[Update] Sarah Piatt Panel at ALA (San Francisco, CA May 2016) Deadline Proposal Extended to January 25, 2016

full name / name of organization: 
Mary Wearn / Middle Georgia State University
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This is a call for a proposed panel for the for the 27th annual American Literature Association conference.

Sarah Piatt at 180 and Palace - Burner at 15: the View from 2016

2016 will mark the 180th anniversary of Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt's birth and the 15th anniversary of the groundbreaking publication of Paula Bernat Bennett's Palace - Burner, the first modern anthology of the poet's work. Since her mid-nineteenth-century arrival on America's literary scene, Sarah Piatt has been recognized for her "womanly" subject matter and ethos, and the "feminine" quality of her poetry has been aptly characterized by nineteenth-century British author Alice Meynell "not as a grace, but as a force."

Paula Bennett's 2001 edited collection Palace - Burner has had formative influence on modern scholarship not only through its strong introduction but also via the editorial lens through which the poems were selected. Through Palace - Burner, Bennett emphasizes Piatt's irony and frames the author's poetry as gendered, cultural critique. In subsequent scholarship, Bennett argues for Piatt's "deep commitment to her poetry's political role in the public sphere." While much twenty-first century criticism builds directly upon Bennett's view from Palace โ€“ Burner, new approaches have also emerged. Zachary Finch, for example, challenges the political reading of Piatt's work and characterizes it instead as "starkly psychological," defining Piatt's poetics as one of "irremediable melancholy." Jess Roberts, questions the characterization of Piatt as a politically subversive writer and notes instead Piatt's "conflicted and multifaceted" engagement with the poetic conventions of her day.

In celebration of the poet's 180th birthday and Palace-Burner's 15th anniversary, this proposed panel will explore Sarah Piatt from a 2016 vantage point. How has our understanding of the poet expanded upon or diverged from Bennett's formative critical view? What alternatives to a political reading of Piatt's poetry emerge? How has Piatt's irony, ambivalence, and conventionality complicated our views of her work? What new themes and methods inform Piatt studies in 2016? What can be learned about the politics of recovery through the production of Palace - Burner? Which remnants of Piatt's oeuvre โ€“ those not published in Palace โ€“ Burner remain to be explored? All scholarly approaches to Sarah Piatt's poetry and recovery are welcomed.

Please submit a one page abstract and a brief CV to Mary Wearn via email (mary.wearn@mga.edu). Submissions must be received by January 25, 2016.

The American Literature Association's 27th annual conference will meet at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco in Embarcadero Center on May 26-29, 2016. For further information, please consult the ALA website at http://alaconf.org/.