CFP: “Edgar Allan Poe and Nineteenth-Century Medicine” (2016 ALA Conference)

CFP for the 2016 American Literature Association Conference, San Francisco, 26-29 May

Sponsored by Poe Studies: History, Theory, Interpretation

“Edgar Allan Poe and Nineteenth-Century Medicine”

At the finale of Poe’s “Berenice,” when the narrator rolls out his dead cousin’s beautiful teeth, along with “some instruments of dental surgery” and a shovel, we are more than subtly pointed in the direction of cosmetic dentistry’s lucrative relationship to grave robbing—and to the fact, of course, that the fresher the cadaver the easier the extraction was for its nineteenth-century practitioners. Poe mined the world of medicine for his fiction, searching its dark corners and strange narratives for what he could ascertain about practices that made sense of living and dying, suffering and healing, violence and knowledge.

This panel seeks proposals that illuminate Poe’s work in relation to the medical developments of his time. We are particularly interested in papers that explore, in fresh ways, the effects of medical technologies, instruments, and theories on his thinking and fictional explorations, including those derived from neurology as well as physiology, from the birthing room as well as the mortuary.

Please send a 400-500 word abstract to by 15 January 2016.  We aim to put together a four-paper panel, which we will then develop into a special issue for the journal Poe Studies. Please direct any questions to Dana Medoro.