Iconography and Iconoclasm in Twentieth Century and Contemporary American Poetry

deadline for submissions: 
October 28, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Southwest Popular / American Culture Association
contact email: 

From Langston Hughes’ "Goodbye, Christ" to Gertrude Stein’s "If I Told Him, A Completed Portrait of Picasso," Marie Howe’s Magdalene to Sarah Blake’s Mr. West, cultural icons feature prominently across American poetry from the past century to the present. Now that social media affords endless and immediate access to living icons’ homes, bodies, and vulnerabilities (especially during the COVID-19 pandemic), poetic treatments of icons might offer timely and incisive considerations of iconography in popular culture then and now. What makes us identify with, or feel alienated from, an iconic figure? What challenges exist in depicting realistic and relatable icons in a medium necessitating a degree of craft? How do poets navigate the often-permeable borders between the sincere tribute and the iconoclastic takedown? What might poetry reveal about the persistent demand for icons, and the problems that such demand poses in our world today? 

Proposals may consider American poetry of any style or period from the 1900s through the 2020s and any aspect of icons or iconography in poetry and poetics. Topics may include (but are not limited to) poetry depicting cultural and / or religious icons, iconoclastic treatments of cultural figures, poetry and / or poetic theory treating iconography as a concept more broadly, or poets themselves reflecting on their own status as cultural icons.

Please email abstracts of about 250-300 words to Annarose Steinke, steinkea2@unk.edu, no later than 10/28. The Southwest Popular / American Culture Association Conference will take place from 2/23 - 2/26, 2022, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.