CFP: The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Biennial Conference (Deadline: 12.15.13)

Call for Proposals: The Society for the Study of Southern Literature Biennial Conference

March 27-29, 2014
Arlington, Virginia

Featured Speakers: Monique Truong, Jace Weaver

Opening-Night Plenary Panel: Keith Cartwright, Sharon Holland, Pippa Holloway, Jay Watson


In her keynote address at the 2012 SSSL conference, Barbara Ladd discussed numerous recent sea changes in the field of southern literary studies. These shifts include a decentering of the Southern renascence and a heightened interest in earlier texts; in coastal, middle, and upper Souths; in previously overlooked intercultural relationships and tensions; in new ways of thinking about race and racism; in still-nascent understandings of class and classism; and in texts that illuminate “southern” without themselves being “southern.”

These turns to swamps, Indians, eugenics, early Souths, poor whites, trans-Appalachian migrations, the extrasouthern, queer Souths, digital Souths, undead Souths, and Souths we can’t even imagine are exciting both in their own right and as starting points for important new lines of inquiry. We would like to use the opportunity of the next SSSL meeting to push these questions further, and to propose, describe, define, and debate an even broader, more expansive constellation of “Other Souths.” How might we productively re-envision southern literatures, cultures, spaces, and histories? What else needs to be done? And what scholarly, pedagogical, and institutional challenges bedevil these sea changes?

Thinking in terms of southern studies as a field, how might “we”—as self-identified “southernists” or scholars working in fields that bump up against the South—position ourselves professionally, and how we might organize, collaborate, and work across disciplines? How might we learn better to be both southernists and Americanists, for example, or both southernists and comparatists? In other words, who are (and who might be) our allies? What are (and what might be) our most productive alliances? And how do we go about forming these alliances? How does a southernist become more—or differently—interdisciplinary and/or multicultural? And, importantly, as we shape and continue to build the field of southern literary studies, how do we both honor those who have come before us and develop 21st-century pedagogies, mentorships, academic programs, and institutional influence?

Finally, what are the antagonisms—the counterforces, struggles, foils, obstacles, strains, tensions, insurgences, etc.—that attend this work? Is there a value in strategic antagonism?

We’ll gather in Arlington, Virginia, a longstanding yet ever-changing site of transatlantic, multiethnic, colonial, urban, and cosmopolitan alliances and antagonisms. The Washington, DC, metropolitan area is of course replete with iconic, monumental fashionings of U.S. national identity and cultural memory. But northern Virginia is also, now more than ever before, an “Other South” in its own right, a region of tremendous fluidity, full of surprises and crisscrossed by routes—of trade, labor, government, law, media, languages, cultures—that continue to be negotiated, constructed, mapped, traveled, toured, enforced, and contested. SSSL 2014 offers us an opportunity to consider how these and other networks provoke both alliances and antagonisms, both connections and disconnections, both memory and amnesia, among the local, the federal, the regional, the national, the hemispheric, and the global.

The SSSL 2014 program committee—Michael Bibler, Lisa Hinrichsen, Kirstin Squint, and Eric Gary Anderson—invites paper and panel proposals on “Other Souths: Approaches, Alliances, Antagonisms.” All approaches are welcome, including papers that explore alliances and antagonisms in broader cultural and theoretical contexts, including circum-Atlantic, circum-Mississippian, and diasporic connections; literary canons, intertextualities, and networks or anxieties of influence; diverse approaches to power and knowledge; evolving notions of race, gender, sexuality, and/or the body; historical, social, cultural, or political tensions within and/or about “the South”; constructions and deployments of southern cultures through “non-literary” forms of film, music, visual art, popular culture, and performance; and work more specifically focused on particular writers and/or texts.

Please e-mail session or individual paper proposals to the program committee at

DEADLINE: December 15, 2013

n.b. Because program space is limited, each person who comes to the conference can give one paper presentation and one roundtable presentation, maximum, but not two paper presentations. That said, this is not a blanket “your name can only appear in the conference program twice” rule: we are unlikely to turn down anyone who volunteers to chair a session, so long as we have sessions that need chairs.

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