Woman Questions: Margaret Fuller and Louisa May Alcott in Their Time

deadline for submissions: 
November 27, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Anne K. Phillips / Louisa May Alcott Society
contact email: 

In this year of the centennial of women’s suffrage in the US, the Fuller and Alcott Societies invite your participation in the Thoreau Gathering (July 8-12, 2020 in Concord, MA).  Our focus will be on gender as part of the Gathering’s larger theme of “Thoreau and Diversity: People, Principles, Politics.”  What did Thoreau’s two most famous female contemporaries in the Concord circle have to say to him, to each other, or to their larger worlds about changing the legal and human status of women? 

Papers could focus on either author’s best-known work, Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century or Alcott’s Little Women, but we also encourage attention to work recovered more recently.  With Fuller this might include her Conversations (1839-44), Summer on the Lakes (1844) or New York and European journalism (1844-50).  For Alcott, among relevant works are her Hospital Sketches (1863); sensational tales such as “A Whisper in the Dark” (1863); fiction, including “How I Went Out to Service,” the Transcendental novel Work (1873), and Jo’s Boys (1886); and contributions (letters, essays, and poems) to The Woman’s Journal (1874-87).  With either, her private as well as published writings are relevant and of interest.  The authors’ response to “woman questions” might include other issues or contexts before or after the Civil War:  race and abolition, the Mexican War, the women’s rights movement, the Transcendentalist movement, urban poverty, European revolution.  Comparison to other authors or application to present-day issues is always welcome. 

We dedicate our session to the memory of Sarah Elbert, who led the way in thinking about Alcott “On Race, Sex, and Slavery.” 

This will be a peer-reviewed panel.  Please send one-page proposals and short CV’s by Nov. 27 to both Phyllis Cole (pbc2@psu.edu) and Anne Phillips (annek@ksu.edu).  Decisions will be made by Dec. 7.  Inquiries are welcome at any point.