CFP: Edith Wharton’s Summer (MLA 2017; Deadline 3.15.16)
When, towards the end of her life, Edith Wharton named her five favorite works among her fiction, one short novel featured on the list: Summer (1917). To mark the centenary of its publication, we invite papers reconsidering Summer and its place in Wharton’s oeuvre. Themes and approaches might include: a re-evaluation of its critical reception, with Wharton claiming in A Backward Glance that Summer had “shocked” its readers, while T. S. Eliot suggested it would be considered “disgusting” in America; its position in Wharton’s canon, perhaps reconsidering the novel’s links to Ethan Frome and its label as “the hot Ethan.” Also welcome are re-considerations of Summer in the context of the discourses of race and eugenics in the early twentieth-century United States, disability studies, sexual politics, and the motif of incest. Topics might include Summer in the classroom, Wharton’s treatment of unprivileged lives, Charity Royall, the novel’s hotly disputed ending, or Lawyer Royall, alternatively viewed as prince or monstrous abuser, the man of whom Wharton wrote to Bernard Berenson: “Of course, he’s the book.” All themes and approaches are welcome, but most especially those illuminating the ongoing relevance of the novel as it reaches its centennial year. Send 250-word abstracts and a brief bio as a single Word document by March 15, 2016 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Presenters must be members of the Edith Wharton Society.