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CFP: 10th Biennial Conference of the Swedish Association for American Studies

10th Biennial Conference of the
Swedish Association for American Studies (SAAS)
“Open Covenants: Pasts and Futures of Global America”
Stockholm, September 28–30, 2018

2nd Call for Papers

*Extended deadline March 1, 2018*

The Swedish Association for American Studies (SAAS) will hold its 10th biennial conference
in Stockholm on September 28–30, 2018. Confirmed keynote speakers are David R. Roediger
(University of Kansas), Sylvia Mayer (University of Bayreuth), and Frida Stranne (Halmstad
University).

We hereby invite proposals on any subject in the interdisciplinary field of American Studies.
The overarching theme for the conference is “Open Covenants: Pasts and Futures of Global
America,” which highlights central tensions in American culture and politics: the relation
between isolationism and internationalism, openness and closure, migration and borders,
exceptionalism and universalism. We particularly welcome submissions engaging with this
broader theme.

SAAS is an academic network that encourages scholarship in the multidisciplinary field of
American Studies. SAAS seeks to develop a critical understanding of the role, position and
meaning of the United States and Canada. In Sweden, research about North America is
conducted in many different disciplines; the SAAS conference thus functions as an important
forum for interdisciplinary exchange and provides American Studies scholars with an
opportunity to meet and network. We welcome papers from junior and senior scholars on any
topic related to the study of the United States and North America from both a historical and
contemporary perspective. Areas of interest include but are not limited to:
Art
Visual Culture
Film and Media Studies
Cultural Studies
Literature
Musicology
Popular Culture
Gender Studies
Anthropology
Political Science
Religion
US or North American History

The year 2018 marks the one hundredth anniversary of president Woodrow Wilson’s famous
“Fourteen Point Speech,” where he described his vision for a world of peace and unity.
Wilson’s first “point” was a call for “Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at.” Nine months
after the US entrance in World War I, the principles of free trade, democracy, and national
autonomy formed the foundation for the postwar peace negotiations and the establishment of
the League of Nations. Although Thorstein Veblen noted just one year later that “the
President’s proud words have gone whistling down the winds,” Wilson’s internationalism stand
in sharp contrast to the current president Donald Trump’s agenda of “America First.” As
Russian-American journalist Masha Gessen has pointed out, these changes are not only
political but also aesthetic, ultimately affecting the public discourse through manipulations of
language and culture. Notions of United States internationalism or isolationism are intimately
connected to American exceptionalism, to immigration, race, and ethnicity, and fundamentally
to the perception of America at home and abroad. The theme of this year’s SAAS conference
invites participants to engage both with a national American and a global horizon in exploring
notions of “Open Covenants” in history, politics, literature, film, cultural studies, and other
areas of American Studies.

Proposals for Individual Papers
In order to submit a proposal for general consideration, please provide us with an abstract
(200-250 words) with a title that clearly outlines the topic of the paper, along with a brief
biographical description of the presenter (max 100 words), including address details. Paper
proposals should be sent to saasconference2018@gmail.com. Deadline: March 1, 2018.

We also encourage prospective presenters to submit papers to the following, already
accepted, panels:
– “American Horror and Gothic across Borders”
– “The Territoriality of Global America: The U.S.-Mexico Border in Contemporary
Cultural Production”

For a full description of these panels, please see the abstracts attached at the end of this CFP.
If you wish to submit a paper for one of the panels, please indicate so clearly in your proposal
submission. Although the paper will be evaluated by the SAAS organizing committee,
inclusion in a specific panel is made at the discretion of the panel organizer.
Notification of acceptance will be sent to individual paper presenters by March 31, 2018.
For more information about the conference, please visit our website:
www.saasinfo.se/conference.

PANEL ABSTRACTS

American Horror and Gothic across Borders
Organizers: Morten Feldtfos Thomsen, Karlstad University, Sweden: Maria Holmgren Troy,
Karlstad University, Sweden; Sofia Wijkmark, Karlstad University, Sweden

This panel deals with American horror and Gothic in terms of the crossing of borders of
different kinds. It can be said to relate to the theme of the conference in the general sense that
it shows that there are always interchanges, negotiations, adaptations, and cross-fertilizations
going on between and within media and between cultural expressions of different regions or
nations. Isolationism is not an option for cultural workers and critics, or at least an extremely
reductive approach.
The papers explore intermediality in American horror films as well as different relationships
between American and Nordic horror and Gothic in different media: TV series, movies, and
literature. American horror and Gothic have had a large impact on Nordic productions, but at
the same time Nordic Gothic – as well as Nordic Noir – has become extremely popular in the
US. Among other things, this panel demonstrates how a comparative approach with a focus
on the setting can shed further light on American Gothic and how intermediality is central to
an aesthetics of horror.

The Territoriality of Global America:
The U.S.-Mexico Border in Contemporary Cultural Production
Organizers: Birgit Spengler, University of Wuppertal; Markus Heide, Uppsala University,
Eva Zetterman; University of Gothenburg

The U.S.-Mexican border is a place where the territoriality of law (Giorgio Agamben, Homo
Sacer) and ideas of state sovereignty intersect with the push and pull factors of globalization
– and, thus, a site where structural and systemic problems that underlie processes of inclusion
and exclusion violently come to the fore. It is an area where neoliberalist practices (cf. Aihwa
Ong, Neoliberalism as Exception), the militarization of policing forces (cf. Reece Jones,
Violent Borders), and the suspension of civil liberties (cf. Todd Miller, Border Patrol Nation)
threaten to create Agambian “states of exception” on both sides of the national divide and
where security technologies not only materialize as a new boom industry but also provide a
taste of possible futures. At the same time, the borderlands have always and continue to be a
contact zone, a place where the continual exchange of people, objects, and ideas not only
manifests the futility of attempts to render the border impermeable, but also the fruitfulness
of the complex interrelations, interdependencies, and interactions that result from its
permeability. As such, it is a terrain that has – and continues – to challenge us to move
beyond conceived patterns of political and academic compartmentalization and to view our
existence and cultural production as “relational” and “globally embedded” (Judith Butler,
Precarious Life) rather than sovereign – an approach exemplified, for example, in interAmerican,
transnational, and hemispheric studies.

Following the SAAS’s 10th Biennial Conference’s thematic emphasis, we are looking for
proposals that focus the ways in which recent border art, broadly conceived, addresses the
United States’s course between “isolationism and internationalism, openness and closure,
migration and borders, exceptionalism and universalism” by exploring, problematizing, and
negotiating the state and status of the U.S.-Mexico border.