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Call for Papers – Panel Proposal
Teaching Prospects: Young Women as Educators in Nineteenth-Century American Literature

C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists Conference, Berkeley, CA, April 12-15, 2012

Building upon this year’s C19 conference theme, “Prospects: A New Century,” this panel will explore representations of young adult women as educators in nineteenth-century American novels, short stories, and/or autobiographies. We envision a panel that explores the broad concept of educational and professional “prospects” as they became increasingly available to women across social, economic, and racial borders, while attending as well to how those prospects were shaped, constrained, experienced, and represented. We are especially interested in paper proposals on the role of the governess figure in nineteenth-century American literature but welcome a variety of other approaches to the topic that will help us consider how female educators, as portrayed in both fictional and non-fictional texts, not only influenced the future “prospects” of their young pupils, but were also, as the result of their positions, exposed to new experiences, ideas, people and opportunities. Possible topics and approaches include the following, among others:

  • The figure of the governess in the literary imagination.
  • Narratives of women, education and reform (e.g. female educators in the anti-slavery movement, the Temple School, and rural freedman’s schools in the post-Civil War South).
  • Young women teachers in the “school story.”
  • The role of the child in the governess narrative.
  • Representations and/or intersections of race, gender, sexuality and class in narratives of female educators.
  • Children’s perspectives on and responses to female educators.
  • Scenes of educational instruction in women’s slave narratives.
  • Sentimentalism and women in the classroom.
  • Women’s rights and the female educator.
  • Discipline and pedagogy at home and school.
  • Female educators and the gothic and/or sentimental novel.
  • European governesses in the American imagination.

By Sept. 1, 2011, please send 200 word abstracts + CVs to both Kristen Proehl, Clemson University and Alison Tracy Hale, University of Puget Sound: and If you have any questions, please email

CFP – Teaching Prospects: Young Women as Educators in Nineteenth-Century American Literature