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Call for Papers

Fraktur and the Everyday Lives of Germans

in Pennsylvania and the Atlantic World, 16831850

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 5-7 March 2015

Paper and panel proposals are invited for a conference on Fraktur and the Everyday Lives of Germans in

Pennsylvania and the Atlantic World, 16831850 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. 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 at and are featured on the Free Librarys 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 Philadelphias 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 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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