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(CFP) Films, Farms, Factories

Call for Papers
Films, Farms, Factories: Landscaping an Empire
The Green Nineteenth Century
30th Annual Conference of the Nineteenth Century Studies Association
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, March 26-28, 2009
Deadline: November 30, 2008

During the nineteenth century, America was launching its empire just as the British empire had reached its pinnacle. The transition British to American hegemony is often located, reductively, in the years following World War I, when world economies, along with artistic and literary cultures, tilted massively westward. But, even if such is the case, the nineteenth century is the fulcrum, when basic definitions of artistic, economic, domestic, and political success were supplanted by new responses to monumental feats of civil and industrial engineering, to astounding technological revolutions, to the march of empiricism, to the rise of new literary and artistic forms, and, most of all, to the acquisition, distribution, and management—especially in America—of land.

“Success” has meant different things in different civilizations. Asia and Africa, for example, have not shared Western notions of success because, historically, their societies have had radically different epistemic and moral structures. In Europe and America, however, success is most often measured by the territory a person or a corporation or a government controls. It is a notion that seems to spring naturally from our contact with virgin soil. As soon as James Fennimore Cooper charted the literary landscape of the frontier, America understood, narratively, the terms of its success. Cooper’s novels, despite their artistic inferiority, initiated central questions about what western civilization really was, what it looked like in transition, at its leading edge, when it shaped and controlled land: physically, industrially, ecologically, economically, racially, artistically. Who belongs where, who goes where, who consumes or relinquishes which resources, what geographical features qualify as artistic, when and how do economies emerge or wither from the politics of land management—these are the concerns of nineteenth-century America at the frontier of its civilization.

This area of panels invites papers that examine how film has used depictions or narratives of land management to define nineteenth-century civilization, to examine the identity of a nation, or to describe its evolution from decisive events in the nineteenth century.

Send your proposal, approximately 200 words, to the session chair by postal or electronic mail:

Dr. Loren PQ Baybrook
Editor, Film & History
800 Algoma Blvd.
Oshkosh, WI 54901



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