“Thomas Wolfe and History”
Gettysburg, PA — May 24-25, 2019

Announcing Eugene Gant’s arrival on earth in the first year of a century that would be the millennium’s last, Thomas Wolfe heralded his protagonist as “borne in . . . upon the very spear-head of history.” And throughout the accounts of the doings of Eugene Gant and George Webber (and others), Wolfe interweaves threads from ancestral and national stories and traces influences exerted on individual destinies by the tides of great events.

As the 2019 Memorial Day weekend begins, we will gather near the New World home of Wolfe’s paternal ancestors and the site of a fearful and decisive battle in this nation’s history. Gettysburg is an ideal place to consider Wolfe’s evoked intersections of public and private, of collective and individual, of past, present and future.

Jacob Wolf was married to Eleanor Jane Heikes in Adams County, PA on April 12, 1838 by Rev. J. Albert. They lived in Adams County, 3 miles from York Springs, 14 miles from Gettysburg, & buried at Gardners Cemetery. Jacob & Eleanor were the parents of W.O. & 8 additional children.

Organizers of this 41st conference look forward to productive discussion of history–recorded, remembered or in the making–as subject, backdrop or concern in Wolfe’s writing.

Those who wish to present papers are invited to submit proposals on any aspect of Wolfe’s writing on the past and its influence or on the struggles of individuals to contend with events and forces that shape their times and lives.

Wolfe’s consciousness was formed by Western philosophical and religious thought and by the English language and the literature it spawned. He was aware of the overshadowing of the present by the past and of the need to understand the history of one’s forebears–and of those of others.

Wolfe’s world-view was additionally affected by impressions of the conquest of this continent, by the founding of a new kind of nation and its tearing apart in civil strife, by waves of immigration and the rise of large cities, by the evolution of capitalism and resulting social disparities, by the sufferings of the Great Depression, by hatred and prejudice in its several forms, by the abomination of slavery.

The clash between attachment to Germany as ancestral land and impressions of World War I, the rise of Nazism, and the lead up to World War II affected Wolfe’s understanding of his world and his delineation of the nature and destiny of the characters he created.

CALL FOR PAPERS: Please send 250-word (email attachment) proposals to Anne Zahlan at arzahlan@eiu.edu by Jan. 7, 2019.

LOCATION: Conference registration and sessions will be located in the Wyndham Gettysburg, 95 Presidential Circle, Gettysburg, PA 17325: www.wyndhamgettysburg.com. For more information, see www.thomaswolfereview.org/2019-conference or contact Rebecca Godwin at rlgodwin@barton.edu.

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