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CFP: Utopian Hawthorne

CFP: Utopian Hawthorne

Utopian Hawthorne

deadline for submissions: 

August 1, 2024

full name / name of organization: 

Nathaniel Hawthorne Review

contact email:

New Perspectives on Hawthorne and Utopia

Nathaniel Hawthorne Review, Spring, 2025

Editors: Monika Elbert and Andrew Loman

In The Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne writes, “The founders of a new colony, whatever Utopia of human virtue and happiness they might originally project, have invariably found it among their  earliest practical necessities to allot a portion of the virgin soil as a cemetery, and another portion as the site of a prison” (CE 1:47). This famous sentence deploys a number of key terms – the colony, virtue, happiness, projection, necessity, virginity, the cemetery, the prison – all of them interlinked with the sentence’s key term, Utopia.

Utopianism is a major topic in Hawthorne’s writing, generally. His fiction teems with would-be

Utopias, from Blithedale to the Hall of Fantasy to the new Adam and Eve’s post-cataclysmic

Boston. The horrors of a utopian spirit run riot are shown starkly in “Earth’s Holocaust.”  Literary form itself is implicated in utopianism, the Romance as Hawthorne defines it a kind of textual no-place “having a great deal more to do with the clouds overhead than with any portion of the actual soil” (CE 2:3). And Hawthorne’s stay at Brook Farm made him somewhat of a Realist, as we see his disenchantment in letters to his betrothed, Sophia.

 Hawthorne developed his Utopian thematics in a tumultuous era of American history. His career spanned four decades of Indigenous genocide caused by American expansion, unfolded alongside intensifying debates over the place of slavery in America, and overlapped with reform movements focused on carceral utopias like the penitentiary and the asylum. Prison and asylum reform were themselves part of an array of reform movements, notable among them the communitarianism that led to Brook Farm. There is also the influence of foreign utopian thinking, as in the socialist utopian movement wrought by Charles Fourier and examined by Andrew Loman in conjunction with Hawthorne’s utopian thinking in Loman’s ground-breaking study:  Somewhat on the Community System: Representations of Fourierism in the Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Routledge, 2005). In markedly different ways, all of these contexts inform Hawthorne’s fiction.

We read Hawthorne’s writing today at a similarly fraught historical moment, with a climate

emergency at hand and with various ethnic nationalisms, animated by their own strain of

utopianism, resurgent both in America and elsewhere. Our contemporary vantage permits new

readings of Hawthorne and his fiction. To this end, the Nathaniel Hawthorne Review invites

submissions for a special issue that considers utopianism in Hawthorne’s fiction and/or in his personal writing (letters, Notebooks entries) especially in relation to nineteenth-century and twenty-first century contexts. We encourage a wide variety of theoretical and methodological approaches.

Topics might include:

Hawthorne, America, and Utopia

Utopianism in the Short Fiction

The Romance as Aesthetic Utopia

Hawthorne and the Carceral Utopia

Utopia and Settler Colonialism

Gender and Utopia

Hawthorne, Utopia, and Ecology

Utopianism and Apocalypticism

Utopianism and Racial Ideology

The outsider in Hawthorne’s utopias

Religion and Hawthorne’s utopian writing

Views of gender relations in Hawthorne’s utopian writing

Family or love relationships in Hawthorne’s utopian writing

Gothic utopianism

Hawthorne’s Brook Farm portrayal and nineteenth-century descriptions of other would-be utopias (e.g., Louisa May Alcott and “Transcendental Wild Oats”; or the influence of Charles Fourier’s thinking on Hawthorne’s Blithedale)

Date for Abstracts: 250-400 words, August 1, 2024

Date for Full Drafts: January 15, 2025

Queries are welcome.  Please send abstracts to:

Dr. Monika Elbert, Montclair State Univ.

and to Dr. Andrew Loman, Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland