CFP : Whitman/Dickinson conference

Call for Papers

Whitman/Dickinson conference

Université François-Rabelais, Tours

12-13 March 2015

Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson appear alongside each other in histories of American literature, in anthologies of American verse, and are often taught in the same U.S. literature or poetry courses. Rarely, however, since Agnieszka Salska’s seminal book Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson : Poetry of the Central Consciousness, have scholars or poets written about them in relation to each other. Received wisdom has it that these poets started separate traditions within American poetry that have run parallel to each other for well over a century : the stereotype contrasts Whitman’s expansive and aggressively ‘masculine’ free verse with Dickinson’s more aphoristic, sometimes coy and ‘feminine’ metered poetry. While these ideas have already been challenged, old myths linger. New considerations of their writing might uncover significant similarities as well as differences in their attitudes toward and practice of their chosen artistic medium.

This conference seeks to bring together scholars and writers with a strong interest in both poets who will engage both their works in their presentations. Among many other possible topics and approaches, we would encourage papers on the concept of authority, textual strategies, variations on voice, the poetic I, gender roles, and on topics of paramount importance to people living and writing in the mid-nineteenth century, including, politics, the Civil War, and religion. Investigations may also bear on Whitman’s and Dickinson’s appropriation and/or subversion of past and contemporary cultural and literary codes and practices, and on their Americanization both of English-language poetry and the English language. A roundtable will be devoted to these poets’ relation to language, and scholars and poets are invited to submit contributions for this roundtable.

250-word abstracts should be sent by 1 June 2014 to Cristanne Miller, University at Buffalo SUNY ( and Éric Athenot, université François-Rabelais, Tours (

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