History and Political Discourse in the British and American geopolitical areas
(17th century – present)
Call for Papers Deadline:
The electronic journal Representation (CEMRA) is issuing a call for papers to study how history and political discourse have interacted and complemented each other in the British and American geopolitical areas, from the 17th century to today, in the fields of historical as well as literary studies.
Writing about history necessarily means fitting into the scheme of some political project, and can in fact only exist in relation to the writer’s present. Historiography, the study of history and histories, exemplifies the fact that there is no neutral representation of history. Conversely –and in a more explicit way−, political discourse in any form frequently draws on history for examples.
Papers will thus centre around three main ideas:
1) First, the existence of “canonical” events or figures such as the Glorious Revolution, Elizabeth I or Churchill in Great Britain; the Frontier, Lincoln or Kennedy in the United States; or, common to the history of both nations, the abolition of slavery (though at different times) or WWII. How such “canonization” is effected, how it evolves and how it comes to be contested, will also be points of interest, just as the many ways of summoning it up in literature (Walter Scott, J. Fenimore Cooper, Toni Morrison…).
2) Second, the ways in which history can be instrumentalized by political discourse, how it can be reified into a mere stock of examples available to suit the purposes of current political projects. Seen as based on simplistic analogies between past and present, history can thus be used and abused by authors to convey a sense of authority, through what purports to be the legitimate use of a historically valid model or paradigm, to arouse hope or fear (Enoch Powell’s “rivers of blood” speech or the sermons of Ian Paisley), or justify political conservatism (the historical plays and tragedies of William Shakespeare). The strategies of entitlement of the speaker in the framework of political discourse, and whether these are compatible with other forms of discourse, can come under scrutiny in this context.
3) Finally, the re-writing of history, the re-evaluation of the historical process to various ends –nationalism, unionism, socialism, feminism, or various faiths. The Whig or Marxist visions of history, historical revisionism… are also within the scope of this call for papers.
Abstracts (300-350 words, in French or English) should be submitted to both the co-organizers by Jan. 2, 2013 at the following addresses:
firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
Final papers will be sent for Apr. 26, 2013.
Université Stendhal-Grenoble III
38040 Grenoble Cedex 9 France
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