CFP: Transoceanic American Studies

by Benjamin Fagan

Transoceanic American Studies

May 17-18, 2018

Conference at the German Historical Institute, Washington, DC

Conveners: Juliane Braun (University of Bonn/GHI Washington); Benjamin Fagan (Auburn University/GHI Washington)

“Transoceanic American Studies” seeks to bring together scholars working in Atlantic, Pacific, and Transoceanic Studies in order to develop a set of practices and principles for exploring the interconnectedness of the Americas to the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, and of those oceans to one another. Such a transoceanic approach brings together two major strains of American Studies scholarship. Scholars have explored the multiple ways in which the United States shaped and was shaped by happenings in and across the Atlantic Ocean, while recent has also focused on the influence of transpacific networks on the United States. Work connecting the United States to happenings in either the Atlantic or Pacific worlds has decisively upended the vision of an American nation isolated from its neighbors by two oceans, but Atlantic and Pacific studies remain largely separate endeavors. Bringing together the insights of scholars working in these fields, “Transoceanic American Studies” will stimulate conversations exploring how events in the Atlantic and Pacific worlds influenced one another.


In addition to hosting a conversation between scholars working at the intersections of Atlantic and Pacific Studies, this conference will explore the particular methodological underpinnings and opportunities of a transoceanic approach by considering some of the following questions:


What are the key differences between Atlantic Studies and Pacific Studies approaches? What are the key similarities between Atlantic Studies and Pacific Studies approaches? What are the strengths and weaknesses of these two approaches? How might we combine Atlantic Studies and Pacific Studies approaches into a transoceanic methodology? What are the benefits, and the potential costs, of such a combination? What are the primary topics or subjects that would especially benefit from a transoceanic approach (i.e. the China trade, the slave trade, the overlap of the East and West Indian Companies)?


We invite papers showcasing a transoceanic approach to American Studies, as well as work explicitly interested in the methods of transoceanic studies. The conference will be conducted in English, and the organizers expect to be able to cover the transportation and accommodation costs of conference participants.


The deadline for proposals is December 15, 2017. Please send a short abstract of your proposed contribution (no more than 500 words) together with a brief academic CV in a single PDF file to Susanne Fabricius at If you have questions concerning the conference, please contact Benjamin Fagan at