The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife

dubsemlogo-101x137.gifThe Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife is a continuing series of conferences, exhibitions, and publications whose purpose is to explore everyday life, work, and culture in New England’s past. Founded on the premise that traditional lore and material folk culture are rapidly disappearing in New England, the series focuses attention on emerging areas of folk studies, regional and local history, cultural geography, historical archaeology, and vernacular and antiquarian studies. Conferences are held in June or July of each year with concurrent exhibitions at participating museums and art galleries. Dublin Seminar conferences are sponsored by Historic Deerfield.

Topics are announced at the conference of the preceding year. Selected and edited transcripts of papers presented at Dublin Seminar conferences are published each year as the Annual Proceedings. Catalogues of exhibitions accompanying Dublin Seminar conferences are published separately. Named after the town of Dublin, New Hampshire, where the series started in 1976, the conference has met at Deerfield, Massachusetts, since 1989; Historic Deerfield began its sponsorship after 2008.

View a list of past Dublin Seminar topics.


2017 Topic Announcement and Call for Papers:

Small World: Toys, Dolls, and Games in New England, 1620-1920

The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife (founded 1976) is pleased to announce the subject of next year’s conference, Small World: Toys, Dolls, and Games in New England, 1620–1920, to be held June 23–25, 2017.

The Seminar is now accepting proposals for papers, presentations, and workshops on children’s games and playthings in New England and adjacent areas of New York and Canada from the seventeenth through the early twentieth century. Aimed at understanding the social and cultural backgrounds of young people aged between two and sixteen, the topic will explore the material survival of toys and games, storybooks, child literature, dolls, and dollhouses, as well as the “pretend instinct” or the language of imitation that accompanied their use. We ask how gender, race, ethnicity, religion, social rank, and demography influenced children’s play. In addition, we are interested in tying toys and games to the making of small-scale models and other forms of miniaturization later in life; to the role of animals (live and representational); and to the use of wheeled carriages and other movable toys, toy boats, toy weapons, book-games, word-games, circus toys, and children’s costuming. Do early toys represent a conservative or out-of-date culture? Did most toys simulate adult circumstances? Were children’s toys routinely thrown away? How did changing views of childhood influence manufactured toys?

The Seminar encourages papers that reflect original research, especially those based on primary or underused resources such as material culture, archaeological artifacts, toy collections, toy literature, letters and diaries, vital records, and federal and state censuses, as well as newspapers, portraits, prints and photographs, business records, recollections, autobiographies, and handed-down memories (i.e., oral histories).

Small World: Toys, Dolls, and Games in New England, 1620–1920 will be held in Deerfield, Massachusetts, and will consist of approximately seventeen lectures of twenty minutes each, with related tours and workshops. Selected papers will appear as the 2017 Annual Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar to be published about eighteen months after the conference.

To submit a paper proposal for this conference, please e-mail a one-page prospectus that cites sources and a one-page vita or biography by January 10, 2017, to Peter Benes, Director, The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife: pbenes@historic-deerfield.org.

Please send proposals to:

Peter Benes, Director
The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife
Historic Deerfield, P.O. Box 321, Deerfield, MA  01342
E-mail: pbenes@historic-deerfield.org


Publications for Sale:

Seminar Proceedings, exhibition catalogues, and occasional publications generated by conferences held from 1976 through 2007 are available for purchase through Historic Deerfield's Museum Gift Shop and Bookstore.  View available publications.

For more information:
Peter Benes, Director
The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife
Historic Deerfield, P.O. Box 321, Deerfield, MA  01342
E-mail: dublinseminar@historic-deerfield.org
Phone: 978-369-7382