DEADLINE EXTENDED: Call for Abstracts - William James Panel at ALA 2018 - "A Pluralistic American Literature"

deadline for submissions: 
January 26, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Thomas W. Howard / William James Society
contact email: 

Panel Title: A Pluralistic American Literature

In Reassembling the Social, Bruno Latour uses William James’s concept of the multiverse (Latour says “pluriverse”) to describe mediating actors: “It is the thing itself that has been allowed to be deployed as multiple and thus allowed to be grasped through different viewpoints, before being possibly unified in some later stage depending on the abilities of the collective to unify them. There are simply more agencies in the pluriverse, to use William James’s expression, than philosophers and scientists think possible” (116). This perspective of the agent as multiple leads Rita Felski to argue in The Limits of Critique for a postcritical reading that does better “justice to the transtemporal liveliness of texts and the co-constitution of texts and readers” (154).

This panel seeks papers that more fully consider James’s A Pluralistic Universe and its connection to literary studies. What does pluralism offer the study of American literature? How might the language of “philosophy of the absolute” versus “radical empiricism” shape the way we read postcritically? What would it mean to read literature in a world of pure experience? How might we do that?

Date of Conference: 24-27 May 2018

Location: Hyatt Regency San Francisco, 5 Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA


Abstracts: Please send a one-page abstract (in PDF format) to Thomas W. Howard by Friday, 26 January 2018 at Please include author name(s); affiliation(s), if any; and contact information.