CFP: Wealth in Transatlantic Realism and Naturalism, 22-25 April 2016

Conference of the European Association for American Studies, Constanta, Romania, 22-25 April 2016

This panel, organized by Gert Buelens (Ghent University) and Jude Davies (University of Winchester), will examine transatlantic literary representations of the rise of finance capitalism in and around the period 1875-1917, with a particular focus on the figure of the financier and the different sources of “old money” and “new money”. At the start of this period, London was the heart of the financial world; towards the end, New York could be regarded as having replaced London in this position. Connections between America and Britain were strong in the world of speculation, where wealth was being created less by means of profit derived from production or landed property and more thanks to the ascribed value of financial stock. Literary realism and naturalism are in part responses to these shifting and intensifying relations between old and new, real and virtual, material and ideal, natural and social, especially when charting transatlantic flows of capital, commodities, and people. Works that spring to mind are Anthony Trollope’s The Way We Live Now (1875), with its speculator Augustus Melmotte and the transatlantically funded scheme of the railway that is to connect San Francisco and Vera Cruz; several of Edith Wharton’s works, with their depiction of the varying “customs” that regulate wealth in the US and France; Theodore Dreiser’s trilogy of the financier Frank Cowperwood; Henry James’s unfinished Ivory Tower (1917) and its reflection on the moral aftermath of the acquisition of wealth.

Short proposals (no more than one page) are invited for twenty-minute papers that deal with works from American realism and/or naturalism and/or with British and other European literatures relating to the period, from a transatlantic perspective. Details on the EAAS conference may be found at http://eaas2016.org/.

Please send proposals to transatlanticwealth@gmail.com by 5 June 2015. Proposers will be notified by 15 June.

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