British Association for American Studies


CFP: “Fear and friendliness in the United States” American Studies Association of Norway (Oslo, Norway)

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CFP: “Fear and friendliness in the United States” American Studies Association of Norway (Oslo, Norway)

April 15, 2016

CFP: “Fear and friendliness in the United States”
American Studies Association of Norway Oslo, Norway
Oct. 28-30, 2016
Conference venue: Scandic Helsfyr, Oslo

The American Studies Association of Norway (ASANOR) is a professional, academic organization for people who are actively interested in American Studies. ASANOR is pleased to call for proposals for its 41st annual conference in Oslo, 28-30 October 2016.

Conference theme: “Fear and friendliness in the United States”

The USA has a culture of fear, but American culture is also a culture of friendliness. In a sense, the USA is torn between fear and friendliness; closeness and openness; and pessimism and optimism. This tension is visible in many areas. The election and reelection of president Barack Obama on the one hand evoked fear of a socialist, foreign take-over of America, but also was an expression of friendliness towards talented people despite their ethnic and class background. In Fargo, the widely acclaimed film and TV-series, the niceness of the Upper Midwest is contrasted with the harshness of big city crime. The graphic novel turned into hit TV-series The Walking Dead explores how a group of survivors balance fear of strangers with friendliness towards fellow human beings in a post-apocalyptic era.

The tension has deep roots in American history. Alexis de Tocqueville noted Americans’ enduring optimism, but just a few years later, nativist sentiments drew on people’s fear of the new and unknown. Sinclair Lewis’ novel Main Street (1920) explored how friendly Midwesterners fostered a narrow culture where outsiders remained outsiders. During the 20th century fear was sometimes used in the name of defending a free and open republic: the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924 and the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee in the McCarthy Era excluded alien elements that were a perceived threat to American freedoms. Today, fear of Islamic terrorism lead presidential candidate Donald Trump to call for a temporary ban on Muslims from entering the United States.

We seek proposals for papers and panels addressing the role of fear and/or friendliness in American culture and in relation to other cultures. Each paper should last for no more than 20 minutes. As an interdisciplinary academic organization, ASANOR wishes to include presentations from a wide range of disciplines.

Topics include, but are not limited to:
• Film and popular culture • Literature • Race and ethnicity • National politics • Crime • Regionalism • Immigration • Religion • Legal issues • Foreign relations • Nationalism

Invited speakers:

Keynote speaker
Professor Amy Louise Wood (Illinois State University) will deliver the keynote address. Her current research investigates ideas about criminality at the turn of the 20th century, which wavered between fear and friendliness toward the criminal, and the effect of these ideas on prison reform. Professor Wood has previously published the book Lynching and Spectacle: Witnessing Racial Violence in America, 1890-1940 (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) for which she received the Lillian Smith Book Award and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award in History.

Panel on academic publishing
Michelle Houston, commissioning editor with the Edinburgh University Press, has been invited to participate on a panel on academic publishing along with scholars in the field (tbd).

Panel on writing for/speaking to a general audience
We have also invited a group of scholars to share their experiences on writing for and speaking to a general audience. How can we as Americanists explain current events to the average Norwegian?

Proposals for Individual Papers
Please provide the title and an abstract (300 words max.) of the paper you are proposing: your name, institutional affiliation, and email address; and a brief biographical statement (100 words max.). Please include the biographical statement at the end of your abstract.
Proposals for Panels Please provide a description (700 words max) of the topic of the panel and each panelist’s contribution; the title of the panel and titles and abstracts for individual papers; and a brief biographical statement (100 words max.) about each panelist. Please include the biographical statements at the end of the abstracts.

Please send proposal and CV to Dr. Hilde Løvdal Stephens at hildelovdal@gmail.com and associate professor Alf Tomas Tønnessen at toenness@hivolda.no by April 15, 2016.

Conference organizers: Hilde Løvdal Stephens Alf Tomas Tønnessen Mia Jønnum


April 15, 2016
Event Category:


Dr. Hilde Løvdal Stephens and associate professor Alf Tomas Tønnessen
hildelovdal@gmail.com ; toenness@hivolda.no
View Organiser Website


Unnamed Venue
Oslo, Norway + Google Map