Subaltern, Suburban, and Subterranean - Utopian Studies Conference

deadline for submissions: 
August 11, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Society for Utopian Studies

“Subaltern, Suburban, and Subterranean”
October 17-19, 2019
Michigan State University’s Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center
East Lansing, MI

The Society for Utopian Studies invites you to submit papers and proposals on the theme, “Subaltern, Suburban, and Subterranean.”

Michigan is a borderland surrounded by the Great Lakes. Shaped by Detroit and influenced by Chicago and Canada, the state’s subaltern, suburban, and subterranean landscapes are permeated by bountiful wetlands throughout. The history and location of Michigan and its cities Detroit and Flint provide a wide variety of possible approaches and topics related to utopian and dystopian thought. Michigan State University (MSU) is home to the American Radicalism Collection and the largest and most comprehensive Comic Art Collection in the world. The conference will take place at the Kellogg Hotel & Conference Center on the MSU campus.

We encourage scholars and practitioners from any academic field to contribute, as well as architects, city planners, artists, and musicians whose work relates to utopian thought and possibility, and dystopian realities and visions. Members of intentional communities are also welcome to attend and/or present. Non-theme related papers are welcome. The Society has been interdisciplinary since its founding in 1975. We invite abstracts and proposals of up to 250 words for the following:

  • A 15-20 minute individual paper
  • A full panel of up to four speakers, or an informal roundtable of 3-6 presenters
  • A presentation or performance of a creative work or artifact
  • A visual/audio presentation in the form of a poster and/or demo

UPDATED Deadline: August 11, 2019 – Submit a Proposal

We particularly invite papers related to any aspect of the

  • Utopian Political Movements and Radicalism: The history of utopian social, cultural, and political movements including the underground railroad, United Auto Workers, civil rights, and Black Power.
  • Utopian Social/Cultural Movements and Intentional Communities: Including the formation, displacement, or social organization of these groups, including Beaver Island and institutions with utopian roots such as Kellogg.
  • Music, Entertainment, Art, and Popular Culture: Music and utopia, comic arts, and fine arts.
  • The Rust Belt and the Future of Sub/Urban Living: Including immigration/migration and race, human geography, architecture, design, and zoning policy.
  • From Modernism to Techno Utopia: Steamcopper, and steel; Edison; Ford; Oldsmobile; connected and automated transportation (e.g.,MCity), among others.
  • Environmentalism and the Rust Belt: Including water qualitySuperfund sites, and indigenous land rights, among others.

For information about panel topics, assistance finding co-panelists, and other questions about the conference program, please contact Andrew Byers and Elizabeth Schreiber-Byers at