American Literary Studies Faculty and Graduate Students recently participated in the C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference hosted this year at UNM. UNM English was well represented with 5 Faculty and 8 Graduate Students participating in various panels, presentations, and discussions.
Professor Jesse Alemán served as a respondent in the panel, “Working our Steps: Recovering from the Ruiz de Burton Addiction in the Latinx 19th Century.”
Assistant Professor Bernadine Hernández moderated a session on “The Climate of Desire, Sex, Literature, and Empire.” In this session, Hernández presented, “Border Bodies: Building Sex and Empire in the Nineteenth-Century Southwest Borderlands where she examined the nineteenth-century text Who Would Have Thought It? by María Amparo Ruiz de Burtom in relation to sex, intimacy, and sexuality. Read the full abstract here.
Principal Lecturer Julianne Newmark presented on “Record Group 75 and the Agentic Trace: Turn-of-the-century Indigenous Activism in the BIA Archive, which explored a cohort of turn-of-the-century Native activist writers, many of whom would later be initial members of the Society of American Indians at its founding in 1911. Newmark offered an intersectional methodology for deepening understanding of the authorial role of foundational indigenous writers like Charles Eastman, Gertrude Bonnin, Raymond Bonnin, and Carlos Montezuma. Newmark argues further nuance to knowledge of this cohort is necessary to add by locating instances of bureaucratic compositional agency within the documents that bear the title “Record Group 75” (the BIA papers) in the National Archives. Read the full abstract here.
PhD Student Lauren Perry presented, “You’re a Traitor to your Country and Your Class”: Rollin Ridge’s Legend of Joaquin Murieta as it Survives Print Culture, Zorro, and Batman in the 20th Century, where she examined how John Rollin Ridge’s 1854 novel The Life and Adventures of Joaquin Murieta has been adapted, lost, and found again through the narratives of Zorro and Batman. Read the full abstract here.
Assistant Professor Kathryn Wichelns moderated a session entitled, “Western Climates: Brutality, Dismemberment, and Normative Disruptions in the American West which included the following presentations:
PhD Student Laurie Lowrance presented, “Latina Domesticity and Agency in the Nineteenth-Century American West” where she examined the ways in which Latinas negotiated various and often competing forms of domesticity in the American West analyzing the writings of Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton to reveal the strict gender codes and challenges of white domesticity still at play west of the Mississippi. (Full abstract)
Doctoral Candidate Amy Gore presented, “Paratextual Dismemberments: The Plagiarized Legacy of Indigenous Literary Production” where she challenged conceptions of American West for men of color in the “American Brutalities” panel by looking to the plagiarized legacy of Indigenous literary production. Gore asserted that the many unauthorized reprints of Cherokee author John Rollin Ridge’s The Life and Adventures of Joaquín Murieta (1854) attempt to dismember Ridge from his intellectual and literary labor, reflecting the disarticulation of a majority of American citizens in a society purportedly founded on ideals of equality. Through a corpus of marginalized voices, scholarship provides corrections to the continually romanticized American West and interjects more complex readings of Western climates. (Full abstract)
PhD Student Jana Koehler presented, “Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Dorothy Scarborough, and the Proto-Feminist Weird West” where she challenged nineteenth century conceptions of the American West as a place of limitless opportunities and unprecedented freedoms as we privilege the voices of women and people of color. (Full abstract)
Vinnie Basso, a PhD student, presented on “American Brutalities: Lynching and Spectatorship in Nineteenth Century American Literature, where he confronted the iconic legacy of lynching through several historical events and texts published in the later half of the nineteenth century and argued for lynching’s role in the developing anxieties of American masculinity, exposing the unequal opportunities for freedom and justice for men of color in the American West. (Full abstract)
Basso also presented, “Disaster Culture in the Age of Muir: Environmental Threat and American Consciousness” in a panel discussing “The Cultural Politics of Disaster Writing.” Basso investigated disaster culture and its development in the Gilded Age United States, focusing on American literary naturalism and its uses of natural disaster and environmental threat, and considering the ways that writers like Frank Norris, Stephen Crane, and Jack London transposed social anxieties onto the environment as a way to aestheticize environment and its hazards. (Full abstract)
Assistant Professor Jesse Costantino chaired the panel, “Looking in on the American Utopia: Inclusion and Exclusion in Nineteenth-Century Narratives of Race, Gender, and Community” with presentations from the following UNM English Faculty and Graduate Students:
Assistant Professor Kathryn Wichelns presented, “Unchecked Animal Creation’: Colonial Order and Disorder in Annie Fields’s Diary of a West Indian Tour” where she focused on a little-read piece by Annie Fields, the widow of an Atlantic Monthly editor and the longtime intimate partner of Sarah Orne Jewett. Wichelns argued that Fields’s depictions of Jamaican “civility” and Haitian “barbarity” reflect her commitment to promoting Anglo-American cultural values. (Full abstract)
PhD Student David Puthoff presented, “Commune over Constitution: Early 19th-Century Utopian Literature Against the ‘American Utopia” where Puthoff examined two early novels—James Reynolds’s 1802 Equality, a History of Lithconia and George Fowler’s 1813 A Flight to the Moon; or, the Vision of Randalthus—as a means of illustrating what Puthoff argued is the entrenched liberal fantasy of an all-inclusive society. (Full abstract)
Chrysta Wilson, a PhD Student, presented, “Trigger Shy: Enslaved Bodies, Engendered Pain, and the Destruction of Language in Frederick Douglass’s Narrative and My Bondage and My Freedom” where she explored ongoing scholarly criticisms of Frederick Douglass’s emphasis on the pain and suffering of enslaved women. (Full abstract)
PhD Student Vicki Van Brocklin explored an under-read piece by the iconic stunt reporter Nellie Bly, who paved the way for women in the newspaper and magazine world in her presentation, “The Performance of Resistance: Nellie Bly’s ‘Six Months in Mexico.'” (Full abstract)