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CFP: “Bustle and Stir” Conference at MCEAS

From the McNeil Center for Early American Studies comes this call for papers for a graduate student conference:
“How soon is evil done!” Hugh Blair exclaimed from his Edinburgh pulpit in a sermon published in 1777. “There needs no great bustle or stir, no long preparation of events, to overturn what seems most secure, and to blast what appears most flourishing.”
    In the early modern Anglophone world, the words “bustle” and “stir” referred to the dynamic, contingent, and at times transformational experiences of social and economic life. Inspired by these terms—and acknowledging the threat they posed to men like Blair and the promise they sometimes conveyed to less well placed women and men—this conference will reconsider movement and exchange in early America and in the broader Atlantic world in Indigenous, African, and European contexts in the period before 1850.
    We are interested in movers and shakers from all walks of life, whether such actors were free or unfree, in power or in revolt, making a killing or barely surviving. We are also interested in the movement of things, ideas, goods, substances, plants, animals, genres, emotions, pathogens, fashions, beliefs, and ethical systems that shaped and transformed early America through their circulation or non-circulation. We seek to draw together scholars from multiple disciplines to contribute to an understanding of the vibrant and unstable ground of this world in flux. In pairing exchange with movement, we invite reconsideration of the types and spaces of encounter that defined trade, diplomacy, sexuality, gender relations, and the multifarious creative forces that emerged from interactions, both intimate and impersonal. We also would like to consider the limitations of these concepts. What constrained dynamism in early America? Where did stasis and inertia impede flux, change, and exchange? Who moved and who could or would not? Does the concept of “early America” have analytical purchase given the movements and exchanges that transgressed cartographic boundaries?
The conference will be held October 8-10, 2015, at the McNeil Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The Center will provide some assistance toward lodging and travel reimbursement to accepted panelists. Submissions are welcome from students from all disciplines and at any stage in their graduate programs. Proposals should include a brief C.V. and a 500-word abstract of the proposed paper, and are due by March 2, March 23, 2015. Submissions and all inquiries should be directed to mceas2015conference@gmail.com. Applicants will be notified of the program committee’s decision within two months.

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