2016 Biannual Conference of the Swiss Association for North American Studies, SANAS
University of Bern, November 4-5, 2016
The “popular” and “people” and the “political” and “polis” find a common nexus in the concept of community. There are few topics as contentious in the Humanities as community, and its extension into American studies is of particular interest and import given the volatility of contemporary social landscapes. The American community undoubtedly extends beyond, and is neither as homogeneous nor as singular as, the geographical borders allotted to it on maps.
This conference seeks to bring together contributions that investigate the nature of community as part of both popular and political discourses and practices in North America. The expression of the political in terms of a unified land or people is problematized in contemporary, fragmented accounts of community. The dissent is evident in the contemporary political situation of the US where the status of identity politics is paving the way for new narratives to be developed.
Popular culture has always been at the forefront of such new developments. The reception of so-called American popular culture oscillates between reflection and subversion of traditional notions of an American community. Be it in the form of mass-culture impetus or clusters of reception, a certain rhetoric of community-building is always closely linked to the respective practices – together, they have warranted close attention in any reflection on aspects of the “popular” in North American culture, now as well as in earlier periods.
We invite papers from scholars working in literary studies, cultural studies and philosophy with the intention to show the variety and scope of research that is being done in this field in Switzerland and abroad.
Our two invited plenary speakers will be Frank Kelleter, Chair of the Department of Culture and Einstein Professor of North American Cultural History at the “John F. Kennedy Institut” of the Freie Universität Berlin, and Miranda Joseph, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies (The Department of Gender and Women’s Studies) at the University of Arizona. Professor Kelleter is director of the DFG research unit “Popular Seriality: Aesthetics and Practice”; Professor Joseph has published widely on economics and social relations.
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