Principled Separatists: Representations of Withdrawal and Dissent in American Literature and Culture -- ASA 2017

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Matthew Mosher

Non-guaranteed session for ASA (American Studies Association) 2017. From the hermit’s tales of the eighteenth century through the writings of transcendentalists in the nineteenth and expatriates in the twentieth (to name only a few), American writers and cultural producers have long represented separation from society as a form of political, social, and/or cultural dissent. This panel seeks to examine such representations with an eye toward their inherent ambiguities. To what degree and under what conditions can dissent, a form of oppositional political engagement, stem from what is ostensibly a strategy of disengagement—i.e., separation and withdrawal? Is separatism ever a viable form of activism, or does it always devolve into passive acquiescence, a tacit acceptance of the status quo? To what degree is separation a strategy of the privileged, the prerogative of white middle- and upper-class men, for instance? Do the answers to these questions vary depending on whether the separation is enacted by an individual or a group? How do different authors and cultural producers approach these issues? What aspirations and anxieties do such representations reveal? And what impact, if any, do cultural representations of separation and dissent have on contemporary issues and events?

Papers dealing with any period in American literature and culture are welcome. Please send 300-word abstracts and brief biographical statements to by January 15.