As President of the Belgian Luxembourg American Studies Association, I am planning the organization of our bi-annual residential conference for 2004, in Brussels.
Tentative date: Fri-Sun May 7-9, 2004.
Tentative title: “Anyone for Burgers and Frites? Cross-Cultural Images of Americans in Belgium, Belgians in America.”
Having successfully organized two conferences on national stereotypes and images (European images of Americans; Franco-American images of each other), both of which resulted in two excellent selected papers publications by the VUB University Press and Rodopi in Amsterdam, respectively, I would now like to address Belgian and American stereotypes of each other.
Theoretically, the conference will situate itself in the field of image studies, or imagology, which rejects the essentialist view of what used to be called “national character,” in favor of a structuralist-functionalist approach, distinguishing between stereotypes of self (“auto-stereotypes”) and of the other (“hetero-stereotypes”), both of which tend to interact in a complex dynamic. This dynamic results in the creation of a potent national stereotype, essentially consisting of an integration of inter-textual and inter-media discourse. In this way, travelers’ accounts, pictorial representations, immigrant letters, literature in the classic sense of the term, advertising, newspaper articles, exhibitions, art, theater, music, cinema, popular print media like comic books–to name some of the most prominent source categories–can all provide insight into the creation, dissemination, structure, and function of these stereotypes. As in my past conferences, therefore, I hope to bring together an interdisciplinary group of scholars approaching the topic from the angle of their own field.
Stress will be on Belgium as a nation-state since 1830, as regards chronological focus. Yet given the typically ancient origins, and in any case clear longevity and durability of stereotypical images, contributions on subjects dating before 1830 are also welcome. The geographical limits will be those of modern Belgium. This could therefore include Flemish or Walloon travelers to the United States before 1830; pre-independence press reports on the American Revolution; Americans traveling in the Austrian Netherlands or Belgium during the French Revolution, to name only a few possibilities.
The language of the conference will be English, as will be final articles considered for publication.
Please email me your 500 word abstract and a brief c.v. listing current position, three main areas of research specialization, and list of five relevant or five most important publications. PhD candidates wishing to report on work in progress are also encouraged to submit abstracts.
Professor William L. Chew III
Vesalius College, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Pleinlaan 2, B-1050 Brussels (BELGIUM)
Tel. 0032-2-629.2686 or 629.2821
FAX 0032-2-629.3637 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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