University of Valencia

9-10 March 2017

While the turn of the new millennium was received with general optimism, the first two decades of the 21st century proved to be much more tumultuous than expected for U.S. society. If the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001 shattered to pieces both the real and the symbolical sense of national security, the ensuing international military conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and natural catastrophes such as hurricane Katrina, which devastated the city of New Orleans in 2005 leaving a death toll of almost 1,500 citizens, notoriously heightened the sense of historical downfall. The situation was further aggravated by the current financial crisis, which, according to a report recently published in Yale Global Online, is the worst the world has seen since the Great Depression. In the new, globalized world of closely interdependent economies, what seemed a local subprime mortgage crisis in the summer of 2007 reintroduced the world to an era of bank failures, a credit crunch, private defaults and huge layoffs, affecting almost every part of the world and not just the United States. Current global preoccupations including destabilized markets and low oil prices, high debt levels, new nationalisms, Brexit, the TTIP and other free trade agreements that threat national sovereignties, media manipulation, anti-intellectualism trends, terrorism and the ongoing refugee crisis in the Middle East, Europe and North Africa, uphold the pervasive notion that we are witnessing, however, much more than an economic crisis: indeed, a deep crisis in moral, civic, and communal values that deeply affect the social and cultural imaginaries of Western civilization.

If Richard Drew’s iconic image of “The Falling Man” became a symbol of the fall of the nation in the early twenty-first century, bringing to an end what had been termed “the American Century”, we are particularly interested in the potential for overcoming disaster. The etymology of the Greek word krisis, whose origin is to be found in krinein, meaning “to separate, decide, judge”, indicates that a time of crisis forces individuals and whole societies to embrace self-assessment and a process of critique, and reconsider thus old standards of thought. It might prompt new beginnings, new conditions of experience, new living scenarios, new ways of thinking and whole new modes of re-imagining identities, of reconfiguring social and political relationships. How has the need to re-imagine, re-shape, re-invent new modes of being, experiencing, working, writing been staged in the United States in the 21st century?

For the 8th edition of the International Symposium on Staging American we invite scholars to explore and investigate the representation of loss, change, and recent historical trauma as well as ensuing mobilizations, reflections, and reconfigurations in contemporary American literature and art. The issue of how this rapid succession of crises has been staged is not limited to the performative arts. We invite specialists from different disciplines to participate, from geographers, historians, philosophers, sociologists and anthropologists, to specialists of literature, visual arts, performing arts, music, museums, and cultural studies. Suggested topics of research might be related although not limited to loss, trauma, bereavement, recovery and reconstruction but also to crisis as the agent of changes and transformations in:

-paradigms and systems (literature, history, economy, politics, religion)

-institutions (nation, government, family…)

-gender and sexuality

-migration, ethnicities, communities

-geographies and borders

-nature and environmentalism

-new scenarios: postcapitalism, posthumanity, new subjects, new social movements, new technologies.


20-minute papers should be delivered in English and, following the conference, we will invite participants to submit full articles to be considered for publication.

The deadline for paper proposals is October 15 2016. Submissions should include the paper title, a 300-word abstract (in English), a short biographical note, your academic affiliation, and contact information.


Please send proposals to Ana Fernández-Caparrós Turina and/or Anna M. Brígido-Corachán at