The House that Isaac Built: The Architecture of Cultures and Identities in Canada

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Call for Papers: The House that Isaac Built: The Architecture of Cultures and Identities in Canada
May 13-15, 2013
Huron University College at Western University
London, Ontario, Canada

Huron University College, Western’s founding college, is pleased to announce an interdisciplinary conference in celebration of its Sesquicentennial, 1863-2013 —“The House that Isaac Built: The Architecture of Cultures and Identities in Canada”— focused on the history, context, and influence of Huron’s founding generation. As a global citizen in the Victorian age, Isaac Hellmuth, Huron’s first principal, embraced a broad vision for the future of Canada. The conference invites a reassessment of that vision and its implications, in their full complexity.

Born near Warsaw, Isaac Hellmuth began life as Isaac Hirschmann, changing his name following a painful break with his family in the wake of his conversion from Judaism to Christianity. Hellmuth moved to England, and then to Canada, where was ordained in the Church of England, and began a career that included a professorship in Hebrew at Bishop’s University, oversight of the Colonial Church and School Society operations in Canada, and the office of Bishop in the Diocese of Huron. His role in expanding institutions of higher learning as the first Principal of Huron College and founder of Hellmuth College for Boys, Hellmuth Ladies’ College, and, in 1878, Western University was shaped by the powerful tenets of evangelical liberalism. It was in accord with his engagement in the movement to abolish slavery, and to extend the work of the church “without distinction of race.”

Hellmuth emerges from the historical record as an institution-builder whose work in Canada embraced a broad and liberal vision of progress in the Victorian age, but “the house that Isaac built” has always been a work under construction, and opens outward on more expansive vistas than might first be supposed. Hellmuth spent much of his life challenging established expectations, crossing and transgressing boundaries of nation, empire, and religion. “The House that Isaac Built: The Architecture of Cultures and Identities in Canada” begins by taking new measure of Huron’s first global citizen and the contested cultural landscape that his work helped to shape.

Taking its lead from the diverse intellectual interests and global engagement of Hellmuth, “The House that Isaac Built” seeks papers from multiple disciplinary perspectives including history, education, political science, literature, theology, Canadian studies, First Nations studies, and cultural studies.

Paper and panel themes may include, but are not limited to: the age of Huron’s founders in international context; education and the liberal arts; anti-slavery in Victorian Canada and the Atlantic world; evangelicalism and religion; race, gender, and identity; First Nations history; the regional history of south-western Ontario; and contemporary scholarship on Canadian culture and evolving conceptions of community.

We invite academics, independent scholars, and graduate students to submit proposals for individual papers and complete panels. Suggestions for roundtables are also encouraged. Presenters may be invited to submit papers for a proposed edited collection reassessing Isaac Hellmuth, and his historical context and influence.

Please direct proposals to by September 30, 2012.
For individual 20-minute papers, send the title and a 250-word abstract; for panels, include the panel title and a brief description, plus a 250-word abstract for each paper. Applicants should also provide a one-page CV or short biographical statement with contact information. Notification of acceptance will be provided by mid-November 2012.

More information is available on the conference website at:

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