Final Call: Aesthetics of Renewal

full name / name of organization: 
Canadian Association of American Studies
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We are pleased to announce this year's plenary speakers: Linda Hutcheon and Michael Hutcheon, and Anthony Stewart.Our final deadline is: 15 July 2011.


The Aesthetics of Renewal or "Everything Old is New Again"
3 – 6 November, 2011
Ottawa, Ontario

America is attempting to remake itself; adapting old ideas and aesthetics for contemporary concerns. Critics of Barack Obama, for instance, have invoked libertarian traditions more common in the eighteenth century than the twentieth-first in reaction to his proposal to close Guantánamo Bay and establish public health care. Instead of experimenting with departures from diplomatic and laissez-faire traditions, thousands of 'tea party' members imagine themselves refashioning old ideas for present day politics, even as they belatedly adopt styles of mass political protest once associated with the 'New Left' in the 1960s.

Outside the political sphere, citizens are also embracing older ideas and aesthetics in popular culture. Shoulder pads, vinyl records, neon high-tops, and a bohemian chic reminiscent of Greenwich Village in the 1960s are amongst today's top trends. Urban professionals, meanwhile, are buying condos in turn-of-the-century factories. Rezoned for mixed use, these buildings include studio space and artisanal shops, while open-air markets and community gardens are started nearby. Situated in all-but abandoned neighborhoods like Cass Corridor in midtown Detroit, these consumer experiments by ordinary citizens are reinventing cities in the image of vintage Americana.

This conference will critically examine these trends in order to ask: Exactly how pervasive are they? Are they unique to contemporary contexts? If so, why have such diverse forms of renewal captured Americans' imaginations? Finally, to what extent is this affecting the country's cultural, social, political, and economic spheres? We seek paper and panel submissions from a variety of theoretical, disciplinary, and methodological perspectives. This includes (but is not limited to) such topics as:
- Gentrification and abandoned neighborhoods
- Renewing factories and warehouses
- Disaster recovery, city planning, post-catastrophe renewal
- Contemporary architecture and historic design styles
- Buying local, 100 Mile Diet and locavorism
- Urban gardening/agriculture, compost
- Artisanal crafts and shops, maker fairs and maker culture
- Steampunk and retrofuturism
- Open-air, flea, and antique markets
- Vinyl sales, record players and turntablism
- The tea parties
- New populist persuasions
- "Neo-" anything
- Return of religion to academic and public debate
- The frontier in American thought and culture
- Renewing wilderness
- The Renewal of state power in foreign policy
- Irony and Historical Narratives
- Religious revivals and new identities
- Family Structure – what's modern? What's alternative?
- Home-schooling
- Nostalgia
- Quilting, knitting, and rug-making
- Re-gifting
- Remaking old films and television series
- Reinventions and returns to Soul music, jazz, klesmer, bluegrass
- Celebrities and vintage haute couture
- Environmental Sustainability: Is green the new black?
- What's in a name? Vintage, retro and renewal
- Are postmodernity and renewal different?
- Absence and omission – Why are certain past trends overlooked?

Deadline for Submissions is 15 July 2011

To participate, submit a 250 word abstract to conference organizers at Please include in the body of the email: your name, institutional affiliation, and contact information. Panel submissions are also encouraged. These should include a 250 word rationale for the panel, as well as the 250 word abstract for each paper. Please submit each panel in one email, wherein the names, affiliations, and contact information for each member is listed.

For more information, please visit the CAAS website or email the organizers at

Canadian Association of American Studies
Centre for Research in American Studies
Carleton University