The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife

Exploring Early American Folklore and Culture

The 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.


Call for papers

Religious Spaces: Our Vanishing Landmarks

The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife (founded in 1976) is pleased to announce the subject of next year’s conference, Religious Spaces: Our Vanishing Landmarks, to be held in Deerfield in June 2018.

The Dublin Seminar is now accepting proposals for papers, presentations, tours, exhibits, and workshops on New England meetinghouses, churches, and other religious spaces of all denominations in the period 1622 through 1865. We are interested in theoretical approaches to the region’s architectural and religious history, specifically questions dealing with houses of worship as an Atlantic phenomenon; European, North American, or Caribbean building styles; design, construction, and furnishing techniques; private versus collective worship; the decline of the “parish” system; issues involving seating, legal jurisdiction, and musical events; and the influence of Anglican, Catholic, Quaker, Baptist, Unitarian, and Mormon sects. Additional subjects of interest include camp meetings, campgrounds, cemeteries, convents, and intentional communities like the Shakers. A principal focus of this conference is how communities and scholars can take advantage of new digital resources, new approaches to historical archeology, and new gateways to the region’s social, cultural, and ecclesiastical history.

Simultaneously, the conference will address the continuing survival of extant structures. As these buildings’ original religious functions become less sustainable, their future is imperiled. The Seminar plans to offer a historic preservation workshop that will also examine adaptive reuses of these buildings. Many survivals have come to serve their communities as museums, libraries, town halls, schools, fire stations, granges, barns, and performing arts centers. To help place meetinghouses, churches, synagogues, and other religious spaces on track to permanent survival, the Seminar invites church groups, communities of faith, civic associations, architectural preservationists, and the general public to share their stories of successful conservation and multiple-use approaches to securing their future.

The Seminar encourages papers that reflect interdisciplinary approaches and original research, especially those based on primary or underused resources such as material culture, archaeological artifacts, letters and diaries, vital records, federal and state censuses, as well as newspapers, portraits, prints and photographs, business records, church records, recollections, and autobiographies, some of which have recently become available online.

Religious Spaces: Our Vanishing Landmarks will be held in Deerfield, Massachusetts, on the weekend of June 22 through 24, 2018, and will consist of approximately seventeen lectures of twenty minutes each, with related tours and workshops. Professional development points will be available for public school teachers. Selected papers will appear as the 2018 Annual Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar to be published about eighteen months after the conference.

To submit a paper proposal for this conference, please send a one-page prospectus that cites sources and a one-page vita by February 10, 2018. Email proposals sent as attachments are encouraged.

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

Past Dublin Seminar topics

1976   Puritan Gravestone Art
1977   New England Historical Archaeology
1978   Puritan Gravestone Art II
1979   New England Meeting House and Church
1980   New England Prospect: Maps, Place Names, and the Historical Landscape
1981   The Bay and the River
1982   Foodways in the Northeast
1983   American Speech: 1600 to the Present
1984   Itinerancy in New England and New York
1985   Families and Children
1986   The Farm
1987   Early American Inventories
1988   House and Home
1989   New England/New France
1990   Medicine and Healing
1991   Algonkians of New England
1992   Wonders of the Invisible World
1993   New England’s Creatures: 1400‒1900
1994   Painting and Portrait Making in the American Northeast
1995   Plants and People
1996   New England Music
1997   Textiles in Early New England: Design, Production, and Consumption
1998   Rural New England Furniture: People, Place, and Production
1999   Textiles in New England II: Four Centuries of Material Life
2000  New England Celebrates: Spectacle, Commemoration, and Festivity
2001  Women’s Work in New England, 1620‒1920
2002  The Worlds of Children, 1620‒1920
2003  Slavery/Antislavery in New England
2004  New England Collections and Collectors
2005  Life on the Streets and Commons
2006  New England Diaries 1: Diary Diversity, Coming of Age
2007  New England Diaries 2: Neighborhoods, War, Travel, and History
2008  New England and the Caribbean
2009  Waterways and Byways, 1600‒1890
2010  Dressing New England: Clothing, Fashion, and Identity
2011   New England and the Civil War
2012   The Irish in New England
2013   Foodways in the Northeast II: A Second Helping
2014  Let the Games Begin: Sports and Recreation in New England
2015  Schooldays in New England: 1650-1900
2016  New England at Sea: Maritime Memory and Material Culture
2017 Small World: Toys, Dolls and Games in New England


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