2024 Conference Call For Papers

Open calls for panels, roundtables, and workshops:

Record, Archive, Document: Constructing the South Out of Region

Chairs: Lisa Hinrichsen, University of Arkansas ([email protected]) and Gina Caison, Georgia
State University ([email protected])

As the forthcoming edited collection Record, Archive, Document: Constructing the South Out of
Region (LSUP 2025) asks, what does it mean for the region to be both defined and imagined as a
place of documentation? This proposed roundtable (5-7 minute talks) seeks to bring together
contributors to the collection with other interested scholars investigating processes that record,
document, or archive the South, as well as projects examining specific records, documents, and
archives that evince various souths within the region. We encourage submissions that challenge
Eurocentric documenting practices in disciplines with hegemonic legacies – such as studies in
U.S. history, archive, anthropology, geography, literature, and media, and we will prioritize
scholarship from interdisciplinary approaches such as Indigenous, diasporic, transnational, queer,
and environmental studies, among others.

Please contact both Lisa Hinrichsen ([email protected]) and Gina Caison ([email protected])
with a brief abstract (~200 words) of your proposed contribution and a 100-word bio by Jan. 20,

Infrastructural Souths

This prospective panel is designed to explore connections between southern studies and critical
infrastructure studies. Topics might include (but are not limited to) the following as applied to
the literature and culture of the U.S. South.

  • impacts of infrastructure (ecological and environmental, economic, social)
  • land dispossession and population displacement (eminent domain, mandatory
  • impacts of infrastructural development or failure on poor and marginalized communities
  • modernization, (uneven) development, and public works
  • infrastructural (in)visibility
  • infrastructure and affect
  • (post)apocalyptic representations of infrastructure
  • historical and cultural contexts/approaches (Indigenous history and culture, settler
    colonialism, Reconstruction, “New South,” Jim Crow, New Deal, Green New Deal, etc.)
  • infrastructure in crisis (“natural” disasters, disaster capitalism, climate change)
  • forms and (dys)functions of social infrastructure (schools, hospitals, prisons, housing,
    social services)
  • infrastructure at scale (local/regional/national/global comparisons and connections)
  • infrastructure and energy (fossil fuels, alternative/renewable sources, imagining energy
  • rural/urban/suburban infrastructures

Please send the paper title, an abstract in the range of 150-200 words, and a 100-word bio to Ted
Atkinson ([email protected]) by Tuesday, January 30, 2024.

Imagined South(s): Creative and Critical (sent untitled by organizer)

The US South has been forged and reforged in both the national and regional imagination for generations. This imagined place has long been divorced from what is real. An imagined South leaves little room for the layers, the variety–the multiplicities that exist there. And yet, even within the south, this imaginary South is reproduced as a monolithic place and culture. This is done through literature and film, depictions, and story/mythos. While scholars reach in and explore these texts, there is created a cycle wherein the only things recognized as “Southern” are the monolithic, recreations of a South that does not exist. In order for the US south to be portrayed as it really is–as varied and multiple, as a collection of souths–creative writers, literary critics, scholars, and publishers must work together. 

In an effort to construct this work in real time as an example, I invite creative writers whose work they deem southern (by their own definition and experience, particularly if it would go against or not be congruent with that which is traditionally southern by law of the canon), to submit abstracts for their work. I am open to work from all creative writers but would prefer a show of fiction. I then also invite southern scholars to submit a simple abstract of interest in studying southern literature. This panel will see creative writers and scholars paired, where creative writers will share their work and their corresponding scholar will prepare a response to it. In effect, this panel would work toward creating a new southern literary criticism in real time. Reconstructing what we know to be southern literature, how we talk about literature in general, and forgoing the canon in an effort to sidestep its white, male, cisgender, heteronormative, able-bodied, and colonial power.

Please submit abstracts of approximately 250 words plus a brief (100 words or less) bio to Emily Fontenot at [email protected] by January 26, 2024. Please direct all questions here as well. 

Reconstructing Race, History and Subjectivity after the 1960s

In the wake of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements, both Black and White Americans worked to shape how race would be constructed and understood in the United States. In African American literature, a new form gained traction: Neo-Slave Narratives or Contemporary Narratives of Slavery. These works helped to lay the cultural and intellectual groundwork for contemporary understandings of transatlantic slavery’s role as the material and social basis of modern American social and political structures. However, as Aida Levy-Hussen argues in How to Read African American Literature, while identification with the past sometimes serves therapeutic and politically galvanizing purposes, for others it threatens to inhibit personal and social transformations. At the same time, White Americans, too, tried to frame their own relationship with the southern past. For some writers, this history served as a vital touchstone, helping explain the present. Conversely, as Grace Elizabeth Hale argues in her book A Nation of Outsiders, most White Americans “fell in love” with the image of the outsider, and through this image “they remade themselves. They became outsiders too” (3).  Through this imagined break with history and community, White people began understanding themselves as separated from their past, no longer carrying what C. Vann Woodward calls “the burden of Southern history.” This panel seeks papers that analyze the specific strategies and consequences born from how post-1960s authors construct the southern “past.” How, in other words, does the turn towards or away from southern history as an explanatory paradigm shape conceptions of race and identity in the United States?

Possible topics might include:

  • discourses of history and subjectivity in post-Civil Rights literature and culture
  • representations of slavery in post-Civil Rights literature and culture
  • representations of Reconstruction in post-Civil Rights literature and culture
  • representation of “outsiderness” as a form of identity
  • the contemporary popularity and critical success of Historical Fiction in the U.S.
  • Alternate histories and other speculative genres
  • the use of Neo-Slave Narratives/Contemporary Narratives of Slavery in disciplines outside of literary studies
  • shifting historical meanings of region/the south
  • relationships between literary/cultural production and history as a discipline/method 

Please submit 200 word paper proposals to Garrett Bridger Gilmore ([email protected]) and Will Murray ([email protected]) by  Friday, January 26.

Gulf South/Global South

SSSL’s conference in Gulfport, MS, provides an opportunity to “reconstruct” scholarly maps of the Gulf South: that is, to think not only about its location on the land of the United States but also its connections, via the Gulf of Mexico, to spaces further south, west, and east. The Gulf shore has been a region of cultural contact and exchange, colonialism and enslavement, diverse waves of immigration, and ongoing struggles for and against equitable and sustainable forms of life. It is also an increasingly challenging physical environment, where the sea and winds are changing and rising, and land is being mined and engineered in ways that both exacerbate and seek to mitigate ecological precarity. How might scholars in the humanities study these histories, problems, and the cultural expressions that emerge from them using paradigms generated from Indigenous, Black Diasporic, and Global South perspectives? This call for proposals is intentionally broad in order to invite a range of foci and methodologies; the resulting conversation might illuminate new (inter)disciplinary possibilities for the humanities of the Gulf South and/or contemplate the continuing usefulness of previous models.

Please send a proposal of 150-300 words and a biography of 100 words to Leigh Anne Duck ([email protected]) by Feb. 2, 2024.

New Work on Eudora Welty's Golden Apples

This panel invites the presentation of new approaches to the stories in what is arguably Welty’s masterwork, The Golden Apples.

All new work on the story cycle or individual stories will be welcome. Papers presented might grow into submissions for the future volume New Work on Eudora Welty’s The Golden Apples, planned for the UPM series Critical Perspectives on Eudora Welty.

Additionally, in keeping with the “[re] constructions” theme of our 2024 SSSL, topics might include:

  • Welty’s [re]construction of Mississippi (or the South) in her creation of Morgana
  • [re]constructions of earlier readings of The Golden Applesor its individual stories
  • the treatment of race in this story cycle written in the years leading up to the civil rights era
  • Welty’s depictions of class, race, and/or gender inequality in the stories
  • gothic elements haunting the stories, or more generally, her uses and revision of literary tradition in her innovative play with its conventions
  • LGBTQIA approaches to identity formation in or queering interpretations of the stories
  • representations of modernity
  • consideration of Welty’s own westward migration influencing this work
  • ecocritical approaches to Welty’s depictions of the natural world therein
  • archival [re]construction of Welty’s own construction process
  • pedagogical issues in teaching the collection

Please contact Harriet Pollack [email protected] now with expressions of interest and plan to submit your proposed title along with a brief description and a 100-word bio by Jan. 20, 2024.

Reconstruction: Critical Response to The Work of Eudora Welty

This panel invites new approaches to Eudora Welty’s fiction , non-fiction, and photography. In keeping with the “[re] constructions” theme of our 2024 SSSL, topics might include:

  • consideration of Welty’s reconstructions of Mississippi (or the South or southern), alone or in conversation with those of Natasha Trethewey, Jesmyn Ward, and/or other writers arguably in dialogue with Welty’s depictions
  • Welty’s photography considered both as a record of 1930’s Mississippi and as a reflection of the changing Mississippi/South/U.S. surrounding Welty when she prepared to publish those 1930s images in 1971
  • new approaches to Welty’s civil rights era fiction
  • issues of class, race, gender inequality in the work
  • Welty’s revision of literary tradition in her innovative play with genre and literary conventions
  • historicities (and historicities) in her fiction and photographs
  • Welty’s invocation of the gothic and depictions of the undead
  • queer identity in or queer approaches to her work
  • archival [re]construction and recovery informing interpretations
  • representations of modernization and its (uneven) development
  • ecocritical approaches to Welty’s depictions of the natural world

These and ALL other “reconstructions” of the fiction/ photography are invited.

Please contact Michael Pickard ([email protected]) now with expressions of interest and plan to submit your proposed title along with a brief description and a 100-word bio by Jan. 20, 2024.

Flannery O’Connor Society

The Flannery O’Connor Society seeks proposals for four planned sessions at SSSL 2024. See panel descriptions and submission details below under the appropriate headings.

  1. “Reconstructing Flannery O’Connor”
  2. “Apostates and True Believers: Bridging Divides in Flannery O’Connor Studies”
  3. “Flannery O’Connor’s Why Do the Heathen Rage?: Making Sense of an Unearthed Third Novel In Progress” (Roundtable)
  4. Open Topics Panel

See panel descriptions and proposal details below:

“Reconstructing Flannery O’Connor”

The Flannery O’Connor Society invites abstract submissions for a proposed panel at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature’s biennial conference in Gulfport, Mississippi from June 23-26th, 2024. This panel’s theme is, broadly, “‘Reconstructing’ Flannery O’Connor,” in line with SSSL’s conference theme of “Reconstruction(s).” To read more about SSSL’s conference theme of “Reconstruction(s),” please visit the Society’s website or SSSL’s Facebook group.

In the essay “Beyond the Peacock: The Reconstruction of Flannery O’Connor” from her collection In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose, Alice Walker reflects on Flannery O’Connor’s writing and its impact on her own sense of place and history. In one poignant conversation with her mother over lunch, Walker reflects on her mother saying: “When you make these trips back south […] just what is it exactly that you’re looking for?” Walker replies, “‘A wholeness […] because everything around me is split up, deliberately split up. History split up, literature split up, and people are split up too. It makes people do ignorant things” (48). Walker then discusses a meeting she attended on Mississippi history and literature with a group of librarians, ruminating on how “alive” the legacy of the Civil War was for the white women in attendance. Recognizing the racial disparity in views of history, Walker urges that “the truth of any subject only comes when all the sides of the story are put together, and all their different meanings make one new one,” but she concludes on her mother’s stance: “Well, I doubt if you can ever get the true missing parts of anything away from the white folks […] they’ve sat on the truth so long by now they’ve mashed the life out of it” (49). Walker’s essay is one effort to make sense of Flannery O’Connor’s work in light of the history of a “reconstructed” South, especially in its consideration of how, in O’Connor depictions of southern white women, “not a whiff of magnolia hovered in the air (and the tree itself might never have been planted)” (52). In a similar vein, this proposed panel seeks to further explore, “reconstruct,” and reconsider O’Connor’s writing. Possible topics could include, but are not limited to:

  • “Reconstruction(s)” of gender, sexuality, race, ability, or religion in O’Connor’s fiction and prose
  • Historical perspectives on “Lost Cause” mythos alive or complicated in O’Connor’s fiction
  • Meta-analyses of how mid-century authors like O’Connor are being “reconsidered” in contemporary scholarship
  • Analyses of how places are “reconstructed” in O’Connor’s fiction
  • Considerations of how authorial legacies become “reconstructed” by contemporary readers, especially through contemporary engagements with an author’s letters and autobiographical prose
  • Explorations of the grotesque and southern gothic, especially in the liminal space between southern history and postwar modernity

Please send proposals to Dr. Rachel Bryan ([email protected]) by Thursday, February 8th, 2024. Please include your name, email, abstract (of no more than 300 words) that speaks to the above themes (and more), and a short bio (100 words) with the abstract. Presenters must be members of the Flannery O’Connor Society by the time of the conference. Information about the conference’s fee and reserved hotel rate can be found on SSSL’s website. Information about the Flannery O’Connor Society, including how to join, can be found on the Society’s website (http://flannerysociety.org).

“Apostates and True Believers: Bridging Divides in Flannery O’Connor Studies”

O’Connor scholarship has long seen a divide between theological and non-theological approaches—camps that Timothy Caron once called “True Believers” and “Apostates.” One tradition reads O’Connor through her Catholic faith and the artistic goals she set forth in her critical essays; another attends to questions about gender, race, the South, popular culture, or other issues, while treating O’Connor’s religion as tangential, or perhaps an obstacle. Too often, these critical conversations have proceeded along parallel tracks, each rich and rewarding, but not always knowing what it might say to, or learn from, the other.

This panel believes that “True Believers” and “Apostates” need not be opposed. We believe that these traditions will both be enriched by learning to talk to one another more effectively, and we seek papers that put them in conversation. What do theological and non-theological approaches have to offer to one another? How can O’Connor scholarship treat her Catholic vision as neither an interpretive authority nor an obstacle to be subverted, but as a resource among a wider array of approaches? What does each tradition have to offer to current debates about O’Connor and race, disability, popular culture, the Cold War, and more.

The Uneven Landscapes of Southern Activism

Chairs: Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder (University of Iowa) and Gina Caison (Georgia State University)

At the barricades of Cop City in Atlanta, one may find a variety of activists: forest defenders, Indigenous organizers, community members seeking representation, or those with multiple and simultaneous categories of  concern. We may want to see this coalition as a portrait of solidarity; however, that would obscure the complicated reality of how overlapping activist movements coexist in tension as they negotiate the uneven ground created by the coordinated and massive structural forces of power in the region. Activism in the South is messy. In the present, the construction of police training centers, pipelines, and private space exploration facilities, as well as the dark negotiations of land and property happening behind closed doors, continues many of the issues plaguing the South since European colonization: the theft of Indigenous lands, ecological destruction, and the exploitation of human labor. These patterns continue through the use of southern spaces for military training and experimenting with weapons of mass destruction and surveillance, the opportunism of the film industry, and the disenfranchisement of community voices. The labyrinthine methods by which these processes operate challenge traditional structures of collective action and test the limits of intersectional and coalitional organizing. This panel seeks to unravel the tricky hegemony at work and the creative ways in which social movements and organizing efforts have responded, including the dark and chaotic side of those efforts.

The Gulf Coast of the U.S. South represents the messy, porous border, in constant flux and vulnerable to disaster and yet also ecologically generative for life. Inspired by the ecology of the coast, this panel looks at the chaos of organizing efforts across the South and representations of activist messiness in literature and art. We want to confront the thorny side of southern activism, including but not limited to: the unusual and uncomfortable alliances across political lines, the ways in which social movements have failed to adhere to ethical values, and the ever proliferating social media activism that often encourages performative gestures in spaces designed for a capitalist currency of “views.”  We encourage submissions that seek an approach to activism centered on the fractal, as adrienne maree brown writes: “what we practice at the small scale sets the pattern for the whole system,” or in other words, politics are where you put your feet. Thinking on a scalar level, how do the smallest interactions– the local and unglamorous– ripple throughout an entire social movement? In this chaos, how can solidarity emerge?

Topics might include:

  • The history of the radical south, including labor organizing, civil rights movements, organized environmental protection actions, etc.
  • Writers representing southern activism: Toni Cade Bambara, W.E.B. Du Bois, Denise Giardini, Mary Heaton Vorse,  Alice Walker, and others.
  • Artistic representations of chaos and collectivism, such as visual arts by Lauren Frances Adams, Doris Derby, Ronald Lockett, Gordon Parks, Monique Verdin and others.
  • Contemporary social movements including but not limited to: Bayou Bridge Protest, March For Our Lives, Stop Cop City, Stop SpaceX, MIRA, prison abolition movements, unionizing movements at southern universities, waste management strikes in North Carolina, and labor efforts for Amazon workers.
  • Queer and trans activism around recent anti-LGBTQ legislation.
  • adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy and other theories of activism coming from the South.
  • Conversations between social and revolutionary movements in the U.S. South and the Global South including but not limited to the EZLN, Protect Mauna Kea, Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), student protests in Thailand, etc.

Please send a proposal of no more than 300 words and a bio of no more than 100 words to both [email protected] and [email protected] by January 26th, 2024.

Visions of the Gulf

The SSSL’s Emerging Scholars Organization (ESO) invites current graduate students, recent graduates, and/or beginning faculty to submit abstracts for our upcoming panel, “Visions of the Gulf.” The Gulf of Mexico, generally defined from the Florida Keys to Quintana Roo and the watery spaces between, has a complex history of indigenous, colonial, settler-colonial, and neo-colonial exchanges, extractions, and resistance. As Elizabeth Ellis writes, “The Gulf homelands have changed dramatically in the last 300 years, but their peoples embody the enduring traditions, communities and politics of a much older South…[where] Native communities ancestors shaped European empires and forged vibrant and powerful nations” (3). However, the study of the Gulf has historically overlooked this history and its cultural implications. This panel seeks to orient the Gulf as a place to think from and think with. Inspired by transnational, archipelagic, and hemispheric American and southern studies, the ESO seeks scholarship attuned to reconstructing voices, relationships, and/or subjectivities silenced or lost by traditional forms of scholarship. ESO invites papers that embrace the Gulf of Mexico as a “cross-cultural ground zero” rich with “contact zones, creolization, and passages and impasses between peoples” (Flores-Silva, Cartwright 2-3). Keeping with the conference’s location and theme of Reconstruction(s), the ESO welcomes papers that focus on literary portrayals of the Gulf of Mexico that rethink, reshape, remap, and/or reframe the region.

Topics may include, but are not limited to:

  • Reconstructions of southern literature / southern literary studies; American literature/ American studies; Archipelagic studies that include the Gulf; transnational studies that include the Gulf – Comparative and other reading practices that bring together literature of the Gulf (U.S South, Cuban, Mexican, Caribbean, etc.)
  • Archival (re)construction and recovery (traditional or alternative; addressing / redressing omissions and erasures in historical / cultural / public memory)
  • Portrayals of Indigenous history / culture; acts of indigenous removals and resilient stances in Gulf literature.
  • Depictions of migration and immigration / emigration (regional, national, transnational, diasporic)
  • Depictions of LGBTQIA+ identity formation/activism/history/experience
  • (Post)apocalyptic souths – Gothic souths (Southern Gothic, New Black Gothic, Undead Souths, Magical Realist Souths, Tropical Gothic)
  • Texts that depict/engage with mass incarceration; police brutality and violence; and inequities in the justice system
  • Texts that depict/engage with social justice (organization, activism, Black Lives Matter)
  • Representations of disaster and recovery (“natural,” economic)
  • Depictions of climate change, environmental degradation and destruction, and forms of sustainability, survivability, and recovery
  • Representations of modernization and (uneven) development of the Gulf
  • Science Fiction and Speculative Fiction depictions of the Gulf
  • Historical fictions / formations / events
  • Unexpected or uncanny contact zones, relationships, or (im)passess between people.
  • Creole identity or creolization, Mestizaje, hybridity, etc.

Submit 200-250 word abstracts and short bios (roughly 100 words) by January 26th to [email protected].

Reconstructing Queer Souths

There is a need to reconceptualize queer souths in the face of the challenges and revocation of rights that the community has faced in the last seven years. While there is certainly an existing body of scholarship on queer souths, those works tend to focus on specific sites or individuals rather than examining the activism and art that connect to build a genealogy of queer souths.

This panel welcomes proposals that include but are not limited to:

  • Contemporary queer southern literatures, film, and television
  • Expressions of queer southern optimism and pessimism
  • Queer southern social media
  • Queer southern futurities
  • Representations of a queer post-Trump south
  • Southern queer resilience

Submit proposals of 250 words and brief bios of 100 words to Allison Rittmayer, [email protected], and Khirsten Doolan, [email protected], by January 31, 2024.