Canadian Association of American Studies at Congress 2020

deadline for submissions: 
December 22, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
Canadian Association for American Studies



CALL FOR PAPERS: CAAS at Congress 2020

Western University, May 30-June 1, 2020



The Canadian Association for American Studies invites paper proposals for our 2020 conference, which will be held in conjunction with the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Applicants may submit a proposal to one of our CAAS-sponsored panels or roundtables (listed below), or to our General CFP.


Deadline for Paper Proposals: ~NEW DEADLINE: DECEMBER 22, 2019~

General CFP

The Canadian Association is a multi-disciplinary organization that invites paper proposals on all aspects of American Studies. This year prospective participants are encouraged (but not required) to consider the theme of Congress 2020, Bridging Divides: Confronting Colonialism and Anti-Black Racism, in relation to the field of American Studies. Please send 250 word proposals and a brief bio (100 words) to by November 15, 2019.

Roundtable: The Legacies of Toni Morrison 

Organizer: Sara Gallagher, University of Waterloo

On Toni Morrison’s works, Carolyn Denard wrote, “she is a healer and prophet; she is a nurturer and guide; and because she achieved these tasks with such grace, love, and courage, Morrison holds an indelible position of prominence in African American history and in the history of great writers throughout the world.” In this roundtable we aim to explore Morrison’s legacies in the world of letters and to examine her lasting impact on the cultural, political, and artistic landscapes of America. We ask how her works – both literary and nonfiction – have shaped the role of the author in society by insisting on the fundamental link between artistic endeavour and politics. We further ask how this link shapes the personal and pedagogical functions of her literature to both academic and non-academic reading publics. How does the writer’s genius and celebrity status break down the boundaries that separate her art from the everyday lives of her readers?  

Possible topics and themes in relation to Morrison’s collection of works include (but are not limited to) the following: race and literary representation, social justice, the politics of language, modernism, the academy, the literary ‘canon,’ and popular culture.  

Please send 250 word proposals/abstracts and short (100 words) biographies by November 15, 2019 to Sara Gallagher

Panel: Los Angeles in Literature and Culture 

Organizer: Peter Brown, Mount Allison University

 In the last thirty or so years, Los Angeles and the areas around it have received sustained scholarly attention from geographers, historians, sociologists, cultural theorists, literary and cultural critics and other scholars. This panel invites papers that examine cultural representations and interpretations of Los Angeles. Topics might include but are not limited to the following: 

Social and cultural geographies of Los Angeles and specific neighborhoods or even streets in the city and its surroundings; fictional, including cinematic, representations of Los Angeles; creative nonfiction in LA (e.g. Joan Didion, David L. Ulin, D.J. Waldie, Alice Bolin); sunshine or noir (Mike Davis) and the limitations of such a rubric; riots/rebellions in Los Angeles; LA in popular music and popular music genres, e.g., country rock, jazz, punk, rap, glam metal; Los Angeles as a series of “landscapes of Anglo desire” (William Alexander McClung) and the multiethnic realities that challenge and refuse such desires; Latinx LA; Modernist Los Angeles, postmodern Los Angeles in theory and reality and problems with such conceptualizations. 

 Please send 250 word proposals/abstracts and short (100 words) biographies by November 15, 2019 to Peter Brown at

Panel: Madness and American Literature  

Organizer: Sarah Blanchette, Western University  

Mad Studies is a burgeoning academic field developed from the activism of the Mad Movement and the scholarship of Critical Disability Studies, Poststructuralist Feminism, Critical Race Theory, and Queer Studies. It reclaims ‘Mad’ as a positive alternative to the biomedical and pathologizing diagnoses of ‘mental illness.’ Distinct from psychoanalysis, Mad Studies considers first-person narratives from Mad individuals as legitimate sources of knowledge on Madness and psychiatric practices. While Madness is often used as metaphor or plot device in literature, this panel seeks to explore the relationship between literature and lived experiences of mental distress. This panel invites papers concerned with narratives of Madness, mental distress, or neurodiversity in American literature. How has Mad literature been used as narrative therapy? How do narratives of Madness challenge or validate biomedical approaches to ‘mental illness’? How have shifting conceptions of Madness, disability, and/or illness, based on scholarly work in Mad Studies and Critical Disability Studies, influenced literature? How can Mad literature be used in the health humanities and in adapting mental health services? How does literature resolve or further complicate conflicting narratives of Madness?  

Please send a 400-word abstract and brief bio (100 words) by November 15, 2019 to Sarah Blanchette,  

 Panel: The Soul of America: The Legacy of the Culture Wars 

Organizer: Andrew Woods, Western University 

At the 1992 Republican National Convention, paleoconservative politician Patrick Buchanan declared that patriots and progressives were fighting one another in a culture war “for the soul of America.” As historian Andrew Hartman contends, the Culture Warsserve as “the defining metaphor for the late twentieth-century United States.” This panel invites proposals that corroborate, challenge, or critique the Culture Wars metaphor as a framework for American Studies. Papers may address cultural objects that either triggered controversy during the Culture Wars (i.e. Piss Christ (1987) or Do the Right Thing (1989)) or commented on cultural polarization in America (i.e. American Beauty (1999)).   

 Possible topics of interest include (but are not limited to): Culture Wars and counter-culture; Culture Wars and the status of race; Culture Wars and the Canon Wars; Culture Wars and popular music (i.e. rap and heavy metal); Culture Wars and decoloniality (i.e. #decolonizethisplace); Narratives of cultural decline or liberation; Nostalgic visions of “normative America”; Political Correctness versus Patriotic Correctness; the return of the Culture Wars in the age of Trump; issues of gender, family, and sexuality; metapolitics.

 Please send 250-word abstracts and 100-word bios to   

Panel: Stories of Undocumented Migration in the Americas 

Organizer: Sarah Bassnett, Western University

Over the past decade, migration patterns between Mexico, Central America, and the United States have changed. A growing number of families and unaccompanied minors from the Northern Triangle (Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala) have fled escalating violence caused by an expansion of drug cartels. In May 2018, the Trump administration introduced a “zero tolerance” policy aimed at discouraging migration from the region. Since then, border patrol agents have been apprehending and prosecuting people who enter the United States from Mexico between official ports of entry. Media outlets have reported on child separation, poor conditions in detention centres, and unjust court proceedings. Photojournalists have documented journeys, borders, and the security apparatus of the state. Writers have recounted the dangers and hardships faced by undocumented migrants. Artists have challenged mainstream representations by opening dialogue between communities. Questions of voice, authorship, and representation are central to the way stories of migration are told and who tells them. This panel invites papers that analyze stories of undocumented migration in the Americas or that tell stories in unique ways.  

 Please send 250 word proposals/abstracts and short (100 words) biographies by November 15, to Sarah Bassnett at

Panel: Sports Culture in the Transmedia Era

Organizer: Anna F. Peppard, Brock University

Because sports events are not stories in the traditional sense, seemingly related fields such as film studies, television studies, and performance studies have often struggled to meaningfully incorporate sports culture. Yet the transmedia era emphasizes American sports culture’s relevance to an ever-widening range of fields. It is now commonplace for professional athletes to market themselves as lifestyle brands to millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram and through their own production companies, fashion lines, and music labels. Sports reporting has diversified to accommodate this reality; discussions of Tom Brady’s diet, Megan Rapinoe’s tweets, Serena Williams’ magazine covers, and LeBron James’ philanthropy and production credits, along with the latest sports-based reality shows and video games, often occupy several hours per day on traditional sports networks, and many more hours within the ever-growing realm of sports podcasts and vlogs. But this revolution is double-edged: transmedia storytelling can be a tool of empowerment or commodification; it can spur progressive change and amplify backlashes.  


This panel will interrogate the operation of transmedia storytelling within contemporary American sports culture. Papers may focus on specific forms (i.e. fan videos, network broadcasts, podcasts, video games, etc.), themes of representation, specific sports figures, or some combination thereof, and are strongly encouraged to address intersections of gender and race.


Please send 250-word abstracts and 100-word bios to


Panel: Atwood's America: Analyzing The Handmaid's Tale and The Testaments

 Set in a dystopian future of the United States, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale (1985) and its sequel The Testaments (2019) draw on readers' knowledge of U.S. history as the novels establish the parameters of their imagined world. In some instances, Atwood's interpretation of America is intensely accurate, as in her allusions to Puritan history. In others, Atwood plays with key details, such as geographic locations, for sake of the story. This panel considers how Atwood represents the United States in The Handmaid's Tale and/or The Testaments.

We invite papers that consider any aspect of U.S. history, culture, religion, geography, politics, or literature and how Atwood either incorporates or overlooks such elements in her development of Gilead. Papers could also consider how Hulu's televisual adaptation of the novel responds to or departs from Atwood's version of America.

 Please send 300-word abstracts along with a 100-word biography to Miranda Green-Barteet ( and Alyssa MacLean ( by November 15, 2019.

Panel: Miss Ann and Mister Charlie: Confronting Whiteness


CAAS Board-Sponsored Panel


The popularity of the Wypipo as a Twitter hashtag has drawn new attention to the ways in which various communities have long critiqued the ways of whiteness and its practitioners from beyond the academy. This board-sponsored panel invites papers that consider such critiques, whether historical, virtual, literary, cinematic, or beyond.  Topics might include white fragility, Women's Marches, cultural products such as Dear White People, viral Beckys, and more.

Please send 250-word proposals/abstracts and short (100-words) bios by November 15 to

ACCUTE/CAAS Joint-Sponsored Panel: Meeting with the Gaze: Convulsive Bodies in Twentieth-Century American Fiction

Organizer: Mohammad Sharifi (Western)

Twentieth-century American literature is haunted not only by the suppressed and disembodied specters of the past but also by a host of possessed and convulsive bodies who disrupt the normative narrative of power. While ghosts haunt the domestic space or home to (re)claim it, in the case of possession the battle is carried out inside the body – the home to self. Possession(from possidere) means the possibility or ability to sit or settle (OED), but the possessed body is rather plagued with the impossibility to sitas it is historically torn between and fought over by a multiplicity of incompatible forces and desires. In turn, as Michel Foucault points out in Abnormal, these bodies convulse in response to the imperative to confess: “The convulsive flesh… is the body that counters the rule of obedient direction with intense shocks of involuntary revolt or little betrayals of secret connivance” (213). Unlike ghosts, convulsive bodies do not shy away from the gaze but challenge it with their spectacular visibility. Convulsive bodies are profane, abnormal, and transgressive, and so they affect the narrative as well. This panel seeks to examine the role of these uncontainable bodies in Twentieth Century American fiction and their transformative effect on narrative.

Please submit by 15 November 2019 through the ACCUTE Proposal Submission Form.