American Communes

deadline for submissions: 
September 3, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
C19: The Society for Nineteenth-Century Americanists
contact email: 

On July 4, 1826, Robert Owen delivered an oration that would go on to be known as the “Declaration of Mental Independence” in which he situated an ideology animating his experimental society in New Harmony, Indiana within an existing tradition of American liberty. Communal societies seek to reconstruct society in miniature, though in the 19th century several of these experiments ultimately aspired to reshape society on a grand scale.

We seek essays that explore 19th century American communitarian experiments as revisions, renewals, and reconstructions of existing institutions, cultures, and mores. Essays may explore:

  • tensions between the public and private in intentional communities

  • networks of communitarian reform and/or political activism

  • the intersection of utopia, communalism, and material culture 

  • the promotion, reception, and efficacy of models of communitarian reform

  • characterizations of communitarian reform in print

  • alternative social organizations or lifestyles as critique

  • communalism as social justice

  • associationism as a political model

  • environmentalism in communal living

  • the interference of local or federal law in intentional communities

  • any aspect of utopian or communal living that is positioned as a corrective or alternative to any existing institution, culture, or society

Please send 300-word proposals to Ashley Rattner ( and Tom Guiler ( by Friday, September 3. This is a proposed panel for the C19 Seventh Biennial Conference: “Reconstructions”  that will be held at the Hyatt Regency in Coral Gables, Florida from March 31-April 2, 2022.