CFP: 'The Futures of American Studies', 3-5 March 2014

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Department of English, University of Delhi
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CFP: 'The Futures of American Studies'
Department of English, University of Delhi: 3-5 March 2014

American Studies has, since its formal inception in 1951 via the American Studies Association in the US, been both a seemingly monolithic field of study and a contested space. In its initial and almost exclusively literary avatar the objects of study and analysis were unequivocally white, Anglo-Saxon, and male and F.O. Matthiessen's American Renaissance was a primary, influential example of this focus. This neo-formalist trend of criticism – the 'myth and symbol school' – yielded a rich body of textual readings from R.W.B. Lewis's The American Adam (1955) to A.N. Kaul's The American Vision. Subsequently, however, there were interventions that highlighted African American, women, ethnic minority perspectives and historicized the idea of 'America' and being American in ways that Matthiessen and his followers conveniently erased. For instance, frontier myths have been complicated by the works of feminist historians such as June Namias (White Captives: Gender and Ethnicity on the American Frontier) or Jo Ella Powell Exley (Frontier Blood) moving away from the Virgin Land paradigm of Henry Nash Smith. Contemporary American Studies is conscious of the hegemonic import of the field descriptor whereby 'American' was/is the United States, rather than a bi-continental term problematic in South America as well as amongst US neighbours in the North.

This conference hopes to consider trajectories within the disciplinary domains of AS and revolutionary work being done in interdisciplinary and 'transnational' American Studies, ranging from literature, film, music, to history, foreign policy, diaspora studies, and more. Meditations on the futures of AS will hopefully highlight the conceptual fluidity of the term as well as the possibilities arising therein.

Topics for discussion include but are not limited to the following:

1. "What, then, is this American, the new man?"
2. The idea of 'America'
3. 'Democracy' in America, its contents and discontents
4. Multiculturalism in America; immigration in law, politics, popular culture
5. Of the ethnic and the mainstream in American culture; mainstreaming the ethnic
6. Elite culture v popular culture in America
7. The 'Sixties' in America: Years of Hope, Years of Rage
8. The decline and disappearance of the American Hero
9. Wars and the making of America: Indian Massacres, the Civil War, World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam, the 'War on Terror'
10. America's 'manifest destiny' from its 'discovery' to date
11. America and the postcolonial
12. Inter-textuality and American cultural production
13. American Studies in India
14. American Studies and the Americas
15. The African-American presence in American, history, culture and literature
16. Hollywood
17. TV (Mad Men, Wire, The Daily Show etc.)
18. The Frontier: Native Americans, women, captivity narratives
19. 'The boomerang effect': incarceration in the US

Abstracts of not more than 300 words for papers of about twenty minutes duration are invited. The proposals may be mailed directly to the conference e-mail address by 31 December 2013. Please indicate academic affiliation and whether you require any AV equipment for your presentation.

The Conference Committee regrets that, apart from specially invited speakers, travel expenses and board and lodging will not be paid for.