25 – 27 April 2019 in Bergen, Norway

The Biennial Conference of the Nordic Association of American Studies

Submission deadline: 15 Sept. 2018

Monuments construct the past in the present, and link it to a predetermined version of the future. Monuments tell singular and unified stories, acting as master narratives that impede other voices. Monuments have become some of America’s most important storytellers, giving form to power, but also to particular acts of resistance.

This is perhaps only to be expected, for the word “monument” bears within it the Latin mon, from monēre, which means “to remind,” but also means “to warn.” In its descriptive form “monumental” connotes something massive or imposing, something great in importance, but also expresses a sense of excess, of being overwhelmed. The word itself thus invites a chain of questions: What do monuments call to memory? What might they warn us against? What versions of events do they impose in presenting greatness? Who and what deserves recognition? How can monuments commemorate different or competing pasts? What should be done with monuments that uplift violent pasts?

The NAAS 2019 conference in Bergen on “Monuments” welcomes panel and paper proposals that address monuments and the monumental in relation to American literature, history, politics, media, art and popular culture, transnational and transcultural and comparative approaches. Keeping in mind that not all monuments are made of stone—Hemingway has been called a monument, political symbols and landscapes act as monuments, the literary canon and the Bible are monuments to Western culture—the list of different kinds of monuments is near endless. Some themes may be, but are not limited to:


  • Conceptualizations of the American past
  • Preservation and commemoration
  • Tradition and cultural heritage
  • Cultural perceptions, shifting attitudes towards the monument
  • Representation Memory and forgetting
  • Genre or aesthetic form
  • Naming
  • Landscapes, places and spaces
  • Myth
  • Resistance to the monument
  • Inscription
  • The non-monumental
  • False memories
  • Amnesia
  • Nostalgia
  • Imaginaries
  • Ossification
  • War
  • Architecture
  • Photography
  • Religion
  • Visibility/invisibility


Please send abstracts and panel proposals to by 15 Sept. 2018. Abstracts for individual panel presentations (20 minutes) should be no longer than 250 words; proposals for panels or workshops should be no longer than 500 words. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out in October.


The conference is open to scholars and students from all countries, but we offer lower registration fees to members of NAAS (Nordic Association for American Studies), EAAS (European Association for American Studies), and ASA (American Studies Association in the U.S.).


A conference website will be made available in the autumn. If you have any questions regarding the conference or your proposal before then, please write to the conference organizers at:





Conference organizers:


Jena Habegger-Conti, Associate Professor

Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

President, American Studies Association of Norway


Asbjørn Grønstad, Professor

University of Bergen

Vice-President, American Studies Association of Norway


Lene Johannessen, Professor

University of Bergen

Committee Chair, American Studies Association of Norway


Modernist Legacies and Futures:

Modernist Studies Ireland inaugural conference

Friday 17th May 2019

National University of Ireland Galway

Plenary Speaker: Dr Ben Levitas, Goldsmiths University of London


In many ways, Modernism’s future is now. We are still grappling with modernism’s aftermath, afterlives, and its perpetual relevance. The new textualities and ephemera available to scholars today make it increasingly important to reconsider how creative figures conceived and constructed their future both within their work and in the material cultures they occupied.

The increasing digitisation of cultural materials is reshaping how we interact and understand modernist practice. Archives, newspapers, periodicals, and digital critical editions are allowing scholars to read, see, or listen to the cultural atmospheres of modernity, whilst reading texts anew with digital analysis technologies. Modernism was a movement marked by a dynamic play with concepts of time and temporality. This forged both a sense of periodicity and a moment of crisis in expressing the present and perceiving the future. The study of plural, reterritorialised modernisms and the growing body of available materials opens up new avenues for understanding how and why modernism came into being through artists, publishers, academics, and institutions. The corpus of modernist studies is expanding rapidly and this expansion includes materials that we also create. The aesthetic politics of neomodernism and protomodernism continues to pose questions regarding the remaking and influence modernist practice has today.

The inaugural conference of Modernist Studies Ireland, ‘Modernist Legacies and Futures’ seeks to bring together Irish and international scholars to initiate an exchange and review of current research, trends, and findings in modernist studies. We ask scholars to consider how modernists created or negated the future in their work? Did modernist artists conceive of the future as a prerequisite of the work itself and, if so, how did they attempt to secure their legacy? What does the digital landscape achieve for modernism studies? What future does modernist studies have? If modernism was a radical attempt to reshape culture and art did it succeed and how can we as scholars perpetuate this radicalism? Do current attempts to democratise the study of literature and unsettle canonicity impact future research? What modernisms are missing from the field of modernist study? What does modernism mean to minority languages, cultures, and to a non-western canon?

We invite contributions for 20-minute papers on themes such as, but not limited to:

  • Modernist aesthetics and futurity
  • Time and temporality
  • Age, ageing, and youth
  • Vision and revision
  • Collaborative acts and interdisciplinary practice
  • Modernist editing and the legacy of ‘the work’
  • Periodical and print networks
  • Minor’ literatures or non-Anglophone modernisms Modernism in the digital humanities
  • Gendered and queer modernisms
  • Metamodernism and neomodernism
  • Historicising or geo-politicising modernisms and modernities
  • Space and representation
  • Modernism in and of media
  • Transnational and global modernisms
  • Modernist afterlives and futures
  • Modernist (im-)possibilities, utopias, dystopias
  • Pedagogy and modernist studies
  • Archives, databases, and digital collections
  • Editing and publishing histories
  • Canon formation and redefinition


Deadline for abstract submission: 5pm, Feb 28th 2019

For further information please contact:

Modernist Studies Ireland (MSI) is a new organisation that aims to facilitate the sharing of interests, research, and pedagogical approaches to modernism and modernity in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Modernist Studies Ireland provides a network to communicate our new research, publications, and archival holdings to a local and global audience.

Further information on the initiative can be found here:

Twitter: @Mod_Ireland



Guilty Pleasures 2

From Poldark to Partridge: masculinity and contemporary television


The second in our “Guilty Pleasures” conference series at Ulster University again sets out to examine the appeal, politics and impact of the television programmes we all love to watch but feel guilty about consuming: the popular, mainstream shows which are addictive yet not “highbrow”, enjoyable but not always intellectually demanding. This year’s event will be held at the Belfast Campus at Ulster University on Friday the 9th November, and focuses on the representation of masculinity on the small screen. From Poldark‘s confrontation with the politics of consent, to Love Island‘s showcasing of male insecurity about the body beautiful, contemporary television engages with all of the issues associated with being a man in the 21st century.

We are looking for papers which will discuss the ways in which contemporary television reflects, makes sense of, or even shapes, our current ideas and anxieties about the male gender.

Proposals for 20 min papers may include but are not limited to:

  • “Toxic” masculinity on screen
  • Masculinity in period drama
  • Men and social class
  • Fatherhood and/or domesticity on television
  • The television detective and/or criminal
  • Family (re)constructions in soap opera
  • Gender identity in reality television
  • The body beautiful on screen
  • Post-Trump masculinities
  • The politics of consent
  • Fluid and reworked masculinities


Please send abstracts of about 300 words and a brief bio to the conference organisers Ned and Kate at: or by the 3rd of September  2018.

2018 EBAAS CONFERENCE, KING’S COLLEGE LONDON, UK, 4th–7th of April, 2018


The months of March and April turned out to be a very busy but truly inspiring time for me. I had just returned from academic conference travels to Indianapolis, stopped over in Dublin for a night to catch up with jet lag, and then boarded the plane to London to speak at the 32nd European Association for American Studies and 63rd British Association for American Studies Conference.

The events of this year’s conference took place at Kings College London, the British Library and University College London, and offered a great variety of presentations, talks, round table discussions and networking opportunities. Indeed, the conference provided a platform and many intriguing occasions to engage in stimulating conversations with international scholars and listen to the latest developments in American Studies research across Europe and the world.

It was difficult to choose which events to attend from the program because of the exceptional diversity of available panels. On Wednesday, I attended panel A7 on ‘Constructing Antebellum Race and Gender’ which was aligned closely with my own research. Lawrence McDonnell from Iowa State University discussed ‘The Hanging of Pauline, a Bad Slave’; Iulian Cananau from the University of Gävle presented a remarkable paper on womanhood and citizenship entitled ‘A Conceptual-Historicist Approach to Antebellum Women’s Literature of Protest’ and Shane White from the University of Sydney delivered a captivating talk entitled ‘A Crossdresser and Con Artist in Antebellum New York’. During the afternoon, I had to do some panel-hopping because the times of several talks I was adamant on seeing clashed. Thus, I first went to see Panel B6 about Anti-Slavery Networks, enjoying a paper by Thomas Mareite from Leiden University about ‘Conditional Freedom: US Fugitive Slaves in Mexican Texas, 1821-1836’ and by Charlotte James from the University of Nottingham, who spoke about ‘“Heroic Souls”: The Memory of Tubman, Truth and black female abolitionists’. Second, I sat in on Panel B13 about the ‘peculiar institution’. Elizabeth Barnes from the University of Reading kicked the panel off with her talk about ‘Environments of Abuse: the Farm, the Plantation, and Sexual Violence under Slavery’. A thought-provoking second presentation was given by Matthew Griffin from University College London about ‘The Climatic Theory of Slavery and the Wilmot Proviso Controversy’. Lastly, Edward Mair from the University of Hull presented his talk about ‘The Impact of Hostile Environments on the Parameters of Slavery: The Seminoles and Florida, 1780-1822’. The panel-hopping continued into the evening Parallel Session C as I attended the lively Panel C7 with discussion about how the US South has changed American politics since 1968, and an invigorating Panel C8, debating the role of radicalism, protest and patriotism at the turn of the 20th century. The last highlight of the day was the keynote by Bettye Collier-Thomas from Temple University entitled “From King to Trump: The Enduring Legacy of White Supremacy for American Democracy”—a very current and personal exploration of recent and not-so-recent events and developments in the US.

On Thursday and Friday I was faced with the same difficult decision to choose from an excellent range of papers. I decided to join Panel D8 which shared new perspectives on protest and resistance during the Civil Rights Movement. Next, I participated in an energetic debate about ‘Intersection of Women, Place and Protest’. Panelists shared their research ‘Chisholm ‘68: Black Protest and Left-Liberal Politics’ (Anastasia Curwood, University of Kentucky), Transatlantic Feminist Reform Networks in the Mid-20th Century’ (Ann Schofield, University of Kansas) and ‘African American Women and Washington, DC as a Site of Protest’ (Kim Warren, University of Southern Denmark). This second day of full-time conferencing concluded with a keynote by Jo Gill from the University of Exeter. In UCL’s Logan Hall, she gave a passionate talk about American poetry in the Jet Age.

I also had the opportunity to participate in a panel myself as part of a round table discussion on Friday about ‘American Studies in Europe: The Experience of Postgraduate Students and Early Career Researchers’. While I have attended many different conferences since I enrolled in college in 2005, I have long pursued events that encourage and focus on networking and exchange between postgraduate students and early career researchers in the field of American studies in Europe. I was especially interested in contributing to this event because I have been a student in a German, an American and now an Irish university environment, progressing from BA to PhD. This enabled me to offer comments on challenges and best practices in the different universities and departments and to share my own experience. Together with Francesca Razzi, Natalia Kovalyova, Kostantinos D. Karatzas, Marta Duro, and Aleksandra Kamińska, I discussed the current situation of American Studies in European member states and what we can do to improve communication and collaboration among ECR and PhD students in American Studies across Europe. Our chairs, Lorenzo Costaguta of the AISNA Graduate Forum and Katerina Webb-Bourne from King’s College London and PG Representative BAAS, guided the discussion and a lively and very interested audience participated actively in the round table. We also collected a long list of fellow researchers who are interested in future collaborations, and established a Slack group for European American Studies ECR and PhD students, free for anyone who is interested to join. Moreover, we were joined by Philip McGowan, senior lecturer in American literature at QUB, who, as President of the EAAS, had an open ear for all our concerns and was ready to support us wherever he could. In addition to our panel, ECR and PhD students also had the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and share ideas at the PG social events on Wednesday evening and the BAAS and EAAS joint Postgraduate Lunch on Friday right after our round table.

My participation at EBAAS conference not only helped me establish dialogue with interdisciplinary and international researchers and attend talks and discussions about my PhD research as well (e.g. ‘Prisons, Protest Culture, and Radical Politics’, ‘Black Protest and American Studies’, ‘Questioning Blacks’ Existence in America’, ‘Using Runaway Slave Advertisements to Teach Slavery’, ‘African American Memory and Place’ and the others I mentioned above), it also allowed me to disseminate my research with diverse group of international scholars. Moreover, it allowed me to share my experience as a woman in academia. I attended the Women in American Studies Network (WASN) and EAAS Women’s Network Joint Lunch during which we discussed the upcoming conference the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece in 2019, and other issues concerning a closer collaboration between female researchers in European member states to increase the visibility of women and gender in academia.

The EBAAS conference thus allowed me to participate in the current scholarly conversation in the field of American Studies by offering new perspectives and my own experience in studying North American literature and film in Europe in the last 13 years as well as receiving feedback, inspiration and motivation to develop my overall research as well as my PhD project, and serve to establish and strengthen my academic network.

For all of these opportunities, and so much more, I am grateful to the IAAS. Without the financial support of the travel bursary I was awarded and their generosity, it would not have been possible for me to attend these two truly thought-provoking conferences, the PCA/ACA conference in Indianapolis and the EBAAS conference in London.


Caroline Schroeter is a final year PhD candidate and recipient of the UCC PhD Excellency Scholarship. Her upcoming publications include “From Griffith to Parker: Constructing race and the history of the US South” (Kentucky UP, 2018). She is the Editor-in-Chief for Aigne Journal and an Editor for Alphaville.


PCA/ACA CONFERENCE, INDIANAPOLIS, IN, USA – 28th of March – 1st of April, 2018

This year, I had the fortune of receiving funding from the IAAS to attend two major events in my field of study: the PCA/ACA Conference in Indianapolis and the EBAAS Conference in London. The months of March and April thus turned out to be a very busy but truly inspiring time for me. I had just returned from academic research travels in mainland Europe when I boarded a plane for Indianapolis. There, I attended and spoke at the 2018 Pop Culture Association and American Culture Association Conference in the J.W. Marriott Hotel on the 28th – 31st of March.

With hundreds of panel presentations, roundtables, special sessions, film screenings, local tours, keynote speaker events and special awards ceremonies to choose from, and thousands of people attending, it was of course tough to make decisions about which talks to attend. Each of the many subject areas of the association represents one aspect of popular culture and was chaired by an expert in the field so there was something for everyone. As outlining and summarizing all the panels I attended during my week in Indy would go beyond the scope of this report, I want to highlight a variety of particularly salient panels and events.

On Wednesday, the conference kicked off early for me with an entire day devoted to American literature, culture and film. Our chair, Dr. Corey Taylor, Associate Professor at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute in Indiana, guided us through a seven-panel journey from Sex and Protest in Early American Literature to Modernist Reconsiderations, African American Intertextuality, African American Literature and Current Events, Reimagined Bodies, Consumerism, Labor, and Gender to Crises of Identity and Language.

The second panel, “American Literature: African-American Intertextuality”, was my time to shine. First up, before MaryLynn Saul spoke about “Man of Two Faces: Hybridity and Liminality in Sympathizer and Invisible Man”, Laura Elaine Thorp’s talk about “A black charred body on the black, charred ground: The Treatment of Black Male Bodies in ‘Going to Meet the Man’ and ‘Get Out’” and Christopher Mullin paper on “The Multifaceted Role of Silence in Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues Cody”, I presented my paper entitled “The Same Old Story? Shifts in Representations of African Americans in Slave Narratives, Neo-Slave Narratives and Cinematic Slave Narratives”.

My paper was a cross-generic exploration of the shifting representation of African Americans through the last three centuries and followed the development of the form from historical manuscripts to fictional retellings to cinematic iterations. More specifically, my analysis expanded Henry L. Gates Jr.’s concept of Signifyin(g), which I combined with elements of adaptation theory and intertextuality. Intermedial/intertextual variations of slave narratives reveal the reconfiguration of different elements in different media, demonstrating the self-reflexive nature and persistent relevance of the slave narrative as commemoration of the black experience and commentary on slavery and its present-day legacy.

The talk further incorporated American literature and films, offering rich multi-layered visual imaginings of the slave narrative, which have yet to be fully examined, new perspectives on how cinematic slave narratives developed over the last 100 years, and insights into how they influence society. My discussion of Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation (2016), specifically, marked an original extension of existing research in American Studies. Moreover, the research for this talk provided an opportunity to test the value of Signifyin(g) as a model to analyze and critique African-American film. My analysis revealed that Parker’s film can be seen as a continuation of the Signifyin(g) tradition and demonstrates the self-reflexive nature and persistent relevance of the slave narrative as commemoration of the black experience and commentary on slavery and its present-day legacy. Thus, I established a new understanding of Parker’s work—as well as of the intertexts upon which he signifies—as a locus for corrective ideological expression and as a new rhetorical and experiential space. Moreover, I showed how it constitutes a powerful discursive system to invite the re-evaluation and application of Gates’ theory of Signifyin(g) to film. I demonstrated how Parker breaks with Gates’ Signifyin(g) exclusively on black texts, and showed how, instead, Parker is Signifyin(g) on and revising black and white narratives. I revealed how the film connects the deep undercurrent of racism in America’s past to the pervasive effects of institutionalized racism today.

After a full schedule of American literature and film, as a “First Time Attendee” (everyone received an attachment to their name badge signaling whether they were newcomers or long-time attendees), I soaked up every possible social event and opportunity as well. Among them, the “Grand Reception/Student Mixer and Welcome For Everyone Event.” I was able to make valuable new connections and discuss my research with international scholars from fields across all the represented academic disciplines who met in Indy to share and explore the world together.

While I attended a variety of panels from different fields, as a researcher in African-American Studies, it was of special interest to me to attend all the panels dedicated to African-American culture, literature and film. Since my research explores the representation of the African-American slave experience, including the representation of slavery, gender and identity on screen, I joined the panel track in this field on Thursday. With Dr. Elgie Sherrod, Associate Professor at Virginia Common Wealth University, as an outstanding and inspiring chair, I spent all of Thursday attending sessions on “Sanctifying Home”, “From Hip-Hop Neo-Slave Narratives to Hooping for Justice, Past, Present & Future”, “Queering Masculinity in African American Culture and Representation of Black Men”, “Body Image Politics: Disrupting oppressive representations of Black Women and Girls” and “Survival Songs: African American Music Remixed and Repurposed”. Together with an excellent group of dedicated researchers, I discussed my own work in the context of the tragic events and racial tensions that have begun to characterize our times. These talks included deconstructing and reflecting on police brutality and discrimination of minorities in the US, voter Suppression (J. Rozema), the policing of African culture and communities, accountability, James Baldwin’s work and ‘The Technology of the Self ‘ (Tyrone Simpson), ‘The “Other” American Life: African-American Media Gaze (Chih-Ping Chen), ‘Queering Masculinity in African American Culture, American Cinema and Television’ (David Mood), Blaxploitation films (D’Ondre Swails), African-American stereotypes, black identities, the representation of the body and black women, Beyoncé (Aquila Campbell) and so much more. Apart from excellent scholarship, what inspired me most was the atmosphere and passion of these scholars and their willingness to engage, share and open up dialogue about such difficult topics as, among numerous others, the shootings of black teenagers. Thursday was truly a different conference experience and a day that ended with lots of hugs and the continuation of conversations we had all day over wine and food.

On Thursday evening, the conference team had arranged for me to meet with my mentor Michael Mardsen, former Dean of the College of Arts and Science, at Northern Michigan University and former Academic Vice President, and his wife Mary. The PCA/ACA’s mentor program is a brilliant idea, as participants are very compassionate and encouraging. New presenters and attendees like myself were paired with more seasoned veterans like Michael to help make my experience at the conference more fruitful, productive and enjoyable. For me, as a mentee, the program provided me with the opportunity to network and provided a friendly face throughout my time in Indy. After dinner, we attended this year’s keynote together, which was less academic but incredibly entertaining: Paula Poundstone, one of America’s best-known contemporary comedians, authors, actors, special correspondents and commentators. With her famous sharpness, observational humor, criticism of society and culture and her spontaneous interaction with the audience, she poked fun at academia and academics, interweaving the dialogue with her routine featuring anti-Trump sentiments and a discussion of life in our fast-paced world.

On Friday, after another full day of conferencing, I met again with my mentor and his wife to visit the Eiteljorg Museum’s “Reel West Exhibit”. We joined a tour of the new exhibition as the conference coincided with the opening of the exhibition of the Hollywood West—only one of the many activities organized for the attendees by the PCA/ACA conference team.

This conference was indeed an excellent opportunity for me to publicly reflect upon the work of eminent scholars in my field, while ensuring that my own research establishes its place in this field. My participation at PCA/ACA thus helped me establish dialogue with interdisciplinary and international researchers in the US, meet new colleagues and expand my international network. The feedback I received has encouraged me to engage in further critical reflection on and development of my PhD project.

My sincere thanks and appreciation go to the IAAS for their financial support which enabled me to attend this truly thought-provoking conference.



Caroline Schroeter is a final year PhD candidate and recipient of the UCC PhD Excellency Scholarship. Her upcoming publications include “From Griffith to Parker: Constructing race and the history of the US South” (Kentucky UP, 2018). She is the Editor-in-Chief for Aigne Journal and an Editor for Alphaville.


Metaphoric Stammers and Embodied Speakers: Expanding the Borders of Dysfluency Studies

Humanities Institute

University College Dublin

12 October, 2018


Keynote speaker: Chris Eagle, Emory University, Centre for the Study of Human Health (Dysfluencies: On Speech Disorders in Modern Literature, 2014; Talking Normal: Literature, Speech Disorders, and Disability, ed. 2013)


The conference will explore the embodied experience and cultural construction of stammering from the collaborative perspectives of literary/cultural analysis, speech therapy and neurological research. The aim of the conference is to develop an interface between literary, cultural and clinical practice in the area of speech ‘disorders’, generating new forms of communication and exchange across these fields.

Despite the centrality of literary/cultural studies to the emergence of Dysfluency Studies (Marc Shell, Stutter 2005; Chris Eagle Dysfluencies 2014), the 2017 Oxford Dysfluency Conference had no humanities-based papers. This conference addresses this imbalance, bringing cultural analysis into genuine exchange with scientific and therapeutic practice, and necessarily negotiating the tension between a medically-inflected model of ‘recovery’ and an emergent challenge to cultural constructions of ‘normal’ speech. Dysfluency is explored less as a ‘disorder’ to be treated, than a form of communication that highlights the intricate relationship between speaking and being heard, vocal agency and cultural reception.

Literary culture has provided a rich and complex store of information about how stammering has been represented and interpreted at different historical junctures, within diverse cultural contexts and in relation to the variables of gender, class and ethnicity. The stammer has also been harnessed as a metaphor for how literary language works, how it operates at the limits of its expressive resources, occupying a territory that circles the paradoxical power of the ineffable. Recent work in the humanities, however, has signalled the need to balance such metaphorical readings with a sense of the corporeal experience of dysfluency, what Jay Dolmage has called ‘the embodied struggle for expression’ (Disability Rhetoric 2014). This renewed focus on embodiment invites diverse, interdisciplinary approaches that serve to accentuate the embodied experience of stammering in its neurological, therapeutic and cultural forms.

This conference is generously supported by the Humanities Institute, UCD College of Arts and Humanities, and UCD Seed Funding Scheme.


Proposals are welcomed for twenty-minute papers in (but not limited to) the following areas:

Normative Speech and Varieties of Expression: cultural constructions of ‘normal’ speech and the representation of ‘counter voices’ of dysfluency.

Rethinking ‘Recovery’: innovations in therapeutic practice (e.g., Narrative Therapy, Non-Avoidance Therapy, Covert/Interiorised Stammering Therapy).

Mapping the Brain: neurological perspectives, auditory feedback, and ‘circuits’ of communication.

Gender and Dysfluency: gendered experience and its reception/representation.


Guide for submissions:

All submissions should include name and email address, a 250-word abstract, a short biography (with academic/professional affiliation, if applicable). Proposals for individual papers or panels of 3 papers are welcomed. Panels that include presenters with a range of affiliations, career experiences and disciplinary homes are encouraged.

All proposals should be submitted as Word document.

Deadline for submissions: Thursday 12 July 2018.

Organiser: Dr Maria Stuart, School of English, Drama, Film and Creative Writing, UCD.

For submission of proposals and general enquiries, please contact:

EBAAS 2018 was a hugely anticipated event for scholars of Americana. With events at Kings College London, the British Library, and University College London, the 2018 conference had four action packed days of round tables, panel talks, networking lunches, receptions drinks, and even a theatre show. EBAAS is the largest opportunity in Europe this year to listen to cutting edge research specific to your own interests and engage with scholarship in the wider field. It also provided the space and time to meet other scholars and enjoy the facilities of the host institution’s city. It was, therefore, a great pleasure to receive an IAAS Bursary towards my attendance at the conference and it gave a welcome boost of confidence before setting off to the busy capital.

I am originally from the UK but I still get a shock of surprise and awe when standing before the bustling bridges spanning the Thames River. King’s College London was the central site for much of EBAAS. The venue was perfectly situated for visiting scholars, with easy transport routes and accommodation. With a brief walk, attendees could enjoy the river promenade that leads straight to the Tate Modern, the Globe Theatre, and the Borough Market. At the University the friendly registration crew were quickly on hand to provide all the paraphernalia of the day, including lanyards, tote-bags, and EBAAS refillable drinks bottles. They were also very good at giving directions. The Eccles Centre had provided a printed copy of Gary Gerstle’s plenary lecture, given at EAAS in 2016, as an added bonus. A conference App, including times and details of talks, provided an easy paper-free programme that allowed a personal timetable selection across the day.

With up to twelve consecutive panels on at a single time, EBAAS offered a little something for everyone. The sign of a good panel is one which sticks in the mind and for me this was ‘A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance’, with three postgraduate speakers – Maria Elena Carpintero Torres-Quevedo, Niki Holzapfel, and Vicki Madden. Their papers traversed the topics of recovery narratives, women’s newspaper writing, and multiple personality disorder in fiction, with interesting discussion in the question and answers section that looked at the intersections of their work. Nicola Holzapfel’s paper on stunt journalist Nellie Bly is of interest in my own research and gave insightful consideration of how Bly’s self-mythologizing disrupted the burden of predefined female identity. The plenary talk, ‘As Seen From Above: American Poetry in the Jet Age’, by Professor Jo Gill was excellent. She offered an engaging, easily accessible, and new reading of poetry by John Updike, Georgia O’Keefe and Carl Sandburg, among others. In the subsequent reception drinks at the British Library, a number of people commented on Gill’s talk and we were all equally enthralled by Updike’s poetry which many, myself included, were unaware of.

The roundtable I participated in considered Wharton’s under-studied 1907 novel and was entitled ‘Edith Wharton’s Protest Novel? Rethinking The Fruit of the Tree’. The book deals with issues of industrial reform, euthanasia, and the social identities of the New Woman and New Workingman. The work has received a mixed reception among reviewers and scholars. It was a pleasure to be asked by fellow postgraduate Anna Girling to be part of the roundtable. We met ‘digitally’ after both appearing on Episode 3 of the Modernist Podcast early in 2017. The panel brought together the eminent Wharton scholars Dr Donna Campbell, Dr Laura Rattray and Dr Stephanie Palmer, and panel chair Dr Michael Collins. The ten minute papers each posed interesting questions about Wharton’s negotiation of industrial reform and her incorporation of contemporary social debates. Dr Campbell looked at the comparative intertextual sources between Wharton and Jack London’s Iron Heel, and Dr Palmer considered gender identities and the industrial novel. Dr Rattray talked about Wharton’s recently discovered 1901 play ‘The Shadow of a Doubt’ and how Wharton repurposed the storyline of euthanasia in her later novel. Anna Girling looked at forms of cultural inheritance and wealth in the novel, and my own paper traced contemporary sources that provoke a form of gendered social reading. After the papers, there was a lively discussion of the novel with audience members during which the subjects of melodrama, literary heritage, and the progress of Wharton as a writer were examined. The roundtable was an ideal format to debate a novel which remains perplexing and unwieldy. The ability to talk alongside and discuss Wharton with such engaging and knowledgeable scholars has been invaluable. My thanks and appreciation goes to IAAS for their financial support in this wonderful opportunity.


– Gaby Fletcher is a PhD candidate at NUI Galway

At the Annual General Meeting of the IAAS on April 28th, Dr Dara Downey stepped down from the Executive Committee upon the completion of her term as Vice Chair. Dara has been a central figure in promoting and developing the activities of the association over many years and her contribution to American Studies in Ireland is greatly appreciated. In her time on the Executive Committee, Dara has served as an Ordinary Committee member, as Treasurer, and as Vice Chair. She also served on the editorial board of the Irish Journal for American Studies. During her term as Vice Chair, Dara oversaw a significant reorganisation of the Prizes Subcommittee and of the many bursaries the association awards.  A supportive and encouraging colleague, as well as a stellar academic, we wish Dara all the best in her future endeavours!

Thanks to the financial support and generosity of the IAAS, I had the privilege of travelling to this year’s EBAAS conference in King’s College London – the largest UK-based conference of its kind to date. As a PhD student and early-career scholar with budding Americanist aspirations, being able to attend the conference with IAAS support proved an invaluable opportunity for me to contextualise my own research interests (concerning the cultural politics of William Carlos Williams, and other mid-century American poets) and to gain an insight into the diverse and stimulating field that is American Studies today. Certainly, the conference programme reflected the remarkable range and depth of research being conducted by scholars of the Americas (mainly on this side of the Atlantic divide); indeed, with over a dozen parallel panels per discussion slot, and 3-5 such slots per day, one of the happy challenges facing conference participants like myself was that of having to choose between panels of easily equal interest and promise – “Filmic Framings of Environmental Space” vying with “American Literary Naturalism and Social Protest” for the attention of at least this movie-buff-cum-poetry-addict with an ecological bent…

Suffice it to say, then, that more than one tough decision had to be made as the conference took its course! Highlights of the discussions I did attend and enjoy, however, included: a politically exhilarating and historically illuminating discussion of “Prisons, Protest Culture & Radical Politics”, a sobering examination of American culture in the nuclear age (which of course continues to this day), an engaged appreciation of “Identity as Protest in US Women’s Writing”, as well as a trail-blazing survey of “American Poetry in the Jet Age” by plenary speaker Professor Jo Gill,  whose survey made the hardly obvious, but nonetheless culturally revealing links between ​Better Homes and Gardens,Carl Sandburg, Georgia O’Keefe, Elizabeth Bishop, and John Updike effortlessly apparent. Attending these and other talks – which, once again, was enabled by my being awarded an IAAS bursary – was a pleasure and privilege.

I also had the opportunity to present a paper of my own, as part of a panel concerning “Illness and the Environment in American Literature and Cinema”, chaired by Dr. Pascale Antolin. My presentation examined the relationship between the natural environment and ideas of artistic production in both Jim Jarmusch’s film Paterson (2016) and the book-length poem of the same name by William Carlos Williams, with a particular focus on the contrasting imaginations of the Passaic river’s Great Falls presented in each work. While Jarmusch’s film is often cited by scholars and enthusiasts as a means of reminding readers of the contemporaneity and resonance of Williams’s poem in the 21st century, I attempted to show how, when viewed through a social, eco-critical, and comparative lens, Williams’s poem in fact emerges as the more historically probing and politically pertinent of the two works. I argued moreover that the distinguishing environmental ethics of Williams’s poem is directly linked to his medical training and outlook. As a PhD student still acclimatising to the regimen of conference presentations and research papers, being able to present these arguments and discuss them with fellow scholars was of immense benefit to me, and indeed has helped me to clarify some of the contexts and emphases of my PhD thesis (which examines Williams’s poetry as a whole). For this, and much besides, I am grateful to the IAAS and its committee members; without the travel bursary I was awarded, my attendance and participation would not have been possible.


Ciarán O’Rourke is a Ph.D student at Trinity College Dublin