Young Americanists Conference Space, Place, and Time

1st Young Americanists Conference hosted by the Department of American Studies, University of Graz

Space, Place and Time: The Construction of Identity in American Literature and Popular Culture

December 11–12, 2010

Call for Papers

In collaboration with Austria’s Young Americanists, the Department of American Studies at the University of Graz is hosting its 1st Young Americanists Conference on December 10-12, 2010. This conference seeks to provide a space for critical and interdisciplinary discussions of issues pertaining to place and belonging within the context of American literature and popular culture. Is there such a thing as an American identity, and if yes, how would one start to conceptualize it? How is ‘Americanness’ presented and perceived (both within the Americas and abroad) and how are such conceptions and perceptions changing over time? What is the role of literature and (popular) culture in the formation of such an identity, or rather: identities? And what does space have to do with all this? How do aspects such as gender, ethnicity, race, social class shape our understanding of the spatial, especially within an American context? And what role do parallel realities such as cyberspace or video games play in our conceptualization of space, time and identity?

While this conference will be open to all, it is especially geared towards young Americanists (students working on M.A. or PhD theses and scholars who’ve recently completed their PhDs). We encourage submissions from those working within such fields as English and American Studies, Cultural Studies, Musicology, Sociology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Theology, and History. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • American Exceptionalism/Manifest Destiny
  • Utopian and Dystopian Spaces
  • Gendered and/or Racialized Space
  • Body, Space, and Identity
  • Ethnicity and/or the space of the ‘Ethnic’ in American Texts
  • Transnational Spaces and Identities
  • Homeplaces and/or Third Spaces
  • Spaces of the Abject
  • Land(scapes) in American Culture
  • Situated/Spatialized Identities
  • Spatializing Time and/vs. Temporalizing Space
  • (American) Identity in Film and Popular Culture
  • ‘Real’ and ‘Fantastic’ Places
  • Film and Photography as Spatial, Temporal, and/or Spatio-Temporal Texts
  • Cyberculture and Cyberspace
  • Non-places (Augé)
  • Places of memory/Lieux de mémoire (Nora)
  • “Pseudo Events” (Boorstin) and ‘Real’ Events (e.g. 9/11; wars)


Saturday, December 11, 2010

09.00-09.45 Opening
Opening Remarks by Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Irmtraud Fischer, Vice Rector for Research and Continuing Education, University of Graz
Opening Remarks by Ao. Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Klaus Rieser, Chair of the Department of American Studies, University of Graz
Book Presentation Landscapes of Postmodernity: Concepts and Paradigms of Critical Theory
Introductory Remarks by Mag. Maria-Theresia Holub, M.A., Ph.D.
09.45-10.45 Defining ‘America’ from Afar
Leopold Lippert (Vienna): “Performing Americanness Abroad: Haunted Spaces in a Globalized World”
Ida Jahr (FU Berlin): “Creating an America for Norway: Sigmund Skard and Early American Studies”
11.00-12.30 Marginalized Spaces I: Women
Michaela Puntigam (Graz): “Career Woman or Housewife? Educational Aims and Conceptions of Womanhood at Wellesley College in the 1950s”
Alina Stegarescu (Bucharest): “Home is Neither Here nor There: The Quest for Home in Anita Brookner’s Work”
Saskia Fürst (Graz): “The Active Heroine: Femininity, Female Representation and the Spectatorship of She-Ra
14.30-15.30 Marginalized Spaces II: Children
Julia Van Lill (Vienna): “Setting the Scene: L. M. Montgomery’s Imaginative Island Landscapes”
Verena Haider (Graz): “Protection, Provision, and Participation: Representations of Childhood in Selected Works of American Children’s Fiction of the 1970s”
15.45-16.45 Marginalized Spaces III: Queers
Angelika Tsaros (Graz): “Drawing Queer Borderlands: Hector Silva”
Christoph Hartner (Graz): “A Place in the Sun for Everyone? Queer Retirement Homes and their Impact on Queer Identity”
17.00-18.00 Marginalized Spaces IV: Native Americans
Madalina Prodan (Iasi): “Getting a Name: In Search of an Identity as a Mixed-Blood in Sherman Alexie’s Flight
Katrin Fennesz (Vienna): “Storied Landscapes”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

09.00-10.00 Utopian Dreams & Dystopian Realities
Georg Drennig (Vienna): “Fallujah in New York: The Sectarian Dystopia of Brian Wood’s DMZ
Diana Benea (Bucharest): “The Fine Line Between Utopia/Dystopia, Exceptionalism/Unexceptionalism: Representing America in Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon
10.15-11.15 Deconstructing & Reconstructing Borders
Yvonne Völkl (Graz): “De-/Constructing the Québec-Ontario Border in Érik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop
Jeff Thoss (Graz): “There’s No Place Like Fiction: Narrative Space and Metalepsis in Stephen King’s ‘Umney’s Last Case’
11.30-13.00 The Place of Science in Popular Culture
Judith Kohlenberger (Vienna): “It All Started With A Big Bang: Constructions of ‘Science’ in the Age of Cool”
Michael Fuchs (Graz): “Alan Moore’s Chronotopoetics: Quantum-Leaping into the Fourth Dimension”