Beyond the usual historical or calendar celebrations, one may ask how Americans now conceive and practice feasting or partying. Rituals are highly adaptable and adjust to society’s needs or fashions and to circumstances. History may sometimes radically upset ideas and manners and induce profound changes in the way people celebrate. What is left these days of the stereotypes that described an enthusiastic, jovial and happy-go-lucky America?
The New World offers us a great diversity of festivities, from the local charity fair to the ethnic, minority or patriotic parades, Hollywood highly formatted ceremonies, house-warming parties, Super Bowl, party conventions, music festivals, etc. What, we may wonder, lay beneath such a proliferation of spectacular displays of mirth and energy? Does this point to a sort of contest for visibility and exposure? Can Americans still enjoy feasting after 9/11? What channels are now used to convey one’s desire to celebrate? How can the spirit of “fête” survive in an environment that increasingly imposes moral restraints? What is the part played by business interests in the promotion and encouragement of feasting? One may also investigate how feasts and celebrations invade the realm of artistic representations, literature, painting, films or music, or focus on the issues of ethnicity and multiculturalism, particularly in the way they relate to the notion of “popular culture”.
Please submit a one-page proposal for a 20-minute presentation and a brief curriculum no later than March 31, 2006 to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
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