William Wordsworth: Persistence, Departure, Resistance (MLA Just-in-Time Session Proposal)

deadline for submissions: 
September 17, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
MLA 2021

The MLA has recently opened slots for additional “just-in-time” sessions for this year’s convention (to be held virtually from January 7-10, 2021). The session organizers invite abstracts for 15-minute presentations exploring the work of William Wordsworth in light of this year’s convention theme of ‘persistence.’


Despite the initial backlash to some of his verse — we can recall Francis Jeffrey’s famous injunction that “this will never do” — Wordsworth proved to be a resilient literary figure. To this day, his work remains central to how we conceptualize, encounter, and theorize Romanticism. At the same time, few Romantic poets were as concerned as Wordsworth was with tensions arising from persistence in the face of change. Whether on a personal level, as with his ruminations on memory, childhood, and habit-formation, or on a communal level, through the poet’s depictions of marginalized figures, rural communities, and local dialects, Wordsworth continually returns to figures and events that refuse to go away even in times of political and socio-economic upheaval. This session will explore the meaning of persistence in Wordsworth, as well as examine the ongoing persistence of Wordsworth’s work for us as contemporary readers.


Possible topics include (but are not limited to):


— Engagement with existing literary traditions and experimentation against established norms

— Reception in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries; transatlantic reception; canon formation

— Disability studies

— Politics and history, especially during the Romantic era (e.g., industrialization, global imperialism, the French Revolution)

— Loss and survival; personal and communal trauma

— Bibliographic and manuscript studies: drafts, revisions, rewriting

— Tourism, localism, dialects

— Memoir and autobiography

— Ecocriticism, vitalism, materialism, and pantheism

— The gothic and hauntology

— William, Dorothy, and Coleridge: collaborative authorship and divisions of literary and intellectual labour

— (Re)assessments of Wordsworth’s works


Please send 250-word abstracts to jeremie.leclerc@mail.mcgill.ca and jana.perkins@mail.mcgill.ca by Sept 17. Successful applicants will be contacted by Sept 20. Per MLA guidelines, panelists will need to be registered MLA members by Sept 22 and cannot appear on the program for this year’s convention more than once.