ALA2020: American Travel Writing (2 panels)

deadline for submissions: 
January 15, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
Society for the Study of American Travel Writing
contact email: 

CALL FOR PAPERS – Deadline, January 15, 2020

Society for the Study of American Travel Writing

American Literature Association 31st Annual Conference

May 21-24, 2020

Manchester Grand Hyatt, San Diego, CA


The SSATW ( invites abstracts of 250-300 words for presentations at the annual conference of the American Literature Association (  The society will be hosting two thematically linked panels.


Ethical Encounters

From Twain’s ugly innocents abroad to Kinkaid’s warning that “the tourist is an ugly human being,” for over a century those who write about American travel and travelers have raised concerns about the potential impacts of travelers on communities, cultures, and ecosystems. The power dynamics of travel are complex, as are the ethical challenges of meaningfully and responsibly representing peoples, cultures, places, and even the self.

We invite papers that examine any aspect of ethics in relation to travel and travel writing. Time period and geographic region are open.


What is travel writing?

We often focus on questions of borders and border crossing in travel writing, but what delimits the borders of the genre itself? What makes a something “travel writing?” In the Best American Travel Writing 2017 Lauren Collins suggests that we might now understand travel writing “simply as writing about space and time,” conceiving of the genre in what are perhaps the broadest possible terms.  Questions abound. Must travel writing be “true” and what does this mean? Must it be primarily concerned with place? With movement? Arguably refugee resettlement narratives, voluntourism blogs, and memoirs of the Pacific Coast Trail all fit somewhere in the genre, but what doesn’t?  Where are the lines between advocacy, reporting, and travel writing? Between memoir and travel writing?

We invite papers that delve directly into these questions as well as those that implicitly trouble the boundaries of the genre of “travel writing” itself, delving into questions of space, time, mobility, emplacement and beyond.  


Please send abstracts to Shealeen Meaney ( by Wednesday, January 15, 2020.  Early submissions are welcome.