Author Archives: American Literature Society

CFP: “Reassessing Leslie Fiedler” at ALA San Francisco (May 24-27, 2018)

The American Literature Society seeks submissions to a panel at the annual American Literature Association Conference (ALA), which will be held at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco on May 24-27, 2018 (Thursday through Sunday of Memorial Day weekend).

“Reassessing Leslie Fiedler”

2018 marks the 70th anniversary of the 1948 publication of “Come Back to the Raft Ag’in, Huck Honey!” That essay, later incorporated in Fiedler’s Love and Death in the American Novel (1960), has been called by Ross Posnock “the most influential single essay ever written about American literature.” This panel invites papers that consider the assumptions about race, desire, national identity, and literary merit that Fiedler put into print. How much do we still owe to those assumptions, and how much can we claim to have superseded them?
Fiedler’s legacy is fraught: he was the first to spotlight race and sexuality in American literary studies, but he did so in order to claim an American literary exceptionalism that, as Robyn Wiegman points out, makes the white male psyche the privileged stage where dramas of racial injustice play out. If Fiedler celebrated queer desire as aesthetically generative, he also insisted on a notion of innocent homosexuality, as Christopher Looby observes. Fiedler is a practitioner of the myth and symbol school, long outpaced by more rigorous historicisms. Yet Kathy Lavezzo and Harilaos Stecopolous suggest that Fiedler’s transhistorical approach—whereby medieval troubadours return as mid-nineteenth-century novelists—might well align with proposals for queer unhistoricism or other calls for asynchronous reading. Papers might also consider Fiedler’s position as a midcentury Jewish intellectual and self-styled provocateur, one whose reach to a nonacademic audience (“Come Back” was published in Partisan Review, and Love and Death was published by Criterion) might provoke us to reflect on our current professional aspirations and limits.

Abstracts (between 200 and 300 words) and brief CVs should be submitted by December 30 to Ashley Barnes at

The 1921 Prize in American Literature

The American Literature Society is pleased to invite submissions for the 1921 prize, which is awarded annually for the best article in any field of American literature. The prize is named for the year the organization was initially founded “to promote and diversify the study of American Literature.” Judged by a panel comprised of members of the American Literature Society Advisory Board and other scholars in the field, the competition will be divided in two categories: one for tenured faculty and one for graduate students, scholars in contingent positions, and untenured faculty members. The winner will be announced at the 2018 MLA awards ceremony. For any questions, please contact ALS chair Claudia Stokes at

Rules for competition:

  • Submissions must be published during the calendar year of 2017. For submissions that have not yet appeared in print by the September 1 deadline, authors are requested to provide verification that their essay will be published within the calendar year.
  • Articles must appear in one of the following journals: African American Review; American Literary History; American Literature; American Periodicals; Callaloo; Early American Literature; ESQ; J19; Legacy; MELUS; Studies in American Fiction; and Studies in American Indian Literatures. Essays that appear elsewhere will not be considered.
  • Please send an electronic copy of the nominated essay (PDF preferred) to the Prize Committee by September 1, 2017 at
  • Authors must be members of the American Literature Society to be eligible for consideration. Membership is free of charge. To join the society, please visit
  • No person may nominate more than one essay in a given year.


“THEATRICAL COLLABORATION”: The American Literature Society and the American Theatre and Drama Society invite individual proposals for a co-sponsored panel on the theme of “Theatrical Collaboration” at the 2018 MLA convention in New York City (Jan 4-7, 2018). We seek submissions that reflect on the multiple ways in which artists collaborate with one another to challenge the borders of the literary and the theatrical in the American context. How have playwrights and performers, novelists, poets, and those who adapt their work, interacted to produce new works and even new genres? How does the theatre capture acts of collaboration or resist narratives of joint creation? What does the pejorative sense of collaboration as complicity teach us about creation across artistic boundaries? What is the potential for increased scholarly work across the categories of literature and theatre? The ALS and the ATDS are scholarly organizations devoted respectively to the preservation, study and recognition of American literature and culture and the study of United States theatre and drama, its varied histories, traditions, literatures, and performances within its cultural contexts. In this collaboration, the two organizations welcome expansive notions of what and who comprises America. Please submit via e-mail a 250-word abstract and a 1-page CV by 10 March 2017 to Laura Mielke, University of Kansas (<>.

“PARANOID READING IN THE AGE OF TRUMP”: The American Literature Society solicits contributors to a panel at MLA 2018 titled “Paranoid Reading in the Age of Trump.” The 2016 presidential election revealed a significant gulf in the way Americans interpret narrative and choose texts. With the election of Donald Trump, we find ourselves embroiled in a heated national debate about the dividing lines between fact and fiction, between legitimate sources and illegitimate ones. Now more than ever, American read to confirm their pre-existing beliefs and disdain the conventional rubrics for determining a source’s credibility. As some of our national institutions and government protocols come under attack, we also find ourselves in a national crisis of reading and interpretation. We seek papers that address “Paranoid Reading,” to use Eve Kosvosky Sedgwick’s term, in our current political moment. Papers might address, but are not limited to, the following topics: Does literary critical method change in the context of a Trump presidency? Or literary critical pedagogy? How and why? Does the current political climate produce new readings of texts? What would reparative American literary criticism look like in our current critical moment? Is it possible? Desirable? How can—or should—academic affect and performance respond to the anti-humanities turn that seems likely to only intensify? How should we approach oft-critiqued liberal ideals in the face of current attacks on those very ideals? How, for example, does the critical work on the impossibility of one stable truth fare in a moment awash in “fake news?” Please send a 300 word abstract and c.v. to Anna Mae Duane ( by March 15th.