Schedule — Overview

SHARP 19 at a Glance

Please note: this is a provisional overview; actual times may vary slightly.

Conference Program

The full conference program, including abstracts of papers, and room locations, is in preparation.

This summary program lists papers and panels, with names of participants, arranged in blocks of parallel sessions, as in the grid above.

(If you are presenting at the conference and need to make revisions to your titles or abstracts, kindly write us sharpamherst at gmail dot com .)

A note on dining

Special events 
We are delighted that our budget has allowed us to make not only the opening and closing receptions, but also the banquet, free and open to all, in keeping with our desire to make this conference as democratic and inclusive as possible. We ask only that you register for these events so that we can get an accurate estimate of attendance.

Lunch: “dine on your own”
The University of Massachusetts Amherst has for three years in a row been recognized as having the best campus food in the United States, and the many establishments in the Campus Center offer a wide variety of excellent, affordable food for every taste. We concluded that having SHARPists purchase lunch on their own would cost them less than having to pay for catered lunches (with fewer choices) via a higher registration fee. 

(* June 2019 update: details will follow on a separate page devoted to food and drink at the conference and in Amherst)

Sunday, July 14th, 2019

Early Arrival Registration

12 noon to 4 p.m.
UMass Lincoln Campus Center (map)

Possible: optional visit to American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA): collections and new facilities, tentatively circa 1-6 p.m.
(depends on interest; details to follow)

late afternoon

Possible optional trip to American Antiquarian Society, Worcester.

Monday, July 15th, 2019

12 noon to 4 p.m.: Registration

UMass Lincoln Campus Center (map)

Pre-Conference Events c. 12:30 p.m

Register for one of the following by June 19

Frost Library Special Collections, Amherst College
Native American Texts Seminar
(limited space; application process)

• The book-historical institutions on the Hampshire College campus:
Yiddish Book Center & Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art 
curators provide behind-the-scenes tour, show collections (limited space)

Literary Amherst Tour (open to all) 

1730 West Cemetery, including Emily Dickinson’s grave
Jones Library: Centennial Exhibit & Special Collections highlights
Amherst History Museum (including Mabel Loomis Todd Room, and Emily Dickinson’s famous white dress)


Opening Night, Amherst College

5:00 p.m.
opening events will take place in historic Johnson Chapel (1826-27)


Opening Keynote
Margaret Bruchac

Reconsidering Wampum:
Re-Weaving Materials, Memories, and Messages

Native American and First Nations shell wampum beads and belts are often interpreted, in museums, as evidence of mute artistic creations—“decorative beadwork” or “Indian money” or “colonial relics”—from an unknowable time and place. Woven wampum objects may be so vaguely identified and detached from text or experience that much is left to the imagination of the viewer. Wampum is, however, more than mere adornment; it is an evocatively potent method of messaging, whether woven into intricate material assemblages called “belts” or embedded into wooden bowls and clubs. In this keynote talk, Dr. Bruchac discusses how wampum belts and wooden objects embedded with wampum were created to both serve as messages and embody relations across time and space among humans, objects, landscapes, and other-than-human beings. By carefully reconsidering the materiality of the objects themselves, the texts that emerged from them, and the socio-political encounters—among Native peoples and colonial settler peoples—that brought these objects into being, even some of the most fractured memories can be recovered.

Margaret M. Bruchac—in her multi-modal career as a performer, ethnographer, and historian—has long been committed to revitalizing and repatriating cultural heritage through the use of restorative methodologies that challenge erasures and stereotypes. At the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Bruchac is an Associate Professor of Anthropology, Associate Faculty in the Penn Cultural Heritage Center, and Coordinator of Native American and Indigenous Studies. She is the author of Savage Kin: Indigenous Informants and American Anthropologists (2018). She directs a restorative research project—“The Wampum Trail”—that focuses on the history, materiality, curation, repatriation, and revitalization of historical wampum objects over time.

6:30 p.m.
Reception, Emily Dickinson Museum

Lifelong Amherst resident Emily Dickinson (1830-86) is widely regarded as America’s greatest and most innovative poet. The Dickinson Museum (owned by Amherst College), located on the former family property near the center of Amherst, comprises some 11 acres (4.45 hectares) including gardens and two houses: the 1813 Homestead, in which Dickinson grew up, and the 1856 Evergreens, built by her brother. The Museum’s mission is to spark the imagination by amplifying Dickinson’s revolutionary poetic voice from the place she called home.

The reception will take place on the beautiful historic landscape of the Homestead (with tent for protection against rain or unseasonable heat) and will include the opportunity to tour both family houses.

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Registration Desk Opens (Campus Center, UMass Amherst)

Respondent and Moderator Corey Flintoff

Those of you who have viewed our promotional video for the conference heard the voice of narrator Corey Flintoff–already familiar to American listeners of National Public Radio (NPR). We are pleased to announce that he will be joining us to serve as occasional master of ceremonies, panel moderator, and interlocutor with our invited speakers.

Corey is a now retired NPR reporter, news reader, and foreign correspondent. His career took him from Anchorage, Alaska, to Washington, D.C., a host of European and Asian postings, and finally several years as the NPR presence in Moscow. Since then, he has pursued a career as a writer of science fiction and fantasy literature.

Corey has been a regular visitor to the Pioneer Valley and a participant in many events at the Five Colleges over the past 25 years. An English major with a multiplicity of interests, he is eager to immerse himself in the richness of research that constitutes a SHARP conference.

9 a.m
Opening at University of Massachusetts


Second Keynote 
Peter Sokolowski 

The Invention of the Modern American Dictionary

Noah Webster’s revolutionary 1806 publication, A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language, the first truly American dictionary, and his subsequent work were showing their age and shortcomings by the mid-nineteenth century, when competition from the excellent dictionary of Joseph Worcester drove the publishers to a moment of truth—and of disruption. The decisions they subsequently made set the course for the company’s editorial and business policies to this day. This change from the idiosyncratic work of an individual to the organized effort of a team was an important and influential moment in the development of modern lexicography, and it is best understood alongside the business strategies that were its motivation. Webster’s work, the details of the “War of the Dictionaries,” and the teamwork resulting in the landmark edition of 1864 will all be discussed.

Peter Sokolowski, an alumnus of the University of Massachusetts (French literature), is a lexicographer and editor at large for Merriam-Webster, the preeminent publisher of US dictionaries, where he works on the Word of the Day podcast, Ask the Editor videos, and articles about word trends and etymologies.

Profiles of him have appeared in the Atlantic and New Yorker, and he made Time Magazine’s list of 140 best Twitter feeds (@PeterSokolowski). In addition to academic work on lexicography, he conducts workshops for teachers of English as a second language, serves as pronouncer for spelling bees around the world, and is a substitute jazz host for New England Public Radio. (He also plays a mean jazz trumpet.)

10:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Parallel Session 1
12:15 p.m. to 2 p.m. LUNCH on your own
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Parallel Session 2
3:45 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Parallel Session 3

5:30 p.m.
Third Keynote
Ilan Stavans

Books & Immigrants:
In the Frontline of Global Publishing

No two issues better define the present than the rise of populism and the persistence of immigration. Art, with its capacity, in Shakespeare’s phrasing, “to hold up a mirror to nature,” is fated to reflect those concerns. And book publishing in particular has the responsibility to keep the mirror as accurate as possible. Yet it often fails—miserably. Professor and cultural critic Ilan Stavans, publisher of Restless Books, an independent nonprofit enterprise devoted to championing stories that speak to us across linguistic and cultural borders, meditates on the challenges of diversifying the diet and broadening the viewpoint of international readers.

Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities and Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College.

He has taught courses on a wide array of topics such as Spanglish, Jorge Luis Borges, Shakespeare in prison, modern American poetry, Latin music, Don Quixote, Gabriel García Márquez, Modernismo, popular culture in Hispanic America, world Jewish writers, the cultural history of the Spanish language, Pablo Neruda, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Yiddish literature, Jewish-Hispanic relations, cinema, Latin American art, and U.S.-Latino culture.

A scholar and commentator of wide-ranging interests–essayist, literary critic, cultural historian, translator, editor, radio host–he is the author of many books, including Spanglish: The Making of a New American Language and A Most Imperfect Union as well as (with artist Steve Sheinkin) the graphic novel El Iluminado. He is also general editor of The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature.

6:30 -8:00 p.m.

Old Chapel

The historic 1885 Old Chapel–originally also home to a library, and thus an appropriate place for a SHARP reception–is the most iconic building on the UMass campus. In recent decades, it fell into disrepair, but the passionate engagement of the campus community and alumni led to a major restoration and renovation effort that was equally sensitive to historic value and modern sustainability, earning the Chapel both a listing on the National Register of Historic Places and a LEED Gold Certification for energy efficiency. Today, it is a state-of-the-art venue for events of all sorts.

c. 8:30 p.m. (program begins)
SHARP 2019 Welcome Event: Books & Beer
Upstairs at  High Horse Brewery, 24 North Pleasant Street
(1.3 miles/2 km; directions)

featuring: “Beowulf & Beer” (and more)

(you will also have the opportunity to purchase food:  menu)

SHARP 2019 Welcome Event: Books & Beer
Upstairs at  High Horse Brewery, 24 North Pleasant Street
(1.3 miles/2 km; directions)

featuring: “Beowulf & Beer” (and more)

At the original Beowulf & Beer event in 2013

Formerly an event at which the SHARP President and (maybe) a few other notables greeted students and “Early Career Researchers,” this event began last year to evolve into a general social event, allowing the host committee and city to provide an extra welcome to SHARPists of all ages and career levels. We liked this model and decided to continue it.

But in order to make clear that one of our goals remains to extend a special welcome to students & ECRs: you will still get a free drink courtesy of the SHARP bank account.

Poetry + free beer: what’s not to like?

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

Registration Desk Opens (Campus Center, UMass Amherst)

9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Parallel Sessions 4-5
12:15 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. LUNCH on your own
2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Annual General Meeting
3:45 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Parallel Sessions 6-7

8:00 p.m.  Conference Banquet
Commonwealth Honors College

Characterized by small classes and close interaction with faculty, the Commonwealth Honors College (2013) provides a diverse community of academically talented students with extensive opportunities for learning, leadership, and community engagement in a small residential and teaching facility within a nationally recognized research university. The complex, comprising seven buildings organized around a series of open courtyards, is certified LEED silver for energy efficiency and sustainability.

9:30 p.m. After Hours

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Registration Opens

9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Parallel Sessions 8-9
12:15 to 2:00 p.m. LUNCH on your own
2:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. Parallel Sessions 10-11

5:30 p.m. Closing Plenary
Writers’ Houses, Sense of Place, and 
Book History in Cultural Tourism

Roundtable and Responses: Emily Dickinson Museum, et al.

6:30 p.m. Closing Reception
South College

Built in 1867, as one of the first structures of the new Massachusetts Agricultural College (founded 1863), South College served multiple functions. Destroyed by fire in 1885, it was soon rebuilt in a historicizing chateau style. A major 2014-17 project both restored and modernized the historic structure, adding a four-story, 60,000 square foot addition that complements the original architecture and includes the grand atrium (above), where our reception will take place. The building, which houses the College of Humanities and Fine Arts, including the Dean’s office, HFA Advising, and departments of EnglishPhilosophyArt History, and Women, Gender & Sexual Studies, is a candidate for LEED Gold certification for energy efficiency and sustainability.

Optional town event

Jones Library, Woodbury Room, 6:30 PM
Hear and discuss Robert Frost poems with Stephen Collins. The original manuscript of “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” will be on display.
43 Amity Street

8 p.m. Dine Around Town on own

Friday, July 19, 2019

Post Conference Excursions
(Please register by June 19)

New England Writers’ Homes: Place and Public History
c. 8:15 departures from UMass

• Eastern Massachusetts
Concord, Massachusetts: Thoreau, Emerson, Alcott; Concord Museum and Revolutionary Battlefield

• Connecticut River Valley:
Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster Company (pre-eminent US dictionary publisher)
Hartford, Connecticut: Stowe, Twain, Webster

• Western Massachusetts:
Bryant (Cummington), Melville (Pittsfield), Wharton (Lenox)

Local Book Arts
departure time TBA

Tour of artists’ studios/workshops, special showing of artists’ books


Evening: Dine on your own in Amherst