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America’s Forgotten Voices: Imperatives of memory and the vagaries of history in American culture, from settlement to 1900.
The University of Nottingham School of American and Canadian Studies invites abstracts for an interdisciplinary conference, aimed at postgraduate and early-career researchers across the range of approaches to American Studies, to be held on 13th December 2012. The organisers are delighted to confirm that the keynote address will be given by Professor Robert Cook of the University of Sussex.
One month before signing the Emancipation proclamation, Abraham Lincoln, in his annual address to Congress, exhorted the assembled congressmen; “fellow citizens, we cannot escape history”. With this conference, we seek to question the intransigence of Lincoln’s declaration by interrogating how memory and forgetting operate in American culture up to 1900. Whether by way of reinstatement of ‘forgotten voices’, or through those who have survived the vagaries of canonical exclusivity, we propose to examine how fears of forgetting and strategies of memorialisation were discussed in works of the period, and how subsequent intellectual, social, or political exigencies have impacted the passage of ideas.
Recent years have seen the opening of archives to digitisation and the widened availability of pre-twentieth century American books via online services. This has rendered the works of marginal figures of early American literary, intellectual, political, and religious culture more accessible than ever before. Such conditions offer fresh opportunities for the recovery of forgotten voices and texts and present new spaces in which to recast canonical constructions of the cultural histories of the United States. But how should such scholarly processes be viewed, and in what ways do they contribute to our understanding of the attitude toward memory and forgetfulness in American thought? What can such recoveries tell us about an era which, from the self-conscious interventions in history of the founding fathers to the utopian aesthetic and social experiments of the nineteenth century, seems profoundly interested in declaring its own memorialisation? Furthermore, what are the implications for a culture which has always tended to assert its exceptionality in terms of its place in broader international histories?
We invite proposals for 20 minute papers from researchers in all arts, humanities, and social science disciplines which will interrogate aspects of the processes of memory, remembrance, recovery and forgetting during the formative years of the United States. Thematic emphases may encompass, but are not limited to:
- Historical self-consciousness in American culture.
- Millennialism, Providentialism, and other forms of mythopoesis in historical narrative.
- Literary or historical canonicity, and the processes of canonical alteration.
- Active or intentional ‘forgetting’ as a political or aesthetic practice.
- Concepts of legacy in aesthetic and social contexts.
- Memorialisation in American art, literature, architecture, and popular press.
- Contemporary issues in the semantics and politics of recovered and rediscovered American cultures.
- The impact of the digital humanities on the study of pre-1900 texts.
Proposals of 300 words should be sent to the conference committee at email@example.com. The Deadline for submissions is 21st September 2012.