Call for Papers: The Transnational American Periodical

A one day symposium in collaboration with the Network of American Periodical Studies
British Library, London – 15 December 2017

Plenary Speaker: Professor Janet Floyd (King’s College London)

The ‘transnational turn’ in American Studies can be understood as perhaps the most important reimagining of the field since its inception; challenging Americanists to re-evaluate disciplinary protocols, re-think their relationship to the region they study, and revise their intellectual and theoretical assumptions. For researchers of American print and periodical culture, this shift has often proved especially challenging; reliance on the work of Benedict Anderson and other scholarship on print and nationhood has led to a dominant view of the periodical as a space for imagining nationhood, or as a keystone of the modern nation state.

Against these arguments for periodicals as an instrument for building and imagining American nationhood, this symposium will explore how American periodicals and periodical literature, from the colonial period to the present day, has reached across borders to displace the nation as the primary site of belonging. The symposium will consider how American periodicals – as well as their editors, contributors, and readers – circulated across national boundaries, and the transnational networks that such circulation both relied upon and created. We invite papers that explore how changes in the material text, technologies and economies of print, reading publics, and distribution networks have shaped and reshaped transnational discourses and movements. We also welcome scholarship that examines how periodicals encouraged and sustained transnational identities within the United States itself, including periodicals aimed at immigrant and diasporic communities.

The symposium will also interrogate the relationship between theory and the archive that emerges from a transnational perspective on American periodicals. How does uncovering the material, economic, and social conditions of transnational periodical production and circulation encourage us to rethink theories of cosmopolitanism, the border, or the Black Atlantic? How can we write a transnational history of American periodicals using archives that were shaped in response to nation-centric models of cultural, political, and intellectual history? And how can theoretical approaches adapted from other disciplines inform our approach to and understanding of the transnational impact of American print?

Topics for papers may include:

  • The circulation of US periodicals and periodical literature outside of the United States
  • The circulation of non-US periodicals or the ethnic press in the United States
  • Non-English periodicals or international editions of American periodicals
  • American periodicals and transnational understandings of race, gender, and sexuality
  • Transnational cultures of reprinting or collaboration
  • American periodicals and the development of transnational networks
  • Foreign correspondents and the American periodical
  • Theoretical and methodological approaches to transnational periodical studies.
  • The impact of archives, including digitization projects, on transnational approaches to United States periodicals
  • American periodicals, transnationalism, and the digital age

We invite proposals for both individual papers, and for panels involving three or more participants. As well as traditional 20 minute papers, we welcome proposals for digital project showcases, roundtables, lightening papers, and other non-traditional formats.

We would like to thank BAAS, NAPS, the Centre for Victorian Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the Eccles Centre at the British Library, whose generous support allows us to offer fee reductions and some travel funding for postgraduates, for early career scholars on hourly-paid or part time contracts, and for early career independent scholars. If you wish to be considered for travel funding, please include this information in your covering email, with an estimate of your travel costs.

Please send all proposals and any questions to the conference organizers Dr James West (University of Birmingham) and Dr Katie McGettigan (Royal Holloway, University of London) at by 15 September 2017. Decisions of acceptance will be made by 1 October 2017.