Call for Submissions: Special Issue “Beyond Recovery”

Archive boxesPhoto 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 ( and Steffi Dippold ( by June 15, 2018.