The American Literature Society invites contributions for a panel at the upcoming American Literature Association Conference in Boston, May 23-26, 2019.

Growing up and Growing Old: Age, Race and Gender in American Literature

From the Revolutionary War era, when the U.S. considered itself an “infant nation” through the nineteenth century’s fascination with urchins, orphans and other deserving cherubs, childhood has been a central organizing metaphor for American authors. As recent work in Critical Age Studies and Childhood Studies have shown, narratives of progress, development, and eventual mastery are cast as seemingly universal American stories, even as the option to “grow up American” is systematically refused on the basis of race, ethnicity gender, sexuality and ability. This panel seeks to explore how the concepts of age and aging are constructed in conversation with–and often in opposition to–other forms of identity in American literature.

Some possible topics include, but are not restricted to:

Childhoods of color

How do we think about age without falling into narratives of growth and decline?

Growing up gender fluid and/or other modes of queering childhood

Institutions (prisons, schools, hospitals) and the process of growing up/old

Rethinking the bildungsroman

Who gets to grow up?

Racial temporalities and the aging process

Colonizing childhoods

Metaphors of infantilization

Rethinking the parameters of children’s literature

Childhood in the literature of social justice

Children as political actors

Please send a 200 word abstract and c.v. to Anna Mae Duane at by December 20th, 2018.


American Literature Pedagogies: The American Literature Society invites individual proposals for a panel on the theme of “American Literature Pedagogies” at the 2019 MLA convention in Chicago, Illinois (Jan 3-6, 2019). In her 1977 essay, African American feminist literary scholar Barbara Smith writes, “For books to be real and remembered they have to be talked about.” We seek submissions that draw on pedagogical approaches that interrogate, expand, and challenge the American literary canon across time, space, and place. Papers that offer innovative, visionary, and/or new ways for thinking about American survey courses, period courses, multi-ethnic literature courses, and/or incorporate digital humanities, experiential learning, community-engagement, or other methods are encouraged. Please submit via e-mail a 250-word abstract and a 1-page CV by 5 March 2018 to Marci R. McMahon, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (

New Diasporas: A Roundtable: Recent African migrations to the United States prompt a revision of conventional notions of diaspora based on the frame of Atlantic slavery.  This roundtable – a collaborative session of the Postcolonial Forum with the American Literature Society – invites reflections on contemporary African Diasporas and their relationship to race, migration, postcoloniality, the Global South and/or the Black Atlantic. Please send a 200 word abstract and brief bio to Sheri-Marie Harrison ( and Yogita Goyal ( by 12 March 2018.

American Literature without Authors: Can we have American literature without authors? F. O. Matthiessen’s American Renaissance (1941)—the book said to found the study of antebellum American literature—based its argument upon a Romantic idea of the author: the lone genius who single-handedly created original, “great art.”  What might American literature look like if we did not have a propensity to study writers who we tend to think created their writings alone and/or if we queried traditional notions of authorship?  How can we conceive of American literature as a series of “Textual Transactions” (MLA 2019 Presidential Theme), wherein we could think of textual production as a transactional process?  Papers topics could include collaboration, conventions and clubs, political collectives, anonymous writing, book histories that displace the author as the center of meaning-making, translation, amanuenses, editors, anthologies, seriality, and reprinting of texts. 250-word abstracts and CV by 5 March 2018; Katy Chiles (