The American Studies Graduate Committee at the University of Texas at Austin calls for papers for its upcoming graduate conference, “‘Mongrel’ America,” to be held in Austin on October** 2-3, 2008. Our keynote speaker will be Dick Hebdige.
Constructions and representations of America and American identity are fluid and contested. Our conference theme, “‘Mongrel’ America,” interrogates ideas of hybridity and melange, boundaries and transgressions, authenticity and artificiality. The term “mongrel” is an admittedly powerful one and the conference committee wishes to acknowledge its sensitive and potentially offensive nature. In its more literal context, it refers to individuals or entities produced from the mixture of various strains and origins. But more than a term connoting mixture, it elicits the painful history of America’s past. The ominous threat of “mongrelization” provided and still serves as a pretext for the institutionalization of legal and social subjugative practices against people of color, immigrants, the poor, and those otherwise classified as “undesirable.” Our intention with the use of this term is to grapple with various discourses produced around notions of mixture. Thus, as scholars, we seek to promote serious and critical dialogue around a subject which far from being simply “provocative” carries very real and potent meaning. Whether being used in its historical context or as a recuperative term, “mongrel” evokes powerful sentiments regarding relationships of identity and power.
In order to complicate the term “mongrel,” papers which look at ideas and aspects of America in the literary, musical, artistic, religious, political, visual, psychological, natural, built, social, and transnational realms, including work which looks beyond the political borders of the United States to the “Americas” and beyond, are wanted. In addition to standard conference papers, we also invite other presentation formats and creative works, such as short films and poetry/fiction/drama readings. Though our conference program committee will primarily be assembling the panels out of individual submissions, we also will consider pre-formed panels. Jointly-authored presentations are acceptable. We also invite any graduate students collaborating with community partners on service, activist, educational, artistic, or other projects to present in conjunction with those partners.
To propose a presentation, please submit an abstract of no more than 200 words and a brief CV of no more than one page to the American Studies Graduate Committee by email at [email protected] no later than 15 August 2008. Submission text may be embedded in the email or included in a Word attachment. If accepted, each graduate student presenter will be asked to pay a $15 registration fee to help cover conference expenses.
for more information visit the UT-AMS Graduate Student Conference Website at http://studentorgs.utexas.edu/amsgsa/index.html