Call for Papers: The Feminine Mystic: American Prophetesses and the Politics of Religious Experience (June 9-11, 2017)

Katie Boswell's picture

The Feminine Mystic:

American Prophetesses and the Politics of Religious Experience

June 9-11, 2017

Hosted by:  Bard College at Simon's Rock and Shaker Museum / Mount Lebanon

            Marking the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in New York State in 1917, "The Feminine Mystic" is an interdisciplinary conference exploring the significance of women's religious authority in American political and cultural contexts from the early republic through the long nineteenth century. Special consideration will be given to the Shakers' celibacy and gender separation in relation to their efforts to establish women's authority. The Shaker experience illuminates the troubled and contingent struggle for American equality and serves as a prologue to the 19th-century heterodoxies of other women whose political agency was often entwined with ecstatic prophecy, alternative theologies, and visionary epistemology. Diverse in doctrine, these women align in critical relation to structures of power.

            This conference invites papers from affiliated and independent scholars in history, literature, art, theology, gender studies, American studies, and other areas in the humanities and social sciences—papers that examine the intersection of religious and political contexts for women and the bearing of that intersection upon the suffrage movement, the prohibition movement, and other causes. Papers on the antecedents or the after-effects of these themes are also invited. We especially welcome contributions that explore minority voices as well as transatlantic connections within these movements.

            We envision an intimate working group and conference proceedings that will take place on the Bard College at Simon's Rock campus in Great Barrington, MA, with accommodations available for participants. Attendees will also have the opportunity to visit the Shaker community at Mount Lebanon, NY and other sites of interest. Please email an abstract of no more than 200 words and/or direct inquiries to Professor Katie Boswell at by October 1, 2016.