Canadian Association for American Studies Panel Proposal: The Future of Love

deadline for submissions: 
February 28, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Meryl Borato
contact email: 

The Future of Love

Despite its ubiquity in literature, music, and culture, the concept of love has received little critical attention in the academy and is often associated with the more negative aspects of critical discourse that are linked with femininity, such as softness and sentimentality. In an era when psychology is the most dominant mode of critical vocabulary and exploration, the notion of love that survives is overshadowed by theories of human desire such as ambivalence.

Recently, however, some noteworthy thinkers have argued that the term is in need of critical reevaluation because of its engagement with uncertainty and risk. In an extended interview published as In Praise of Love, Alain Badiou writes: “Provided is isn’t conceived only as an exchange of mutual favours, or isn’t calculated way in advance as a profitable investment, love really is a unique trust placed in chance. It takes us into key areas of the experience of what is difference and, essentially, leads to the idea that you can experience the world from the perspective of difference” (17). Starting from the notion of love as “a unique trust placed in chance,” this panel seeks papers on public projects, ideas or cultural production in or about the United States that consider the relationship between uncertainty and love in a wide variety of ways. This panel welcomes approaches to the theme from all disciplines, fields, and historical periods.  

Please send paper abstracts of no more than 300 words, along with a brief bio and 5 keywords for your proposal, by February 28, 2017 to

This panel will be submitted to Uncertain Futures, an interdisciplinary conference hosted by OCAD University and the Canadian Association for American Studies. It will take place at OCAD University, in downtown Toronto, from October 27th to 29th, 2017.

Uncertain Futures Conference Theme:

In her introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin writes that “the future, in fiction, is a metaphor.” In uncertain times, we look to the future as a blank screen for projecting our anxieties about the fraught present and unresolved past. Our fantasies about the future reveal the ideological constructs of our contemporary moment. “Science fiction is not predictive,” Le Guin writes. “It is descriptive.”

What does the future look like for Americans and observers of American culture in the 21st century? How have past Americans used the future to address lingering uncertainties about their own eras? In an age of fractured politics, environmental devastation, neoliberal innovation, and deadly imperialism, what hope can the future hold? And what can American Studies hope to teach us about the role of uncertainty and futurity in our daily lives?