America the Beautiful? Regionalism and Indigeneity

deadline for submissions: 
May 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
American Literary Realism (special issue, journal)

Special Issue of American Literary Realism

Topic:  America the Beautiful? Regionalism and Indigeneity


Rather than Francis Scott Key’s homage to battle, there are some who believe Katharine Lee Bates’s words celebrating the distinct natural beauty of North America would make a better tribute as national anthem. In 1893 Bates was inspired by her tour of the country and particularly her view from Pike’s Peak. While Bates emphasizes the natural world in her patriotic poem, she also praises the US city as pristine and unique and enfolds the country’s social and environmental injustices within laudatory verses proclaiming the greatness of the American experiment. For whatever the moral failures of Bates’s vision, we might understand her efforts as an attempt to capture American uniqueness through a regionalist lens and claim a progressive rather than imperialist exceptionalism for the continent stemming from the place itself.


The failure and success of Bates’s poem to achieve this ideal serve as a microcosm of the American Regionalist literary project, which both celebrated and critiqued the national identity as placed and bound to its various ecologies.  Local indigeneities and response to them are what, from this perspective, make America American and form the basis of a national literary identity. This special issue seeks to chart and analyze the ways in which Regionalism’s aspiration towards American authenticity, what Jace Weaver calls “the quest for indigeneity” (2005), influenced the representation of American character and experience. We seek essays that identify both the successes and failures of American Regionalism in this regard and expand on notions of critical regionalism with an implicit link to the indigenous (Susan Bernardin, 2014).


Topics might include:

Romantic/anti-romantic modes and the natural world

Exploitation and resources; hunting/farming/herding and/as freedom versus management


the urban and the agrarian/pastoral

Land and water

Anti/Racism and racialization, especially with regard to First or Native people

Settler colonialism

Patriotism and Exceptionalism

The influence of anthropology on Local Colorisms

Children’s experiences on the new land


Please send proposals of 250 words to Monika Elbert ( and to Wendy Ryden  ( by May 1, 2023.  Essays (of ca. 7,000 words) will be due Aug. 25, 2023. Inquiries are welcome.