SSSL 2020: The Uses and Abuses of Shame

deadline for submissions: 
October 1, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Courtney George/ Columbus State University

Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL) 2020: The Uses and Abuses of Shame in the American South

In writing and representations of the U.S. South, shame is nearly unavoidable. It is evident in the shameless racism of slaveholders, secessionists, segregationists, and the dog whistlers of today, and it thunders in condemnations of injustice and violence, historic and contemporary. Shame has been embodied in iconic characters in southern literature, interrogated by scholars in our field, and even rejected by pop sociologist and Netflix star Brené Brown. Southerners often loudly resist efforts to cast the region as a shameful space, even as communities within the South deploy shaming language to regulate difference within them. These contradictions suggest that, while provoking shame as an emotion may serve to disrupt barriers between individuals and cultures, shame can also bar us from honest conversations about identity and community.

For this panel, we are interested in interrogations of shame and shaming in a regional context as represented in literature, history, and culture. Such examinations might consider how individuals and groups utilize shame in ways that are both well-intentioned and wicked—how shame and shaming provoke and produce highly varied reactions given the user/abuser and the target audience.

This list is in no way exhaustive, but some possible subjects might include:

  • Shame as represented in the arts, popular culture, and/or new media; 
  • Shame as represented in literature (for instance, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lillian Smith, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Dorothy Allison, William Faulkner, and others); 
  • Intersections between shame research and African American studies, Indigenous studies, Appalachian studies, feminist theory, queer studies, gender studies, and other critical methods; 
  • Shame and history, politics, sociology, criminal justice, or other fields of study;
  • Shame and socioeconomic class; 
  • Online and/or public shaming; 
  • Individual v. Cultural Shaming;
  • Shame, hunger, and foodways.

If interested, please send a 250-300 word abstract and a short bio to Courtney George and Andy Hoefer by October 1, 2019:;

For more information about SSSL and the 2020 conference, visit: