British Association for American Studies


CfP: IAAS PG Conference: “The (Hi)stories We Create: Narratives of Exceptionalism, Ideology, and Resilience”

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CfP: IAAS PG Conference: “The (Hi)stories We Create: Narratives of Exceptionalism, Ideology, and Resilience”

September 24, 2021

In November 1621 colonists in Massachusetts celebrated a year of survival and their first harvest with a feast that has since been called The First Thanksgiving. The feast was a supposed celebration of resilience after hardship. It was not until 1863, in the midst of the American Civil War and with the nation divided, that this feast was enshrined as a national holiday and a touchstone of American tradition and ideology: a story of togetherness projected over the realities of division, exceptionalism, genocide, and slavery.

Now, four hundred years later, the story of the First Thanksgiving both provides comfort in another time of hardship while also revealing a depth of narrative ideology and mythology which obfuscates the ideological construction of modern day American nations. In the narrative of the US, in particular, at home and abroad, we see an increased awareness and attention to historical and contemporary situations that reveal the contradictions behind such constructions. At the same time, narratives of conspiracy and division dominate the national and international mindset, creating new ideologies that become entrenched obstacles to future growth, restitution, and healing.

For the 2021 IAAS Postgraduate Symposium, we will investigate the narratives that we create and that are created for us, narratives that obfuscate truths or implement ideology, narratives that further contextualise events or create understanding, as well as narratives of celebration, joy and self-care which can exist to counter those long held as empirical truth.

Given the evolving guidance related to in-person events in Ireland, 2021’s IAAS PG Symposium will be conducted as a virtual event through Zoom over the course of two afternoons on the 5th-6th November.

300 word proposals for ten-minute papers, along with a short academic biography, are welcomed from PGRs and ECRs working in the field of American Studies across disciplines including literature, history, film, politics, music, art, and media. The deadline for submissions, to be sent to postgrad@iaas.ie, is Friday, 24th September 2021.

The IAAS and the Postgraduate Symposium are dedicated to diversity, equality, and inclusion. We welcome papers from under-represented groups.

We also welcome papers from all disciplines. Paper Topics may include but are by no means limited to:

● Narratives of American Exceptionalism, past and present.

● Narratives of resilience, joy, remembrance.

● Conspiracy theory and constructed reality.

● Changing ideologies of race, nation, and class.

● The intersection of nationalist narratives/different visions of Nationhood across the Americas.

● What if? Narratives of missed opportunities.

● Where next? Stories of the future.

The IAAS is an all-island scholarly association dedicated to promoting interdisciplinary American Studies in Ireland. The annual Postgraduate Symposium, run by Postgraduates, aims at fostering a supportive and discursive environment for more junior scholars to share their research, exchange ideas, and create lasting connections and networks.

The 2021 IAAS Postgraduate Symposium will be hosted by Trinity College Dublin School of English.


September 24, 2021
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