CFP: Textual Empires & Discursive Dissent: Reimagining Aesthetic Traditions in Race and Ethnicity Studies

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American Studies Association 2012 Annual Conference--San Juan, Puerto Rico

The horrors of empire have left an indelible mark on the geopolitical space of the circum-Atlantic world and hemispheric America. And the aesthetic expressions of this imperial site bear the traces of a past devastated by despotic and hegemonic rule. Deeply imbricated in the mutually-constitutive battles of conquest and resistance, the aesthetic traditions of this textual terrain reflect an ongoing struggle between Anglo "colonizers" and "others." Often, aesthetic expressions of the Other participate within otherwise legitimated and established forms—articulated with a difference. Acknowledging, then, that on some level, all texts—both written and non-written—speak the unspeakable story of empire and its discontents we must not forget that conflicts over questions of aesthetics make up an important dimension of this historical narrative.

As critical sites of contestation over notions of being and belonging, texts and their aesthetic programs work constantly to define our ideas about citizenship as well as our relationships to state power. More importantly, their discursive practices serve as crucial forms of artistic and political activity, as they function to revoke or reify the terms of oppression. That the forms used to tell ethnic and racial stories are often out of time and unity, almost to a point of misrecognition, speaks to the political resonance of the participation in forms, genres, and traditions. For this panel we seek a conversation about the different ways that non-Anglo racial and ethnic identities engage with standard aesthetic traditions through a mixture or revival of old forms. We envision this conversation as a multidisciplinary collaboration between scholars of different race, ethnic, and cultural studies.

We invite you to submit papers on literary, cultural, visual texts that examine:

Pre and Post 1865 history and culture
Comparative periodization
Challenges to standard categories of periodization: colonial, early national, antebellum, and postbellum
Challenges to canonical or established genres/forms
Transnational and hemispheric perspectives
Contestations over citizenship and nationally bounded and identified traditions

Please send 250 word abstracts by November 15 to Melissa Daniels and Wanalee Romero, Dept. of English, Northwestern University, and