CFP: Edited Collection Preserving U.S. History–Memorializing Contested Events

Deadline for submissions: December 15, 2017

full name / name of organization: Melissa M. Bender, University Writing Program, University of California, Davis; Klara Stephanie Szlezák, American Studies, University of Passau, Germany

contact email:

The editors seek proposals for a chapter to round out a volume of essays on commemorating contested events in U.S. history. The proposed chapter should explore efforts to preserve and memorialize a contested historical event/era or interrogate particular instances of sanitization in relation to women’s, Native Americans’, or LGBTQ individuals’ history. The chapter should also be suitable for the overall theme of the volume, as described in the original CFP included below.

We welcome proposals from scholars in multiple, related disciplines, including American Studies, Cultural Studies, Museum/Tourism Studies, Visual Studies, Media Studies, Rhetorical Studies, Communication Studies, and others. The completed chapter of 6,000-7,500 words (excluding reference list) will be due to the editors by February 15, 2018. A proposal of approximately 350 words, along with a brief biographical note of approximately 200 words, is due to the editors by December 15, 2017.

Original CFP
Conflicts over (mis)representations of historical events have long been a concern of scholars in multiple disciplines. However, the recent shift in the U.S. political climate—most notably, the shift from the Obama to the Trump administration—warrants fresh approaches to the ways in which historical preservation is practiced. To this end, we seek proposals for essays to be included in an edited volume exploring the manner in which U.S. history is preserved, sanitized, or contested through monuments, memorial sites, museums, and print or audio-visual texts.

The recent conflict over the City of New Orleans’ endeavor to remove Confederate monuments serves as an illustrative example of the issues this volume seeks to explore. With the support of the city council and the local landmarks commission, New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu has led the effort to remove the monuments–which were erected during the post-war Reconstruction Era–arguing that they glorify a partial and racist chapter of the city’s history and do not represent the values or the diversity of the city at present. The city plans to preserve and store the monuments until they can be placed in a museum, where they can be contextualized. Opponents argue that the removal is an attempt to erase a part of the city’s history, and violent protests have erupted at sites where the removal is underway. Another example comes from the Texas Board of Education, which has headlined the news several times in recent years for its controversial moves to control the content of textbooks. Among other content changes, several dishonorable events and eras in U.S. history have been rearticulated in these textbooks in a manner that conceals the destruction of lives and livelihoods. For instance, one textbook currently in circulation refers to slaves as “workers from Africa” and rationalizes McCarthyism.

Essays included in this volume will explore efforts to preserve and memorialize the more egregious moments of U.S. history or interrogate particular instances of historical sanitization at the expense of less partial representations that would include other perspectives on the same moments or related, less egregious moments. Examples may be drawn from educational efforts, public campaigns, print publications, or visual representations, including such media/sites as photography, political cartoons, museums, and monuments. Proposals will be selected based on their strengths and with an eye toward variety in the published volume.

Melissa M. Bender, University Writing Program, University of California, Davis
Klara Stephanie Szlezák, American Studies, University of Passau, Germany

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