Call for Papers | Fraktur, 1683–1850

Posted in Calls for Papers by Editor on March 16, 2014

From the Facebook page of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies:

Fraktur and the Everyday Lives of Germans in Pennsylvania and the Atlantic World, 1683–1850
Philadelphia, 5–7 March 2015

Proposals due by 15 April 2014


Reward of Merit (Belohnung),watercolor on laid paper
10.6 cm x 9.4 cm, ca. 1790s (Free Library)

Paper and panel proposals are invited for a conference on Fraktur and the Everyday Lives of Germans in Pennsylvania and the Atlantic World, 1683–1850 to be jointly sponsored by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Free Library of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and to be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5–7 March 2015. The conference will coincide with major exhibitions at both the Museum and the Free Library. The Philadelphia Museum will be exhibiting fraktur from the collection of Joan and Victor Johnson, featuring many extraordinary manuscript and printed examples from southeastern Pennsylvania along with other objects, and will also be publishing a comprehensive scholarly catalogue of the Johnson collection [more information on the collection is available from a 2013 article at The Magazine Antiques]. The Free Library will feature historically significant, rare and unique examples of Fraktur, manuscripts, broadsides, and printed books from the Henry Stauffer Borneman Pennsylvania German Collection. Presently many of these items are available to scholars in an online database and are featured on the Free Library’s PA German Collection Blog.

These two exhibitions and their accompanying digital and printed components offer a tremendous opportunity for boundary-crossing discussion and analysis. While German-speaking people in Pennsylvania are often conceptualized as a distinctive and isolated group, the exhibitions and this conference encourages efforts to see them as a common subject of inquiry that provides a point of entry for a much broader understanding of the significance of art and culture and for how we understand human experience in the past and the present.

Among the potential themes that the conference hopes to explore are:
• the place of ethnicity within the Early American Republic
• Philadelphia’s historic and on-going relationship to its rural, small-town, and suburban hinterlands
• Pennsylvania Germans and acculturation
• varieties of German culture in European, Atlantic, and non-Pennsylvania contexts
• digital projects as a transformative force for studying art, material culture, history, genealogy, and our understanding of the past
• the relationship of libraries, museums, and university-based academic programs to the general public
• the strengths and weaknesses of art and material culture for understanding the past
• the role of the collector in preserving the past for the future

Proposals are welcome for papers of 25 to 30 pages in length, which will be pre-circulated to all conference participants. Suggestions for complete panels will also be considered, but the organizers reserve the right to accept, reject, or reassign individual papers. Please submit proposals of approximately 500 words, along with curriculum vitae, to mceas@ccat.sas.upenn.edu no later than 15 April 2014. Accepted panelists will be notified by late May 2014. Papers will be due for pre-circulation no later than 15 January 2015. Some support for participants’ travel and lodging will be available for paper presenters.

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