Literary Tourgée

Conference at the Chautauqua Institution

101 Hultquist Center

September 27-29, 2019

Albion Tourgée (1838-1905) was a major force for social, legal, and literary transformation in the second half of the nineteenth century. Best known for his Reconstruction novels A Fool’s Errand (1879) and Bricks without Straw (1880) and for his role in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), Tourgée was a prolific writer who published more than a dozen other novels and a volume of short stories, as well as nonfiction works of history, law, and politics. This conference aims to change the way that we view Tourgée by highlighting his wide-ranging contributions as a writer and editor, as well as his support for African American writers. Foregrounding his literary writings and cultural engagements, we will uncover a Tourgée whose anti-racist commitments were the most prominent thread in the broader fabric of his work.  

The conference will be held at historic Chautauqua Institution, less than five miles from Tourgée’s Mayville, NY home, and itself an important shaper of US culture in the late nineteenth century. Founded in 1874, the Chautauqua Institution is a not-for-profit, 750-acre educational center, with a focus on civil society and the arts. The beautifully maintained Victorian-era facilities include lecture and performance venues, hotels and guest houses, and a main square with eating establishments and a substantial bookstore. More information is available at

Organizing Committee: Carrie Bramen (Buffalo), Tess Chakkalakal (Bowdoin), Sandra Gustafson (Notre Dame), Gregory Laski (US Air Force Academy), Robert Levine (Maryland), and Shirley Samuels (Cornell)

Inquiries to Sandra Gustafson gustafson.6 [at] nd [dot] edu

We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of: the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts, University of Notre Dame; University at Buffalo’s Gender Institute, the University at Buffalo’s Humanities Institute, and the Baldy Center, School of Law, University at Buffalo; the English Department, University of Maryland at College Park; and the English Department, Cornell University.