America: Real and Imagined
British Association of American Studies Annual Postgraduate Conference
Saturday November 15th, 2008
The University of Exeter
Keynote Speaker: Professor Judith Newman (University of Nottingham)
The School of Arts, Languages and Literatures at the University of Exeter is pleased to be hosting the annual BAAS postgraduate conference. We are seeking proposals for 20-minute papers on all topics from all disciplines within the field of American Studies, including history, music, literature, philosophy, film studies, politics, sociology, popular culture, pedagogy and language.
This year we are especially interested in papers presenting new ideas and arguments that engage with the theme of “America and the West.”
The West is often used as a generic term for the civilization that grew up and out of Greece, spreading first to Italy and then to northern Europe, before crossing the Atlantic and taking root in the New World – principally in the United States. This spread has been accompanied by the dissemination of core values that originated in classical antiquity, including limited constitutional government, civil liberties, the free exchange of ideas, private property, capitalism and the separation between religious and political/scientific thought – values all variously embodied in competing and contested ideas about the United States. Yet within the U.S. there also is a West, both real and imagined. Annexation, migration and expansion west of the Mississippi was accompanied by theories about manifest destiny and the movable frontier as the site of contestation between the competing values of civilization and wilderness. Today, the “American West” can alternately conjure images of cowboys in Texas or hippies in San Francisco.
Possible areas of inquiry might include, but are by no means limited to:
- The American West/America as the West
- American/Western myths
- American and Western politics
- America/the West as represented in visual media
- The West(ern) as genre
- Cultures of/bordering the United States
- The imagined West
- Mapping the West
- America and the heritage of classical antiquity.
- America and its allies.
- East and West.
- Writing America and/or the West
- The movement of history
- Western/westernizing narratives
- Frontiers and borderlands