Call for Submissions

CALL FOR PAPERS: Performing Identities in American Literature

“Through me many long dumb voices”: Performing Identities in American Literature
Hosted by the Durham University Department of English Studies
Funded by the Durham University Graduate School.
September 10th 2011

Performing Identities in American Literature seeks to explore the ways in which American identity is defined, enacted and contested in texts from the sixteenth century up to the present day. Tapping into the influential, yet highly contradictory visions of identity which have dominated the modern field of American Studies, in which multiculturalist and pluralist critiques of a unified national sensibility are set against the “indifference to difference” of an increasing cosmopolitanism (Michaels, 2004), the event invites fresh discussion of the identities contained and performed beneath the umbrella term “democracy”. By expanding a consideration of the performative beyond the more obviously dramatic aspects of text, we aim to provide a forum for debating the role played by the theatrical dimensions of the imaginary within American literary identities, highlighting the staging of belonging and exclusion that has shaped writers’ responses for more than four centuries.

In the interest of broadening the scope of discussion, we invite abstract submissions for papers of between 20 and 40 minutes in length. Presentations are welcomed in a variety of formats, from single and joint papers to lecture performances and works-in-progress. Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Patriotism and anti-patriotism: narratives of belonging and exclusion
  • Migration, immigration and inward expatriation
  • Propaganda and nationalism/exceptionalism
  • Staging the past: re-writing history as literature
  • Issues of authenticity: difficulties inherent in enacting race/class/nation
  • “Textualising” the body and bodily experience
  • Metatextuality and self-reflexive performativity
  • The evolving identity and cultural mythology of the American writer
  • Multiplicity and cosmopolitanism: new directions for American literature

Please submit your name, institutional affiliation and abstract of up to 300 words to by the deadline of July 31st 2011.

Amy Jordan, PhD Student at Durham University.
Richard Moss, PhD Student at Durham University.


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