Early American Women Writers and the Cultural Meanings of Age


Panel organizer: Desiree Henderson, University of Texas Arlington  dhenderson@uta.edu


Panel sponsored by the journal Legacy


Charlotte Temple is fifteen years old when she is seduced and abandoned, while Eliza Wharton is thirty-seven when she dies after giving birth.   How can we resolve these radically different figurations of women’s age in relation to the seduction plot?  What happens if we consider age as a central heuristic in analyzing women’s writing, along with race and class?

This Legacy-sponsored panel welcomes papers that examine how early women engage with the gender-specific implications of age. How might foregrounding age as an analytic enable us to consider women’s cultural productions (broadly defined) in relation to new theoretical approaches, such as temporality and queer studies?  Is age connected to form, genre, or aesthetics in ways we have not yet examined?  What would comparative analyses of age across race, ethnicity, national identity, region, class, educational level, or historical period contribute to our understandings of the early Americas?

Topics/Keywords might include:



                -Seniority/Old Age



                -Coming of Age





                -Old Maids/Spinsterism


Send your 250-word paper abstract to Desiree Henderson at dhenderson@uta.eduby Friday, September 7, 2012.