British Association for American Studies


CfP: ‘Presidents and Place’ edited collection – ed. Dr Thomas Cobb

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CfP: ‘Presidents and Place’ edited collection – ed. Dr Thomas Cobb

June 28, 2021

‘Presidents and Place’ – Edited collection – Dr Thomas Cobb and Dr Olga Ackroyd

From the frontier of Manifest Destiny ideology to the contest between industrialism and agrarianism implicit in the Civil War, ideals of place have both driven the United States’s economic development and accentuated its political divides. Appreciation of the United States today still often derives from how place differs for its citizens; from the strife of the ‘Rustbelt’ to the glamour of the ‘Sunbelt’, the US is remarked on, perhaps more than other Western country, for its cultural and climatological heterogeneity.

The history of US presidents’ upbringings and home state affiliations, however, presents a comparative uniformity. Seven out of the fifteen presidents who preceded Lincoln were born in Virginia, a hegemony which outlasted the frontier ideology purveyed by presidents Andrew Jackson and James Polk. In the decades between Appomattox and the New Deal, it was Ohio’s turn to provide presidents; seven Ohio born Republican presidents served in office between 1868 and 1923. Despite the mythos of Manifest Destiny, there had never been a president born west of the Mississippi before Herbert Hoover in 1929. Disequilibrium can also be detected in presidents whose regional identities contrasted with their electoral base; it is worth recollecting the Northern Democratic heads of state who courted Southern support in the 1850s or the New Yorker Trump’s electoral success in Appalachia and the Great Plains.

The editors are delighted to put forward a Call for Papers for an edited collection of short essays united under the umbrella topic of “Presidents and Place.” Academic researchers at any stage of their career are welcome to submit an abstract; they are especially keen to hear from PGRs and ECRs, as well as independent scholars. Work on nineteenth as well as twentieth-century presidents is welcome, particularly work based on less explored nineteenth century presidencies. They also extend the scope of this project to include political personalities who have left a lasting legacy without becoming president.

Some possible avenues for exploration are as follows (although they are always delighted to receive original work on lesser-known themes and figures):

  • Memories of childhood or home
  • Family life of influential political figures
  • The legacy of influential political figures in a specific region
  • Relationships between influential political figures and the inhabitants of a certain place and region
  • Relationships between a president’s home or birth state and their foreign and domestic policies
  • Autobiographies and biographies
  • Presidents and place in literary fiction
  • Transatlantic and/or international subjects and themes
  • Aesthetics and material culture
  • Problems of race, gender, class or sexuality in relation to the title topic
  • Modern interpretations of the presidential regional legacy and mythology of the state
  • Tourism and treatment of presidential figures by the tourist industry

The invited essays should be approximately 5,000-6,000 words in length, excluding a brief bibliography. Final drafts should be received by 31st January 2022, with the view to publishing the collection by 30th June 2022. Please send an abstract of 500 words and a brief author bio to ad2355@coventry.ac.uk and olga.akroyd@gires.org, by 31st August 2021, in order for your essay proposal to be considered for the edited collection.


June 28, 2021
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Thomas Cobb
Olga Ackroyd