Whales and Veils: Obsessions in Melville and Hawthorne (2nd CFP)

deadline for submissions: 
October 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
University of Lodz, Poland
contact email: 

Whales and Veils: Obsessions in Melville and Hawthorne

12-14 May 2022

Łódź, Poland / Online


Conference Venue:

University of Łódź

Faculty of Philology

ul. Pomorska 171/173, Łódź

(alternatively: Zoom)



2nd Call for Papers


The Department of North American Literature and Culture at the University of Łódź cordially invites scholars working across various disciplines to submit paper and panel proposals which consider the theme of obsessions in the field of Hawthorne and/or Melville studies. Interdisciplinary perspectives are certainly encouraged; we also welcome abstract submissions from postgraduate students.


While many academic conferences within the humanities tend to be problem-driven, and attract scholars dealing with a plethora of sources, we believe that a narrower scope will lead to a meeting of participants who share the same interests. By focusing specifically on two writers whose artistic careers were so fruitfully intertwined, we hope to create an intellectual community of researchers able to exchange valuable comments and offer mutual inspiration.


In the 1980s and 1990s scholars of Melville and Hawthorne were mostly interested in political readings of the two writers’ work, focusing on issues of race and gender. Without disregarding such issues, recent scholarly voices are less engaged in tracing the hidden workings of ideology; rather, they address broader themes such as history, subjectivity, or literary form. As Cody Marrs puts it in the Introduction to The New Melville Studies, the aim of new research is to “position [itself] alongside Melville as he writes”: instead of subverting Melville’s text, to look for the subversive within it. A similar tendency may be observed in studies on Hawthorne, for example Hawthorne and the Real,edited by Millicent Bell, and The Cambridge Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne, edited by Richard H. Millington. Characteristically, the most fruitful recent scholarly work on the two writers tends towards edited collections of essays by various authors, which perhaps speaks to the value of a multi-perspectival scholarly discussion. Our conference inscribes itself into this trend, in the hope of offering a fresh perspective on those American classics – by focusing on obsession in its psychological, political, and esthetic aspects.


Although we encourage presentations dealing with one or more of the suggested topics below, the following list is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive:


  • the haunting nature of the past
  • voyeurism
  • religious and secular conceptualizations of sin
  • striving for perfection
  • monomania
  • repetition and repetitiveness
  • moral compulsion
  • obsession of artist figures
  • obsessive literary form
  • Melville’s obsession with Hawthorne
  • scholarly obsessions with Hawthorne and Melville
  • Hawthorne and Melville as inspirations for other writers and artists


Giorgio Mariani (“Sapienza” University of Rome) – Professor of American Literature. He has served as President of the International American Studies Association (2011-2015), and as President of the Melville Society (2018). He is the editor-in-chief of RIAS (The Review of International American Studies) and has published, edited, and co-edited several volumes, including Spectacular Narratives. Representations of Class and War in the American 1890s (1992), Post-Tribal Epics. The Native American Novel between Tradition and Modernity (1996), Leggere Melville [Reading Melville] (2013). His essays and reviews have appeared in many journals, including American Literary History, Studies in American Fiction, Leviathan, Fictions, RIAS (The Review of International American Studies), Stephen Crane Studies. His latest books are Waging War on War: Peacefighting in American Literature (2015) and Melville: Guida a Moby-Dick [Melville: A guide to Moby-Dick] (2021).

Marek Wilczyński (American Studies Center, University of Warsaw) – Professor of humanities. His areas of expertise include the history of American culture and literature of the years 1776-1865, in particular in the region of New England, as well as Polish romanticism and modernist fiction. He also reads widely on the history of American painting (19th-20th century), literary and cultural theory, postmodern American fiction, and comparative literature (Polish and American). He is the author of The Phantom and the Abyss. Gothic Fiction in America and Aesthetics of the Sublime (1798-1856) (1998), numerous articles on American and Polish literature and culture, and co-author of History of Literature of the US in the 20th Century (2004). He translated into Polish postmodern American fiction (Robert Coover, Walter Abish, Raymond Federman) and the scholarly works of Hayden White.


Deadline for abstracts:  October 15, 2021

Notification of acceptance: October 30, 2021

Proposal submission address: whalesandveils@gmail.com

Proposals (in English) should be 300-400 words long. Please attach a 200-word bio to your conference paper proposal.


Given the epidemiological situation, we plan to have the conference in a hybrid format. Foreign participants may choose to present their papers via Zoom, and will be charged the reduced fee.


Regular fee: 550 PLN / 120 EUR / 180 CAD / 140 USD
Student fee: 350 PLN / 80 EUR / 115 CAD / 90 USD



dr Justyna Fruzińska (head of the organizing committee)

dr Krzysztof Majer (conference secretary)