Open CFPs for SSSL 2020

Call for Abstracts– Armistead Maupin’s Transgressive Tales

In the 1970s, Armistead Maupin wrote sketches for a serialized column, Tales of the City. It was the creation of a still-expanding universe emanating from the storied 28 Barbary Lane in San Francisco. Maupin adapted the material from the column into Tales of the City, a novel published in 1978; eight more books in the series followed between 1980 and 2014. Along the way, Tales has shape-shifted into television (including a recent Netflix reboot), radio, and musical adaptations. In 2017, the tale of Tales, along with other aspects of Maupin’s life, got an airing with the release of Logical Family: A Memoir and a documentary film, The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin. In these autobiographical works, Maupin documents the varied paths his life has taken: growing up in Raleigh as the scion of a North Carolina family with ancestral ties to the Confederacy; enlisting in the military during the Vietnam War; working for Jesse Helms, the far-right senator from North Carolina who was infamous for his racism and homophobia; and coming to terms with his homosexuality and coming out as a gay man in the San Francisco of the seventies. Maupin has demonstrated a penchant for crafting stories that blend fiction and social history to cast era-defining touchstones from the AIDS crisis to the politics of gentrification in intimate settings. Through a Dickensian tapestry of interwoven characters and storylines, Maupin traces the social boundaries of repressive conformity and tracks the efforts of queer people to transgress them in the pursuit of solidarity and equality.   

Despite Maupin’s ties to the southeastern US, scholars in southern literary and cultural studies have yet to devote significant attention to his life and work. For SSSL 2020, the organizers of this round table are hoping to have a conversation that will start to redress this critical neglect. We are currently accepting proposals for ten-minute talks on topics related to Armistead Maupin’s life and work, including but not limited to the following:

  • Issues of LGBTQ+ representation
  • Gender and sexual identity/expression/politics
  • Racial and ethnic identities/experiences/intersections
  • Literature and/as social history
  • HIV/AIDS in literature and culture
  • Queer diasporas/communities
  • Queer spaces and temporalities
  • Tales of the (big) city and metropolitan bias in queer literature and history
  • Matters of genre, form, and adaptation (social novel, melodrama, serialization, closet/coming out narratives, reboot culture, etc.)
  • Families (biological, logical/chosen) 
  • Generational ties/tensions
  • Maupin and literary/celebrity culture
  • (Auto)biographical approaches

Please submit a brief description of the proposed talk (200-300 words) and a short bio by October 1, 2019 to Monica Miller ( and Ted Atkinson (

Call for Abstracts– The Uses and Abuses of Shame in the American South

In writing and representations of the U.S. South, shame is nearly unavoidable. It is evident in the shameless racism of slaveholders, secessionists, segregationists, and the dog whistlers of today, and it thunders in condemnations of injustice and violence, historic and contemporary. Shame has been embodied in iconic characters in southern literature, interrogated by scholars in our field, and even rejected by pop sociologist and Netflix star Brené Brown. Southerners often loudly resist efforts to cast the region as a shameful space, even as communities within the South deploy shaming language to regulate difference within them. These contradictions suggest that, while provoking shame as an emotion may serve to disrupt barriers between individuals and cultures, shame can also bar us from honest conversations about identity and community.

For this panel, we are interested in interrogations of shame and shaming in a regional context as represented in literature, history, and culture. Such examinations might consider how individuals and groups utilize shame in ways that are both well-intentioned and wicked—how shame and shaming provoke and produce highly varied reactions given the user/abuser and the target audience. 

This list is in no way exhaustive, but some possible subjects might include:

  • Shame as represented in the arts, popular culture, and/or new media; 
  • Shame as represented in literature (for instance, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Lillian Smith, James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Dorothy Allison, William Faulkner, and others); 
  • Intersections between shame research and African American studies, Indigenous studies, Appalachian studies, Feminist theory, Queer Studies, Gender Studies, and other critical methods; 
  • Shame and history, politics, sociology, criminal justice, or other fields of study;
  • Shame and socioeconomic class; 
  • Online and/or public shaming; 
  • Individual v. Cultural Shaming;
  • Shame, hunger, and foodways.

    If interested, please send a 250-300 word abstract and a short bio to Courtney George and Andy Hoefer by October 1, 2019:

Call for Abstracts- Carson McCullers Society

In conjunction with the biennial Society for the Study of Southern Literature (SSSL) conference theme of “how borders, binaries, and bars operate in lived experience as well as intellectual practice,” the Carson McCullers Society invites abstracts for two panels on the topic of the borderless south: one examining immigration themes in McCullers’ works, and the other, the role of national and international media like newspapers and radio broadcasts in the works of McCullers and her contemporaries. Papers that work comparatively between McCullers and other southern writers are highly encouraged; however, other topics will be considered. If interested, please send a 250-300 word abstract and a short bio to Isadora Wagner ( and Sarah-Marie Horning ( by October 1, 2019.

Call for Proposals – Developments in “Southern” Poetry

The SSSL has in recent years featured a groundbreaking variety of scholarship that challenges notions of what constitutes “Southern” literature and culture. This work casts a critical eye towards the various forms that bound the region and the nation-state in too-familiar (read: white) distinctions. In the spirit of these developments, this panel proposes to examine a literary and cultural form that has been little featured at the conference in recent years: poetry.

This CFP seeks to cast a wide net, while also looking particularly for poetry that challenges or complicates “Southernness,” as well as poetry by circum-Caribbean writers, African Americans, women, and/or LGBTQ+ writers. The panel is not necessarily built around contemporary poetry, but seeks scholarly and critical approaches that place poetry of any period within the streams of recent scholarship and criticism that mark the work of the SSSL.

Proposals should be 150-200 words and include a brief academic bio and any A/V requests. Please direct your proposals and questions to by September 15, 2019.

Roundtable CFP: “Keywords on Hillbilly Elegy

For this roundtable, participants will choose a keyword associated with J.D. Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy and present a short five-to-seven-minute paper relating the keyword and the book to “the South” or southern studies. Possibilities include “Hillbilly,” “Appalachia,” “Affrilachia,” “Grandmother,” “Addiction,” “Yale,” “Whiteness,” “American Dream,” “Violence,” “Exceptionalism,” “Migration,” “Aberrance,” “Borders,” “Nostalgia,” “Trump Country,” “Syllabus,” “Neoliberalism,” “Alt Right,” “Activism,” etc. Potential panelists are encouraged to suggest other keywords as well. 

Proposals should include a proposed keyword; a brief paragraph on how the panelist plans to relate the keyword to Hillbilly Elegy and the south or southern studies; a short academic biography; and any A/V requests. 

Send proposals to by September 30, 2019.