On the occasion of the Society for the Study of Southern Literature’s first ever gathering in Atlanta — a city known for its complicated embrace of media, innovation, and shiny futures — we call for work that investigates the nexus between region and technology. For many working outside the field of southern studies, discourse about the southern United States still evokes agrarian ideas of “timeless” rural and “natural” landscapes, too often occluding the simultaneous realities of dense urban centers, industrial manufacturing hubs, and cutting-edge developments in science, medicine, and media. As many writers, artists, and media makers from the region continually remind their audiences, southern geographies (widely defined) are as much places of innovation as they are of stasis.

Thus, SSSL’s 2022 biennial conference seeks to take stock of how the literary and cultural productions have placed U.S., Caribbean, transnational, and global souths within technological landscapes, broadly conceived. Indeed, the southern United States’s investment in industrial innovation has long been bound up with abuses of land and human labor, and therefore, this call does not seek work that simply valorizes the region’s engagement with technology or places it only in a contemporary context. Rather, we seek a myriad of approaches that historicize and complicate how we might understand both technology and region across manifold southern contexts. Moreover, while technology might call up images of circuit boards and digital platforms, we also seek to interrogate how the region itself, as a concept, may be understood as a technology in a more basic sense. How has “the South” been used as a tool or mechanism by which larger understandings of the nation are constructed? Put another way, is “region” a technology? And if so, how does this affect our understanding of southern studies as a theoretical and methodological framework for interrogating larger national and global narratives of belonging?

We welcome proposals for individual papers (300 words) and panels and roundtables (500 words). We also welcome proposals for more experimental “panel” formats, such as: guided discussions; “lightning” presentations; poster, art, or media displays; writing workshops; sessions that combine scholarly and non-scholarly participants; or other alternative formats (500 words).

The program committee is committed to curating an inclusive, equitable, and diverse program of participants and urges panel organizers to select panel participants accordingly. All proposals should include 100-word biographies for each participant.

All participant-proposed panels and roundtables must have an open call submitted for publication on the SSSL website and listserv. We also encourage panel organizers to post their CFPs in other venues. Please submit the required open CFP for participant-organized panels and roundtables to [email protected] as soon as possible but no later than August 1, 2021. You may access the CFPs for those participant-proposed panels here.

We welcome scholars from a wide range of disciplinary backgrounds, especially those who may not identify as “southernists,” and we actively encourage the work of graduate, junior, contingent, and independent scholars, who can take advantage of SSSL’s robust Emerging Scholars Organization and travel grant programs.

Please submit all individual abstracts and participant-formed panels/roundtables, including participant bios, to [email protected] by Friday, September 17, 2021.

All approaches are welcome. We particularly invite papers that intersect with the conference theme. Possible topics include:

  • Technologies that predate the formation of “the South” as a concept e.g., Indigenous earthworks as texts and communications technologies
  • Representations of technology in texts about U.S. and global south settings, including but not limited to: travel narratives and artistic renderings, print advertisements, political propaganda, photography, performance, film, radio, television, podcasts, video games, social media, and many others
  • Technologies that represent, mediate, and/or negotiate understandings of various souths within and beyond geographic borders
  • Texts that interrogate technologies of immigration and citizenship
  • Queering technologies and/or texts that address how cultural networks of communication engage with LGBTQIA+ identities
  • Texts that depict and respond to technologies of colonization, removal, genocide, enslavement, segregation, surveillance, and incarceration
  • Texts that consider the relationship between technology and environment
  • Texts that engage with technologies of medicine, healing, and/or public health
  • Epistemologies or ontologies of “region” or “the South”
  • Texts that explore the relationship between technology and activism from any period
  • Recovery work that engages, reveals, or restores technological objects or events across southern regions, broadly conceived
  • Production and distribution technologies of print, oral, and/or other forms of literatures
  • Literatures that manufacture or deploy “the South” as a national, hemispheric, or global technology
  • Texts that center HBCUs as sites of technological innovation
  • Texts that center questions of disability, access, and how technology mediates our understanding of embodied difference and/or neurodiversity
  • Texts that engage with temporal technologies
  • How music from/about/within the southern United States has engaged with evolving forms of technology and/or how music operates as a technology
  • Scholarship on authors who engage with Atlanta, including but not limited to: Stacey Abrams, Toni Cade Bambara, Jericho Brown, Pearl Cleage, W.E.B. Du Bois, Anjali Enjeti, Tayari Jones, Chip Livingston, Janet McAdams, Adrienne Su, Natasha Trethewey
  • Engagement with works that represent questions of city planning, urban design, and transit or considerations of how such city planning projects create narratives of place that may be emancipatory or displacing
  • Technological developments that may shape emerging methodologies of reading, scholarship, and/or pedagogy about region

For travel or virtual attendance information, see our Hybrid Conference Locations page.