The Cold War As a Cultural Dominant: America, 1945-1955 (NeMLA 2010)

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Northeast Modern Language Association
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42nd Annual Convention, Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
April 7-10, 2011
New Brunswick, NJ
Deadline: September 15, 2010

A cultural dominant suggests a distinct historical moment and provides a trope that makes this moment comprehensible. Ideally, cultural dominants prompt recognition of relationships between events and an analysis of unities that constitute social systems. Cultural dominants conceptualize human society as synchronic and diachronic unities of a totality, a representation that addresses two central concerns of historiography: How can events simultaneously be as distinct as the word "event" implies and be both the cause and product of other events? How can historical moments contain radically different events and simultaneously contain characteristics that encourage a singular figuration? Perhaps the best way to comprehend cultural dominants is through reading the cultural work produced during periods cultural dominants name.

Tradition locates the origin of Cold War – an ideological struggle between Soviet and American orthodoxies – near the announcement of the Truman Doctrine on 12 March, 1947. This panel will help us understand the Cold War an historical moment and understand the ways moments are historicized. We will focus on the years 1945-1955 because an investigation of the formative years of a specific social formation can reveal how social discourses in general are structured, and we want to look the Cold War because, as Alan Nadel argues, the Cold War "is a particularly useful example of the power of large cultural narratives to unify, codify, and contain…the personal narratives of its population."

This panel seeks papers that theorize the early years of the Cold War via cultural work produced between 1945-1955 and encourages discussions that examine the ways postwar American culture figures aspects of the Cold War. Here, American culture includes literature, film, music, and other forms of artistic expression, and aspects of the Cold War include domestic and international concerns. Please send 250-word abstracts to Michael Mayne,, with "NeMLA abstract" in the subject line.

Details and CFPs for the 2011 NeMLA Convention can be found here:

Presenters are expected to pay NeMLA's convention registration and membership fees before Dec. 2010. For more details on membership, please check: