Material Transgressions: Romantic Bodies, Affects, Genders (Proposed Collection)

deadline for submissions: 
October 31, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Eds. Kate Singer, Mount Holyoke College; Suzanne L. Barnett, Francis Marion University; Ashley J. Cross, Manhattan College

Current theoretical debates about subjects and objects, bodies and minds, and genre and gender have explored in detail women’s status as objects and done much to theorize their efforts to become speaking subjects. But these discussions can be more transgressive in order to explore the ways in which Romantic writers in particular challenged the foundational ideas of materiality that they were given and on which we continue to rely when we read them in the twenty-first century. For the proposed collection, Material Transgressions: Romantic Bodies, Affects, Genders, we are soliciting essays that think outside of Romantic ideologies of gender that reiterate notions of sexed bodies, embodied subjectivity, or stable texts. Instead, we are interested in essays that examine how Romantic writers rethink the subject-object relationship not solely to become speaking subjects but also to challenge the tenets of Enlightenment and Sensibility that defined women and men at the mercy of biologically sexed bodies, discrete texts, or mind/body binaries. The writers addressed by this collection engage with major concerns of British Romanticism—including genres, nature, things, texts, and performances—in order to challenge the ways representations limited (literally and in terms of our own interpretations) their writing, agency, knowledge, and even being.


We seek papers that together examine writers who explore the possibilities of human embodiment, nonhuman thingness, and textual topographies. We are interested not only in how writers of each sex wrote themselves out of essentialist gender terms, but also whether women writers (as is often assumed) are pushing against gender, sex and other materialities more pervasively than writers of other genders and sexes. Essays might consider, together or separately, dynamic understandings of genderqueer or nonbinary sex and sexualities; versions of non-ableism; new materialist understandings of vibrant matter; non-Newtonian materiality; new dispositions of the physical world and its imbrication with discourse; affect’s reconfiguration and permeation of minds, bodies, and things; studies that envision texts and books as fluid, changeable, indiscrete bodies; or new media’s reformulation of the channels and vehicles of communication. The processes these texts enact—rereading, transformation, motion, channeling—redefine restrictive generic, epistemological, ontological, and even metaphysical structures in order to craft alternative modes of being in the world. These materialist infidelities demand that we reimagine how materiality can be understood both in the Romantic period and now.


Please email a 500-word abstract and one-page cv as Word documents to the editors at by October 31, 2016. Accepted abstracts will be included with our proposal to the press, with completed manuscripts needed by July 1, 2017. Please feel free to email with any questions, and we thank you for your interest.