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December 14, 2023 Historic Deerfield

Call for Papers – 2024 Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife

The Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife (founded in 1976) is pleased to announce the subject of its 2024 gathering, Into the Woods: New England Forests in Fact and Imagination, to be held at Historic Deerfield June 28-29, 2024.

Image: Edward Hill, “Lumbering Camp in Winter,” 1882, NH Historical Society

The annual Dublin Seminar is a meeting place where scholars of all kinds—academics, students, museum and library professionals, artisans and craftspeople, educators, preservationists, and committed avocational researchers—join in deep conversation around a focused theme in New England history, pooling their knowledge and exchanging ideas, sources, and methods in a thought-provoking forum.

The 2024 Seminar invites proposals for papers and presentations that address the rich and varied histories of the relationship between the peoples of New England and adjacent areas and their forests. We welcome proposals exploring the economic, cultural, or social significance of trees and forests in New England history, or sharing methodologies for studying, interpreting, or mapping trees and forests. Broad themes might include the conservation and management of forests, including environmental advocacy; extractive practices such as timbering and logging; recreation and the woods, including tourism, state and national parks, or organizations such as Scouts; artistic representations of wooded landscapes, both visual and literary; spiritual or religious significance of trees or the woods; indigenous relationships with forests past and present; wood-dependent industries like building construction, shipbuilding, maple syrup production, pulp and paper; and folklore involving New England’s woods and forests.

The Seminar encourages papers grounded in interdisciplinary approaches and original research, particularly material culture, manuscripts, federal and state records, as well as newspapers and magazines, visual culture, business records, oral histories, and public history practice or advocacy. Papers addressing contemporary themes including gender dynamics, sustainability and climate issues, and racial dimensions of the woods are strongly encouraged.

Some possible topics might include:

  • Conservation & management of New England’s forests (advocacy; policies; fire towers)
  • Deforestation and regrowth of New England forests
  • Timbering/logging industries (workers and the woods; log drives, etc.)
  • Trees/wood & architecture/construction
  • Recreation and the woods (camping, hiking, scouting, summer camps, resorts)
  • Race (i.e., woods as refuge or sites of resistance)
  • Gender (women and preservation efforts; masculinity and the woods)
  • Trees as historical artifacts/ideological symbols (witness trees, liberty trees, charter oaks)
  • Artistic representations of trees/forests (Hudson River School, literature, etc.)
  • Lumber-dependent industries: sawmills, construction, shipbuilding, etc.
  • Disasters & impacts on the woods (floods, blight, hurricanes, climate change, etc.)
  • Fire and the woods
  • Trees/woods and religion/spirituality/philosophy (Romanticism, Transcendentalism, etc.)
  • Tree-based products (building materials, maple syrup, potash, turpentine, paper, etc.)
  • Fears/anxieties/folklore about dark/mysterious/remote woods
  • Indigenous conceptions, uses, and management of forests (e.g., pyroculture)
  • Place names/road names related to trees/forests (e.g., Mast Road)
  • Methodologies, digital humanities, mapping

The Seminar will convene in Deerfield, Massachusetts, June 28-29. This will be a hybrid program, with both on-site and virtual registration options for attendees. The program will consist of a keynote address and approximately fifteen, 20-minute presentations. Speakers will present onsite at Historic Deerfield.

Dublin Seminar presenters are expected to submit their papers (approximately 7000 words) for consideration to the Annual Proceedings of the Dublin Seminar by Friday, June 21, 2024. The scholarship proposed for presentation should be unpublished and available for inclusion in this volume to be published about eighteen months after the conference.

To submit a proposal, please email (as a single attachment, in MS Word or as a PDF, labeled LASTNAME.DubSem2024) a one-page prospectus that describes the paper and the archival, material, or visual sources on which it is grounded, followed by a one-page vita or biography. Email proposal to: dublinseminar@historic-deerfield.org. Deadline: Noon EST Monday, February 19, 2024. For more information on the Dublin Seminar, see dublin-seminar.org.