Fenimore Cooper Conference

In 1978, the first International James Fenimore Cooper Conference was in Oneonta, New York, a beautiful valley on the banks of the Susquehanna River, at the foothills of the Catskills, just minutes from Cooper’s boyhood home of Cooperstown. Since then, over the course of twenty conferences more than 250 scholars and writers, including Leslie Fiedler, James Beard, Thomas Philbrick, and Rochelle Johnson, have presented papers on James Fenimore Cooper, Susan Fenimore Cooper, and the world they represented and helped to create.

Past Conference Schedule

21st International James Fenimore Cooper 
& Susan Fenimore Cooper Conference 
September 27-30, 2017 
SUNY College at Oneonta 
Oneonta, NY

1. A region that drains into a river system
2. A critical point that marks a change of course

For our 21st conference, the theme of the conference is "Watersheds." In its geographical sense, a watershed is a region where rivers come together and define a landscape. At the same time, a watershed is a moment, a point in the history of dramatic and sudden change. The Coopers' writing reflects both senses of this word. They made the upper Susquehanna region central to their literary imaginations, and their writings reflect a time of dramatic social and political change.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Matthew Wynn SivilsProfessor of English, Iowa State University
Author of American Environmental Fiction, 1782-1847



What is the Cooper Seminar?
The International James Fenimore Cooper and Susan Fenimore Cooper Conference and Seminar is an international conference that brings together scholars from across the country and around the world to share and discuss new ideas about the works and world of James Fenimore Cooper and Susan Fenimore Cooper.  Tied to the conference is a senior-level seminar for SUNY, Oneonta students.  Students enrolled in the course attend the conference as audience members and receive an immersive introduction to Cooper’s major works and to academic professional life.  As audience members, students get an up-close exposure to the give and take of academic exchange and develop an understanding of how intellectual development works.  Students also read major works by Cooper and discuss their significance in a seminar led by a visiting Cooper scholar.

How big is the Conference?
Numbers of those attending have varied over the two decades the Seminar has been running. Attendance fluctuates from day to day. In 2011, a high watermark for our conference, twenty nine presenters and over thirty students took part.  Our keynote speakers have included scholars Shirley Samuels, Cooper biographer Wayne Franklin, and Cooper Society President Lance Schachterle. Pulitzer Prize winning historian Alan Taylor’s lecture attracted more than three hundred people in 1997.

What is the Registration Cost?
The registration fee of $150 ($110 for graduate students).

What Does My Registration Cover?

  • Registration covers admittance to all conference events, parking, computer access, etc.
  • Discounted lodging if you chose to stay on the SUNY Oneonta campus
  • Continental breakfast every day, afternoon snacks, coffee/tea
  • Transportation & boxed lunch for a field trip to Cooperstown, which includes:
    • Admittance to the Fenimore House & The Farmers' Museum in Cooperstown
    • Reception on the veranda of the Otesaga Hotel overlooking "Glimmerglass Lake"
  • Keynote luncheon banquet at the SUNY Oneonta College Camp
  • Conference "chatzkes," including the coveted "Cooper Conference" pen.

Registration does not cover the cost of lodging. We have in the past and will continue to offer this year discounted registration to graduate students & scholars unaffiliated with academic institutions.


Call for Papers

Event Poster (PDF)