Call for Papers

Knowledge Networks: American Periodicals, Print Cultures, and Communities

One-day Symposium
School of American and Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham, UK
Friday May 27, 2011

Plenary speaker:
Leon Jackson, Associate Professor of English, University of South Carolina
Author of: The Business of Letters: Authorial Economies in Antebellum America (2008)

The recent turn to the study of print culture in American literary and cultural histories has increasingly focused scholarly attention on the dynamic interaction between writing, reading, and publishing. This has opened up a range of new perspectives on the networks of communication that shape and define creative, political, and intellectual communities. The “Knowledge Networks” symposium will explore these perspectives through the particular example of the American periodical as a public site of debate and exchange.

How have American periodicals made broader social, political, and intellectual trends and patterns visible? What role has professionalization played in the development of periodical publication? In what ways have readers engaged with American print culture through magazines? What communities have been created and shaped by American periodicals at different moments in the country’s history?

This one-day symposium seeks to address such questions through the analysis and interpretation of periodical content, while also exploring the status, influence, and interrelation of authors, illustrators, publishers, printers, and editors. We welcome proposals for individual papers and/or panels that engage with American periodicals from a wide range of disciplinary angles, including literary and intellectual history, literary studies, cultural history, visual culture, the history of science, and Victorian studies. In particular, we encourage papers looking at the nineteenth century, although submissions on American print culture in all periods are welcome.

We hope that this interdisciplinary conversation will also prompt some reflection on the various methodological approaches to the study of print culture currently in use, and suggest new ways of mapping and visualising the social networks in which periodical literature is embedded. For further details about the symposium and the larger “Knowledge Networks” research project, please visit

Proposals for papers (20 minutes), with a 300-word abstract and one-page CV, should be submitted to Dr Matthew Pethers and Dr Robin Vandome, School of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, by Monday 31 January 2011 at the symposium email address: There will be no delegate fee and limited funds are available to help some panellists with travel expenses.


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