Since the late 1960s, the American Antiquarian Society has been a sponsor of the Cooper Edition, a scholarly edition of Cooper’s works that conforms to the editorial principles approved by the Committee on Scholarly Editions (CSE) (formerly the Center for Editions of American Authors) of the Modern Language Association. To facilitate the production of the Cooper Edition, the American Antiquarian Society has long agreed to build the primary bibliographical collection of Cooper’s printed works during our collecting period, to permit use of the Society’s Hinman Collator, and to provide staff assistance for the project. With the Society’s help, the Edition has published over 25 volumes of Cooper’s works since 1980.
One of those works is Cooper’s second novel, The Spy, which was published in 1821. To celebrate the publication of The Spy and the role AAS has played in the publication of the CSE Edition, the Society will host a conference in May 2021. Held the weekend before the American Literature Association 32nd annual conference, the AAS conference will focus on questioning the authority of the scholarly edition and the role of scholarly editing in the twenty-first century. With keynote talks by G. Thomas Tanselle, John Bryant, and Jerome McGann, we expect that the conference will bring together scholars who are interested in textual editing, nineteenth-century publishing, and theorizing the role of canonical white male authors in contemporary scholarship.
The anniversary of the publication of The Spy will also give AAS an opportunity to hold a hands-on history workshop on spying in American history. Hands-on history workshops at AAS are after-hours events that provide historians, teachers, and members of the general public a chance to handle materials from AAS collections and work with a leading scholar on the workshop topic.
Those interested in learning more about the AAS’ holding related to Cooper might also be interested in our digital exhibition James Fenimore Cooper: Shadow and Substance. This site highlights the wide variety of Cooper items in our collections, including a portion of Cooper’s personal papers, the personal library and papers of Cooper Edition editor James Beard, the account book of F.O.C Darley (who illustrated Cooper’s works in the 1850s, see above), proofs from Alfred Jones’s engravings of Darley’s illustrations, a copy of David Mamet’s script for The Deerslayer, a painting portraying a scene in The Last of the Mohicans (below), and, among many other resources, hundreds of books.
Please stay tuned to the AAS blog and social media for more information about the forthcoming 2021 workshop and conference, including a Call For Papers.