Call for Panel Proposals- Borderlands, Boundaries, and Contested Spaces in the Writings of Rebecca Harding Davis 

This panel examines the representation of borders and boundaries — geographical, moral, social, political, racial, psychological, philosophical, etc. — in the works of Rebecca Harding Davis. From contested spaces to complex constructions of identity beyond the usual North/South binary, many of Davis’s writings from the Civil War years and after feature a fascination with the idea of borders and the transgression or dissolution of clear boundaries. Having spent much of her life in the borderlands of Virginia and Pennsylvania, as well as West Virginia after 1863, Davis experienced life on both sides of the Mason-Dixon line and lived in communities that were often divided in loyalty to the Union and Confederacy during the Civil War. As she wrote in her memoir Bits of Gossip, “We occupied the place of Hawthorne’s unfortunate man who saw both sides.” Shaped by this experience, many of her works show her continued fascination with the complex reality of living in a place where sectional identity and allegiance are in constant flux and chaotic forces threaten to dismantle characters’ values and belief systems. This panel invites proposals that address the topic of borders, boundaries, or contested spaces and identities in one or more works by Davis. We particularly welcome innovative approaches that connect a discussion of Davis to the conference theme of rethinking the “South” or southern identity beyond borders, bars, and binaries.

Please send proposals (200 words) and bios (100 words) to Vanessa Steinroetter ([email protected]) by Oct 12th.

Call for Panel Proposals- Through the Photographic Lens: Visions of the South

This panel addresses visual representations of the South in the work of photographers past and present. The photographic history of the South is long, rich, and so powerful that some iconic images, especially pertaining to struggle or violence, remain embedded in the public’s eye.  This panel is interested in expanding that photographic iconography and introducing photographers that contest received truths about the South, visual and literary. How do photographers expose the South as it was, is, or will be? What is worthy of a picture? How do photographs dramatize crisis, and the tension between cultural stasis and change? How does the South emerge in photographs highlighting ethnographic, social, and economic realities? How do contemporary photographs address both micro-geographies and global currents? Social, psychological, ecological, and carceral landscapes? Issues of surveillance and witnessing? How have photographers interacted with literature of the South, and vice versa? This panel invites proposals that probe the visual complexities of the American South.

Please send 200 word proposals and 100 word bios to Annette Trefzer ([email protected]) by Oct 10th. 

Call for Roundtable- Anthologizing Southern Literature: What Do You Teach?

This round table seeks start a conversation about what belongs in an anthology of Southern Literature. In line with the conference theme, we’ll explore the borders, bars, and binaries to and of Southern Literature, not for exclusionary purposes, but to help define Southern Literature in a practical way. The roundtable will discuss what options are available when preparing to teach a course in Southern Literature. We will not necessarily seek to create checklists of authors, but rather we’ll aim to consider the genres, coverage, and foci for a comprehensive anthology of Southern Literature. Particular authors and groupings could be discussed to indicate broader themes available in Southern Literature.

The most recent, comprehensive anthologies of Southern Literature are nearly two decades old or older: Edward Francisco’s The South in Perspective: An Anthology of Southern Literature (2001) and William L Andrews’s The Literature of the American South (1997). Besides being out of print, they are out-of-date. Considering the many changes Southern Studies has gone through in the past 20 years, the field could use updated anthology. We may even debate the flaws and merits of bound, printed anthologies in the digital age. 

Lacking an up-to-date, comprehensive anthology, undergraduate instructors are left with few good options: stack the course with several books thereby raising costs for students, or rely on the fair use doctrine and use copies and PDFs to create their own coverage. In addition to discussing what a Southern Literature anthology can look like, the purpose of this panel is to examine what an undergraduate course in Southern Literature might include. What does it exclude? What are the goals for an anthology of Southern Literature? What resonates with your students? What are the best ways to reach your students while also challenging them?

Some possible paper topics include but are not limited to: defining the borders, bars, and binaries of Southern literature; achieving coverage without exorbitant costs; organizational possibilities in addition to (or instead of) chronological; specific clusters, themes, and/or foci.

Participants will present short papers (> 10 minutes) before opening up the panel to discussion.

Please submit a brief abstract (approximately 250 words) and a short bio to Michael J. Beilfuss ([email protected]) by October 10.

Call for Panel or Roundtable- Crip Lit & The South: Southern Literature and Disability

This panel or roundtable will focus on the myriad ways that disability, broadly defined, is portrayed in southern literature. What potential can a critical disability studies lens offer to the ever-present conversation about the complexities, histories, and porous definitions of “the south” and southern literature? How are authors depicting disability in southern literature? How do some authors use disability as merely a “narrative prosthetic,” a trope meant to move the narrative forward and how do others conceptualize disability outside of the medical model to make room for a disability identity that has transformative potential? How do the shifting definitions about (dis)ability intersect with, critique, and reshape what we consider “the south” and southern literature? We’re interested in proposals that engage a wide range of topics, including but not limited to: representations of disability in southern fiction and non-fiction across time and space; disabled authors writing about or writing from “the south,” including an intersectional approach to disability in southern literature that considers as Michael Bibler explains, “Native Souths, queer Souths, black Souths, Latin Souths, global Souths, immigrant Souths” among others.

Please send a brief (100-word max) proposal/topic sketch and short (100-word) bio to Elizabeth Glass ([email protected]) and Delia Steverson ([email protected]) by October 4th.

Call for Proposals- Beyond Borders, Walls, and Binaries: Creating Inclusive Classroom Spaces

Sponsored by the Society for the Study of Southern Literature’s Emerging Scholars Organization

Chair: Elizabeth Gardner, Louisiana State University 

In a time when discussions about borders and walls permeate political and social commentary and focus on exclusion, the Emerging Scholars Organization is interested in how instructors of southern studies create inclusive spaces in their classrooms and beyond. To that end, we seek contributions for a roundtable discussion about approaches to teaching that identify and overcome boundaries to student learning or to push beyond the borders of the traditional classroom. We are especially interested in abstracts that engage the following ideas: 

  • Anti-racist pedagogy
  • Moving beyond the borders of southern studies
    • E.g. how to engage ideas from southern studies in other kinds of courses (such as African American studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies; and introductory composition courses) or how we might engage with ideas from other disciplines in southern literature classrooms
  • Service-Learning or project-oriented courses that emphasize community engagement
  • Course design that engages with  public scholarship and / or public monuments (such as the National Memorial for Peace and Justice)

We welcome short presentations on any aspect of course design: choosing a theme, composing the syllabus, selecting reading materials, constructing lesson plans, or creating assignments. We also welcome short presentations on teaching philosophies and pedagogical theory. The goal of this panel is to generate ideas and disperse materials that will aid participants in planning introductory and interdisciplinary courses that are engaging to the undergraduate students who take them and interesting to the instructors who teach them. 

Please submit 250-word abstracts to Elizabeth Gardner ([email protected]) by October 1 for full consideration.

Call for Proposals- Beyond Borders, Bars, and Binaries in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing

In recent years Jesmyn Ward’s work has received significant critical attention for its stark depiction of race, class, and gender dynamics through Bois Sauvage, microcosm of a rural South typically marginalized in the US imaginary. However, her most recent novel, Sing, Unburied, Sing, while still deeply invested in a specific, southern time and place, engages with peripheries in which these categories are constructed. Where does life intersect with death, sickness clash with health, or freedom meet incarceration? This panel invites papers that consider Sing, Unburied, Sing within the 2020 SSSL conference theme, specifically, how the novel explores—and often undermines—borders (between living and dead, human and animal, etc.), bars (such as Parchman), and binaries (that may include black/white, male/female, and so on). 

Proposals should be 150–200 words and include a brief (apprx. 100 words) academic bio as well as any A/V requests. Please send your proposals and questions to Amber P. Hodge at [email protected] by October 5.

Call for Proposals- Emerging & Dismantling: Feminist Killjoys Confront SSSL’s Past and Present

Emerging & Dismantling: Feminist Killjoys Confront SSSL’s Past and Present
SSSL: Society for the Study of Southern Literature Biennial Conference 
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR   
April 2-5, 2020

This lightning round table extends the conversation established in SSSL’s 2018 Closing Plenary wherein the organization’s community began an open-forum dialogue about its history and ongoing manifestations of sexism, racism, and elitism–among many other oppressive structures that have been integral to the organization and discipline. Following that plenary, on the one hand, SSSL’s leadership worked in earnest to more equitably reshape the organization’s structure via policies, procedures, and explicit public statements condemning white supremacy and harassment. With this work, and with the outcomes of recent elections evidencing the membership’s desire for diverse leadership; the structural and cultural landscape of SSSL 2020 looks notably different from that of SSSL 2018. On the other hand, public revelations that senior SSSL members have sexually harassed and bullied emerging scholars, specifically graduate students, and the growing rise of violent white supremacy and xenophobia in our national climate have made clear that we as a membership still have much more work ahead to continue reshaping SSSL into a more equitable, inclusive, and ethical organization.

In this context, this roundtable confronts SSSL’s present “Age of Crisis” by amplifying experiences of emerging women (trans- and cis-) and non-binary scholars from a range of backgrounds across graduate, contingent, independent, and junior/pre-tenure career stature. We seek scholars and/or activists who have experiences within, against, or parallel to the disciplinary structures of oppression that SSSL must confront and dismantle in our present moment. We especially welcome scholars and/or activists whose work engages with the content of southern studies (e.g. African American, African Diasporic, Native/Indigenous/First Nations, Latinx, Caribbean, Global South, etc.), but who may have experienced exclusion, oppression, or hostility that has precluded their participation in SSSL programming or the field of southern studies, more broadly. The organizers of this roundtable and SSSL leadership are committed to making this session and the 2020 conference a secure, constructive, edifying experience for all attendees.

Round table participants will offer 3-5 minute “lightning presentations” that (a) share experience, (b) offer advice, and (c) demand change in either the SSSL organization or the field more broadly. Following the presentations we will preserve ample time for open discussion.

Foregrounding Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “intersectionality” in practice and politics, and channeling Sara Ahmed’s “feminist killjoy” methodology, this round table will foster candid dialogue across diverse experiences. We aim to amplify the voices of emerging women and non-binary scholars and activists grounded in this particular historical moment so that we as a community may bear witness to their experiences. We seek to fortify our movement by building solidarity and support across intersecting forms of precarity. Most importantly, we will brainstorm practical, actionable methods to continue dismantling organizational and disciplinary mechanisms of oppression in order to foster more equitable, inclusive, and ethical futures.

Please submit a 300-word abstract and short bio (max 100 words) before October 4th to Stephanie Rountree, University of North Georgia, at [email protected].

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 ([email protected]) and Ted Atkinson ([email protected]).

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: [email protected][email protected]

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 ([email protected]) and Sarah-Marie Horning ([email protected]) 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 [email protected] 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 [email protected] by September 30, 2019.