This international conference, will be held at the Sorbonne, in Paris, October 20 & 21, 2006.
Its purpose is to examine the ways Americans, beyond the usual historical or calendar celebrations, now conceive and practice feasting or partying. 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, in truth, 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?
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.
We want to investigate such changes, especially (but not exclusively) in the realm of artistic representations, literature, painting, films or music. We would also like to provide new approaches to one aspect of American popular culture that proves to be a useful indicator of the ways social, economic, aesthetic or spiritual trends evolve in present-day Canada and US. Possible topics might therefore include studies of the relations between celebrations and politics, religion, education, marketing, the medias, or focus on such concepts as violence, transgression, difference, simulacrum, etc.
The conference is jointly organized by Pierre Lagayette, Université de Paris IV-Sorbonne and André Kaspi, Université de Paris I-Panthéon-Sorbonne. Publication of selected papers will follow. Please submit a one-page proposal for a 20-minute presentation and a brief curriculum no later than April 15th, 2006.
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