Call for Papers: Heidelberg Center for American Studies – Spring Academy Conference
Aug17

Call for Papers: Heidelberg Center for American Studies – Spring Academy Conference

The Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) invites applications from international Ph.D. students for its fifteenth annual HCA Spring Academy conference on American Culture, Geography, History, Literature, Politics & Religion. The conference will take place in Heidelberg from March 19 to March 23, 2018. Further information and the online application form are available from August 15 on,...

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Call for Workshop Proposals: 65th Annual Conference of the GAAS/DGfA “American Counter/Politics”, May 24-27, 2018
Jul24

Call for Workshop Proposals: 65th Annual Conference of the GAAS/DGfA “American Counter/Politics”, May 24-27, 2018

American Counter/Publics 65th Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA), John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin, May 24-27, 2018 Deadline: October 1, 2017 Local Organizers: Irwin Collier (Economics), Jessica Gienow-Hecht (History), Ulla Haselstein (Literature), Frank Kelleter (Culture), Christian Lammert (Political Science), Harald Wenzel (Sociology) The “public sphere”—an idea with deep roots in the European enlightenment—has always been a contested concept in American culture and society. Almost by default, American intellectuals, artists, politicians, and activists have stressed the non-unitary, diversified, and oppositional dynamics of all things public. In this manner, the US Constitution, while based on enlightened principles of free debate and rational deliberation, already eschewed a philosophy of consensus building in favor of a philosophy of multi-interested checks and balances. Not the expressiveness of Rousseau’s volonté générale but the procedurality of Madison’s extended republic stood at the beginning of American notions of democratic governance. As a consequence, “public opinion” in the United States could never easily be identified with the “public good,” but has always been open to multiple sub- and non-public (private, corporate, technological, etc.) influences. Thus, from the early days of the American republic, competing interest groups and commercial mass media (first newspapers, novels, and the theater, then radio, television, and the internet) have worked to pluralize public speech and public action—and ultimately the notion of “publicness” itself. Numerous social, political, and aesthetic developments throughout American history can be (re)described against this background as struggles for publicity, waged against the power of elites to define or usurp the national agenda. Two of the most important American contributions to the theory of the public sphere—Walter Lippmann’s The Phantom Public (1925) and John Dewey’s rejoinder The Public and Its Problems (1927)—despite their ideological differences concur that the public sphere is not a realm of unbiased exchange and unanimous agreement. Rather, in the United States, the public sphere becomes visible as a multi-agential, commercially embattled, highly mediated, and eventually trans-nationalized aggregate of publics and counterpublics. Numerous later discussions of American counter/publics—from Nancy Fraser, Seyla Benhabib, and Michael Warner to Robert Darnton, Michael Hardt, and Catherine R. Squires—have further refined this self-conceptualization of democratic speech under the conditions of capitalist mass media. Recent accounts frequently stress the deterritorialized—though regularly Anglophone—nature of counter/public communication in global digital networks. In particular, the communication of public trust—within political contexts naturally inclined to distrust—has been a central topic in and for American culture. The 2018 Convention of the German Association of American Studies (DGfA) will deal with questions of publics, counterpublics, publicity, and public (dis)trust in US politics, society, history, and culture, examined through the lenses of...

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Call for Papers: The American Weird: Ecologies & Geographies
Jul18

Call for Papers: The American Weird: Ecologies & Geographies

“The one test of the really weird is simply this—whether or not there be excited in the reader a profound sense of dread, and of contact with unknown spheres and powers.” —H.P. Lovecraft, “Supernatural Horror in Literature” (1927)   “This whole world’s wild at heart and weird on top.” —David Lynch, Wild at Heart (1990)   For H.P. Lovecraft, the weird conveys “a subtle attitude of awed listening, as if for the beating of black wings or the scratching of outside shapes and entities on the known universe’s utmost rim.” Taking its cue from Lovecraft’s enduringly influential conceptualization, this conference examines and broadens the notion of weirdness towards an ecology and geography of the weird as a new field of theoretical and practical resonances. What we call The American Weird comprises not only an aesthetics evoked by literary practices or films from the genres of the gothic or horror, but also by other forms of cultural expression, such as music, sculpture, photography, and performance art. The conference theme also aims to address new theoretical perspectives on humanity’s relation to the world, perspectives that have recently been proposed by what might be called the “new demonologists” (e.g. Graham Harman, Eugene Thacker, and others). Against the backdrop of new ontologies and epistemologies of the weird, the following questions will form the conceptual backbone of The American Weird: What are the ecologies and geographies of the weird today, and how are they conceived, perceived, and reworked? Which strands of contemporary critical theory and philosophy have engaged in a dialogue with the discourses of and on the weird, and what is specifically “American” in The American Weird? If weirdness is more than a mere index of parody and/or subversion, how might one conceive of a politics or an ethics of the weird? These and related questions on The American Weird will be explored in a three-day conference at the University of Göttingen. Possible topics, which can come from different genres, historical periods, and/or media include, but are not restricted to:  American literature from Charles Brockden Brown and Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories to the authors of “the new weird,” like Jeff VanderMeer, China Miéville, and Thomas Ligotti. What are the aspects and intricacies of the literary evolution of the weird in America? What is specifically American about this evolution? What has changed in weird literature since the publication of Lovecraft’s essay on “Supernatural Horror in Literature,” on both a poetic and political level? the sculptural work of artists such as Lydia Benglis, Louise Bourgeois, Charles Ray, and others. How does this type of artistic practice negotiate normativities and weirdness? How do the materials,...

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Call for Contributions by the German Association for American Studies (GAAS)
Jun26

Call for Contributions by the German Association for American Studies (GAAS)

Deadline: August 1, 2017 Call for Contributions for the workshop „Diversity and/in the GAAS“ to take place in cooperation with the Bavarian American Academy at the Amerikahaus in Munich on Friday and Saturday, October 20-21, 2017. We seek position papers (5 to 10 minutes in length) on issues of gender, sexuality, race, whiteness, ethnicity, class, (dis)ability, and the overall conceptualization of diversity as political indicator and as category for reform and social and cultural change. The workshop will begin with a key-note address on the evening of October 20 (tba) and will run parallel working sessions in the morning of October 21 for which we invite contributions. A plenary afternoon panel will draw together the discussions of diversity in order to identify further measures to be implemented by the GAAS. Please send an abstract of your suggested contribution to Philipp Gassert, president of the GAAS, and to Margaretha Schweiger-Wilhelm, executive director of the BAA, no later than August 1, 2017, under the following E-mail address: diversity@amerika-akademie.de. We will notify all submitters and post the final workshop program by the end of August. All active participants will have their accommodation in Munich during the workshop covered. For further information please contact Philipp Gassert (gassert@uni-mannheim.de) or Heike Paul Paul (heike.paul@fau.de), Director of the BAA....

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Postgraduate Conference: Life Writing in the Digital Age: Quantification, Optimization and the Self
Apr26

Postgraduate Conference: Life Writing in the Digital Age: Quantification, Optimization and the Self

University of Mannheim, September 29-30, 2017 Deadline: June 30,2017 The research project “Probing the Limits of the Quantified Self – Human Agency and Knowledge in Literature & Culture of the Information Age,” funded by the German research association (DFG), invites scholars to submit proposals for its postgraduate conference – Life Writing in the Digital Age: Quantification, Optimization and the Self. Recent years have seen a surge in the popularity and proliferation of life writing, both in terms of academic analysis and the sheer number of readers interested in the material. At least one reason for this can be found in the way digital technology has changed how subjects communicate, think, and of course also consume products of literary or artistic imagination. The continued spread and improvement of smart devices such as smart phones, tablets, or smart watches, paired with the constantly advancing quality and availability of high speed internet has created a situation in which “life writing” can no longer be understood solely on literary terms. Contemporary subjects record their experiences via video, photo, text, and even emojis, and new studies of “writing” thus need to account for the popularity of vlogs, blogs, and “stories”, the new feature in popular apps such as Instagram, Snapchat, and WhatsApp that lets users record, upload, and share moments that will automatically – and supposedly permanently – be deleted within 24 hours. Another influential factor is the general trend towards ever increasing efficiency, optimization, and control that can be tied to both the economy of the Information Age and the prevalence of neoliberal ideals of subjectivity. The so called “Quantified Selves” emerging from this context are commonly characterized as subjects that utilize quantitative methods to track every aspect of their lives and bodies in order to build a better version of themselves. According to this logic, every human being can playfully track, control, and maximize their experience of life with the help of smart devices. These are often infused with gratification mechanics adopted from video games, sparking debates about the “gamification” of tracking and its effects. Ultimately, so the argument goes, the “truth” about the self can only be accessed through numbers and data and not by mere reflection or introspection. The goal of this conference is to analyze and question how a belief in the absolute truth and rationality of numerical data changes both the way subjects think about themselves and the way they choose to record and express their experience of the world. We invite abstracts focusing on any of the topics proposed below (without being restricted to these): Theories of Quantification and the Quantified Self Apps and Gamification Processes Video...

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Call for Papers: The Revolution Will Not Be Peer-Reviewed: American Disconnects and the Production of Knowledge
Dec15

Call for Papers: The Revolution Will Not Be Peer-Reviewed: American Disconnects and the Production of Knowledge

Graduate Conference at the Graduate School of North American Studies John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin May 5 and 6, 2017 Postmodern Western societies have long been marked by deep cultural and economic divisions that inhibit successful communication between social groups. As a sense of disconnect grows in the current political climate, the academic world finds itself increasingly implicated, often refraining from direct intervention by maintaining its own specific language and social position and thereby consolidating its relative isolation within society. Although this is by no means a new development, recent events – including the 2016 US presidential election, the Brexit vote, and heated debates over immigration on both sides of the Atlantic – have been extraordinarily illustrative of the disconnect between academic and wider social discourses. Surmounting this particular disconnect is made even more difficult by the new normalization of populist rhetoric in politics and media and the intense anti-intellectual resentment of the right. As different social groups and movements battle for the meaning and self-image of “America,” the discipline of American Studies is potentially an important agent within these debates. And yet both American Studies and the larger academic world to which it belongs – divided into subdisciplines, theoretical schools, and research traditions – grapples with its own set of disconnects. It is thus more essential than ever for academics to adequately theorize the complex set of current social, cultural, and economic disconnects and the (real or imagined) emergence of the oft-invoked “post-factual age,” in which the classical intersectional triad of race, class, and gender seems entangled in ever more tumultuous ways. How can the quest for inter-, trans-, and postdisciplinarity contribute to effective communication across camps and advance our understanding of cultural and social realities “on the ground”? Which theoretical projects are best suited to make sense of “American disconnects” and build bridges across fault lines? What are the key historical developments that play a part in the genealogy of the current political moment? Can present forms of knowledge production and critical theory be continued in a way that makes them once again relevant beyond academia, or do we need new forms of intervention that speak to a public whose relationship to the question of “truth” is increasingly at odds with academia’s? Can we envision engaged scholarship that not only analyzes the present disconnects and their historical background, but also launches the project of reconnection? Topics may include, but are not limited to: Academia, knowledge production, and political activism Inter-, trans-, and postdisciplinarity as ideal and practice Institutionalization, incorporation, and containment of dissidence within academia Affective politics as a challenge for academic discourse Academia and...

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14th Annual Spring Academy Conference, HCA
Aug23

14th Annual Spring Academy Conference, HCA

The Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) invites applications from international Ph.D. students for its fourteenth annual HCA Spring Academy conference on American History, Culture, and Politics. The conference will take place in Heidelberg from March 20 to March 24, 2017. Further information and the online application form are available from August 15 on, at:...

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Call for Papers: The United States and World War I: Perspectives and Legacies
Jun16

Call for Papers: The United States and World War I: Perspectives and Legacies

39th Annual Conference of the Historians in the DGFA/GAAS (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien/German Association for American Studies) February 10-12, 2017, Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) 2017 will mark the centennial of U.S. entry into World War I. The war had a profound impact on the United States and on its global role. Well before the country entered the war, the U.S. had become a key supporter of the Allies, shifting the global balance of power to set the stage for what has been called the “American century.” This conference provides an opportunity to reassess the war’s significance in U.S. history by focusing on the historical context of an emerging American commitment abroad. While we invite contributions that reflect current scholarship on any political, economic, military, social, and cultural aspect of American history during World War I, we would like to draw attention to three distinct perspectives. The first perspective concerns a reassessment of the neutrality period between 1914 and 1917. While important work focuses on transatlantic diplomacy and American politics to characterize the American response to the war abroad, more recent work has also emphasized cultural and intellectual responses to the “European War” in all areas of American society. The range of issues that could be addressed here includes reassessments of policy decisions, economic issues, as well as cultural phenomena such as a contemporary celebration of France by urban elites or support efforts by immigrant communities such as German and Italian Americans. All these developments were discussed and reflected upon by an emerging and invigorated cast of public intellectuals. A second perspective concerns a reassessment of periodization. While the canonized dates of 1914, 1917, and 1918 provide the traditional framework, Adam Tooze has recently pointed to 1916 as a key year during which the U.S. became both the world’s largest economy and its banker, putting the country in a position to help define the postwar world order. Taking this observation as a clue, what historical trajectories emerge from the war’s diverse economic, political, social, and cultural dimensions? A third perspective is provided by a global view on the United States. As a “world war,” the conflict had implications for regions and countries around the globe – developments caused or felt by the United States. What new perspectives on the war can we open up by broadening the traditional narrative to include wartime diplomatic or cultural relations with, for example, South America and Asia? In what way do global developments such as the influenza epidemic expand the story? And what perspective on American military history may be gleaned from a global perspective? Finally, important questions must be asked about...

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Call for Papers: Postgraduate Forum (PGF)
Jun01

Call for Papers: Postgraduate Forum (PGF)

Deadline: July 15, 2016 The organizers of the 2016 Postgraduate Forum (PGF) of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA/GAAS) are delighted to announce the annual call for submissions for this year’s conference to be held at the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Hamburg from October 6–8, 2016. The PGF is an annual forum where young scholars working in the interdisciplinary field of American Studies who have completed their MA (or equivalent) can present their current research as work in progress and discuss it among their peers. Participants are welcome to give an overview of their (post)doctoral project, discuss case studies, or focus on methodological or theoretical questions as well as present essays or dissertations. We welcome traditional paper presentations as well as alternative formats from the various disciplines affiliated with the field of American Studies without topical restriction. We cordially invite you to submit an abstract of 200–300 words by July 15, 2016. In addition, proposals should include a brief biographical sketch, detailing your academic background, your university affiliation, the status of your project, and your research interests. We especially encourage young researchers who have little or no conference experience to participate. Presentations must not exceed 20 minutes as we seek to facilitate lively discussions. Speakers will be required to send one-page summaries or updated abstracts of their papers, which will be distributed to the other participants prior to the conference, by September 15, 2016. Please send all proposals to: pgf@dgfa.de Selected contributions will be published in the peer-reviewed online journal Current Objectives in Postgraduate American Studies (COPAS). Please visit our website regularly for further information on the conference, its venue, accommodation options, and more: https://pgf2016blog.wordpress.com/. We also kindly ask all participants (presenting and non-presenting) to register for the conference in Hamburg no later than August 31, 2016 via this website. Your PGF-Team 2016 Marius Henderson, Jasmin Humburg, Julia Lange (Hamburg) Paula von Gleich, Mariya Nikolova, Samira Spatzek...

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Call for Papers: Summer School “Inside/Outside: Queer Networks in Transnational Perspective”
May10

Call for Papers: Summer School “Inside/Outside: Queer Networks in Transnational Perspective”

September 11. – 16. 2016, Hannover, Germany This summer school aims to bring together scholars and activists from Central and Eastern Europe with peers from the United States and scholars of North American Studies. It reflects on the current cultural, legal, and political conditions of representation, articulation, and critique in Central and Eastern European societies, focusing on the very varied responses to sexual diversity, including the academic establishment of gender and queer studies. In some countries the efforts inside and outside academia to live, express, and explore non-normative sexualities have brought about robust and visible structures of organization, which reach into the academic sphere, while in other countries LGBTI activists are threatened and forced underground, so that the cultural and academic organization of the field runs up against heavy obstacles. In all of these cases, the current debates around sexual rights and the strategies of political activists gesture to earlier struggles and movements, and to a history of queer protest, consciously and unconsciously responding to longstanding patterns of political assertion and cultural self-fashioning. The U.S. minority movements form one particularly intriguing point of reference for the current developments in Europe, and the summer school is interested in exploring the intersections between historical and present, Western and Eastern formations and figurations, and to review them comparatively in their unfolding across social spheres and national boundaries. Political strategies, cultural theories, and modes of meaning-making and organization cannot be simply transposed from one context to another. Still, theorists, academics, and activists cooperate and communicate, they observe and appropriate, borrowing political strategies, and research methodologies across borders and drawing on a joint repertory of queer rhetoric and ritual. It is the interest of the summer school to investigate how such processes of transfer and translation operate, and how they can be put to use in a constructive fashion. The planned summer school aims to facilitate processes of exchange and inspiration, and to provide an arena to not only discuss research proposals and papers but also explore other modes and formats of social and cultural work. It plans to provide a space for people from different regional and professional backgrounds to come to terms with joint goals, expectations, and trajectories of action, and to discuss the significance and impact of local specificities and needs, and their dynamics. To emphasize its situatedness at the intersection of the academic and the public, the summer school will take place in a public site – at the socio-cultural center Pavillon in Hannover, which is located in the middle of the city, and attracts an audience with a broad spectrum of cultural interests. We encourage participants with extra-academic backgrounds...

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GSNAS Graduate Conference 2016: Flows and Undercurrents. Dimensions of (Im)mobility in North America
Dec09

GSNAS Graduate Conference 2016: Flows and Undercurrents. Dimensions of (Im)mobility in North America

June 2-4, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin From lived realities to theoretical discourses, issues of mobility are at the core of many contemporary debates both within North America and globally. (Im)mobility transcends disciplinary boundaries and topics, generating disparate perspectives surrounding movements of people, capital and ideas. Migration, in particular, has become the focus of much recent analytical attention. As movements of people continue to gain focus, practices of immobility and exclusion are underscored. This conference, hosted by the Graduate School of North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, will examine mobility and explore its relevance across numerous disciplines. How is mobility framed in various discourses? How does mobility manifest itself in the context of North America and transnationally? What are the determinants and barriers to mobility in its various iterations? What are the counternarratives to notions of mobility? What kinds of analysis are opened up through the lens of (im)mobility? We welcome abstracts from graduate (M.A. and Ph.D.) students, post-docs and other scholars of political science, economics, literature, cultural studies, sociology and history as well as related fields. Papers may explore, but are not limited to, the concept of mobility in the following contexts:     (Im)mobility as a spatial, historical and conceptual phenomenon     Immigration, migration, refugees     Transatlantic and transnational movements     Globalization     Diaspora(s)     Travel culture, tourism and travel narratives     Transportation and communication infrastructures     Illegal movements of goods and people     Flows of labor, currency, capital and investments     Urban and rural mobility and transformation     Race, class, gender mobility     Socio-economic mobility     Movement of ideas     Militarism and prison systems as mobilizing/immobilizing     Censorship and hidden forms of cultural mobility     Translation and interstitial spaces     Manifestations of mobility across various media Abstracts should be limited to 300 words and be accompanied by the author’s name, e-mail address, institutional affiliation, discipline(s) and a short CV. The deadline for submissions is February 7, 2016. A confirmation e-mail will be sent upon receipt of your abstract. Those selected to present will be notified by late February 2016. Please submit all abstracts and questions to: gsnas.conference2016@gsnas.fu-berlin.de. The conference will be held in English....

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Call for Papers: DGfA Annual Meeting “The United States and the Question of Rights”, Osnabrück, May 19-22, 2016
Nov27

Call for Papers: DGfA Annual Meeting “The United States and the Question of Rights”, Osnabrück, May 19-22, 2016

Deadline: January 11, 2016 All members of the association and those interested are invited to submit paper proposals for the 2016 Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies “The United States and the Question of Rights“. The  2016  convention  will  attempt  to  tackle  the  question  of  rights  in  the  context  of  U.S.-American  politics,  society,  history,  and  culture  from  the  diverse  angles  of  literary  and  cultural  studies,  media studies,  the  arts,  history,  political  science,  sociology,  economics,  and  legal  studies. For further information on the general topic and the venue please consult the DGfA homepage http://dgfa.de/annual-meeting/. Please send your paper proposals directly to the workshop organizers listed below. Each workhop will have six slots for presentations. A minimum of two presentations have been submitted in advance and will appear in the workshop descriptions below. The deadline for further submissions is January 11, 2016. Speakers at the conference must be members of the Association or of one of its international sister organizations in American Studies. It is not necessary to become a member until the paper proposal has been accepted. Please find the list of workshops here ....

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Call for Proposals: Urban America: Mediating City Space as Place
Nov25

Call for Proposals: Urban America: Mediating City Space as Place

Fifth American Studies Leipzig Graduate Conference Deutsches Literaturinstitut Leipzig April 2, 2016 With the Fifth American Studies Leipzig Graduate Conference “Urban America: Mediating City Space as Place,” we seek to investigate the cultural, social, and political production of spatial realms and places in an interdisciplinary framework. As a platform to discuss the complexity and representations of urban spaces and places, our conference invites all interested graduate students and professionals in the field of urban research. Within this unique forum, participants will have a chance to present their work to an international audience, allowing for excellent networking opportunities. Please submit your proposal (ca. 300 words) for a 20-minute presentation including your name, current level of graduate study, research interests, affiliated university or current occupation, and email address to asl-gradconference@uni-leipzig.de by January 8, 2016. We will notify all contributors by January 25, 2016. If you have any questions, please feel free to email us at the address given above....

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Call for Papers: The Beautiful Game: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Soccer in Transnational Perspective
Oct28

Call for Papers: The Beautiful Game: The Poetics and Aesthetics of Soccer in Transnational Perspective

University of Basel June 30-July 2, 2016 Confirmed Speakers: Simon Critchley (New School for Social Research) Eva Lavric (University of Innsbruck) Emily Ryall (University of Gloucestershire) This conference, scheduled to take place during the 2016 European Championship and hosted by the University of Basel’s Department of English, takes up soccer with a special focus on its poetics and aesthetics. The conference particularly seeks to scrutinize the poetics and aesthetics of the game in light of comparative as well as transnational, transcontinental, and global perspectives. In doing so, it aims to shed light on the poetics and aesthetics of all aspects of soccer, from the actual game to fan chants and choreographies, from representations in the arts to the aesthetics of media coverage, from the poetics of live commentary to institutional image cultivation (MLS, FIFA, UEFA, etc.), from aspects of design (jerseys, balls) to recent developments in stadium architecture. Given this range and diversity of the forms in which the poetics and aesthetics of soccer manifest themselves, the conference by necessity is interdisciplinary in nature, with possible contributions coming from fields such as literary and cultural studies, philosophy, linguistics, visual studies and the arts, design, and architecture to name but a few. Possible topics include but are not limited to: • the poetics and aesthetics of the game • “skill,” “creativity,” “intuition,” and “style” in soccer • soccer and the notions of the beautiful and the sublime • fan chants • fan choreographies • Ultra aesthetics • the aesthetics (and politics) of institutional image cultivation via the staging of events such as opening ceremonies, fixture draws, player award ceremonies, etc. • languages of/in soccer • the poetics and rhetoric of soccer live commentary • the poetics, rhetoric, and aesthetics of soccer media coverage • representations of soccer in the arts (including literature and film) • the aesthetics of stadium architecture • design in soccer: jerseys, balls, gear, club emblems, etc. In addition to academic talks, the conference will also include an art event, exhibiting some of the original art that is the basis for tschuttiheftli’s sticker collection they create for every World Cup and European Championship (http://www.tschuttiheft.li/). Please send your 300-word abstracts and 100-word bios to: soccerconf-dslw@unibas.ch. The deadline for submissions is December 14, 2015. The conference organizers plan to publish a collection of essays based on selected contributions to the conference. Conference Organizers: Dr. phil. des. Ridvan Askin and Dr. Catherine Diederich, Department of English, University of Basel, Nadelberg 6, CH-4051...

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Call for Papers: Disrespected Neighbo(u)rs – Cultural Stereotypes in Literature and Film
Sep15

Call for Papers: Disrespected Neighbo(u)rs – Cultural Stereotypes in Literature and Film

21.-23.4. 2016, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena Caroline Rosenthal, Laurenz Volkmann, Uwe Zagratzki Neighbourly relations frequently position a self against an Other. This is the case between individuals, nations or within various cultural groups of a nation. Our racial, ethnic, social, or gender identities are created in demarcating ourselves from others who differ from us in culturally significant ways. These processes of identity formation are often spurred by stereotyping the Other. Sometimes these stereotypes take the form of humorous teasing or satirizing critique. Often, however, stereotypes turn into petrified value judgements of others and lead to discriminatory acts, violence, and sometimes culminate in warfare and genocide. Disrespect of the immediate neighbour based on stereotypical pre-conceptions and cultural bias may lie dormant for a long time and then, activated by changes in the economic and political macrocosm, surfaces instantly and fuels economic exploitation, political suppression, destructive propaganda and, ultimately, pogroms. What had up to this point been recognised as a familiar neighbour, who was defined through linguistic, cultural, and religious distinctions, now not only transmutes into the unfamiliar, but the disrespected and, finally, hateful, Other. A more detailed look at the rhetoric of recent conflicts around the globe related to religious fanaticism, economic crises, racism, or sexism reveals deeply entrenched pre-conceptions of the gendered, ethnic, or social Other. Such stereotypical representations of the Other are shaped and disseminated through fictional and non-fictional texts, television, films, and the internet as well as in everyday cultural practices.  As a result, media products feature prominently in producing, propagating, and maintaining cultural difference in ideologically effective ways. Degrees of covert or overt forms of disrespect range from conventional hetero-stereotypes (e.g. Southern laziness, African inertia, Polish cunning, Greek economy, Scottish meanness, Irish drunkenness) in everyday encounters to open de-humanisation (axis of the evil, unbelievers, terrorists) in times of heightened ideological or military tensions.   The conference aims to probe the liminal spaces of construction and perception in literary and media representations. It aims to lay open the interplay of textual and media representations and other ways of producing stereotypes; and it intends to shed light on the issue of how such representations both react to as well as impinge on the spheres of cultural, political, and economic practice. The focus of this conference will be on discourses in four geographical areas: (1) North America, (2) Europe, (3) UK/Ireland/Scotland/Wales (4) the Commonwealth. We are interested in, e.g.: nation states and their  “neighbourly relations” (e.g. Poland and Germany, Europe and Russia; Europe and Greece, the US and Canada; England and Scotland; India and Pakistan) tensions between regions, cities, neighbourhoods, and cultural groups within a nation as represented in literary and...

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Call for Workshop Proposals: 63rd Annual Conference  of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA),  Osnabrück (Germany), May 19-22, 2016
Jul21

Call for Workshop Proposals: 63rd Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA), Osnabrück (Germany), May 19-22, 2016

“The United States and the Question of Rights” Deadline: October 01, 2015 In U.S.-American politics, society and culture, questions concerning the justification, attainment and protection of human and civil rights have always been essential. Despite its obvious legal connotations, however, the intense concern with the question of rights cannot be understood exclusively from a legal perspective. The conviction that humans as citizens possess natural and constitutional rights and that they are defined through these very rights as humans and citizens is an integral part of the historical, political, social, and cultural self-conceptualization of the United States. This basic understanding is both constitutive as well as formative, i.e. it serves as the foundational argument for a number of interconnected, yet often also conflicting narratives, discourses, and practices through which the question concerning the rights of humans and citizens is constantly being re-negotiated. The history of the U.S. may be – or even must be – viewed as an ongoing struggle about the realization and protection, but also the limitation and violation of rights. The emphatic understanding of the fundamental status of rights in U.S.-American history and culture has also found expression in international and intercultural relations and controversies, as, for instance, contemporary debates about the NSA or the U.S. support (or lack thereof) for human rights groups and their struggles in non-democratic regimes clearly suggest. The “question of rights” is thus not merely constitutive of the self-understanding of the United States, it also—and with the same intensity—affects its perception from outside. The key theme of the 2016 convention is meant to encourage much more than the mere reproduction and reflection of historical controversies or more current political debates in the context of an academic conference. On the one hand, due to its historical depth and its significance across different disciplines and fields, the question of rights addresses all areas of American Studies and thus serves as a fulcrum of any research focused primarily on the United States. On the other hand, the fact that the field of American Studies itself—in its development, its central questions and objectives, and its changing self-understanding—time and again has been, and continues to be, influenced by a fundamental concern for justice and rights, endows the conference theme with a distinct potential to reflect upon the discipline’s central concepts and theories. The 2016 convention will attempt to tackle the question of rights in the context of U.S.-American politics, society, history, and culture from the diverse angles of literary and cultural studies, media studies, the arts, history, political science, sociology, economics, and legal studies. Exemplary general topics for workshops include, but are not limited to: The history...

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Call for Papers: Surveillance │ Society │ Culture, International Conference, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, February 26-28, 2016
Jul16

Call for Papers: Surveillance │ Society │ Culture, International Conference, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, February 26-28, 2016

International Conference, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, February 26-28, 2016 Deadline: September 21, 2015  Have we grown accustomed to living under constant observation in what sociologist David Lyon has called a “surveillance society”? What only a few decades ago would have been considered a totalitarian nightmare seems to have become reality: surveillance practices and technologies have infiltrated all aspects of our lives, forcing us to reconsider established notions of privacy, subjectivity, and the status of the individual within society. The United States is central to contemporary concerns about surveillance. American companies are at the forefront of developing surveillance technologies; internet corporations such as Google or Facebook have brought the accumulation and commercialization of “big data” to an unprecedented level of efficiency; and in the wake of 9/11 and the ongoing “war against terror,” governmental agencies such as the NSA are gathering and monitoring communication on a global scale. Therefore American Studies offers a fruitful place to begin discussing the impact of surveillance on society and culture. Nevertheless, the discussion will have to extend beyond disciplinary boundaries just as the impact and etiology of surveillance extend beyond the borders of the nation state. This broad view of the multiplicity of viewpoints is an acknowledgment that the ubiquity of surveillance makes it difficult to assess. Surveillance takes many forms; works in innumerable areas of private, public and professional life; performs multiple functions; serves countless masters; utilizes a variety of strategies, techniques and technologies. One way to render this polymorphous and elusive socio-cultural phenomenon tangible is to study its representations in literature, film, and art. This conference therefore aims to study the cultures and society of surveillance. The goal is to bring together literary, cultural and surveillance studies to provide a transdisciplinary framework and generate new approaches to fundamental questions: How has surveillance changed historically and how have these changes been discussed both in the American and in the transnational context? How have these changes been represented in literary and visual culture? What is the ideological significance of surveillance-related genres like the detective or spy novel? Is there an “ethics” of surveillance and how are ethical questions negotiated in literature and culture? How is “meaning” produced textually and semiotically in a surveillance situation? How can cultural artifacts like novels or films operate as actors in the multiple networks of surveillance? How can the processes of subject formation that constitute the observers as well as the observed be described? How do the arts reflect the challenges to the individual posed by technological development? How does the omnipresence of various gazes affect cultural narratives of the “self”? Possible topics could include but are certainly not limited to:...

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Call for Papers: Annual Conference of the Postgraduate Forum (PGF)
Jun22

Call for Papers: Annual Conference of the Postgraduate Forum (PGF)

The 2015 Postgraduate Forum (PGF) of the German Association for American Studies (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien, DGfA) calls for submissions to this year’s conference. The PGF is an annual forum for young scholars working in the field of American Studies who have completed their MA (or equivalent) to discuss their work and meet their peers. This year’s PGF is jointly organized by PhD candidates from the University of Bamberg and the University of Bayreuth. The conference itself takes place at the University of Bamberg from November 6 to 8, 2015. During this three-day conference, young scholars in the field of American Studies are invited to present their current research – such as essays or dissertations and postdoc projects. The PGF offers participants a platform to address various issues. There is no topical restriction, although we especially encourage paper proposals on North American poetry, animal studies, comic studies, food studies, as well as on war and illness in American literature, culture, history and politics. We would like to invite you to submit an abstract of 200–300 words by July 31, 2015. Your proposal should be in English and should include a brief biographical sketch of 150–200 words stating your academic background, your university affiliation, your research interests, and the current status of your project. We especially encourage young researchers who have little or no conference experience to participate and present their current research. In order to leave enough time for lively discussions, presentations must not exceed 20 minutes. Please send all proposals to: pgf@dgfa.de Selected contributions will be published in the peer-reviewed online journal COPAS (Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies). Further information regarding this year’s PGF in Bamberg, including the conference program, travel directions, accommodation options and more will be available on our website: https://pgf2015bamberg.wordpress.com We kindly ask all participants (presenting and non-presenting) to register no later than September 30, 2015 via our website. Your PGF-Team 2015 Laura Oehme, Judith Rauscher, Theresa Roth, Mareike Spychala Download: Call for Papers...

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Call for Papers:  “Interdisciplinary Crossroads: Performance Studies in Transnational American Studies”
Feb18

Call for Papers: “Interdisciplinary Crossroads: Performance Studies in Transnational American Studies”

“Interdisciplinary Crossroads: Performance Studies in Transnational American Studies” Opening Conference DFG Research Network DFG # BA 3567/4-1 ***23-25 July 2015, Regensburg*** Conference Organization: Dr. Birgit M. Bauridl (U Regensburg), Dr. Pia Wiegmink (U Mainz)   The conference opens the DFG research network “Cultural Performance in Transnational American Studies,” which explores the potentials of an integration of Performance Studies approaches into the field of (transnational) American Studies. The network investigates how, which, and with what outcome issues that, in the wake of the transnational turn, have become central to the American Studies agenda can be addressed more adequately by the study of ‘cultural performances.’ Based on the idea of culture as a corporeal, communal, and dynamic event rather than a stable textual product, the individual projects arranged in three culturally and spatially specific clusters—the city, the nation, the globe—position the local particularities of cultural performance vis-à-vis the dynamics of global mobility. Firstly, they examine the role and impact of ‘cultural performances’ as particular acts of cultural expression (like daily rituals, festive occasions, or theatrical events) in transnational contact zones—sites in which cultures meet, grapple with each other, and inevitably negotiate questions of socio-political agency, representation, and power. Secondly, they develop and evaluate ‘cultural performance’ as a methodological approach for the study of transnational processes. In sum, the network scrutinizes the benefits and limitations of a deeper and more reflective integration of a Performance Studies approach into American Studies. By bringing together scholars of Performance and American Studies from the US, Europe, and Asia, it constitutes an exemplary site of transnational collaboration and establishes a dialogue across disciplinary boundaries.   The opening conference aims at establishing a framework for a Performance Studies approach in (transnational) American Studies via both theoretical/conceptual/methodological reflections and the discussion of specific case studies. Confirmed keynote speakers are: Michael Bachmann (Theatre Studies, University of Glasgow); Ben Chappell (American Studies, University of Kansas); John Carlos Rowe (American Studies, University of Southern California). In addition to contributions by network participants and workshops papers, ‘Research Meets Practice’ sections will foster the exchange between academic scholars and experts/practitioners.   We INVITE PAPERS that explore aspects that, in the wake of the transnational turn, have become central to the American Studies agenda—e.g. issues such as cultural encounters and contact zones, the (non-)porousness of national and cultural borders, or the perceived dichotomy of local or national particularities and global mobility—via an investigation of ‘cultural performances,’ i.e. diverse affirmative or disruptive cultural practices and events ranging from theater, musicals, pop concerts, sports events and commemorations to tourist performances, street parades, political spectacles, and historical reenactments etc. and/or papers that address conceptual/methodological questions such as:...

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Call for Papers: GSNAS Graduate Conference 2015
Feb14

Call for Papers: GSNAS Graduate Conference 2015

Alliances Un/Common Causes and the Politics of Participation May 7–9, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin   Seventy years after the United States aligned themselves with the Soviet Union to move together against Nazi Germany, unusual alliances continue to shift power relations and fundamentally transform our societies. Born out of crises, such upheavals often extend beyond economics and national politics into the allocation of rights and issues of legitimacy, justice, and everyday livelihood. Recently, global events have prompted popular mobilization and participation across various cultural, socioeconomic, and political boundaries. Ferguson (Missouri), Tahrir Square (Egypt), Zucotti Park (New York), and Ayotzinapa (Mexico) have transcended different materialities, on- and offline, and turned into tropes for larger transformative demands, forging real and imagined communities in the process. On a different scale, global economic, environmental, and geopolitical challenges are fostering unusual bonds between unlikely allies. Evolving modes of collaborative production, such as crowdfunding, are changing the way we relate, create, and consume. Volatile web crowds and conflicting coalitions are contesting traditional notions of allegiance and loyalty while allowing for an astute discerning of historical patterns. All these developments call for an updated understanding of alliances in the field of North American Studies. How can we situate, frame, and conceptualize alliances today? Are there plausible rhetorical links to be drawn between, for instance, protesters in Hong Kong and the inhabitants of Ferguson? What would they tell us about a sense of shared experience and the politics of empathy? Is there a way—or a need at all—to describe the formation of these kinds of transversal linkages with a vocabulary outside the liberal humanist tradition of solidarity? And how have cultural producers who align themselves with social and political causes facilitated the emergence and evolution of aesthetic forms, e.g. in documentary fiction in literature and film?   This conference explores the histories, presences, and futures of alliance making. Transdisciplinary and transnational in scope, it foregrounds the complex interplay between the imaginary and the material. We invite speakers to think with, through, and beyond the following issues: hegemonic alliances vs. grassroots organizing mobs, crowds, and gatherings: performativity and agency in numbers fragmented, operation-based initiatives and intersectional justice movements cultural resonances and literary representations of alliances the aesthetics of co-option and cooperation delinking strategies and dissolving coalitions peer-to-peer finance (e.g. crowdfunding) and other collaborative investments networked materialities, virtual and posthuman alliances alliances and social participation in historical perspective Please submit an abstract of no more than 250 words and a short CV to alliances@gsnas.fu-berlin.de. The proposal deadline is February 28, 2015. Selected presenters will be notified by March 17, 2015....

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Call for Papers: DGfA Annual Meeting “Knowledge Landscapes North America”, Bonn, May 28-31, 2015
Nov25

Call for Papers: DGfA Annual Meeting “Knowledge Landscapes North America”, Bonn, May 28-31, 2015

Deadline January 15, 2015. All members of the association and those interested are invited to submit paper proposals for the 2015 Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies “Knowledge Landscapes North America.“ The 2015 Annual Conference endeavors to map North American knowledge landscapes from the perspectives of literary, cultural, and media studies, history, political science, sociology, and economics as well as through the arts. For further information on the general topic and the venue please consult the DGfA homepage http://dgfa.de/annual-meeting/ or the the conference homepage http://gaas2015.com/. Please send your paper proposals directly to the workshop organizers listed below. Each workhop will have six slots for presentations. A minimum of two presentations have been submitted in advance and will appear in the workshop descriptions below. The deadline for further submissions is January 15, 2015. Speakers at the conference must be members of the Association or of one of its international sister organizations in American Studies. It is not necessary to become a member until the paper proposal has been accepted. Please find the list of workshops here...

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