CFP: The Canadian Association for American Studies Symposium (Concordia; deadline: 5 April 2019)

The Canadian Association for American Studies will hold a symposium-style event at Concordia University in Montreal, from 25-27 October, 2019. The event will be an opportunity for both new and established scholars of American Studies to share new work, discuss the status of American Studies, and contribute to the future development of CAAS. All scholars are welcome.

The symposium will consist of a series of member-organized panels. CAAS therefore invites proposals for the following panels. Please submit your proposal to the email provided by the panel organizer.

Unsettling States

In the national imaginary, the US has always capitalized on movement—it has depended on immigrants; on migrant agricultural workers; on families and wagon trains seeking the frontier; on people moving for jobs—even though, at specific points in history, such movement is represented as problematic. Bums, tramps, migrant workers, “illegal” aliens, displaced persons, and veterans, among others, have been alternately welcomed and vilified. The Mexican braceros were, for example, first lauded as saviours during WWII, then characterized as a horde of invader “wetbacks” once the war was over. In film noir, returning veterans were figured as drifters; then Hollywood repatriated the same actors as suburban family men, comfortable with conformity. In a 2017 article in the New Yorker, Larissa MacFarquhar worries: “What does it mean that Americans are now moving less often than people in old European countries like France?  Has America’s restless dynamism run its course?” This panel seeks to explore different moments in US history in which movement is celebrated or deplored, welcome or lamented.

Send 200 word abstracts and brief (100 words) bios by April 5, 2019 to

American Popular Culture in the 1970s and 1980s

This panel seeks papers that explore American popular culture (film, television, music, and so on) in two pivotal decades of the twentieth century. Topics might include the following: alternative and oppositional forms of popular culture; lost or ignored texts, genres, movements; popular texts that embody recent history; popular cultural responses to the end of the 60s, defeat in Vietnam, stagflation, the election of Ronald Reagan; intersections of popular culture and such trends as New Age, the Human Potential Movement, the “culture of narcissism,” and others. Varying theoretical approaches are welcome, but papers should be historically grounded.

Send 200 word abstracts and brief (100 words) bios by April 5, 2019 to Peter Brown,

Conspiracist-in-Chief: Conspiracy Theory in the Age of Trump

Conspiracy theories have a long history in American culture. One notable paradigm shift occurs with the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963. Another arises following 9/11, and still another appears with the return of Donald Trump to political life. From his propagation of birtherism in 2011 to his declaration that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by China in 2012 to his fanning the flames of the deep state, the migrant caravan, and QAnon in recent months, Donald Trump has headed another paradigm shift in conspiracy theory in American culture. This panel aims to discern the current direction of conspiracy theory.

Sociology, psychology, history, political science, and literary and cultural studies take very different approaches to conspiracy theory. This panel seeks papers from diverse disciplinary perspectives on the nature, function, and effects of contemporary conspiracy theories. It will take the rise of Donald Trump as a rough starting point for the period under consideration (though the 9/11 Truth movement certainly provides an informative framework), but should not be limited solely to theories disseminated or endorsed by the President. Possible topics of interest include (but are not limited to):

  • conspiracy theory and literature (The Circle (2012), The Ghost Network(2015))
  • conspiracy theory and politics (xenophobic nationalism, the deep state)
  • conspiracy theory and ecology (chemtrails, flat earth, climate denialism)
  • the dangers of conspiracy theories (vaccination, Pizzagate)
  • conspiracy theory and film (The Conspiracy (2012), Room 237 (2012))
  • conspiracy theories and celebrity (Alex Jones, Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • conspiracy theory and technology (facial recognition, digital assistants)
  • conspiracy theory and journalism (fake news, alternative media)
  • conspiracy theory on/and social media
  • conspiracism in/as entertainment
  • conspiracism as pathology and/or conspiracism as pleasure
  • paranoia in the age of Trump
  • secrets and lies
  • false flags and hoaxes
  • secret societies

Send a 300-word proposal and 1-page CV by April 5, 2019 to Lindsey Banco,

Ambivalent Outcomes

We tend to think of the act of publishing or engaging in literary culture as a positive one, empowering cultural producers. But what about people for whom the act of publishing or participating in literary culture does not produce a positive outcome? Those who might lose control of the story as it circulates in other cultural contexts or is taken up in unanticipated ways?  This panel invites proposals from those working on publications gone awry, with special consideration given to proposals on texts and authors from before 1940.

Please send a 250-word abstract and brief bio to by April 5, 2019 to Jennifer Harris,

Nineteenth-Century Usages

This panel concerns the politics of politeness in nineteenth-century America. Presenters will examine the mediation of political speech, strategy, and action by conventions of civility, gentility, and etiquette. As a foreseeable key word, Mannersmay be defined broadly or narrowly, according to contextual focus and theoretical or (inter-) disciplinary approach. Panelists may also reflect on the political significance of rudeness and transgression. For example, relevant topics might include:

  • Transatlantic Travel
  • Post-Colonial Anxieties
  • Anglophile/Anglophobe
  • Mobs and Populism
  • Reformisms (Rude Radicals, Polite Moderates)
  • Civil War Civilities
  • Professional Courtesies
  • Childhood and Education
  • Masculine and Feminine Protocols
  • Etiquettes of Reconstruction/Reconciliation
  • Political Conventions
  • Queering Customs
  • Rhetorical Modes
  • Escalation, Mobilization, and Violence
  • Snubbing, Shunning, Shaming
  • Polite Dialogue
  • Proprieties of Slavery
  • (Un-) Conventional Domesticity
  • Genteel Consumerism
  • Genteel Fiction
  • Comedy of Manners
  • Literary decorum
  • Clerical decorum
  • Speakable/ Unspeakable
  • Passive/Aggressive
  • Survivance and Decolonization
  • Class and “Tone”
  • Social Cues and Triggers
  • Diplomacy
  • Hospitality
  • Resistance
  • Courtship
  • Friendship

Please send 300-word abstract and 1-page CV by April 5, 2019 to Luke Bresky,

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