Romanticism and Justice


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Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, TX
Wednesday, March 29, 2023 Preconference Day: Prisons, Literature, and Activism

The organizers of NASSR 2023 invite proposals for papers (350 words), panels (1,000 words), roundtables (500 words), and other innovative presentation formats (1,000-1,500 words) on the theme of “Romanticism and Justice” from scholars of every rank and relevant discipline.

Recent discussions of 'justice' have enlarged the field of Romanticism to include (for example) environmental, social, and epistemic justice, at the same time as Romantic scholarship has returned to investigate the institutions of criminal justice and their histories. These lines of inquiry recognize that conceptions of 'justice' in the era of revolutions have been formative to modern institutions and sensibilities. We welcome presentations that explore Romanticism's connection to justice, understood in the widest possible sense. Talks that engage Romanticism's geographical, linguistic, and/or methodological scope in areas that advance diversity and inclusion in the field are especially welcome.

Home to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Huntsville, Texas, seems a particularly apt place to discuss issues of justice, and we welcome papers that engage with the conference location and history.

Although America's sprawling penal system—a collection of some five thousand jails and prisons—is highly decentralized, Huntsville, perhaps even more than Washington, D.C., could stake a claim to serve as its capital city. For 160 years, it has coordinated criminal punishment for the Lone Star State and, in the last half century, it has stood at the forefront of a carceral revolution that has remade American society and governance. (Robert Perkinson, Texas Tough: The Rise of America's Prison Empire)

Conference activities will include tours of the Texas Prison Museum, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum, and TDCJ's Captain Joe Byrd Cemetery.

As past conferences of NASSR have done, the NASSR 2023 conference also aims to be an opportunity to consider the future of Romanticism as a critical field of humanist study, and to strategize about the role of Romanticism in shaping the future of the university. To that end, we welcome proposals on Romanticism beyond the scope of the conference theme.

Topics may include (but are not limited to):

  • The cultural evolution of criminality and criminology
  • Prison literature and prison publications
  • Imperialism and race: abolitionism, state crimes, extrajudicial killings, and global justice
  • The gendering of crime and other gender inequities
  • Courtroom dramas, famous trials, celebrated decisions, and the theater of justice
  • Codes of law, revolutionary justice, and utopianism
  • Remorse and terror, the affects of justice
  • The aesthetics of crime and punishment: sublimity, ennui, pastoral visions of justice
  • Contending authorities: sacred law, state law, and the profane
  • Law in liminal and hybrid spaces: international law, human rights, and transatlantic republicanism, anarchism, and socialism
  • Representation and justice
  • Justice in popular print culture, court proceedings and caricatures
  • Land appropriation and enclosures, population displacement, environmental degradation, slow violence, and climate justice
  • Animals and the law, animal rights and representation
  • Jurisdictions, war crimes, colonialism
  • Architecture of justice: Old Bailey, Newgate Prison, Bastille, Walnut Street Prison, façades and scaffolds
  • Ireland and injustice: Penal Laws, 1798 Rebellion, rack-rent
  • Pandemics and justice, lazarettos, and the criminalization of disease
  • Narratives of reformation, rehabilitation, and/or incapacitation
  • Systemic racism in the institutions of justice
  • State-sanctioned violence, prosecution, and persecution
  • Procedural justice, courtrooms and the halls of justice, sentencing and criminal records
  • Punishment, incarceration, transportation, capital punishment
  • Distributive justice, equity, and restorative justice: reconciliations, restitutions, and reparations
  • 'Justice' beyond institutions: dueling, revenge, riots, unrest, lynching, and vigilantism
  • Poetic justice, just deserts, and the representation of justice
  • Whose canon? The history and future of social justice and engagement in Romantic pedagogy

Submit proposals to [email protected] by October 31, 2022. Please specify in your proposal if you plan on attending in person or remotely.

Conference Organizer: Michael Demson, Sam Houston State University. Conference-related inquiries can be directed to [email protected].   

March 29, 2023 at 7:00am - April 02, 2023
1905 University Ave
Huntsville, TX 77340
United States
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