American Literature in the World Graduate Conference, Yale University, April 7, 2017

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Yale University, Department of English
contact email: 

The conference hopes to broaden the scope of American literature, opening it to more complex geographies, and to a variety of genres and media. The impetus comes partly from a survey of what is currently in the field: it is impossible to read the work of Junot Diaz and Edwidge Danticat, Robert Hass and Jorie Graham, Dave Eggers and Jhumpa Lahiri without seeing that, for all these authors, the reference frame is no longer simply the United States, but a larger, looser, more contextually varied set of coordinates, populated by laboring bodies, migrating faiths, generational sagas, memories of war, as well as the accents of unforgotten tongues, the taste and smell of beloved foods and spices.

The twenty-first century is a good century to think about American literature in the world. But other centuries are equally fertile ground, as the writings of Anne Bradstreet, Margaret Fuller, Herman Melville, Edith Wharton, Mark Twain, Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, Langston Hughes, and Elizabeth Bishop make abundantly clear. To study these and countless other authors is to see that the United States and the world are neither separate nor antithetical, but part of the same analytic fabric. Our conference explores these extended networks through many channels: from the cultural archives circulating across the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Oceans as well as the Caribbean Sea; to the dynamic interactions between indigenous populations and those newly arrived; from the institutions of print, to the tangled ecologies of literature, art, theater, music, and film, to the digital globalism of the present moment.

The conference is generously supported by the Beinecke Library, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the English Department, the American Studies Program, the African American Studies Department, the Ethnicity, Race, and Migration Program, the Comparative Literature Department, the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures, and the Film Studies Program at Yale University. We offer a $300 travel stipend to those coming from outside the tri-state area.

Conference attendees are also invited to a slate of related events: a research workshop with Melissa Barton, Curator at the Beinecke Library; a publication workshop with Wai Chee Dimock, William Lampson Professor of English and American Studies at Yale and the editor of PMLA, and Jordan Brower, co-editor of American Literature in the World: An Anthology from Anne Bradstreet to Octavia Butler (Columbia University Press, 2016); and a “Performing American Literature” mini-festival on Thursday, April 6.

Please send a 1-page abstract (250-650 words) to brandon.menke@yale.edu by December 1.