International Pluridiciplinary Studies of American Culture IPSAC 1.1: Reassessing Class

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Valenciennes University Press is pleased to announce the inaugural issue of International Pluridiciplinary Studies of American Culture
Volume 1, Number 1: Reassessing Class
Editors: John Chandler, William Dow, Yann Roblou

The purpose of Reassessing Class is to suggest some ways in which we might begin to think about class in the United States more seriously, more deliberately, more historically, more reflectively, and more creatively: to try, in brief, to get a better sense of what class is and was, and of what it means, and of what it meant for American culture. The volume shows how these meanings, in the forms of a hermeneutic, or subtext, or some kind of interpretive indicator, can be applied to such domains as the American healthcare system, evangelical Christianity, the work of William Carlos Williams, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes, and the cinema of James Whale. At one level, this collection attempts to provide some accounts of the different senses of social identity, as they have evolved, competed and changed to produce an historical narrative of class, built around not one (Marxist) identity, but around multiple identities. For class, like race and gender, is always being recast in changing historical circumstances, and needs to be seen as constantly in formation.
At another level, to use a few Marxian terms in a post-Marxian sense, Reassessing Class will test out various definitions of class as a social description in itself—no more and no less than class as an objective social category, which groups individuals together on the basis of their shared economic characteristics and class as a subjective social formation for itself, in which the historical actors, alive and aware of themselves as a class, with a shared identity, collective history, group trajectory and common objectives, become “class conscious.” Definitions of class can be hazardous. What can be said, though, with some certainty, is that class contains subjective and objective elements, is a process defined in relation to other processes, and is historically dependent. As Raymond Williams observes, class not only “relates to the increasing consciousness that social position is made rather than merely inherited,” but it also involves what one possesses or thinks about oneself—what Williams calls “a structure of feeling”: how one perceives the world, how one experiences what one perceives. Clearly, while “ruthlessly economic,” the effects of class permeate the deepest recesses of culture, language, and subjectivity. Thus we should not lose sight of the fact that representations of class dwell within such cultural facts as metrosexuality and the National Woman’s Party and their relation to economic structures, production processes, and other forms of material experience.
Finally, the volume interrogates the recent critical movement away from what theorists term the reflective model of class description. An important part its investigation focuses on the fundamental ways social divisions are inscribed into vocabularies and popular idioms, and into forms of poetry, fiction, cinema, and social discourse. That is, class as written into semantic fields, into the constructive, classificatory, and aesthetic choices that, for example, writers, historians, and filmmakers make.

Les Presses Universitaires de Valenciennes ont le plaisir de vous annoncer la parution du premier numéro de International Pluridiciplinary Studies of American Culture
Volume 1, Numéro 1 : Un nouveau regard sur les classes sociales
Edité par John Chandler, William Dow, Yann Roblou

L’intention d’Un nouveau regard sur les classes sociales est de suggérer quelques pistes qui pourraient permettre de repenser les classes sociales aux Etats-Unis plus sérieusement, plus délibérément, plus historiquement, de manière plus réflexive et plus créative; bref, d’essayer d’offrir une idée plus claire de ce que sont, et ont été, les classes sociales, ce qu’elles représentent, et ont représenté, pour la culture américaine. Le présent volume tente de mettre en évidence comment ces différents sens, sous la forme d’une herméneutique, d’un sous-texte ou d’une forme d’indicateur d’interprétation peuvent être appliqués à des domaines aussi variés que le système de santé américain, le christianisme évangélique, les écrits de William Carlos Williams, Richard Wright, Langston Hughes ou le cinéma de James Whale.
A un premier niveau, cet ensemble d’articles tente de rendre compte des différents sens que l’on donne à une identité sociale, comment ces sens ont évolué, ont été mis en concurrence, ont changé pour produire un récit historique des classes sociales construit non simplement autour d’une identité (marxiste) mais d’une multiplicité d’identités. Car les frontières des classes sociales, comme l’appartenance à une ethnie ou à une catégorie sexuelle, sont toujours fluctuantes au gré des circonstances historiques et doivent être perçues comme étant en perpétuelle formation.
A un autre niveau, et pour utiliser quelques termes marxistes dans un contexte post-marxiste, Un nouveau regard sur les classes sociales se propose de mettre à l’épreuve plusieurs définitions des classes sociales comme description en elle-même de la société–ni plus ni moins que les classes sociales considérées comme catégories sociales objectives, qui regroupent des individus sur la base de caractéristiques économiques communes mais aussi les classes sociales comme formations sociales subjectives pour elles-mêmes, au sein desquelles les acteurs de l’histoire, vivants et conscients d’appartenir à une classe sociale, partagent une identité, une histoire collective, une trajectoire de groupe et des objectifs communs et acquièrent une « conscience de classe. » Définir les classes sociales peut être une entreprise dangereuse. Pourtant, ce que l’on peut dire avec quelque certitude, c’est qu’une classe sociale contient des éléments subjectifs et objectifs, qu’elle est un processus en relation avec d’autres processus et qu’elle dépend d’un contexte historique. Ainsi que l’observe Raymond Williams, l’appartenance à une classe sociale n’est pas seulement « reliée à la conscience croissante que la position sociale est une construction plus qu’un héritage » mais qu’il implique ce que possède un individu ou la façon dont il se perçoit–ce que Williams appelle « une structure du sentiment »: comment l’individu perçoit le monde, comment il fait l’expérience de ce qu’il perçoit. Clairement, tout en étant « impitoyablement économiques, » les effets de l’existence des classes sociales s’immiscent au plus profond de la culture, du langage et de la subjectivité. De sorte qu’il ne nous faut pas perdre de vue le fait que les représentations des classes sociales sont intimement liées à des phénomènes culturels come la métrosexualité, le National Woman’s Party et leurs relations aux structures économiques, aux processus de production ainsi qu’à d’autres formes d’expériences concrètes.
Enfin, le présent recueil permet une réflexion sur l’éloignement de la critique contemporaine de ce que les théoriciens nomment le modèle « réflexif » de la description des classes sociales. Une part importante des recherches qui se trouvent ici se concentrent sur les manières fondamentales dont les divisions sociales sont inscrites dans les vocabulaires, les idiomes populaires tout autant que dans les formes d’expression que sont la poésie, la fiction, le cinéma ou les discours sociaux. En d’autres termes, comment les classes sociales sont inscrites dans les champs sémantiques, dans les choix de construction, de classement et d’esthétique effectués, par exemple, par les écrivains, les historiens ou les cinéastes.

CONTENTS

Introduction: The Continuum of Class
WILLIAM DOW …………………………………………………………… 7

Health Inequality as a Class Issue
EVELINE THEVENARD…………………………………………………. 17

Transformations: Class, Evangelical Christianity, and Social Aid Policy in the Bush
Administration
JOHN CHANDLER………………………………………………………… 35

Improper Women: Gender, Class, and the Suffragists of the National Woman’s
Party
CLAIRE DELAHAYE………………………………………………………65

Dressing Up : Metrosexuality and American Culture
DAVID COAD……………………………………………………………… 83

Strike(s): William Carlos Williams’s Proletarian Attempts
HELENE AJI……………………………………………………………… 83

Class, Work, and New Races: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God
and Agnes Smedley’s Daughter of Earth
WILLIAM DOW………………………………………………………….. 111

A Comedy of Terrors : Slipping the Yoke of Race, Class and Gender in Some Works
by Richard Wright
MICHEL FEITH………………………………………………………….. 129

Working Class Hero: Langston Hughes and the Writing of Revolutionary Songs
FREDERIC SYLVANISE……………………………………………….. 153

Does the lady vanish? Gender studies and the lure of homosexuality in James Whale’s
Frankenstein
REYNOLD HUMPHRIES………………………………………………… 169

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IPSAC VOL 1 NUMBER 1

188 PAGES.

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Distribution en librairie : Les Belles Lettres.

CfP: Love and Romance in American Culture

Journal of American Culture
Special Issue: Love and Romance in American Culture

Ideas of romantic love suffuse our lives and guide our emotional experiences and behaviors. Romance comes in various forms of romantic entertainment–books, films, music–which affect and form our socially constructed notions of love, gender and courtship. These constructs of love guide public and private behavior, create judgments of values in relationships and control rules of openness or closure in expression. There is a variety of ways that American culture has understood andpracticed love and romance. This special issue of the Journal of American Culture will present a conversation about romantic love andits representations which explores love and romance as a theme in art, life and culture.

We are seeking manuscripts which discuss contemporary and historical representations of love and romance, consider ways of showing love and affection and explore socially constructed notions of love, gender and courtship. We are particularly interested in interdisciplinary approaches and analyses (literary, sociological, psychological,
historical, anthropological, etc) involving any variety of topics (race, gender, class, homosexuality and queer studies, place, region, structure) which consider emotional values, attitudes and behaviors considered appropriate to love and romance.

Submissions are welcome on topics which might include, but are not restricted to, issues and themes such as:
. romantic relationship events, rituals and ceremonies (weddings, holidays, festivals)
. dating and courtship rites (speed dating, personal ads)
. popular music and love songs
. depictions in the media and popular culture (e.g., film, television, literature, comics)
. romantic love in advertising, marketing, consumerism
. internet and cyberspace (blogs, texting, social networking)
. literature and fiction (genre romance, poetry, animé)
. amatory writings, love letters, courtship and self-help manuals
. types of relationships (marriage, gay and lesbian)
. feelings and emotions (intimacy, attachment, eroticism)
. types of love: platonic, philosophical, divine and spiritual romance
. neurobiology of love and biological attraction
. historical practices and traditions of and in romance
. regional and geographic pressures and influences (southern, Caribbean)
. material culture (valentines, foods, fashions)
. folklore and mythologies
. jokes and humor
. romantic love in political discourse (capitalism)
. psychological approaches toward romantic attraction
. emotional and sexual desire
. subcultures: age (seniors, adolescents), multi-ethnic, inter-racial

We suggest manuscript submissions of 4000-6000 words in length, double-spaced, in current MLA style. Send an e-mail attachment, in Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format, to JAC.Romance@gmail.com. Due to virus and security concerns, we do not accept zipped or compressed files.

Manuscript deadline: 30 November 2011
Publication date: March 2013

Address inquiries to:
Maryan Wherry
Sarah S.G. Frantz
Darcy J. Martin
JAC.Romance@gmail.com

Cfp ISCH 2011 annual conference « History – memory – myth: Re-presenting the past »

The next annual ISCH-conference will take place in Oslo, Norway, in August 2011. Please note that the deadline for proposals (sessions and papers) is October 15.

Links to submission form is found at the conference web-site:
International Society for Cultural History annual conference « History – memory – myth: Re-presenting the past »

The conference theme « re-presenting the past » communicates with the international and interdisciplinary field of collective memory, which has grown considerably during the last decades. Studies of commemorations and festivals, monuments, exhibitions and museums, historical films and narratives are now numerous. Terms such as social memory, collective or collected memory, kulturelle Gedächtnis, lieux de mémoire, the presence of the past and the use of history all illustrate the scholarly interest in how the past – or images of it – is constructed, composed, negotiated and built up, but also demolished, dismantled and rejected. This constructional work has been investigated on the individual level, concerning personal memories and private history. Studies in this field have also focused on processes of nation building, the construction of ethnical or other group identities, and heritage care and preservation.
You are invited to propose sessions and invidividual papers for the conference; further thematic characterizations can be found in the CFP, and proposals for papers and sessions should be sent in by October 15th 2010 (webpage for submission of proposals will soon be available). Please note that to give a paper, you will have to be a member of ISCH.

All the best,
Anne Eriksen
Head of conference committee

Call for Papers: Comic Books and American Cultural History

Essays are currently being solicited for Comic Books and American Cultural History, a new anthology that will examine the ways in which comic books can be used to help us understand the history of the United States.  Each essay of this proposed book will focus on a particular comic book, story/story arc, or graphic novel as a tool for analyzing some aspect of its original cultural and historical context.  The essays in this anthology will not focus on the history of comic books per se, but rather on the history of the United States, with comic books being used as primary texts to support specific interpretations of American history.  Because of this emphasis on the connections between comic books and America’s past, Comic Books and American Cultural History will prove to be a useful book for comics scholars, historians, and history teachers who want to integrate more popular culture into their courses.

The field of comics studies has seen a proliferation of book-length works in the last twenty years, but few of those books have examined American cultural history.  For example, Of Comics and Men, by Jean-Paul Gabilliet, includes a very thorough explanation of the production and distribution history of American comic books, but there is less analysis of the actual content of the comic books themselves.  Bradford Wright’s Comic Book Nation does examine some specific stories, but his work is a survey and, as such, cannot go into much depth about any one historical moment.  In Secret Identity Crisis, Matthew Costello’s focus on the Cold War allows him to analyze his sources deeply, but other events and comics that do not fit into his framework are sometimes ignored.  Comic Books and American Cultural History seeks to build off of these important works while also expanding the scope of comics scholarship by bringing together analyses on a wider variety of topics than what is possible in any of these books.  In this way, Comic Books and American Cultural History will be especially useful as a collection of case studies demonstrating the ways in which comic books can be useful primary sources for the study of American cultural history.

The essays in Comic Books and American Cultural History will examine many different comic books and many different topics in American history.  Possible sources can range from the 1930s to the present, and the collection will include essays focusing on mainstream, underground, alternative, and independent comics.  Historical topics might feature discussions of the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Counterculture of the 1960s, and 9/11, all examined from a cultural history perspective.  Essays about aspects of gender, class, race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation will be especially encouraged.  The more specific the essay, the better it will fit into this collection in that it will allow for greater depth than would be possible with a more broadly defined primary text and a more broadly defined historical connection.

Completed essays will be between 5,000 and 7,000 words long.

Please send 500 word abstracts, complete contact information, and brief biographies of authors (as Word documents) to:

Matthew Pustz
Economics, History, and Political Science Department
Fitchburg State University
Fitchburg, MA 01420
mpustz@fitchburgstate.edu

Abstracts are due December 20, 2010.   Completed essays will be due the beginning of June 2011.