The American Romance in 2016

deadline for submissions: 
August 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Society of Early Americanists (SEA)

his panel addresses the American romance in light of recent developments in early American studies. While many Britishists accepted the ascendancy of the anglophone novel, others challenged this teleology, and the transatlantic turn has invited us to consider whether the romance genre survived the New World. The existence of a colonial romance would challenge the “birth” of the American genre in the wake of Scott’s Ivanhoe (1819), and revising that literary history could in turn broaden American romance beyond a hoary pro-slavery ideology. Post-WWII critics arguing for an American romance tradition often cite Hawthorne’s own christening of his novels as “romances” as a key piece of evidence. Nina Baym, on the other hand, has argued that the novel/romance distinction was one that mid-twentieth century critics invented retroactively to privilege certain (white, male) authors and reproduce the ideology of American exceptionalism. These trends and controversies (with the exception of Gretchen Woertendyke) ignore the hemispheric turn in American studies and the potential to locate an American romance formation borne of cross-lingual literary exchanges. They also ignore publications by David Quint, David Heller-Roazen, Victora Kahn, and others that redefine romance in formal, not thematic, terms. Finally, American romance scholarship has an opportunity to address emergent theoretical paradigms: posthumanism, the anthropocene, and object-oriented ontology, just to name a few . The time is ripe to revisit the American romance, and I welcome papers that offer a theory of genre, case study, or critique of methodology. Please submit a 250-word abstract and CV to express interest. For the sake of simplicity, I am requesting traditionally formatted papers without audiovisual elements.