Call for Essays: Ralph Waldo Emerson

deadline for submissions: 
May 29, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Jericho Williams / Spartanburg Methodist College
contact email: 


Critical Insights: Ralph Waldo Emerson (2021)


This is a call for essay proposals for a forthcoming edited collection on Ralph Waldo Emerson. This volume will be published in Spring 2021 as part of the following subset of Salem Press’s Critical Insights collection:

Designed for high school and undergraduate students, this collection will provide a comprehensive introduction to Ralph Waldo Emerson.  

The format of each volume includes:

●      A “historical background” essay (4000-5000 words) that addresses how nineteenth-century America influenced Emerson as well as what makes his work relevant to a contemporary audience.

●      A “critical reception” essay (4000-5000 words) that reviews the history of critical responses to Emerson’s writings and addresses the major concerns that scholars have identified over the years. This essay should examine the broader history of criticism of Emerson’s work rather than offering a specific critique or perspective.

●      A “critical lens” essay (4000-5000 words) that offers a close reading of Emerson’s literary works from a particular critical viewpoint (e.g. environmental criticism or posthumanism).

●      A “comparative analysis” essay (4000-5000 words) that analyzes Emerson’s writings in light of another (similar or contemporary) author.

The volume will also include ten essays (5000 words) that will offer new critical readings of Emerson’s work. Although all proposals will be considered, I am especially interested in those that address topics other than “Self-Reliance” or Emerson’s relationship with Henry David Thoreau.

Some possibilities include:

●      Emerson, youth, and intellectual awakening

●      the influence of family, particularly Ruth Haskins Emerson

●      Emerson and Plato, Montaigne, or Thomas Carlyle

●      Emerson and Margaret Fuller

●      Emerson and Louisa May Alcott

●      Emerson’s spiritual education or evolving faith

●      Emerson and The Bhagavad Gita

●      Classical allusions within Emerson’s works 

●      Emerson and travel

●      Emerson and social reform

●      Emerson, nationhood, and public education

●      Emerson, oratory, and the lyceum movement

●      Emerson’s essays other than “Self-Reliance”

●      Emerson’s poetry (particularly poems that could be taught in high school or undergraduate classrooms) including, but not limited to, poetry engaging the past (“Concord Hymn"),  loss ( “Threnody”), religion / faith (“Boston Hymn” or “Brahma”), environment (“The Snow-Storm” or “The Mountain and the Squirrel”), or other topics / themes. 

●      Emerson and English Romantic or Victorian poetry

●      Emerson’s influence on prominent nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors / movements

●      Emerson and Native American, Latinx, and African American, Midwestern, Southern, or Western Literature

●      Emerson and the Beat Generation

●      Emerson and environmental literature 

●      Emerson and agrarianism / farming

●      Emerson and Mary Oliver, Annie Dillard or Robert Frost

●      Responses to Emerson in twenty-first century American or World literature

●      Emerson and cinema (e.g Terrence Malick)

●      Emerson, the self, and social media

●      Emerson and aging, disability, gender, technology, environmental or social catastrophe

If you are interested in contributing to this project, please submit an abstract of approximately 250-350 words and a brief CV to Jericho Williams ( by Friday, May 29th. Selected authors will be notified by Friday, June 12th, and drafts of essays will be due by Friday, September 11th. For accepted essays, Salem Press offers each contributor a $250 honorarium.