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Call for Proposals: Interdisciplinary Nineteenth-Century Studies (INCS) 2016

11/2/15; 3/10-13/15


Theme: Natural and Unnatural Histories

Keynote Speakers: Kate Flint (University of Southern California) and Elaine Freedgood (NYU)


March 10-13, 2016, Renaissance Asheville Hotel, Asheville, NC


Historicism achieved its full flowering in the nineteenth century, when the historical methods of inquiry envisioned by figures such as Vico, Herder, and von Ranke were taken up and transformed in philosophy, art criticism, hermeneutics, philology, the human sciences, and, of course, history itself. By 1831, John Stuart Mill was already declaring historicism the dominant idea of the age. Taking human activity as their central subject, some nineteenth-century historicisms extended Hegel’s distinction between historical processes governed by thought and non-historical processes governed by nature. At the same time, scientists like Lyell and Darwin radically challenged nineteenth-century understandings of history by arguing that nature itself is historical. Powered by fossil fuels, industrialization began to prove this point by profoundly altering global ecologies at a previously unimaginable scale. We seek papers that investigate nineteenth-century histories and natures. How do natures, environments, or ecologies interact with histories at different scales—the local, the national, the transnational, or the planetary? What role does the nineteenth century play in the recent idea of an Anthropocene era? How might nineteenth-century natural histories help us to rethink historicism in the present? What are the risks and promises of presentist approaches to the nineteenth century? Possible topics include, but are not limited to:


Narrating history, narrating nature

Ideas of the natural, the unnatural, and/or the supernatural

Nineteenth-century ecologies broadly construed: domestic ecologies, aesthetic ecologies, imperial and postcolonial ecologies, synthetic or technological ecologies

Evolution and extinction

Posthuman histories

History, nature, and/or science in art

Family histories, social histories

Climate change, geosystems, geohistories

Bioregionalisms, transregionalisms, literature and “sustainability”

Queer ecologies/histories

Disability histories/Cripping nature

Life and non-life

Flora, fauna, and fossils

Ecopoetics, Environmental justice

Reporting events/recording nature

Commemorative musical compositions/performances

Biopolitics, biopoetics

Discourses of pollution, toxicity, garbage, waste

Resource imperialism

Political ecologies and economies

Cross-cultural, indigenous, mestizo, subaltern nature writing

Creaturely life, life forms, nonhumans, monstrosity

Landscape aesthetics

Global South studies

Utopian/dystopian, steampunk, or neo-Victorian natures and/or histories

Nineteenth-century histories of philosophy, religion and/or theology

History of science, history of medicine, public health discourses

Natural disasters, cataclysmic events

Sexological, criminological, and/or psychiatric narratives

Resources, capital, economies

Biography and autobiography, case studies, archives

History as genre: history painting, Bildungsroman, epic, historical novel, historical drama, etc.


Deadline: November 2, 2015. Upload proposals and a one-page CV via  For individual papers, send 250-word proposals; for panels, send individual proposals plus a 250-word panel description. Proposals that are interdisciplinary in method or panels that involve multiple disciplines are especially welcome. Questions? Contact Jill Ehnenn at