SSSL 2010 Conference (New Orleans)

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Society for the Study of Southern Literature
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CALL FOR PAPERS: Society for the Study of Southern Literature [SSSL]
April 8-11, 2010
Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana

In the southern United States "hard times" seems redundant: the South has always been the bad news region of the country. We are the site of violence, poverty, despair, bigotry, and floods of biblical proportions, which makes us something to see. So we become a preferred destination: for tourists and carpetbaggers, entrepreneurs and retirees, historians and theorists, writers and readers. And hard times turn into good times, at least for some. One powerful paradox of the South has been the ways that its deficiencies become its best asset. Hardship inspires the creativity necessary not just for the traditional activities of "making a chicken stretch," "piecing a quilt", or singing the blues, but also for using that fabled cultural capital to write poetry that travels the world or to get a post-Katrina gig as a Mardi Gras Indian in Paris.

But even if we have taken our hard-earned cultural capital and exported "America" across the globe in appealing and profitable southern attire, if we've transformed the Bible Belt into the Sun Belt, producing BMW's faster than Baptists, we never really seem to be able to shake that hard times handle. Why not? One reason is certainly that the nation needs us as a projection screen, making the hard times in the rest of the nation invisible. Something called "The South" remains the movie set for a host of familiar fears: about miscegenation, the loss of national identity, economic decline, shifting sexualities, environmental decay, and collapsing infrastructures. But as the rest of the nation catches up, unable to deny being down and out both at home and abroad, the exceptional status of the South seems less exceptional. What can be learned from the ways that the South has been surviving, enduring, and weathering or even overcoming, transforming, and reinventing hard times? Has the South always been selling itself up river in order to survive? How has our co-dependent, perpetual otherness created cultural capital, capital culture, and the culture of capitalism for the nation and the world?

By taking our conversations down to the mouth of the Mississippi, to New Orleans, that paragon of southern cultural capital, we hope that we can take a harder look at how the persistent (or perceived) deficiencies of the South have become our primary currency--and thus continue our efforts to re-conceptualize southern status—not just down and out, but up and in, around and about.

Some of the topics we might want to address include:

• southern cultural capital and capitols
• economics and class disparities
• the cultures of poverty and violence
• migration and immigration in global hard times
• miscegenated space and cultural production
• ethnic identity as cultural capital
• Afro-Caribbean cultural interchanges
• Latino and Central American Souths
• climate change, hurricanes and weathering hard times
• industrial cultures: oil, fishing, sugar cane, cotton, rice, indigo, chicken, Wal-Mart
• the economics of tourism
• Hollywood South
• tourist souths: Natchez, Nashville, Charleston, New Orleans
• global exchanges: southern music, food, culture, literature around the world
• sharecroppers and other silenced voices
• 1930's documentary south
• the south as a retirement community
• the Golf South
• archeological souths
• post-Katrina New Orleans
• music as survival capital: blues, jazz, bluegrass
• selling Native cultures and casinos

Program committee members: John Lowe, Nghana Lewis, Katherine Henninger, Rebecca Mark, and Barbara Ewell. We welcome both session proposals and individual paper abstracts addressing the topics of southern cultural capital, cultural exchanges, and weathering hard times.

Please send two-page session proposals and/or one page individual paper abstracts by November 15, 2009, to