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Annual Meeting: Works in Progress 2016

The theme of the 2016 annual meeting is Home/Not Home: Centering American Studies Where We Are.

The American Studies Association invites members to advertise possible sessions for the 2016 annual meeting to be held November 17-20 in Denver, Colorado.  Interested members are invited to examine these abstracts and contact the authors to construct session proposals for the 2016 Annual Meeting. 

These proposed abstracts are an excellent way for both established scholars working in new fields and graduate students seeking panel members to find and network with interested colleagues. 

Proposed topics should include a tentative session title, 200-word description, and proposer’s contact information.  Indicate your due date for receiving an abstract or paper. A staff member will review your submission for missing information prior to posting.

After the suggested topics have been published, individuals can send abstracts or papers to the session organizer who will then be responsible for accepting papers, finding a chair and commentator, and submitting the session for consideration to the Program Committee. In the recent past, the odds of acceptance of a pre-packaged session have been much higher than for acceptance of individual papers, which not only need to pass the test of excellence but also must fit with other individual papers to form a panel with internal coherence.

Pre-proposal networking circumvents this problem.

The session abstracts are posted on the ASA website as a service to the association’s members who are developing panel proposals for the annual meeting.  But this does not imply endorsement of the proposals by the 2016 ASA Program Committee.  In fact, the Program Committee will not have seen the abstracts prior to their publication. 

If you do plan to post a topic abstract please be aware of your responsibility to inform each person who may submit an abstract or paper directly to you, in a timely and collegial manner, whether or not you intend to include his or her abstract in your proposal.  This is important because each person is allowed to make and/or be listed as a participant on only one submission. 

Submit your topic abstract (“work in progress”) using our topics submission form   Please limit your topic abstract to a maximum of 200 words. 

All proposal submitters must be current ASA members (or an affiliated international American studies association) at the time of submission.  Each panel submission should also include a second current ASA member (in addition the panel organizer) at the time of submission. 

All other panelists, including chairs and commentators, must become current individual members of the ASA (or an affiliated international American studies association). All participants must buy *both* a membership and a registration in order to be properly registered for the conference.


WORKS IN PROGRESS 2016 Annual Meeting

From Theory to Praxis: Oral History Methodology, Asian American Studies, and the Question of Home

We are seeking a moderator/discussant for our panel examining theoretical and methodological issues related to the use of oral history in Asian American Studies.

As populations that have often lived transnational lives whose countries of origin have been fraught with the influences of US empire, Asian Americans have long had an important and complex relationship to “home.” Whereas Asian Americans entered traditional archival records generally through interactions with the state—as immigrants, as incarcerated subjects, as populations on the census—oral history provided a means of documenting the everyday, affective experiences that were so often left out of these archival records. In short, oral history allowed for the documentation of the Asian American family, community, and home. Today advances in technology have made the technological barriers to recording oral histories more accessible than ever. Yet somewhat ironically, oral history has been increasingly pushed to the margins of the field, leaving a valuable methodology for examining the Asian American experience under-utilized.

Each of our three Asian American Studies presenters reflects on the theory and praxis of oral history in their own work. Our panel will be presented in a “talk format.” Interested moderators/discussants should email William Gow at williamgow@berkeley.edu

Speculative Temporalities of Home

“Home” might sound like a place, but time is also one of home’s critical axes. Temporality conditions the mythic past, the material present, and the protected (or vulnerable) future of home, intersecting with histories and projections of nation, labor, gender, sexuality, race, kinship, and collectivity.

This panel explores the way that the speculative forms of temporality have estranged, expanded, and otherwise engaged with notions of home. We seek to examine the wide range of ways in which speculative narratives approach settler colonialism, histories of oppression, and cultures of extraction.  Catastrophic stories might demonstrate how colonial drives continue to animate an ever-expanding sense of home, beyond the confines of the “global” and into our planetary “neighborhood.”  Speculative narratives might also be deployed to offer resistant imaginations of home in response to histories of violence, or to reframe our present sense of home within new timescales engendering different relationships to expansion and consumption.

This panel considers how such speculative temporal flows, speeds, and scales offer alternatives and new meanings to who, what, and where is considered home.

Please contact Michael Horka at horka@gwu.edu or Rebecca Evans at rebecca.m.evans@duke.edu by 1-25-16 with questions or an abstract.

“Home” as defined through strategies of and accessibility to modes of defense

Recent events, including the murders of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin, Donald Trump’s bellicose tirades about U.S. border protection, and President Obama’s executive actions on gun control, have ignited national conversations about technologies of defense. How are borders, both local and national, defined and then defended? Who is permitted access to technologies of defense? In what situations? In which spaces? Against whom? Often, the ways that defensive violence is explained and legitimized in public discourse reveal the oppressions and privileges that structure the everyday lives of national citizens and those excluded from citizenship.

This panel will explore how “home” is defined through strategies of and accessibility to modes of defense. Possible themes may include (but are certainly not limited to):

- Racialized policing of “home” areas
- Stand Your Ground laws
- The Castle Doctrine
- Self-defense in the long U.S. Civil Rights Era
- State technologies of defense
- Rebellions and revolutions as self-defense
- Surveillance technologies
- Border controls
- The NSA and domestic spying

Papers from various historical, critical, theoretical, and geographical perspectives are welcome. Please send a 250-word abstract and 350-word biographical statement to Lindsay Adamson Livingston (lalivingston@byu.edu) by 1/26/2016.

Racialized Violence and Disavowal

In The Fire Next Time (1963), James Baldwin writes that the people who think they are white have not only “destroyed and are destroying hundreds of thousands of lives,” but also they “do not know it and do not want to know it.” This “innocence,” a practice of disavowal of responsibility for and connection to historical and contemporary violence, is described by Charles Mills (1997) as an “epistemology of ignorance”—a whole system of cognitive dysfunctions required to “achieve Whiteness.” Justifications for police violence, postracial ideology, and ideas of “illegal immigration” or “the war on terror,” are all constituted by extraordinary disavowals. In the context of the contemporary movement for Black lives and other racial justice movements, this panel will explore how activists and writers confront disavowals of racial power and racialized violence in the postracial era. Where and through what means do people contest and attempt to rupture patterns of disavowal?  What possibilities exist in the ruptures and what are the constraints? What do people’s interventions reveal about the production of racialized violence and disavowals of responsibility for that violence? If interested in participating in this panel, please send a 250-word abstract to Lisa Beard at lisab@uoregon.edu by 1/25/2016.

Canons, Collecting, and Object Homes in American Art

Who defines the categorical homes for artists and artworks? Canons often determine which artists and works are taught in art history courses, how dealers market them, and where they are displayed in art museums, while limiting accessibility to and accurate knowledge of artists that fall outside those perimeters. For example, consider the narratives around self-taught, outsider, and folk artists; typically voiced by alleged experts in the field rather than the artists themselves, the dialogue around their work tends to market and categorize the artists in often marginalizing ways, which do not reflect the artworks or the ideas of the artists themselves. Today, art history programs are slowly restructuring traditional canonical teaching by reevaluating the types of works important for a more comprehensive understanding of art at any given moment or in any given location, while art museums are gradually obtaining works and restructuring their museum collections to keep up with these changes. Complicating this further, some artists define their work in ways that confront or reject categorical representation and ideas related to belonging within any “home” or category in the field of art. This panel explores issues of belonging and home/not home surrounding the making, collecting, marketing, and categorizing practices related to art in America from any time period. Send comments, questions, and 300-word abstracts to Trista Reis Porter (tristalrporter@gmail.com) by January 25, 2016.

Migration and Homebuilding in the Urbanizing South

The continual remaking of the American South is one largely undertaken by migrants, both internal and external. This is especially true in southern cities, where a variety of newcomers have shaped and reshaped urban spaces—demographically, culturally, economically and politically—altering and contesting the meanings of the southern city in turn. Whether through the formation and activities of social clubs and organizations, or simply by their forms of movement through urban space, (im)migrants sought to build local, regional and transnational networks and adapt to unfamiliar environments.The attempts of migrant groups˜including rural African Americans and eastern European Jews˜to create permanent or temporary homes in these cities is the basis of this proposed panel.

We invite papers from a wide variety of interdisciplinary approaches that examine the patterns of migration to Southern cities, the attempts by migrants to build home and community in these places, or both.  While the examples above are historical in nature, papers on Latino/a or Southeast Asian culture or activism in the contemporary urban south, the New Great Migration, or any number of similar topics would fit well on this panel. Please send questions, suggestions, or abstracts to Elijah Gaddis (elijah@unc.edu) or Josh Parshall (parshall@live.unc.edu) by January 25, 2016.

Where are We?: Neoliberalism Seen, Felt, and Heard, 1970s to Present

This panel addresses the sound, feel, and look of the economic and social philosophy of neoliberalism, to give it a shape and form from which a useful public critique may emerge. Arriving in the 1970s amidst economic downturn, neoliberalism helped to unravel the postwar Keynesian regulatory Welfare state while opening the road to a vigorous reassertion of conservatism and “new” Democrats in the 1970s and 1980s. The dominant theoretical premise of neoliberalism rests on a fundamentally free market unfettered by government intrusion. Far from the elimination of government, however, neoliberalism in practice has merely redirected the state’s prerogatives away from the public welfare of Keynesianism and toward a state working on behalf of private capital through the protection of property, subsidies, tax breaks, deregulation, privatization, and hardline law enforcement practices. While economists do the necessary work of outlining the numbers which generate a mathematical image of neoliberalism, work still needs to be done on how neoliberalism looks, how it feels, and how it sounds, in order to present a functional picture of a socio-economic system too many Americans see as natural, and not socially constructed. Send a 250-word abstract to Dan McClure dmcclure@fullerton.edu by January 20th.

Queer Vegan Confessions: Bringing the Interconnected Politics of Consumption and Sex Home

Prompted by a recent issue of GLQ (21.1) in which Lauren Berlant and Jordan Alexander Stein discuss veganism in the context of the visceral, as well as a debate hosted on Bully Bloggers where Will Stockton and Karen Tongson argue the ethical merits of a vegan diet after the murder of Cecil the Lion, this panel seeks to continue pushing the conversation about veganism forward. Specifically, we are interested in engaging the relationship between food consumption and queer sexual practice through an interdisciplinary dialogue. Questions to be addressed may be wide-ranging and not limited to the following. In what ways do sexual proclivity and dietary habit converge culturally, affectively, visually, economically, politically, etc.? What constitutes veganism’s queerness? How has veganism been de-politicized in the American public sphere, and how do we reclaim its radical potential? Are comparisons between queer spaces and vegan spaces useful? Does the intersection between queerness and veganism change in a transnational frame? We are most interested in submissions from vegan queers but all are welcome. If interested, please send a 250-word abstract to T. Jake Dionne at tjdionne@syr.edu by January 20.

Home/Not Home: Illness and the Domestic Sphere in American Literature

As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar have shown in The Madwoman in the Attic, the notion of “home” was haunted in nineteenth-century American literature. For women, the confinement of home brought with it “isolation that felt like illness, alienation that felt like madness, obscurity that felt like paralysis” (49). This panel seeks to examine how the politics of “home” still implements rules of inclusion and exclusion to contain unruly bodies and ill selves, and how conceptions of the domestic sphere and regulations of the body continue to affect health and sense of self across diverse communities. We invite papers that explore the connections between the dichotomies of home/not home and health/illness in American literature and culture, investigating the tension between home as a space of intimacy and shelter of the imagination and home as quarantine space, suffocating in its constraints and dis-empowering capacities. For example, papers might consider alternative visions and practices of home and health; shifts in the relationship between home and the body; toxic homes; the home as a place of healing and/or containment of illness. Please send a 250-word abstract and a short CV to Carmen Birkle at birkle@staff.uni-marburg.de and Christine Marks at cmarks@lagcc.cuny.edu by January 18.

Black Narratives of Home/Property in American Literature

Toni Morrison writes in her first novel The Bluest Eye (1970): “Knowing that there was such a thing as outdoors bred in us a hunger for property, for ownership. The firm possession of a yard, a porch, a grape arbor. Propertied black people spent all their energies, all their love, on their nests” (18). This passage brings immediately to mind the thematic preoccupation with property and landholding throughout American literary history—from Nathaniel Hawthorne to William Faulkner, Willa Cather to Arthur Miller—and the place of Black narrative within that tradition. Consider, for example, contested sites of black home/property ownership in the works of Charles Chesnutt, Richard Wright, Lorraine Hansberry, Toni Morrison herself, and most recently Angela Flournoy. This panel seeks to interrogate exactly these terms and cross-currents: Does African American literary history present an alternative to self-making-via-landholding? How does the Black tradition assimilate into or reject this paradigm? What are the pitfalls or advantages of such “hunger for property”? What historical dynamics are revealed by the desire for “firm possession” among the dispossessed? Paper proposals on any period or genre of American literature are welcome; please send questions and/or abstracts (300-500 words) to ntrinehart@gmail.com by 01/25/16.

War and Peace Studies Caucus: Militarizing the Domestic, Domesticating the Military: Home/Not Home in American Military Cultures

What marks a culture as militarized? What makes a military domesticated? How can we distinguish between the home front and war zone? This linked panel and roundtable will focus on the intersection of the military and the domestic. We seek papers that explore the increasing militarization of American domestic life and the ways in which the military permeates non-military spaces. Submissions might consider the militarization of law enforcement as with Ferguson, the promulgation of militarized values through school recruitment programs such as ROTC, the discourse of gratitude that thanks military members for their service, or the commemorative culture of memorials and monuments. From a focus on militarizing the domestic, we will shift to a consideration of the work of domesticating the military. How does the military ameliorate, naturalize, domesticate, or otherwise make invisible its violent practices? Roundtable discussants will explore questions about the representation of a kinder, gentler military and the implications for our understanding of cultures of violence and the affective experience of prolonged military engagement. If you are interested in participating in this panel or roundtable, contact Andi Gustavson (agustavson@utexas.edu). For more info: http://bit.ly/1Nru3Js

Visual Culture Caucus CFP

The Visual Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association (ASA) seeks to promote the participation of visual culture scholars in the 2016 ASA meeting. We are eager to help individuals construct compelling visual-culture-related panels. For guidance please email your panel CFP, abstract, or paper idea to David Serlin (dserlin@ucsd.edu) as soon as possible for maximum and expedient support. Mentorship requests will be accepted no later than January 15, 2016.

The caucus also invites panel submissions for its sponsored sessions at the 2016 annual meeting. Our criteria are: 1) Emphasis on visual culture, how images and practices of looking actively shape social concerns and relations. 2) Potential to contribute new scholarship to American Studies. 3) Interdisciplinarity, incorporation of disciplines in addition to art history.  4) Relevance to 2016 conference theme. To submit your bid for sponsorship, please send a full packet of panel and paper abstracts and biographical statement, all formatted according to the ASA’s specifications, to Robin Veder (rmv10@psu.edu) by January 15, 2016.

Public Art and Memorials: Seeing Home?

Public art and memorials shape how we imagine, interpret, and represent home. As much as public art and memorials reference home as place, idea, and experience, they also rival home leading us to believe public art and memorials are the material imprint of a false consciousness˜anywhere and everywhere but home. By examining historical, cultural, and intellectual dynamics of home, this panel will theorize “home” and its complicated relationship to public art and memorials. In what ways are complex histories of home conveyed and represented in the public sphere? Are there instances when public art has the capacity to remember time, place, and people while also attending to constantly changing audiences? How do public art and memorials located in civic centers and community green spaces envision home whether home is nostalgic, romantic, absent, or even violent? Are public art and memorials in nature preserves/reserves such as national, state, and indigenous parks distinct from urban and suburban sites in their articulation of home? Whether public art and memorials are commissioned and sanctioned by municipalities, governments, or private foundations, cultural and countercultural organizations, or impromptu, this panel encourages a visual studies and art historical conversation querying histories and narratives of home in the public sphere. If you’re interested in forming a panel, please email John-Michael H. Warner (jwarne26@kent.edu) by Wednesday, January 13th.

Colloquy with Elizabeth Maddock Dillon on New World Drama

Cooking up an interdisciplinary roundtable on Elizabeth Maddock Dillon’s New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849. Yes, it’s one of two finalists (along with another excellent book that draws our attention to earlier American matters, Anna Brickhouse’s Unsettlement of America) for the A.S.A.‘s most recent John Hope Franklin Publication Prize, and yes, rather than giving a paper, each panelist—including Prof. Dillon—will make a brief opening statement about an issue the book raises that she or he wants to discuss. Ah, discussion! The brevity of these opening comments frees up time for a lively, substantive discussion that engages members of the audience as well as the knowledgeable, articulate scholars at the table. For details about 40+ such sessions along these lines, click on the “Two Decades and Counting” link at http://www.english.fsu.edu/faculty/dmoore.htm, and to inquire about being part of this proposal, please e-mail me BY JANUARY 12 at dennis.moore@fsu.edu. Looking forward,—D.M.

Geography, Maps, and Visions of Home in the Classroom

A glance at past ASA programs suggests that geography is an under-represented field within the association. Yet geographic knowledge is essential to much of the research presented at the annual meeting, and equally critical in members’ engagements with students. Following from these two points, I’d like to invite you to participate in a roundtable discussion in Denver next year about the role of geography, maps, and visions of home in American studies classrooms.

For my own part, I am interested in thinking through the ways in which students in the courses I teach react to geographic encounters with Native America and the ways in which mapping technologies—ranging from hand outs and overheads to video animations and GIS projects—enable these encounters and help students to envision the regions in which they live.

If you’re interested in participating in a roundtable like the one I’ve described, please contact me at (coveye@miamioh.edu) by December 28th with a brief description of what you might like to contribute to the discussion.