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Academic Freedom

AAUP Censures* the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Southern Maine (June 13, 2015).

Scholarly Associations Defend Tenure and Academic Freedom in Wisconsin (June 11, 2015)

AAUP formally recommends censure of the University of Illinois for its handling of the Steven Salaita case. (May 2015)

AAUP formally condemns the University of Southern Maine for eliminating multiple academic programs, including American and New England Studies, without consulting the faculty (May 2015)

*Censure by the AAUP informs the academic community that the administration of an institution has not adhered to generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure.

The Reproduction of Misery and the Ways of Resistance

The theme of this year’s annual meeting, “The Reproduction of Misery and the Ways of Resistance,” provided ASA members multiple paths for proposing panels and papers and engaging in the work of the Association. The submissions help to realize what we as Co-Chairs of this year’s Program Committee have seen as an especially rich opportunity to consider the systemic and ideological sources of the suffering that seems to spread more and more even as evidence of a gathering movement of change in the streets and on campuses becomes harder to ignore.

As of now, the Toronto meeting is slated to feature 1,638 participants in over 350 sessions, including 297 that were proposed as sessions and 48 that the committee created from individual paper submissions. Along with accepting the 297 sessions, the committee rejected 49, an acceptance rate of 86 per cent.  We received 344 individual paper proposals, of which we accepted 189 and turned down 155, an acceptance rate of 55 per cent. This acceptance of individual paper proposals is somewhat higher than recent years.

Though some might not imagine “misery” a contender alongside the intellectual vibrancy generated by last year’s theme of pain and pleasure, the ASA’s membership has given pleasure a run for its money. For instance, we can look forward to “The Miseries of Marriage: What Do Queers Lose When We “Win?”,” which will bring together Susan Stryker, Lisa Duggan, Chandan Reddy, and others in an up-to-the-minute assessment of how marriage law affects other queer movements and their fights for economic, racial, and social justice that transcend the politics of homonormativity.  Although so much of the discourse surrounding marriage victories focuses on narratives of progress, this panel examines what gets lost after winning marriage. 

Marking anniversaries is once again an important part of the program. Contributors to an American Studies special issue on Ralph Ellison, whose centennial was in 2014, will explore facets of his personal relationship with language, writing, notions of race, public intellectual life, and American culture writ large. James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son is fifty this year and one catalyst for the panel “American Studies and the Theoretical Legacies of James Baldwin.” This year is also the 60th anniversary of the 1955 Afro-Asian Conference of Non-Aligned States in Bandung, Indonesia. The panel “Non-Aligned” focuses on Bandung as a way to theorize and strategize responses to standing forms of dispossession and empire. By the time of the annual meeting, of course, the first anniversary of the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police in Ferguson, Missouri will be upon us. Among other sessions and papers, we will have an advance screening of Ferguson: A Report from Occupied Territory, followed by a question and answer session with filmmaker Orlando de Guzman and St. Louis area attorney Brendan Roediger, who has been involved in uncovering much of the evidence used in making the documentary.

We are also looking forward to some special events, including additional film screenings and a performance by Australian-Bengali comedian Aamer Rahman. A law school graduate and former political organizer, Rahman’s standup has been described by the National (Abu Dhabi) as “incisive, cutting and controversial observations about society’s ills, sprinkled with sardonic humour and pop-culture references.” A walking history tour of sites important to the Indigenous present and past, a staged reading of Lisa B. Thompson’s “Undergound,” and various arts projects are among those creative efforts that assist us in understanding and imagining beyond miserable times.

It is precisely those types of visions that motivated much of our planning for the 2015 conference. Small wonder, then, that in the collaborative space of the Program Committee meetings some equally compelling and exciting topics arose with wonderful scholars, writers, and artists agreeing to participate.  We have a panel of Canadian authors—featuring Dionne Brand, Thomas King, and Shyam Selvadurai—who will read from their work; a roundtable to engage literary scholar Lisa Lowe’s forthcoming The Intimacies of Four Continents; a number of distinguished scholars in discussion of “Misery and Resistance in the Great Recession”; and a multi-panel series on race and violence. These excavations are, for us, critically significant for the work of a transnational and vigorous American Studies practice that brings light to conditions of dispossession but also highlights the strategies of resistance and performances of solidarity that animate our histories and present.

The work of the Program Committee is among the most rewarding service available to members of the association, but it is also a lot of work and requires an intense amount of concentration and dedication. Thus, we are indebted to Jean O’Brien, Michael Innes-Jiménez, Gayatri Gopinath, Jeannette Eileen Jones, Christina Sharpe, Jason Ruiz, and Nadine Suleiman Naber. We additionally thank site committee coordinator Katherine McKittrick and her team of volunteers. No program committee could hope to complete its work without the expertise of ASA Executive Director John Stephens, as well as Ilyas Abukar, who works with John in the national office. We are both delighted and grateful to Dave Roediger for the honor of entrusting us with this responsibility. Lastly, we appreciate the vibrancy of the ASA’s membership, your innovative ideas, and the renewed hope you have brought to us through your submissions.

See you in Toronto!

Jennifer Pierce (co-chair), University of Minnesota
Shana L. Redmond (co-chair), University of Southern California
Robert Warrior (co-chair), University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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More From the Editors


CRITOPH PRIZE results for ‘015!

SASA’s president, Krystyn Moon (University of Mary Washington), has this update about our chapter’s prize honoring the best paper by a graduate student at each biennial conference:

Joseph Thompson is SASA’s 2015 recipient of the Critoph Prize for his paper “Nat ‘King’ Cole’s Civil War: How the Intimate Sounds of Pop Music Ignited Alabama’s Racial Tensions in the 1950s.” Joey is a doctoral student in the University of Virginia’s Corcoran Department of History and holds a master’s in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi’s Center for the Study of Southern Culture.  Honorable Mention goes to Katie Schank (doctoral candidate at George Washington University, Department of American Studies) for her paper “From Infamous to Famous: (Re)Constructing Atlanta’ Public Housing Through Rap and Hip Hop.”

A debt of gratitude also goes to SASA’s Critoph Committee members: Molly McGehee (Oxford College of Emory University) has done a wonderful job chairing the committee and has recently been elected Vice President—so her committee colleague Betsy Schlabach (Earlham College) is helping maintain the Critoph tradition by serving as Chair in 2017. Meanwhile, we also thank tow former SASA presidents, John Lowe (University of Georgia) and Dennis Moore (Florida State University) for serving on the commttee again this year.

—Dennis Moore o/b/o the A.S.A.‘s southern-regional chapter

joint reception this October in Toronto

Again this year, the Early American Matters Caucus and the Environment and Culture Caucus are staging a joint reception at the big A.S.A. conference: Friday, October 9, 4:30-6:30 at Epicure (502 W. Queen St. W, http://www.theepicure.ca). Again this year, Paul Erickson has arranged for the American Antiquarian Society to be a major underwriter—and this year our pals in the E+C Caucus are getting York University’s Faculty of EnvironmentalStudies to co-sponsor this event! Many thanks to Sari Altschuler, now of Emory U., who has helped figure out the logistics, in her role as our caucus’s co-choreographer.  Looking forward!

CFP Framing the “American Century”: Wars, Migrations, Social Justice (Due Sept 15, 2015)

The American Studies Association (ASA) and the Japanese Association for American Studies (JAAS), with support from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission (JUFSC), are pleased to announce a competition open to ASA members (U.S. citizens). We plan to select two ASA delegates (pending funding) for participation in the annual JAAS conference to be held at Prefectural University of Kumamoto on Japan’s Kyushu Island from June 4-5, 2016 . We invite proposals for papers to be presented at the JAAS conference and for the two-day pro-seminars in Japan. The award covers round trip airfare to Japan, housing, and modest daily expenses.

ASA 2015 Schedule

Below please find a schedule listing events of interest to the Sports Studies Caucus for ASA 2015. As you will see, most of the events take place on Friday in the Leaside Room. Hope to see you there!

[CIES Fulbright] Opportunities in American Studies

This year, the Fulbright Scholar Program is again offering over 60 awards in the field of American Studies. Exciting opportunities are available in many countries including but not limited to:

For further awards in the field of American Studies, American History and American Literature, please visit our updated Opportunities in American Studies webpage. There you will find award highlights and examples of successful projects in the discipline.

For eligibility factors, detailed application guidelines and review criteria, please follow this link: http://cies.org/program/core-fulbright-us-scholar-program. You may also wish to register for one of our webinars or join our online community, My Fulbright, a resource center for applicants interested in the program.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and the current competition will close on August 3, 2015.

CFP: Biennial EAAS Conference, 22-25 April, 2016, Constanta, Romania

Proposals in all areas of American Studies are now cordially invited for the 2016 European Association for American Studies (EAAS) conference! The biennial EAAS conference will take place from 22 to 25 April 2016 in the lovely coastal town of Constanta, Romania.

Download the 2016 EAAS Call for Proposals (pdf version) here. The Call may also be found at the conference website and proposals may be submitted at any time between now and 15 June 2015 via the easy-to-use online form at http://www.enl.auth.gr/abstracts/index.html.

With this open-call for proposals the 2016 EAAS conference creates the context for wide-ranging explorations of our subject landscape without limiting the opportunity for in-depth concentration and innovative co-operations. Your EAAS colleagues trust that the invitation to join our meeting in 2016 will inspire you to submit a proposal and to take part in this important biennial meeting. We look forward to seeing you in Constanta.