MELUS Conference (abstracts by Nov. 1, 2013)

full name / name of organization: 
MELUS (Society for the Study of the Multiethnic Literature of the U.S.)

The 28th Annual MELUS Conference & The Ralph Ellison Centennial Symposium

March 6-9, 2014
Downtown Oklahoma City
Sponsored by Oklahoma City University

Going to the Territory: Cultural Geographies of Ethnic American Literature

In his essay "Going to the Territory" (1980), Ralph Ellison wrote that "[i]n the United States all social barriers are vulnerable to cultural styles." This was so, Ellison recalled, even in the Oklahoma of his youth, where many arenas of public and private life were racially segregated. Although black Oklahomans lived under conditions of "social and political unfreedom," they enjoyed more than a little cultural freedom: the freedom to give to, take from, and adapt other U.S. and world cultures.

The 28th Annual MELUS Conference brings together scholars and creative writers to answer some of the questions raised by Ellison's essay. How have "social barriers" shaped culture in the U.S.? In what particular ways have ethnic literary cultures crossed social barriers in particular locales and regions, or in the nation at large? And how have these crossings transformed regional, national, and global cultures?

We invite paper abstracts and complete panel, workshop, and roundtable proposals on all aspects of multiethnic literature of the U.S. Proposals might consider ethnic literatures vis-à-vis

• regional cultures (e.g., the Southwest)
• racial boundaries
• class cultures
• religious cultures
• gender and sexuality
• genres and aesthetics
• language groups and language policy
• U.S. national culture
• world cultures
• cultural resistance
• pedagogy

For the conference, we also encourage proposals for papers and whole panels focused on new approaches to, and reconsiderations of, Ellison's work. Proposals might consider Ellison vis-à-vis

• place (e.g., Oklahoma, the South, Harlem)
• folk culture (e.g., folk tales, the blues, dialect)
• race and ethnicity
• institutions (e.g., Tuskegee Institute, the Federal Writers Project, The Negro Quarterly)
• the work of the "public intellectual"
• literary history

Deadline for proposals and abstracts (250 words in Microsoft Word): Nov. 1, 2013.

Please email conference abstracts and proposals to To be considered for the graduate student travel award cc: All presenters, chairs, and moderators must be members of MELUS. Membership information can be found on the MELUS website at

MELUS 2014 / Ralph Ellison Centennial Symposium Conference Site: The Historic Skirvin Hotel
1 Park Avenue, Oklahoma City, OK 73102, Tel: 405-272-3040
$149/night [discount rate] deadline for conference rate rooms: February 3, 2014