American Literature Association Conference
May 23-26, 2019 — Boston
Panel Topics with Scheduled Papers and Presenters
Unsettling Feeling: Melville’s Emotions
Talk of Melville and "emotion" may call to mind Moby-Dick's affective extremes: Ahab's monomaniacal fury and the egalitarian exuberance of the crew. But in recent years critics have begun to excavate a range of less focused, recognizable, or stable feelings, which permeate Melville's oeuvre. Sianne Ngai analyzes The Confidence Man's circulation of "fake feeling" and its ambiguous, unstable atonality; Jennifer Greiman has described "misgivings" in Battle-Pieces as a productive "mood of suspension"; and Michael Jonik troubles our visions of squeeze-of-the-hand camaraderie by tracing the "sensation of misanthropy."
Chair: Nathan Wolff, Tufts University
1. "The Politics of Cynicism in Melville's The Confidence-Man," Craig Stensrud, University of British Columbia
2. "The Feeling of Miscegenation: Sublime Suspicion in Pierre," Hannah Walser, Harvard University
3. "The Whiteness of the Will: Race and the Matter of Monomania," Jonathan Schroeder, University of Warwick
4. "The Essence of Ambergris," Erica Fretwell, University at Albany, SUNY
Melville and Women, Revisited
2019 marks the 200th year since Melville’s birth and has inspired varied observances of this anniversary. It also marks 25 years since the first Melville Society panel on Melville and women at ALA. This panel returns to gender theory and scholarship, inviting fresh considerations of women as shapers of culture and the arts, voices of protest and reform, and pioneers in fluid conceptions of gender and identity. How do these contexts influence our understanding of women who inhabit Melville’s pages and with whom he lived, worked, corresponded, and met the challenges of 19th-century life and writing? What do we make of unconventional characters like Isabel Banford, Agatha Hatch, Hunilla, or Goneril? What of his queens—Pomaree, Hautia, and “queenly” Ahab? How do 21st-century understandings of race, gender, sexuality, and identity help us frame these presences in Melville’s work?
Chair: Wyn Kelley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
1. "Ishmael Casts Off His Petticoats: A Female Rereading of Moby-Dick,” Megan J. Arlett, University of North Texas
2. "Melville, Mothers, and Motherless Worlds: Femininity and Shakespearean Influence in Moby-Dick,” David Greven, University of South Carolina
3. “''That Grief Could be so Brave': Silence, Suffering, and Republican Virtue in the Working-Class Women of Melville’s Short Fiction,” Madison Furrh, Colorado State University