DISCOVERY
42nd Annual Conference
Sacramento, California
March 11-13, 2021

NCSA invites proposals for papers, panels, roundtables, and special sessions that explore our theme of Discovery in the long nineteenth century (1789-1914). As an interdisciplinary organization, we particularly seek papers by scholars working in art/architecture/visual studies, cultural studies, economics, gender and sexuality, history (including history of the book), language and literature, law and politics, musicology, philosophy, and science (and the history of science).

Papers might discuss uncovering lost cities, recovering forgotten manuscripts, or discovering new ways of thinking about aesthetic and historical periods. Scholars might explore the physical recovery of the past (archeology, geology), but also intellectual recovery as old ideas become new (evolution, neoclassicism, socialism, spiritualism). Papers might discuss publicizing discoveries (periodicals, lectures) or exhibiting discoveries (museums, world’s fairs, exhibitions). Other topics might include rediscovering and revisiting the period: teaching the nineteenth century, editing primary texts, and working toward diversity and social justice in the humanities.

As indicated by the list below, we interpret our theme broadly, welcoming papers that might include, but are not limited to, treating the discovery (and sometimes, “discovery”) of:

People (anthropology, ethnography, philology, linguistics; settler colonialism, indigenous voices, and resistance to being collected, discovered, and dispossessed), Places (maps and cartography, exploration and travel narratives), and Things (such as gold, feathers, petroleum, palm oil, artists’ pigments, and the consequences of such discoveries).

The Past (historical novels, monuments) or the Future (utopias, dystopias).

Aesthetic and Literary Movements, Genres, or Types (Arts & Crafts Movements, Chinoiserie and Japonisme, Impressionism, Medievalism, penny dreadfuls, Pre-Raphaelitism, Realism, Transcendentalism, sensation fiction, science fiction).

Gender and Sexuality (feminism, LGBTQ identities, masculinity studies, “New Women”).    

The Philosophical (Carlyle, Mill, Nietzsche) or the Spiritual (Blavatsky and Theosophy, ghost stories, the occult, spirit photography, spiritualism).

Science (botany, Darwin and evolution, Herschel and astronomy, Mary Anning and paleontology) or Pseudo-Science (eugenics, phrenology, Lombroso and criminology, Herbert Spencer and Social Darwinism).

Politics (presidents, prime ministers, political theorists, royalty), Legislation (child custody, divorce, property), or Transgression (crime and punishment, radicalism).

Nations and Nationalism (American imperialism, German unification, Risorgimento) or Revolutions and Wars (France, Civil War, Opium Wars, Boxer Uprising).

Religion (Great Awakening, “Jew Bill,” Catholic Emancipation), or Death and Dying (mourning practices, funerary art, death masks & photography).

Social Justice (“fallen” women, Jane Addams, orphanages, Poor Laws, workhouses), or Causes and Movements (emancipation, literacy and education, socialism, suffrage, vegetarianism).

Entertainment (magic lanterns, film, stereoscopes), the Theatrical (“well-made play,” melodrama, Catherine Gore, Ibsen), or the Musical (concerts, instruments, music halls, opera).

Travel (navigation, sail/steam ships, wooden/iron ships, railroads, tourism) or Technology (canals, photography, steam power, telegraph, printing).

The City (Chinatowns, mass transit, urban growth and renewal, slums and ghettoes), or Sociability (salons, organizations, associations, clubs, restaurants).

Technologies of the Mind (printing, publishing, libraries, schools).