The 23rd biennial conference of the Nordic Association for American Studies 2013

Second Call for Papers

Friday May 24- Sunday May 26, 2013
Karlstad University, Sweden

Currents and Countercurrents
Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008 with the promise of realizing “the true genius of America: that America can change.” Four years later, it has become evident that promissory notes are more easily made out rhetorically than cashed politically. Medicare for all remains a frail possibility at best; Guantanamo is still operational; US troops remain active in Iraq and Afghanistan; on January 30, 2012, the debt ceiling was raised to a new high of $16.394 trillion. Meanwhile, incidents like the murder of Trayvon Martin suggest that those who claimed the election of Obama signaled the beginning of the end to racial injustice in America were perhaps overly optimistic.

Such backlashes to the visionary view of America as the land of progress bespeak a tension between a current of liberalism and a countercurrent of conservatism that runs through the historical life of America in its entirety, making itself felt academically no less than politically and socially. Calls for change and reformation of academic disciplines like literary history, for instance, have always provoked responses insisting on the importance of tradition. What are we to make of this tension? Is the recurrent succession of calls for change and rallies for tradition a cause for concern or for celebration? Are such currents and countercurrents constitutive of American culture in particular, or rather to be seen as general features of modern society? And are we presently seeing a return to a more conservative conception of America, or rather its continuing ability to adapt to new circumstances even in times of financial crisis?

We seek papers that map currents and countercurrents in all aspects of American studies. What questions are being asked, by whom, to what end, and from what critical perspective? Papers are invited that address, but are not limited to, currents and countercurrents in:
- American literature and American literary history
- History and historiography
- US politics
- US art, music, and popular culture
- Transnationalism
- Racial studies
- Gender studies
- Sociology and social studies
- Representations of the US in cultural forms from other countries
- The study of Scandinavian-American connections

Please send paper proposals to and by January 20, 2013, for 20 minute papers. Proposals for individual panel presentations (15-20 minutes) should be no longer than 300 words. We look forward to receiving your proposal.