British Association for American Studies (BAAS) Postgraduate Conference, 3rd November 2018
Department of Arts and Humanities, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon-Tyne

“There are three urgent and indeed great problems that we face not only in the United States of America but all over the world today. That is the problem of racism, the problem of poverty and the problem of war.”
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

1968 was a watershed moment in American and global history. It witnessed mass social movements, student and anti-war protests, shifting racial consciousness, urban riots, and several high-profile political assassinations; a year emblematic of America’s ‘three urgent and indeed great problems’ which Martin Luther King described during his visit to Newcastle upon-Tyne a few months before his death: War, Poverty and Racism. These issues and the challenges they posed, along with other sites of conflict and inequality, including place, gender, sexuality, faith, age and dissent, are familiar throughout American history, life and culture.  Marking the 50th anniversary of these momentous events, Northumbria’s BAAS Postgraduate Conference will explore the urgency and gravity of King’s challenges, and the antecedents and legacies of 1968, in the broader American landscape.

BAAS postgraduates will have the opportunity to address epochs leading up to 1968 and how the crises and challenges King mapped out still resonate today. How have imperialism, violence and transnational relations characterised the United States? In what ways does the intersection of class, locality and inequality define American culture and politics? Why do notions of identity, acts of oppression, and dynamic struggle continue to dominate the contemporary era? Where does 1968 sit in our understanding of the American nation; how was the year presaged, and continued to be reinterpreted and memorialised? How do scholars methodologically approach problem-making, problematising, and problem-solving in their research?

Proposals for 20-minute papers or fully-formed 1hr-30min panels from all fields of American Studies are encouraged to address the cultural, historical, and social dimensions related, but not restricted to the following areas:

War and Global America

  • Presidents and politicking;
  • Memory, memorialisation and myth-making;
  • Transnational discourses;
  • Constructing boundaries and crossing frontiers;
  • Science and technology in America;
  • Historical narratives from early indigenous culture to the 21st century.

Poverty and Crisis

  • Class, union and labour politics;
  • Employment, commercialism and consumerism;
  • Conservative actions and reactions;
  • Regionalism, rurality and urbanity;
  • The body, the Self and ‘the Other’;
  • Medical humanities;
  • Experiences and representations of emotions;
  • Temporality and spatiality.

Racism and Identity

  • Racial, ethnic, and indigenous communities;
  • Minority literary and non-literary fictions;
  • Youth, age and student movements;
  • Gender, sex and sexuality;
  • Depictions and visualisations of resistance and protest;
  • Orality, textuality and performativity.

Antecedents and Legacies of 1968

  • The Far Right and Radical Left;
  • Remembering MLK;
  • Black Lives Matter;
  • Social media, the #hashtag and contemporary movements;
  • Media, alternative media and ‘fake news’.

BAAS is dedicated to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. We strongly encourage and will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of our field in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and institutional affiliation. All-male panel proposals will not be accepted.

For the first time at a PGR BAAS conference, onsite crèche facilities for children aged 3-8 will be available free-of-charge. For further information contact conference organisers.

Following presentations, all attendees are invited to a multi-disciplinary roundtable on postgraduate pay, job insecurity, workload, and health and well-being; a forum for PGRs and ECRs to express and address being part of academic culture while also confronting struggles within and without their institutions. This session relates not only to the general conference themes but to current working climates.

Please submit abstracts, including a title, of no more than 250 words along with a 50-word academic bio to Simon Buck and Rowan Hartland at pgrbaas.northumbria2018@gmail.com by 21st August 2018No proposals will be considered after this date.

Panel proposals should include a 250-word abstract for each constituent paper, a 50-word academic bio for each speaker, and an abstract of no more than 150 words describing the panel session in its entirety.

Please direct any inquiries to pgrbaas.northumbria2018@gmail.com