The New York Metro American Studies Association is proud to announce our annual one-day conference, "A More Perfect Union?", to be held on Saturday, November 14, 2009, 9:00am-5:30pm, at St. John's University--Manhattan Campus, 101 Murray Street, New York, NY, 10007.
The conference explores the appeal of and challenges to the national ideal of "a more perfect union," initially posited at the emergence of the legal entity known as "the United States." Students of American studies have long examined cultural and political fault lines in the US, including race, gender, class, religion, and sexuality. Indeed, from our disciplinary perspective, the real surprise may not be the failure of unity in the national polity, but its enduring promise.
Suspending some of our discipline's conventional skepticism, this conference asks what American studies can or should teach us not only about the divisions in US culture, but about its uneven potentials and latent desires for unity. How can we analyze the desire for a "more perfect union" in terms of both perfection and unity?
The conference will also reflect on its location in Lower Manhattan, near Ground Zero, where the redevelopment effort has also involved ideals of unity and perfectability. How have rhetorics around national and transnational unity that emerged out of September 11 been reworked in subsequent years? How have these issues played out in local politics? In what ways do tensions over community dissent/assent, historical and geographic dis/unity, and the conflicting agendas of politicians, cultural and economic groups coexist with a hope (spoken or unspoken) that the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site will spur creation of a "more perfect" urban area and global city that will heal the ruptures of 9/11/01?
For a complete schedule, and registration information, please go to www.nymasa.org
Sarah E. Chinn
Hunter College, CUNY
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
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