CFP: The South in the North (MLA pre-conf @SFU Jan 6-7 2015)

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    Jon Smith
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    @jonsmith

    CALL FOR PAPERS

     

    The South in the North

    A Pre-MLA Mini-conference

    January 6-7, 2015

    Simon Fraser University (Harbour Centre)

    Vancouver, BC

     

    Since 2001, when Houston Baker and Dana Nelson described the U.S. South as the “nation’s abjected regional Other,” a powerful body of work by historians and literary critics such as Leigh Anne Duck, Jennifer Greeson, Matthew Lassiter, Kevin Kruse, Joseph Crespino and many others has examined the processes by which the nation imagines itself as democratic and progressive by consigning its backward and racist tendencies to an exceptional “South.” Recently, Jade Ferguson has expanded this examination to Canada itself. Whereas Baker and Nelson cite Malcolm X’s proclamation that “Mississippi is anywhere in the United States south of the Canadian border,” Ferguson provocatively asks, “Why stop there?”

    This conference seeks both to build on Ferguson’s “Canadian turn” in southern studies and to prime the pump for further conversation at the 2016 Society for the Study of Southern Literature conference, which will explore similar issues in the U.S. context when the Society meets outside the South for the first time in Boston, Massachusetts. It also seeks to explore commonalities between Southern and Canadian literary studies, especially as both fields continue to operate, within a North American imaginary, from a position of marginality—sometimes even near-invisibility—vis-à-vis American literary and cultural studies. We invite proposals for panels and individual papers (15 mins in length), and hope also to arrange dialogue between scholars in related subfields (e.g., First Nations and Native Southern). By scheduling the conference immediately before the first-ever MLA Convention to meet in Vancouver, we hope to maximize opportunities for southernists and Canadianists to share their perspectives.

    A very partial list of possible topics might include

    • Disavowals and affiliations in cross-cultural imaginings such as Richard Ford’s Canada or Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes
    • Problems raised or rectified in Canadian literary studies by southern literary studies and vice versa
    • Problems (especially of disavowal) raised or rectified in American literary studies by Canadian or southern literary studies
    • Ecocriticism, environmental determinism, and “temperate” America
    • Issues raised by reception histories, e.g., Anne of Green Gables in the South, To Kill a Mockingbird in Canada
    • Popular music and acculturation: Neil Young vs. Skynyrd; questions of Canadian hip-hop, country and alt-country music
    • Confederacy and Confederation
    • The Caribbean in/and Canada and the U.S. South

     

    The journal Global South has expressed interest in publishing expanded versions of the conference papers as a special issue tentatively scheduled for Fall 2016.

     

    Please send abstracts and/or panel proposals to Jon Smith (jsa106@sfu.ca) by August 15, 2014.

    We wish to thank the SFU Department of English and the Dean of Arts and Social Sciences for their generous support.

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