Early American Literature  2017 Book Prize

Reading Children

Professor Patricia Crain of New York University has been selected to receive the 2017 Early American Literature Book Prize, which is awarded in odd calendar years to a second or subsequent monograph, and in even years to a first book.  Crain’s book Reading Children: Literacy, Property, and the Dilemmas of Childhood in Nineteenth-Century America was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2016.

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Inviting Nominations of First Books for the 2018 Prize  


Bradstreet First Edition

Early American Literature invites nominations of first books for its 2018 Book Prize, given to the best newly released academic book about American literature in the colonial period through the early republic.

The deadline for nominations is February 1, 2018. Read more

Call for Submissions: Special Issue “Beyond Recovery”

Archive boxes; Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash


The recognition that archives are partial, filled with lacunae that demand scholarly attention, has fueled research engaging the epistemological, cultural, and political forces of early American materials and repositories. While powerful, positivist recovery work—efforts to fill gaps and hear silenced voices— has theoretically and materially expanded early American studies, the archive remains yet and always incomplete. This special issue of Early American Literature seeks essays that work around, across, or beside missing or marginalized records. “Beyond Recovery” invites submissions that address some of the following questions: What avenues exist for scholars when archival research reaches a dead end of missing or absent records? How can scholars and archivists intellectually and ethically engage with archival absence? Are there some archival gaps that not only cannot but also should not be filled? How can we respond to the powerful pull of absence—of that which has been lost or suppressed—rather than to what is found? How do the structures of archives—labor, the organization of and access to materials, institutional homes—enable or disable archival gaps, and their apprehension? What techniques and technologies can be used in archival work as or beyond recovery?  We welcome submissions exploring a wide range of methodological, material, and pedagogical approaches that engage with absences and exclusions. In particular, we invite full-length (8,000-10,000 words) articles from scholars engaged in archival research whose work models new approaches to records that are incomplete, biased, unrecorded, or unpreserved.  Send essays to Lauren Coats (lac@lsu.edu) and Steffi Dippold (dippolds@ksu.edu) by August 1, 2018.

Call for Submissions: Special Issue of Early American Literature on "Fictionality"

Charlotte Temple

The decade since the publication of Catherine Gallagher’s landmark essay “The Rise of Fictionality” (2006) has witnessed an increasing concern with overturning well-established theories of the rise of the novel and the development of literary realism through a re-examination of the axiomatic values underpinning contemporary attitudes toward the concept of “fiction.” Variously substantiating, expanding and adapting Gallagher’s central claim that “fiction” is not a universal constant but a particular mode of negotiating referential truth claims that only emerged in the mid-eighteenth century, scholars of the early British and French novel such as Sarah Tindal Kareem, Srinivas Aravamudan, and Nicholas D. Paige have recently offered invigoratingly new accounts of the complex and contested epistemological status of imaginary stories as they began to define and redefine themselves against other popular narrative discourses.  Gallagher herself dismissed the “Founded in Fact” trope familiar from texts such as The Power of Sympathy (1789) as evidence that "fictionality seems to have been but faintly understood in the infant United States.” But in the last few years a growing number of early Americanists have clearly begun to probe the truth claims of the post-revolutionary novel in ways that reveal the sophistication and potency of its fictionality, even if their approaches to this issue have emerged more indirectly from an engagement with the role of genre, the imagination, the enchanted or the utopian in early American fiction as revealed through the lens of new critical emphases on aesthetics, form and post-symptomatic reading.
This special issue on "Fictionality and Early American Literature” seeks to consolidate and connect these emerging modes of literary interpretation as they apply to the issues raised by Gallagher and her respondents, as well as extending the debate to include work drawing on other key approaches to fictionality: among them, the narratological, the rhetorical, the philosophical, and the linguistic. Bringing this range of critical angles on the category, status and value of the “fictional” to bear in an early American context can not only cast fresh light on our understanding of post-revolutionary defences of and diatribes against novel-reading, but offer a more nuanced view of the varieties of fiction available in the new republic, from short magazine tale and the dramatic play to the secret history, as well as of the truth claims made by ostensibly factual narratives from the providence tale and the scientific treatise to the historical chronicle. Accordingly, we would welcome essays that analyse and compare a wide range of genres in order to assess the category of “fiction” as it appeared and developed in North America. The long-term nature of that process, as well as the transatlantic and multilingual identity of “fiction” in early America, means that we would also be keen to solicit work addressing relevant subjects as they pertain to any decade between the late seventeenth and early nineteenth century, in French- and Spanish-speaking as well as Anglophone territories in the New World. In addition to the areas mentioned above, those relevant subjects could include but are by no means limited to discussions of: religious, legal or poetic definitions of “truth” as they relate to fictional texts; the ontological status and emotional attraction of fictional characters; fiction’s controversial status as a vehicle for instruction and enlightenment; the gendered nature of anxieties about the epistemological risks of reading fiction; the relationship between republican conceptions of political virtue and fictive deception; distinctions between “fiction,” “literature,” “art” and other meta-categorizations of imaginative works.
Prospective contributors should send enquiries and submit 300-word abstracts to Thomas Koenigs (tkoenigs@scrippscollege.edu) and Matthew Pethers (matthew.pethers@nottingham.ac.uk) by January 31 2018, for 8000-10,000-word essays to be completed by February 2019.

Inviting Nominations of Second or Subsequent Books for the 2017 EAL Book Prize


Early American Literature invites nominations of second or subsequent books for its 2017 Book Prize, given to the best newly released academic book about American literature in the colonial period through the early republic.

The deadline for nominations is February 15, 2017.

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Early American Literature  Book Prize for 2016

The Early American Literature Book Prize, which in even years recognizes a first monograph, has been awarded in 2016 to Professor Robert Gunn of the University of Texas at El Paso, for Ethnology and Empire: Languages, Literature, and the Making of the North American Borderlands (New York UP). The committee has also awarded an honorable mention to Professor Kathleen Donegan, of the University of California at Berkeley, for Seasons of Misery: Catastrophe and Colonial Settlement in Early America (U of Pennsylvania P).

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Call for Submissions:  Special Issue on "The Spanish Americas"


Historia General De Las Indias Capitan Gonzalo Hernandez De Oviedo Y Valdez 1536

This special issue of Early American Literature seeks to continue discussions on the linguistic and geographic resituating of the field through an emphasis on Spanish – as a language, an empire, a spatial conception, and an ideological stand-in for an “America” that is not English.  We seek essays on topics from the period of early contact through the Spanish American independence movements, engaging materials from textual, oral, or performance traditions. Essays might explore texts from or about the Spanish-occupied regions of North America which later became incorporated into the U.S.; perform comparative analyses of authors, works, or literary institutions from across the Americas; examine Anglophone representations of Mexican and Spanish American spaces; reflect on the relationship of writing to political organization; offer models for cultures of print that account for different systems of writing and patterns of censorship and distribution; or challenge and extend the hemispheric paradigm through new spatial models like Spanish Africa or the Latin Pacific. We also invite essays that introduce EAL readers to less familiar primary-source materials in Spanish or indigenous languages, and that consider questions of translation and communication in contact zones. In addition, we welcome essays that assess the state of the field and pedagogical reflections on what it means to teach early American literature in classrooms where the presence of an increasingly Latina/o student
population is felt.                  

Send essays to Kirsten Silva Gruesz ksgruesz@ucsc.edu and Rodrigo Lazo rlazo@uci.edu by February 15, 2017.


Inviting Nominations of First Books for the 2016 Prize  

Bradstreet 10th 1650


Early American Literature invites nominations of first books for its 2016 Book Prize, given to the best newly released academic book about American literature in the colonial period through the early republic.

The deadline for nominations is February 2, 2016. Read more



Fiftieth Anniversary Special Issue


Early American Literature is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary this year. A special issue to mark the occasion is available from the University of North Carolina Press. The issue features articles by Rolena Adorno, Wai Chee Dimock, Simon Gikandi, David Shields, and Priscilla Wald, and an introduction by editor Sandra M. Gustafson.

Individual copies of the issue are available from the press now. Contact and subscription information is available.



Winners of the 2015 EAL Book Prize


Anna Brickhouse for The Unsettlement of America: Translation, Interpretation, and the Story of Don Luis de Velasco, 1560-1945 (Oxford UP)

Wil Verhoeven for Americomania and the French Revolution Debate in Britian, 1789-1802 (Cambridge UP)

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