We invite presentation proposals for a Conference on Cocktail Culture, to be held in Louisville, KY, April 3-5, 2014. The goal of the conference is to investigate the implications--epistemological, ontological, rhetorical, and heuristic--of contemporary cocktail culture.
When Roland Barthes suggests that "the ideal drink would be rich in metonymies of all kinds," he might well have been speaking of cocktails and the drinking cultures they have helped to create. Whether in the 19th century saloon, the prohibition speakeasy, or the fictional realms of James Bond and Mad Men, the cocktail has functioned as cultural bellweather for issues of class, taste, and culture. In the last ten years, the so-called Cocktail Revival has produced a host of professional organizations, writings, blogs, and conferences devoted to examining and reviving both the drinks and habits of these earlier cultures. In fact, if this phenomenon suggests anything, it's that the cocktail revival is nothing if not a loquacious movement: Amateur and professional mixologists alike have set about recovering not just the craft of the cocktail, but also its history, philosophy, and culture in print and online.
Some key questions for consideration at the conference will be: What ways of reading, interpreting, or knowing are made possible by the cocktail? What representational practices are at work in cocktail culture? What kinds of subjectivity, identity, and self-representation does it enable? How does the contemporary cocktail operate as a marker of class, gender, sexuality, race, and region? How might “drinking against the grain” foster subversive or resistant positionalities? When the cocktail speaks, what does it say? What opportunities or constraints does cocktail culture place on language, behavior, and expression?
Accordingly, proposals might deal with any aspect of cocktail culture, but should draw attention primarily to cocktails as tools for thinking about culture. Presentations might examine such topics as:
• The cocktail as cultural symbol
• The philosophy and aesthetics of the cocktail
• The history and lore of cocktails or cocktail ingredients
• The history and culture of distilling, mixing, or serving liquor
• Prohibition in literature and culture
• Booze in literature, film, television, and music
• Innovative mixology
• Bartending guides
• Cocktails as commodities
• The erotics of drinking
• Libationary self-fashioning
• Marketing of distilled spirits
The conference will be structured around the non-simultaneous, plenary presentation and discussion papers and addresses. Accordingly, the organizers’ expectation is that no more than 20 papers (both submitted and invited) will be given. The conference may also feature such complementary activities as mixological demonstrations, distillery tours, tastings and pairings, and a conference dinner. Papers presented at the conference will be considered for inclusion in a collection of essays titled The Shaken and the Stirred: This Year’s Work in Cocktail Studies, to be submitted to the Indiana University Press.
Please send 500-word abstracts and a current CV to Craig N. Owens and Stephen Schneider at firstname.lastname@example.org. Review of proposals will begin on October 15, 2013. We anticipate notification by December 31, 2013.
Craig N. Owens
Department of English
2507 University Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50312
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