CFP: Illness, Age, Death (Henry James Review)



      The James family was disabled: Henry James, Sr., hobbled by a wooden leg; William, his early career stalled by neurasthenia; Alice, the insistent invalid; Wilkie, injured in the Civil War; Bob, an alcoholic; Henry, obscurely hurt. Throughout their young adulthood, the Jameses’ sibling rivalry was enacted in a drama of competing illnesses.

Illness, age, and death preoccupy Henry James from the beginning to the end of his writing life, recurring in early Civil War stories, tales of ghostly hauntings, and depictions of injured and ill characters, the dying and the dead. James dwells on the rites of mourning and the power of remembrance. His aging protagonists struggle with regret and loss. And the advent of the Great War brings the aged Henry James himself to despair. There are works in which James foregrounds these topics, say, “The Altar of the Dead” and The Wings of the Dove–but requiems can also be heard in the Carmelites’ “dirge over their buried affections” in The American and seen in the image of Isabel Archer as an “Angel of Death.”

This special forum issue invites contributions on the many ways that illness, age, and death appear in Henry James’s work and life. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  •  Loss
  • Pain, illness, injury, and disability
  • Aging, the elderly, old age
  • Death: romantic, sacrificial, happy, honorable, senseless; dying for love, for country, for nothing
  • Death of children
  • Mourning: remembrance, memorials, relics
  • Ghosts and hauntings
  • Deathbeds, last words, last rites
  • Angel of Death
  • War

Contributions should be produced according to current MLA style. One-page proposals or short (10-12 pages) essays should be sent electronically by March 1, 2016, to

Please identify your manuscript as an Illness, Aging, and Death Forum submission.