The Columbia Journal of American Studies (CJAS) is now accepting submissions for a panel discussion titled "What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Looking at American Leisure Time." Papers selected for presentation will also be published in a special section of the journal. The panel discussion, hosted by CJAS and Columbia University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Liberal Studies program, will be held at Columbia University on March 3, 2005.
The panel seeks to explore past and present ways of filling-- or wasting-- the eight hours a day and the two weeks a year not dedicated to work or sleep. Even as Americans work the longest hours in the industrialized world, travel, tourist, and service industries show astonishing growth, with spending for leisure sometimes defined as America's primary economic activity.
“What I did on My Summer Vacation” will examine the disconnect between day-to-day life and the "reality" that American culture presents through its popular vacation spots, tourist attractions, extreme leisure time activities, and reality television. Especially encouraged are papers investigating the authenticity and extremism of American vacation spots and leisure time activities. In examining the extreme, this panel discussion intends to come to a more fertile understanding of America’s predilection for the "pursuit of happiness". Possible paper/panel topics include but are not limited to: faux tourist attractions like reconstructed “ghost towns” along major highways, the democratization of travel, ecotourism, shopping as entertainment, summer camps, road trips and transportation technology, world fairs, sites of murder and destruction as tourist attractions, the commodification of natural wonders, hotels and motels, or recording the family vacation.
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