Fiction in the Wake of 1800
Panel co-organizers: Duncan Faherty, Queens College and CUNY Graduate Center firstname.lastname@example.org
Justine Murison, University of Illinois email@example.com
Despite attending to the unbridled partisan anxieties preceding the election of 1800, scholars have often described its aftermath as “restrained” or “mild” since the contestation remained bloodless and resolved itself legally. Yet, dismissing the charged rhetoric of the Revolution of 1800 as a tempest in a teapot fails to account for the circulation of such dissention and presumes too heavily on its rapid exhaustion. While literary historiography has often cast the first two decades of the 19th century as devoid of cultural merit much in the same way, this panel seeks to repopulate this era by bringing to light the variety of fictional genres and forms actually published in this period. Our major contention is that scholars have overlooked the output of this period because of how the uncertainties about the futurity of the United States, which characterized the election of 1800, continued to shape cultural production through 1820. Most significantly, the period after the Revolution of 1800 was not an era marked by consolidated cultural nationalism so much as an orientation toward the Atlantic, imperial, and hemispheric. We can see this in the events of the era, from Aaron Burr's aborted attempt to start a new nation in Louisiana in 1806 through the War of 1812 and the First Seminole War, and finally the Panic of 1819. This panel will show how the fiction of the period offers not so much a consolidated vision of nationalism, as the historical romances of the 1820s would, but a decentered nation linked to global circulations of people, ideas, and things. We welcome paper proposals on fiction in the wake of 1800 that consider the intersection of nation, empire, and circum-Atlantic mobility.