American Conspiracism: Interdisciplinary Approaches

deadline for submissions: 
June 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Volume Editor Luke Ritter
contact email: 

CFP 2023: American Conspiracism: Interdisciplinary Approaches

Publisher: Routledge Press

Forthcoming Publication Date: Summer 2024


If you are interested in contributing, please submit the following to Editor Luke Ritter @


chapter title

500-word abstract



A Note to Potential Contributors: Fifteen contributors were selected last year. Two have backed out since that time. We are seeking to fill their place in our volume. New contributors are encouraged to write original essays. New research is welcome; authors need not engage new research, though. Again, this is not a scholarly intervention in a particular field. This is a summation of your life’s work on the subject, or a particularly relevant research project of yours, in 6,000 words. Some contributors might present new articles; others might request to include some of their research previously published in other academic journals. The latter is fine, insofar as the author attempts to repackage their previous work to fit the goals of this volume. Of course, they will need to acquire permission from prior publishers.


Description: Scholars in various fields and the public at large have rapidly gained interest in American conspiratorial thinking. This collection of short and accessible essays (6,000 words each) will not attempt to intervene in a particular field but rather will finally put leading scholars from various fields in conversation with one another to determine: a) the structure of American conspiratorial beliefs; b) the factors that have given rise to popular conspiracy beliefs across time and place; and c) the political and social functions popular conspiracy theories have historically served. Readers will be encouraged to consider the nature of American conspiracism in general – both past and present. What is it? What contributes to it? And why do we do it? To encourage true interdisciplinarity, each contributor will be given access to the entire collection of essays before publication and will be encouraged to directly engage with other essays in a special section titled “Reflections on the Collection.”


Bedrock questions:

  1. How does this case of “conspiracism” exemplify “America”?
  2. How does this case of “Americana” exemplify “conspiratorial beliefs”?
  3. How might we redescribe the case in terms other than “conspiracism” or “American”?



*to provide examples from our scholarly work that illustrate how conspiracism potentially operates in other contexts beyond are specific study


*to challenge the underlying assumptions and questions we bring to the research in our discipline in pursuit of broader questions of scholarly interest



*to avoid using the terms “conspiracy,” “conspiracy theory,” “conspiracism,” or “conspiratorial belief,” as the purported goal of this volume is precisely to identify aspects and traits that compose, or define, the concept

*to cohere methods across disciplines, particularly regarding how individual and group influencers are identified and interpreted


*to avoid pandering in current politics unless absolutely necessary, as we are seeking to explore American conspiratorial beliefs at a fundamental level and to frame our findings in ways that can be applied in many different academic fields by a diverse array of scholars


Audience: This volume is intended for undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in a course covering American conspiratorial thinking to some extent as well as the broader educated public.


Introduction to the Editor: Hello, my name is Luke Ritter. I’m currently an Assistant Professor of American History at New Mexico Highlands University. You can find a free digital version of my book online, thanks to a generous scholarship from the Mellon Foundation, titled Inventing America’s First Immigration Crisis: Political Nativism in the Antebellum West (2021). I couldn’t have imagined mere years ago that my research on anti-immigrant sentiment in America would have led me to the subject of American conspiratorial thinking. Just last semester I taught a popular upper-level course, titled “American Conspiracies,” which invigorated my interest in the findings of other disciplines. I contemplated writing a second book on American conspiracy theories for a minute. As I considered a research design, it struck me that the sorts of questions that interest me require expertise outside the discipline of history. I am not conceiving this project as an intervention in my field, or any other, but a synthesis of what scholars from various fields – including but not limited to information science, library science, political science, philosophy, psychology, history, literature, and journalism – have found in their research, collected in such a way as to inspire discussion, interdisciplinarity, and future research. The volume’s guiding research questions are thus: what is the structure of conspiratorial beliefs? Which factors have given rise to popular conspiracy theories? What functions have popular conspiracy theories historically served?



June 1, 2023                 Abstract Due


June 15, 2023               New Contributors selected by Editor


August 1, 2023             Initital Essay Due


August 30, 2023           Final Essay Draft Due


Fall 2023                      Revisions from Routledge Editorial Team


Summer 2024              Publication