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  • The Year in Conferences—2018
  • Rachel Linnea Brown (bio), Ryan Charlton (bio), Amy Huang (bio), Joshua Tuttle (bio), Susanna Compton Underland, Senior Advisor (bio), Marla Anzalone (bio), Elizabeth Boyle (bio), Rachael Dewitt (bio), Jenessa Kenway (bio), Regina Yoong (bio), Kacie Fodness, Senior Advisor (bio), Brittany Biesiada (bio), Hannah Champion (bio), Jane Fleming (bio), Seth Spencer (bio), Regina Yoong Yui Jien (bio), and Gia Coturri Sorenson, Senior Advisor (bio)

The "Year in Conferences" (YiC) accelerates the circulation of ideas among scholars by covering the field's major conferences. Graduate students from across the country collaboratively author an article that appears annually in ESQ's first issue. Now in its tenth year, this report includes C19, ALA, and SSAWW.

c19, 22–25 march 2018, albuquerque, new mexico

The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (C19) held its biennial conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in March 2018. The conference theme was "Climate," an especially prescient designation given that inclement weather thwarted many participants' travel plans. But conversations at C19 were not limited to the weather: panels and roundtables undertook such wide-ranging concerns as ecology and science; the Anthropocene and literary periodization; and race, gender, and the body politic. Many critical threads led to political conclusions as the current cultural climate motivated speakers to consider how nineteenth-century legacies might illuminate our present moment. This frame prompted self-reflective practices: In what ways does our field need to change? How can we accommodate more voices, encourage interdisciplinarity, and decenter the United States in our understanding of what we mean by American? [End Page 109] At the plenary event, "C19 Now!," Jenni Monet spoke about Indigenous activism at Standing Rock and her experiences as a journalist covering "Indian Country." Monet stressed her dual identity as an expert and an activist. In many ways, expertise and activism were C19's twin discourses, whether panelists approached climate through the archive, the body, materiality, form, space, race, or performance.

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reconsidering nineteenth-century archives and histories

Panelists critically interrogated physical, temporal, and linguistic boundaries associated with diverse histories and archives. In doing so, they blurred conventional categorizations and offered new models for assessing nineteenth-century expertise and activism. Roundtable presentations for "Beyond Early, Beyond American" addressed temporal distinctions by questioning the meanings of early and American and exploring what story such literary periodization tells. Hester Blum considered the Anthropocene and noted possible start dates of 1610, the Industrial Revolution, and 1945. Blum pointed out that in the context of deep or geologic time, these dates do not register as far apart. Similarly, the terms Early Americanist and nineteenth centuryist become less distinct within this scope. But if everything is about deep time, she concluded, do we then lose particular political contexts? Marissa López similarly questioned the connotations of early American, pointing out that early resonates only if by America we mean United States. This formulation, she argued, perpetuates a colonial identity and national framework. Phillip Round specifically explored Mississippian contexts for this field of study, thus embodying [End Page 110] López's aim for early American scholars to decenter colonial narratives. Round contended that by engaging archaeological material and visualizing America in new ways—for example, with a map of Missouri River drainage—we can understand how Indigenous peoples have shaped global history. Sandra Gustafson considered a different global history through the legacy of Republican thought in texts such as Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), Herman Melville's "Bartleby the Scrivener" (1853), and Upton Sinclair's The Jungle (1906).

Extending the examination of early and American, several panelists considered how this debate intersects with issues of narration, genre, and discipline. Michelle Burnham employed a model from Nicholas Paige's Before Fiction: The Ancien Régime of the Novel (2011) to question the patterns we assume exist in early American literature. Patterns of genre formulation, for example, are based on our knowledge of what is to come rather than what might exist beneath the surface of earlier eras, Burnham asserted. Honorée Fanonne Jeffers described how poetry and politics intersect for her scholarship and pedagogy. Though some students resist discussions about slavery in creative writing courses, she...


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