10/01/2020. Call for papers “United States / Disunited States”

call for papers disunited states

What, when & where

Call for papers for the Conference The United States, United States / Dis-United States, October 8-9, 2020 at the Université Bretagne Sud, Lorient, France.

The United States of America was originally founded on a unifying principle: the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution aimed at promoting collective values transcending the states’ individual interests and at bringing together people with various origins and heritage. Despite the persistence of these founding myths, communitarianism and divides in the linguistic, ethnic, religious, political, and social fields have endured since the colonial period, while some might argue that they may have even deepened (Arthur Schlesinger’s The Disuniting of America, George Hawley’s Making Sense of the Alt-Right, Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy). The American people appears therefore as primarily divided and disunited, despite efforts to maintain some degree of national cohesion. Federalism is repeatedly questioned; the American foreign policy alternates between isolationism and interventionism; racial tensions continue unabated; the counter-culture that prevailed in the 1960s contrasts with the conservatism of the 1980s; ideological and political discrepancies between corporatism and democracy endanger the perpetuation of the social compact (John R. Saul, The Unconscious Civilization). And yet, the USA strives to display the image of a strong and resolute nation through their current president who has kept on aggravating the country’s dis-union or division, as proves the unprecedented context of the recent shutdown.

All these elements raise the more general question of the country’s unity: how a nation- state in which some states are cut off geographically (i.e. Alaska) or culturally (former Mexican territories, Native American lands), or where the inhabitants do not even live in the same time zone can contrive a national identity? Nationalisms and extremes progress as the economic context aggravates the social chasm. Confronted with foreign economic, industrial, or military competition, while “new models” are emerging (i.e. China), dissensions keep increasing and uncover the fragility of the nation itself. As a defining feature for the country, this “united/dis- united” dialectic, which is not a new phenomenon, might eventually jeopardize the nation’s power and/or its identity.

This conference seeks to analyze those divisions and tensions and their link with the American national identity. How can the nation-state react in the face of multiple and diverse divides to eventually protect its identity and national interests? What are the social issues at stake in these divisions? How do they surface in artistic and literary representations? What political answers are given to them, individually or collectively?

The conference is organized by HCTI (Université Bretagne Sud – Marie-Christine Michaud) and 3L.AM (Université du Mans – Delphine Letort).

Abstracts (15 lines and a short biography) should be sent to Marie-Christine Michaud (marie-christine.michaud@univ-ubs.fr), Pauline Pilote (pauline.pilote@univ-ubs.fr), and Karim Daanoune (karim.daanoune@univ-ubs.fr) before January 10, 2020.

Deadline & how to apply

Deadline is January 10, 2020: on Please send a 15-line proposal, in English or French, along with a short biography to Marie-Christine Michaud, Pauline Pilote and Karim Daanoune.

Other info, Links & conditions

Scientific committee:

E. Bouzonviller, associate professor in American literature (université de St Etienne) K. Daanoune, associate professor in American literature (université Bretagne Sud) E. Elmaleh, full professor in American studies (université du Mans)
D. Letort, full professor in American studies (université du Mans)

MC. Michaud, full professor in American studies (université Bretagne Sud)
P. Pilote, associate professor in Anglo-American literature (université Bretagne Sud) M. Roy, associate professor in American studies (université Paris-Nanterre)
B. Van Ruymbeke, full professor in American studies (université Paris 8)
J. Zarifian, associate professor in American studies (université Cregy-Pontoise)


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