau, and Walt Whitman to John Brougham's comedy Columbus, el Filibustero! and James Fenimore Cooper's novel Mercedes of Castile;
• monuments erected and events planned in honor of Columbus, from the Rotunda doors of the United States Capital to the innumerable exhibits at the 1893 World's Columbian Exhibition in Chicago;
• artwork or cartoons representing the Admiral or his arrival in the New World by Benjamin West, John Vanderlyn, and others; and
• the scholarship of American historians, including James Belknap and Washington Irving.
The 2016 biennial conference will be held March 17-20, 2016 at Pennsylvania State University. Please email a curriculum vitae and proposals of no more than 500 words by midnight on Sunday, August 23rd to Zach Hutchins: zach.hutchins@colostate.edu.