The 2003 NEASA Conference, to be held at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford, Connecticut, will address the many ways in which religion has been a force in American history and culture. The conference site itself invokes memories of a moment when religion and politics famously intersected in the antislavery campaign that Stowe's fiction reinvigorated in the 1850s. In our own historical moment, the academy (and American Studies) must confront the unanticipated return of religion to a prominent role in the context of globalization and 21st century international politics, as we reconsider older scholarly narratives of modernization and secularization. Our conference theme is designed to foster such a reconsideration. From the enduring myth of the Puritan origins of practically everything to contemporary anxieties about the varieties of fundamentalism, popular commentary on American society manifests a deep concern with the function(s) of religion in American life. Yet within the modern academy and in recent American Studies scholarship, religion has rarely been a central category of analysis. What accounts for the silence? Is the array of popular manifestations of religious enthusiasm bewildering from the perspective of secular scholars? This conference seeks to redirect attention to the religious issues that are woven into the fabric of American culture. We welcome proposals under a variety of headings: Religion and the State (civil religion, missionary culture and religious imperialism, religious activism and communities of conscience, the Religious Right, and religion and public policy); Religion and Popular Culture (lived religious experience, popular devotional practices, religion and the media); Religion and the Arts (church architecture, the material culture of religion, religious painting, sculpture and music, religion and literature); Religious Healing (twelve-step programs, spiritual healing--past and present--, New Age practices); Religion and Consumer Culture (religious mass marketing, the religious press, Christian rock); and Varieties of American Religion (utopian sects, World Congress of Religions, immigrant religions, non-Western religions, Native American religions, New Religious Movements).
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 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 10, 2003.
Lisa MacFarlane, NEASA Program Chair
Department of English
Hamilton Smith Hall
University of New Hampshire
Durham, NH 03824
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