The New England American Studies Association invites papers and panels on the conference theme "’The Tyranny of Facts’: Cultural Institutions and the Authority of Evidence.” The conference will take place in Boston, on April 26-28, 2002.
To be held at the site of the Massachusetts Historical Society, one of the country’s oldest and most respected archives, the 2002 NEASA conference will explore the connections between cultural institutions, evidence, and the process of instituting culture throughout the American experience. The theme of this year's meeting (the title of which comes from Warren Goldstein's review of Dutch, the fictionalized biography of Ronald Reagan by Edmund Morris) raises such issues as:
What “counts” as facts, data, or evidence? How have "facts" been used in American culture to construct mythologies of race, class, gender, or power?
What is the role of evidence in academic research, and particularly in interdisciplinary approaches such as American Studies? When is it appropriate to interweave fact and fiction? How do we reconcile different elements of scholarship to create a "braided narrative?" How has the construction of a "usable past" marked American thought, and American Studies scholarship?
How (either historically, or now) do “gatekeepers” of facts such as the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Smithsonian Museum, the United States Information Agency, or local historical societies, influence American culture? How have people in the United States and abroad responded to such cultural institutions?
Sadly, the topic conceived last spring now seems all the more pressing in the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001. We invite papers that consider how cultural institutions and theauthority of evidence affect understandings of those tragic events, and their aftermath.
As always, NEASA welcomes participation by public intellectuals and activists without university affiliations -- e.g., secondary school teachers, journalists, community organizers, archivists, curators, artists, and independent scholars. To support broader participation in the conference, and to reward excellent papers (the award carries a stipend), NEASA again will offer the Mary [C.]Kelley Prize for the best paper by a graduate student or non-tenure track scholar.
Inquiries, and paper and session proposals for the 2002 NEASA conference should be directed to the address below.
Proposals, including a one-page abstract and a C.V., should be received by Friday, January 4, 2002.
Lisa MacFarlane, NEASA Program Chair
Department of English
Hamilton Smith Hall
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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