CFP for ASA 2016: Cultures of the Long Revolution: Mass Movements and Public Space from the Nineteenth Century to the Present

full name / name of organization: 
Justin Rogers-Cooper and Scott Henkel
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Cultures of the Long Revolution: Mass Movements and Public Space from the Nineteenth Century to the Present (ASA 2016)

Drawing upon the theme of "Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are" for the 2016 ASA conference, we call for work investigating the dynamics of how mass movements occupy public space, and how they activate and rearticulate public space to advance their political or ethical demands. At the same time, we want to investigate the long tradition of mass movements to dramaticize, and rebel against, various forms of public space throughout American history, whether urban, private, common, or symbolic. We see our query as a way to both diagram and challenge Raymond Williams' claim in The Long Revolution that "we are living through a long revolution...yet it is a difficult revolution to define, and its uneven action is taking place over so long a period that it is almost impossible not to get lost in its exceptionally complicated process."

Proposals for this panel should address the literary, cultural, or historical representations of mass movements from the 19th century to the present, defined broadly as general strikes, labor and wildcat strikes, uprisings, protest waves, urban riots, 'race riots,' bread riots, and the like. Papers that address or have ramifications for contemporary movements like Black Lives Matter are especially welcome, as are papers which have a transnational focus or dimension. We are open to papers investigating specific events, period, or movements, as well as those connecting events, periods, or movements together. Existing papers on the panel will likely focus on two late nineteenth/early twentieth century novels about rioting and contagion, particularly Paul Lawrence Dunbar's The Sport of the Gods and Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow of Tradition.

Papers might speak to questions such as the following:

* What are the ways to think about the relationship mass movements have to longstanding inequalities and injustices?
* To what degree do such movements show the agency of their participants and the spontaneity of how the movements coalesce?
* How have representations of mass movements conceived or represented concepts of contagion and/or virality?
* What relevant lessons can the representations of earlier mass movements teach us about the mass movements of our era?
* How have different artists, authors, workers, activists, leaders, politicians, or cultural mediators documented or imagined mass movements?

By 15 January 2016, please submit a brief abstract (250 words) to both Dr. Justin Rogers-Cooper ( and Dr. Scott Henkel (