1. Literature Without “Literature” : Writing/Thinking on Unclaimed Terrain
    Mathieu Duplay (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7)

In The Senses of Walden, Stanley Cavell tentatively states that American philosophical speculation seeks outlets outside the traditional, institutionally sanctioned genres of philosophical writing ; he finds evidence of this “in the metaphysical riot of [America’s] greatest literature.” It is tempting to extrapolate from this and venture the following hypothesis : What if the reason why America so resembles a “building site” is that it prefers to raise its favorite structures in unexpected locations, on undeveloped terrain where everything must be built from the ground up ? What if this is especially true of American literary expression, which often takes root in places that are both unconventional and unclaimed by “literature”—for instance in movies, in television series, in Broadway musicals, in the works of visual artists, or in types of writing that do not conform to institutional expectations ? These questions should not be confused with current perplexities regarding the boundaries of literature, the relationships that it entertains with other cultural domains, and the complex forms of overlap by virtue of which some texts can be considered as belonging both to “literature” and to some other artistic field such as music or the visual arts. The point is rather to draw attention to modes of writing that defy categorization and seek neither the form of legitimacy conferred by institutional recognition, nor the very different type of visibility to which the avant-garde aspires : despite their rejection of, or indifference to, the established criteria on the basis of which texts are identified as self-consciously “literary,” these types of writing have a bearing on literature as they raise important questions regarding its nature and aims.

One goal of the present panel might consist in testing this hypothesis and trying to identify some of the forms of expression that can be recognized as “literary” despite their indifference to, or implicit rejection of, “literature” ; in addition, it might be useful to wonder why they tend to be associated with specific genres, media, or cultural locations at the expense of others. Likewise, it might be useful to approach the phenomenon from a historical perspective and to wonder whether it is more widespread today than it was in earlier eras (there is no reason to believe that this is the case, any more than the excursions of philosophical thought outside the precinct of institutional philosophy can be described as a particularly recent development, at least according to Cavell). In other words, it may become necessary to insist on the distinction between the unexpected and the new, despite a widespread tendency to treat these two terms as virtually synonymous. Should the untimely always become the subject of a narrative that links it to a particular time, for instance the present ? Can’t this be seen as an attempt at normalization, as a way of assigning it to a specific historical location and setting the terms in which it is to be interpreted ? And might it not be preferable to recall that, in some cases, it becomes identifiable only in hindsight, when attention is belatedly drawn to literary practices that had not previously been identified as such because of their indifference to any form of institutional recognition ?

Finally, it would be useful to examine the ways in which these unconventional modes of literary expression are to be analyzed, and to consider whether any adjustments to standard modes of critical discourse might be required for that purpose. In many cases, critical responses to new (or newly identified) textual practices are driven by institutional as well as epistemological concerns : scholars seek to establish and defend the legitimacy of emerging disciplines in order to increase their visibility and guarantee their survival. This is both understandable and necessary at a time when scholarship, and in particular the humanities, need to address very real threats whose seriousness cannot safely be ignored. However, it should be added that any inquiry into modes of literary expression that dispense with the institutional safeguards provided by “literature” is bound to remind the scholar of another and equally binding imperative : to engage in academic research is to claim a position of extreme vulnerability, at least according to Derrida who states that the university is powerless because the very notion of a quest for power is deeply foreign to it. This may be the reason why scholars stand to learn much from types of writing that can be compared to “exposed citadels” (Derrida’s phrase) owing to their absolute independence and, therefore, to their infinite fragility.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Mathieu Duplay by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Fiction Unbound
    Claire Fabre (Université Paris-Est Créteil) & Brigitte Félix (Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis)

In the 70’s and the 80’s, the boundaries of the novel as well as those of the short story were shattered, giving birth to new hybrid experimental forms, which are now usually referred to with the generic term of “fiction”. After thirty years or so of intense academic work about contemporary American fiction, this workshop would like to draw a map of the field as it is today. The focus will be placed both on fiction itself—including the most recently published—and on the research which has been conducted about it. In order to establish this picture, we would like to suggest the following questions : what are the different theoretical orientations that have emerged these last ten years in the various research groups dedicating themselves to the study of American literary fiction ? Who are the authors and which are the texts that have particularly caught the attention of specialists since the start of the 21st century ? How can we assess the new boundaries of fiction, especially with the emergence of new forms such as, for instance, the graphic novel or electronic literature ? What can we say about the relationship between “fiction” and “narrativity” today ? How can we define “contemporary fiction” in 2015, both specifically and theoretically ? Such are some of the main topics which we invite participants to address. The workshop is open to papers with a theoretical orientation, studies on one or several authors or on one particular “territory” of contemporary American fiction.

Please send a 250-word abstract and mini-biography to Claire Fabre and Brigitte Félix by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Back in the Loop : Beyond the Digital Frontier ?
    Arnaud Regnauld and Stéphane Vanderhaeghe (Université Paris 8 Vincennes Saint-Denis)

Significantly and ironically enough, the call for paper of the ELO 2015 conference dedicated to “End(s) of Electronic Literature” opens on the following questions, echoing the (re)current fear regarding the end of books : “Is ‘electronic literature’ a transitional term that will become obsolete as literary uses of computational media and devices become ubiquitous ? If so, what comes after electronic literature ?” The underlying question seems to be that of the end(s) of writing as a technology whose inherent obsolescence and constant reinvention will affect its forms to come.

In this workshop, we would thus like to interrogate the diverse ways in which the computational turn may currently be shifting frontiers around : to what extent, for instance, does the application of new computational techniques and visualisation technologies radically reconfigure and redistribute the artist’s, reader’s and possibly the translator’s agency and subjectivity ? Where to draw the line between fiction and simulation ? Where to posit the boundary between text and interface if, to quote Alexander Galloway, “The interface effect is perched there, on the mediating thresholds of self and world” ? […] “An interface is not a thing, an interface is always an effect. It is always a process or a translation.” (see Galloway, “The Interface Effect,” np. : “to mediate is really to interface, (…) mediation is just repetition in particular …” / “the interface is a medium that does not mediate. It is unworkable.” / “If an ‘interface’ may be found anywhere, it is there. What are called ‘writing,’ or image,’ or ‘object,’ are merely the attempts to resolve this unworkability.”)

In such a context, is (electronic) literature a glitch in the linguistic system soon to be replaced by exclusively non-textual and asemantic forms ? How do both interface and code coerce the conception of so-called text in turn ? What can be said in this regard to constitute the work and how does this redefine its literariness, bearing in mind that the boundaries of electronic literature are far from being clearly delineated, bordering on visual and performance art as well as on computation as a creative artform. Following in the wake of Critical Code Studies, the status of code as text together with the poetics of codework poetry should also be interrogated as a new literary form of (machinic) expression.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Arnaud Regnauld et Stéphane Vanderhaeghe by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Reviewing modernism
    Hélène Aji (Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre-La-Défense) and Céline Mansanti (Université de Picardie Jules Verne)

Whether mainstream or avant-garde, magazines flourished during the first half of the 20th century ; as a collective experience, modernism found a privileged outlet in the “little” magazines, which expressed the international and dialogical dimension of its artistic, literary and critical production. The core of modernism, as well as the marginal place of its constant renewal, magazines promoted new writings and new movements, created debates, and circulated ideas beyond geographical and disciplinary boundaries in such an intense and diverse way that today they continue to represent a burgeoning field of investigation.

Since the second half of the 1970s at least, magazines have been at the forefront of the critical scene, thanks largely to the reprinting of many of them by Kraus and Johnson. In the second half of the 1990s, another peak in critical studies signaled new ways of approaching modernism, with magazines as the laboratories of modernism.

What are the main directions for future research on American modernist magazines, and, more broadly, on the magazines that disseminate and criticize modernism ? Here are a few suggestions for some of the many potential topics of discussion during this workshop :

  • Reconfiguring the modernist network(s) : intellectual cartographies ; transnational and global understandings of modernism ; critical methodologies relating to the study of magazines and combining multiple theoretical and critical approaches (close reading, cultural studies, or literary history, for example).
  • Modernism in non-modernist magazines : how is modernism disseminated and evaluated in “big”, mainstream magazines ? How can this help us to reexamine the interactions between lowbrow and highbrow cultures ?
  • The politics of the reception of magazines : whether synchronic (oriented towards the study of magazines’ readerships) or diachronic (involving a recontextualization of academic interest for these magazines in the 70s, 90s, and 2010s), the study of the reception of magazines is a political question that has found recent expression in the discrepancy between the promotion of a free access policy to online resources and the development of expensive editorial databases.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Hélène Aji and Céline Mansanti by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Shadows that Matter : Nineteenth Century Invisibilities
    Cécile Roudeau (Université 7 Paris-Diderot)

Are we done with the nineteenth century ? with its “dark continents,” its ideological “substructures,” literary crypts and wandering specters in search for sepulchers ? If Dana Luciano and Ivy Wilson in their recent edited collection entitled Unsettled States : Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (2014) have anything to say about it, the answer is definitively, no ! Nineteenth-century literature is still moving, and moves us still. Perhaps because of its overexposure to a number of critical “ways of seeing” (Deleuze’s régimes de lumière) nineteenth-century literature has paradoxically preserved an opacity that challenges its evidence. These zones of opacity are the focus of this panel. Starting from the shadows, or the “invisibilities” that have been structurally and unwittingly missed, eluded or ignored in the folds of texts, this panel attempts to put nineteenth-century literature back to work.

These blind spots have been the result of institutional, editorial and political choices ; they are also an epistemic necessity ; the visible is indexed on the invisible as its ineluctable corollary and perverse effect. In that sense, invisibilities are also opportunities to be seized ; they must be put to work. This workshop invites us not only to acknowledge our dead angles, which are the product of our situatedness, but also to start reading nineteenth-century texts from their own blind spots. Their invisibilities, we argue, matter and can only be revealed through a deliberate anachrony, a shift in perspective, a redistribution of epistemic lines. Today, as critics, we are driven to take the unseen into account. Once acknowledged that neither transparency nor any sort of hermeneutic totality is worth pining for, we are left with the opportunity to read nineteenth-century American literature “otherwise.” Reading it from what could not or ought not be seen, let alone thought, at the time, we ask questions that only we, in our present, could ask of them and thereby embrace that we too are reading with blinders, productive as they may be.

Papers may inquire into :

  • the question of the structural efficacy of anachrony (the impact of a different cognitive, scientific, ideological environment in which the notions of “race,” “sex,” “nation”… are endowed with new definitions)
  • what motivates the republication of works that used to be deemed unfit for recovery and suddenly find their way back into contemporaneous debates
  • criticism as a thought experiment : to what extent can one ask a 19th-century text questions that could not be raised when it was written ?
  • the mise-en-abyme effect created by the question of the epistemic value of invisibilities, as nineteenth-century literature itself was fascinated with the articulation of the visible and the invisible, the legible and the illegible.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Cécile Roudeau by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Is there a text in this critical approach ?
    Isabelle Alfandary (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle–Paris 3)

If anyone takes a quick look at the programs of the major American conferences (MLA, ACLA, ALA, to quote but a few), he or she will be struck by the plethora of critical approaches, the profusion of methodologies and schools represented. The return to historicism, the presence of gender studies, the inclusion of cultural and identity approaches in the critical analysis of literary productions, the contribution of the neurosciences mark the end of the hermeneutic model of reading based on post-structuralism.

In this workshop we will question the contemporary modalities of literary reading and consider how the text is conceived of and read today, according to what epistemological models, paradigms and critical conceptions.

The challenge is to assess the conditions and effects resulting from this dismissal of an interpretive reading, the growing interference of inter or transdisciplinary approaches. These new ways of dealing with the literary text and literary writing impact our discipline and reshape the contours and identity of what is called “literature”, what we mean by “text”.

In his essay entitled Is there a Text in this Class, Stanley Fish writes : “it is interpretive communities, rather than either the text or reader, that produce meanings.” This workshop will attempt to review the situation of the so-called interpretive communities and their critical interactions in the realm of American letters in order to study the ways in which literary texts are or can be read today.

Presentations may take the shape of a theoretical reflection or a critical reading of a literary text.

Please send a 250-word abstract and mini-biography to Isabelle Alfandary by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Mapping out an ever-expanding field : autobiography in the United States today
    François Hugonnier (Université d’Angers) and Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty (Université Paris-Est Créteil)

The purpose of this workshop is twofold : mapping out the latest ramifications of a complex genre and identifying recent theoretical developments.

Autobiography is by nature an evolving, multifaceted mode of writing. In their updated edition of Reading autobiography (University of Minnesota Press, 2010), Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson identify no fewer than sixty types of life narratives, while admitting at the same time that their list is by no means exhaustive. Autobiography is bound up with modes of subjectivity and follows clearly the remapping of identity entailed by social changes, political evolutions or technological upheavals. A number of subgenres have thus emerged in recent years. Others, which have existed for several decades, have only recently been recognized as a consistent body of writing deserving critical attention.

Recent – or recently identified – forms of life writing include for instance :

  • Digital life writing
  • Gay and Trans autobiographies
  • Disability memoirs
  • AIDS and cancer narratives
  • Filial memoirs
  • Food memoirs
  • Ecobiographies
  • Graphic novels

What are the characteristics of these new forms ? How did they emerge and come to be recognized as distinct subgenres ? Keeping in mind that memoirs, journals and peripheral forms of self-writing might also be addressed, what is the impact of formal hybridity, trans-media experimentations and cross-genre writing on the very notion of autobiography ?

The second angle of this workshop is theoretical. After years spent proclaiming the death of the subject, the latter seems to be back – as suggested for instance by the recent emergence of affect studies – and autobiography, once looked upon somewhat condescendingly, is now enjoying unprecedented attention in academia. The reasons for this sudden surge of interest deserve attention and should be analyzed. How are recent theoretical debates on identity, language, and textuality renewing our vision of the genre ?

The generic and theoretical aspects cannot always be disentangled and ought in some cases to be studied together ; it is, for instance, the emergence of disability studies which has led to the identification and constitution of a canon of autobiographies written by disabled writers.

This workshop will welcome papers focusing on the emergence of new autobiographical forms, recent theoretical developments in the field of autobiography or both.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to François Hugonnier and Laure de Nervaux-Gavoty by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Of the End of the World in the United States
    Eléonore Lainé Forrest (Université de la Nouvelle-Calédonie) and Yvonne Marie Rogez (Université Paris 2 Panthéon-Assas)

« There’s no place like home »
(The Wizard of Oz)

The end of the world in the United States is a story Americans have been telling ever since the birth of the nation, and especially since 9/11. Whether in contemporary literature (The Road by Cormac McCarthy), movies (The Book of Eli directed by Albert and Allen Hughes,) TV series (The Walking Dead based on the graphic novels created by Robert Kirkman), America is often depicted as having suffered a catastrophe, most of the time from an unknown origin. Chosen or damned, the survivors from the old world are shown trying to survive and rebuild a new society from ground zero.

To start from scratch, to have a gigantic project ahead of you is the tale of American History. It is the fiction Americans use to describe their past and make their existence follow a righteous path, the mission they have to accomplish.

Religion in these post-apocalyptic representations becomes all the more important. The heroes of these fictions are reminiscent of the Pilgrims and their mission to establish “the City upon the Hill.” Hence, they appear as the children of God and become the workers who will carry out His plan, His creation.

After the collapse of the world they knew, they need to ask themselves whether the principles on which it was built were really the best. What is more, life in this post-apocalyptic world forces them to do terrible things in order to survive. The survival of the fittest takes on a literal meaning. One needs to know how to defend oneself and fight against evil forces whether external (terrorist or other) or internal (in that case the end of the world would appear as the figure through which the hero’s deepest torments, the Other in him, are brought to light).

The heroes of these fictions then ask themselves whether they are behaving in a way that is morally right, whether they are the “good guys” even if they have committed crimes in order to survive and/or enforce the law. But what is the law in a world that has lost its legal framework ? Besides, what is to be said about the notion of liberty so dear to Americans in a world where rules no longer exist ? What has it become ? Does it have limits anymore ?

These end of the world representations seem to question American values. The catastrophe that has destroyed their society help remind the heroes, the “good guys,” that they have been diverted from the right path and that they must now reconstruct a better world.

But they could also signify the fear Americans feel when their values are being threatened. These end of the world representations would then show that far from doubting their principles, they are ready to defend them at all cost. For example, the hero will save a human life by taking a foolhardy risk because no one should be left on the side of the road to die. But the American motto “e pluribus unum” no longer rings true when the hero saves a member of his own group. He now ignores the stranger’s screams for help. And to live together becomes a dream whose meaning starts to fall apart.

These different thoughts constitute the themes of this workshop. They are varied and not limited to literature or cinema. Scholars from all fields are invited to share their work on post-apocalyptic representations for this workshop to be a multidisciplinary one.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Eléonore Lainé Forrest and Yvonne Marie Rogez by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Surprise as a basic tool for counter-point researchers.
    Jeanne-Henriette Louis (Université d’Orléans)

Research starts with the statement of a topic, considered as the basis of a construction. If the researcher leaves the topic out, the construction starts crumbling, whereas they thought they were on a motorway . At least two explanations might occur to them : either the topic, which enjoyed a wide consensus in society at large, is a postulate, instead of being an axiom. Received ideas, accepted a little too rapidly, must be changed as the results of research. The hour of truth gets nearer, and they are in doubt about their topic or method. Or the researcher goes on with their topic, and runs toward a dead end .The problem will catch them up sooner or later. Their research has underlined facts that turn out to be wrong (for instance when new archives are opened). They must change the topic, or at least the subtitle. But sometimes their new construction uncovers another topic, unexplored, and potentially very rich. In this case, they will have no regret. They will just find it difficult to be heard by colleagues and public opinion, at least on the short term.

The same phenomenon repeats itself several times, to the point where the very title of the original topic becomes unrecognizable. Surprises were integrated, the original title of the paper is no longer appropriate. The researcher runs from one surprise to the next. Their findings proliferate rapidly, and they are in a process of creativity, or even creation. What seemed to be irrelevant and off the topic, suddenly makes sense.

One example:

One usually considers myths to be in the category of literature whereas History deals with facts. However, one may well feel that History is engaged in an unequal combat when confronted with myths. This leaves the historian with the impression that he is a voice crying out in the desert. It is in vain that he may consider Literature to be in a lesser category. If History and Literature are seen to be mutually exclusive, Literature with its myths will always be the winner for the general public. Inspired literary works are more real to their readers and listeners than “flesh and blood” heroes. Literature and History thus play the game of “losers are winners”, and vice versa .Both History and Literature may carry myths and reality. Some little known parts of eventful History thus reveal that great literary works are loaded with symbolical history, thus making up for the lapses of Official History.

The literary work thus appears as a necessary complement to History, for the latter, with all its holes, is no longer self-sufficient. The concept of “rescue” is now appearing in the field of American and British research, for Literature and Civilization, as witnessed by the research prize SAES-AFEA awarded to Laurence Talairach-Vielmas for the year 2015. All of this goes with the reduction of compartmentalization. It becomes difficult to tell what is part of the topic or outside of it when one has found bridges (cf. Antoine Cazé and the concept of “rescue”, SOS, au secours de).

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Jeanne-Henriette Louis by January 4th, 2016.


  1. America in the Works : Writing African American History from the Margins

Claudine Raynaud (Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier 3), Marie-Jeanne Rossignol (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7) and Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3)

The organizers of this workshop would first like to present a summary of the collaborative project IDEX Sorbonne Paris Cité “Writing History from the Margins : The Case of African American History” led since 2013 by Claire Parfait (Paris 13), Marie-Jeanne Rossignol (Paris Diderot) and Hélène Le Dantec-Lowry (Sorbonne Nouvelle). The project started a discussion on the methods and the modalities of writing African American history between 1830 and 1950 by African American historians, when they were for the most part excluded from the white publishing world and white institutions of knowledge.

In parallel, this project was linked to a multidisciplinary endeavor on a common object : the slave narratives, those of the collection created by Anne Wicke at the Presses de Rouen et du Havre (and continued by Claire Parfait and Marie-Jeanne Rossignol), and the research workshops that have focused on “voices of slavery” and the descendants of slaves, as well as on the many ways of studying them from the perspective of literature, history, philosophy, and visual studies.

Beginning with these two examples, we propose, during this workshop, to reflect on the process that comprises the construction of knowledge around an object (whether a slave narrative or the experience of writing by marginalized peoples). Rehabilitating forbidden voices, raising questions via a singular experience, or capturing a text-object through various approaches, imply a metamorphosis of this very same objet. What incidence does a multidisciplinary approach have on the status of the object ? How is it constructed or deconstructed ? More broadly, how does one define the margin and how does it relate to the center—diachronically, and depending on the actors involved ? Within the margin, are there voices or questions that are themselves marginalized ? What are the causes of that marginalization ? Are new modes of writing from the margins emerging ?

We hope that specialists of African American Studies will join us as we reflect on these questions, offering their own vision of writing from the margins, discussing what is at stake (exclusion/inclusion ; inscription of a particular history within a dominant model and its valorization ; memory and history) and the modes of production (modes of publishing ; material and artistic culture ; new media, etc.), and sharing their works in progress with us, so that we may collectively go beyond the epistemological framework of margin/periphery that we have adopted.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Hélène Le Dantec-LowryMarie-Jeanne Rossignol and Claudine Raynaud by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Labor History, Labor studies : New Questions, New Paradigms for the Study of Inequality in America , 19th-20th centuries
    Donna Kesselman (Université Paris-Est Créteil) and Jean-Christian Vinel (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7)

Since the early 20th century historians, sociologists and economists have studied the notion of work as a political, social and technical construct, including its racial and gendered dimensions. From its emergence to its legitimization, the labor movement was their first main object of critical concern. Much attention was also given to the institutionalization of labor relations from the 1930s on, largely by looking at the interaction of social movements and the liberal state. Much of this work studied the social regulation of fordism, which French economists called the “Fordist compromise”. This social compromise took specific forms in each country. Yet, in the United States as elsewhere, it was considerably weakened as of the 1970s, concurrently as new social movements transformed power relations, hierarchies and the representations, which structured the social and political relations of work and employment.

The era of globalization and the new organization of work have profoundly undermined the political and social relations of the employment construct, embedded as it was within the framework of the nation-state. Notions such as “post-Fordist” or “post-industrial” society denote evolutions that break with the New Deal state resolution of the labor question. They also undermine labor history paradigms framed around the Fordist compromise and labor relations,for labor history was traditionally less concerned about the workers themselves. Today, however, new perspectives and emerging fields of research are emerging, with scholars depicting society and societies through the prism work, the practices and concepts that structure it.

What are current trends in work and labor studies ? What do they add to our understanding of deindustrialization, the impact of neoliberalism, trade union strategies, the movement for the “right to work”, race relations, workers’ lives at work ? And beyond work, what can labor scholars say about workers’ role in the political sphere ? What can they contribute to the current debate around social inequality, particularly about the role of work in shaping this inequality ?

This panel will study the “state of the art” of work and labor studies (in history, sociology, law, economics and civilization), both in France and the United States, placing it within the broader design of contemporary capitalism.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Donna Kesselman and Jean-Christian Vinel by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Transnational perspectives on Jewish-American history
    Catherine Collomp (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7), Laura Hobson-Faure (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3) and Constance Pâris de Bollardière (EHESS)

Developing in the context of ethnic studies in the 1970’s, American Jewish history first focused on the study of this community and its immigration networks, as well as its many social, religious and political institutions. For decades, Jewish history was mainly concerned with the integration process of Jews in the American nation. This approach, insisting on the notion that a strong distinction prevailed between the development of American and European Jewry, maintained a belief in a form of Jewish exceptionalism in the United States. Nonetheless, more recently, research in this field has been influenced by the “transnational turn” affecting the larger field of social sciences since the pioneering work of Nina Glick Schiller, Linda Basch and Cristina Szanton Blanc (Towards a Transnational Perspective on Migration : Race, Class, Ethnicity and Nationalism Reconsidered, New York, New York Academy of Sciences, 1992 ;Nations Unbound : Transnational Projects, Postcolonial Predicaments, and Deterritorialized Nation-States, Gordon and Breach, 1994 ; “From Immigrant to Transmigrant : Theorizing Transnational Migration,” Anthropological Quarterly, vol. 68, n°1, janv.1995, p. 48-63). More concerned with the persistence of relations beyond national borders than with the adaptation of European characteristics to the American environment, historians have sought to explore the role played by American Jews in European and Middle Eastern countries. This transnational vision is now strongly reorienting research in this sector, as seen in the recently published Transnational Traditions : New Perspectives on American Jewish History, edited by Ava F. Kahn and Adam D. Mendelsohn, Detroit, 2014.

In France, research on this population originally displayed a strong interest in Jewish American literature. However, in the past ten years, scholars have developed historical approaches, adopting a transnational perspective. The workshop we propose offers a presentation of scholarship situated in the framework of foreign relations between the United States and France, including its colonial territories. Indeed, if the study of French Jewry has been central for American scholars, the exploration of transnational relations between Jews in France and the United States to this day remains a French specialty. Based on multilateral sources (French and American), this approach brings forth a more complex vision of the socio-cultural and political profiles of the Jewish populations concerned. Questions remain regarding the degree of independence of Jewish American organizations’ interventions in Europe from official US foreign policy, as well as on the nature of the links among organizations on both sides of the Atlantic which permitted their activism. Finally, the articulation of their agents’ multiple political, ethnic or cultural identities can be analyzed.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Catherine CollompLaura Hobson-Faure and Constance Pâris de Bollardière by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Field research
    Céline Planchou (Université Paris 13) and Sandrine Baudry (Université de Strasbourg)

Research projects relying on field work are characterized by specific benefits and challenges sometimes hard to decipher because, among other things, of the lack of methodological training available to researchers in American Studies. From formulating a research question to analyzing data gathered in the field, through the design of a research protocol which can potentially include methods as varied as participant observation or the use of mental maps, researchers might run into methodological or practical difficulties, even impossibilities, which might in turn lead to rethinking, or even interrupting, their project. Conversely, when confronting on-site reality after having prepared their field research “in the lab,” they may discover a wealth of available data and potential research angles which can lead them to transform their protocol and/or research question.

This workshop aims at facilitating the sharing of field work experiences. Speakers are encouraged to discuss :

  • Difficulties in designing a protocol (choosing which people, places, practices to observe, designing interviews, using images), in accessing the desired observation object (for human, geographical, temporal reasons), in gathering and analyzing data (quantity, methodology, unusable data, matters of ethics and confidentiality) – and the solutions found or not.
  • What their field work brought to their research, which other more classic American Studies methodologies could not have provided, either by allowing them to gather data otherwise inaccessible (the discourses of actors usually not heard from in the media or other research), or even by revealing possible questions which might not otherwise be apparent (the gap between discourse and practice, illegal practices, informal economies or networks).
  • The matter of the relationship between the researcher and his/her object : what distance is necessary to guarantee objectivity ? How to combine the status of researcher with that of activist, as sometimes happens ? How/what to give back to the people observed and interviewed, in terms of scientific results or compensation ?

Participants in the workshop are welcome to present projects at various stages of completion, based on all types of fields and questions, in order to stimulate a methodological discussion.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Céline Planchou and Sandrine Baudry by January 4th, 2016.


  1. American civilization and the US economy : objects, approaches and perspectives
    Laurence Cossu-Beaumont, Jacques-Henri Coste, Jean-Baptiste Velut (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3)

For this workshop, we start from the idea that economic reality cannot be understood except in close correlation with social, political and cultural life. The analysis of economic events, institutions and discourses in the United States can contribute to the study of US civilization in its complexity and multidimensionality. Conversely, it can provide an original “civilizational” approach that can renew discussions over American economic life and the influence and governance of its related socio-economic model.

This different and specific approach is defined through the embeddedness of the economic sphere and the dynamic interplay of agency and structures, actors and institutions in constraining contexts and paradigms. The study of American capitalism and its path-dependent evolutions opens onto a multiscalar and more integrated perspective. As “civilizationists” we look at capitalism and American economic life not from the viewpoint of standard monetary macroeconomics or classic business cycle literature, nor of the micro-economics of shareholders or corporate governance, but from the viewpoint of America’s historical, cultural and social foundations.

With our object –economic life- and our specific disciplinary approach – civilization- we hope to invite contributors and participants in the workshop to engage with the interconnections between the US economy, culture, and politics that account for the trajectory and the renewal of the American variety of capitalism. Topics to be considered may include but are not limited to :

  • the historical, cultural and ideological foundations of the American variety of capitalism ;
  • the ever-changing dynamics of the state-market nexus, i.e. the interpenetration of the American local, state or federal government on the one hand and the market (local, global) on the other ;
  • the evolution of the US political economic regime under the Obama administration, especially in the aftermath of the financial crisis ;
  • the transformative role played by civil society groups in US economic life ;
  • the paradigmatic and fictitious construction and representation of the American model of capitalism through theories and discourses.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Laurence Cossu-BeaumontJacques-Henri Coste, and Jean-Baptiste Velut by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Migration and migration : new research perspectives and methods
    Jim Cohen (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3) and Hilary Sanders (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès)

Migration to North America and within the region has undergone dramatic shifts in the past century, while policy regarding immigration and borders has also been responsive to changing historical conjunctures. In parallel, the study of these phenomena has progressed through debates over research visions, paradigms and methods. Immigration has come to be seen as an interdisciplinary object that calls for sociological approaches showing how migratory flows are related to broader social and systemic forces ; ethnographic approaches that emphasize migrants’ agency in shaping their own trajectories of mobility ; and approaches grounded in law and political science, which construct migrants as subjects of governmental policy, including as bearers of rights. The purpose of this workshop will be to sample different ways in which the study of migration and immigration policy has in fact evolved over the past decade, principally in the U.S. and Canada. Key developments include :

  • an increasing – though hardly universal – tendency to question the nation-state as a central and obligatory unit of analysis ; increasing attention to, but also questioning of, transnational social spaces and influences;
  • renewed questioning of the logics of incorporation (aka assimilation, integration) and of multiculturalist and intercultural approaches to public policy ; renewed problematization of the meanings of citizenship and of “belonging”;
  • greater attention to the distinction between authorized and unauthorized migrants (given the emergence of this question, in the U.S., as a highly politicized public issue on the national as well as local level);
  • growing attention to migrant mobilizations and immigrants’ rights causes, as well as to the counter-frames and counter-mobilizations of anti-immigrant activists and partisans of restrictionism;
  • increasing attention to multiscalar perspectives and methods, with reference not just to transnational and systemic factors but also to policy made – increasingly – at different levels of federal systems ;
  • the globalization of strategic reflection on migration and its control by state authorities ; the development of cross-national and cross-regional comparisons.
  • This list is not exhaustive. Contributors to this workshop are invited to foreground the ways in which their choices of research perspectives and methods reflect contemporary discussions of this sort, in an expanding field where objectivity does not necessarily imply neutrality.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Jim Cohen and Hilary Sanders by January 4th, 2016.


  1. A Polarized America : What does the future hold for Culture Wars ?
    Anthony Castet (Université de Tours) and Nathalie Massip (Université de Nice)

A few months before the November 2016 elections, the goal of this workshop is to assess the significance and impact of the culture wars in the various debates that still pervade American society today, and to examine their less obvious connection with the institutions that make up American democracy : elections, direct democracy, political parties’ platforms, lobbying, checks and balances…

In his seminal book on the culture wars (Culture Wars : The Struggle To Define America, 1992), James Davison Hunter traces the epistemology of the culture wars concept and its various implications in all fields of American life : politics, the family, education, law, media, culture, the environment, etc. He pays special attention to the role played by religion in these conflicts. Various examples include gun control, racial profiling, gay marriage, or the death penalty.

The expression “culture war” first appeared in the public sphere when, during the 1992 Republican National Convention Pat Buchanan asserted : “There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America.” Central to this struggle is the notion of moral authority. Proponents of diametrically opposed ideologies managed to rouse public opinion and to impose their presence in the media, in cultural fields, in various institutions, and, more recently, on the Internet and via social networks. Highly political, the culture wars are synonymous with political and judicial battles ; they also amount to a struggle for power.

Nevertheless, not everyone agrees with Hunter, and among his detractors, Morris Fiorina (Culture War ? The Myth Of A Polarized America, 2004) has accused him of creating a myth whose only purpose is to polarize Americans. Others have contended that the cultural wars were put to rest by 9/11, while some consider that they dissolved with Barack Obama’s election in 2008. Therefore, it will be important to ponder the presumed end of these culture wars, bearing in mind Obama’s recent claim, following another mass shooting in a South Carolina church, that gun control is the area where he feels most frustrated.

In keeping with the theme of America in the Works conference, we intend to examine varied aspects of these societal questions and to observe markers of the phenomena we have described above. We’ll also attempt to analyze rhetorical strategies and images used in these debates, and to understand how a form of consensus can occasionally develop around non-conforming public figures. Our goal is to rethink the concept of American exceptionalism within a nation that is constantly trying to define itself, split between religious tradition and secularism, conservatives and reformists.

In our proposed workshop, we intend to review the history of the culture wars, giving priority to multidisplinary and cross-disciplinary papers that reexamine cultural divides within American society.

Participants may consider the following approaches:

  1. A geographical approach : speakers may envision culture wars within a more global perspective in order to understand whether they are a specifically American phenomenon or exist in other nations as well.
  2. Approaches that will take into account the history of the culture wars as well as their possible development in the future : which historic events may have caused cultural divides and tensions in the 21st century ? What decisions taken by the third branch of government may bring us to argue that it will certainly foster future trends in the USA (for example, on August 13, 2015, the Connecticut Supreme Court declared that the death penalty went against its Constitution).
    • in politics and religion : in which areas can we find acute tensions ? How can freedom of conscience be reconciled with tolerance towards sexual and racial minorities ? For example, a recent poll shows that 33% of Americans think it is essential to protect religious freedom, while only 8% believe it is important to take into account the rights of homosexuals. What is the role of the religious left in the fight against discrimination ?
    • in matters concerning individual rights : abortion rights, marriage rights, rights to carry weapons, euthanasia.
    • in electoral matters : what forms of discourses and rhetorical strategies still substantiate Hunter’s theories today ? Have the culture wars evolved ? Is there a need for new definitions ?

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Anthony Castet and Nathalie Massip by January 4th, 2016.

  1. Towards a New History of Capitalism : State of the Field and Future Directions
    Andrew Diamond (Université Paris-Sorbonne) and Romain Huret (EHESS)

Between the mid-1960s and the present day, the United States has witnessed a spectacular redistribution of wealth upward : in 1968, the richest 1% of Americans took home about 8% of the national income ; today the top 1% earns nearly 25% and controls over 40% of the nation’s wealth. This was a breathtaking transformation that required a massive shift in policies, values, and attitudes—a shift that was ushered in by a conservative ascendancy that rallied Americans around the ideals of individualism, meritocracy, color-blindness, and free market supremacy. A new generation of scholars coming of age in the midst of this transformation has renewed the study of capitalism, reaching across historiographical and disciplinary boundaries to make sense of the diversity and complexity of the history of American capitalism, both at home and abroad. From new perspectives on the dynamics of neoliberalization in metropolitan spaces to fresh analyses of taxation, debt and homeownership to “bottom up” studies of the movements and organizations that have fought for social and economic justice in a context of crisis and austerity, those working within the exploding field of the history of capitalism have proposed a range of cultural and political explanations to better understand the advance of neoliberalization and the hegemonic power of corporations in the United States. This session will provide an opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of this new history of capitalism, to highlight the interdisciplinarity of the field, and to identify some promising new directions for the future.

Please send a 250-word proposal and short biography to Andrew Diamond and Romain Huret by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Civilisation américaine in the works : Teaching American studies in France
    Emilie Souyri (Université de Nice)

French universities not offering classes in American civilisation are extremely rare, and there is a plethora of civilisation textbooks on the market. Nevertheless, the discipline suffers from a severe lack of legitimacy, a lack that is particularly visible in the way civilisation is being taught to undergrad students in languages and applied languages departments. More often than not reflection on methodological instruments is being discarded in favor of a teaching that is purely factual and descriptive. Needless to say, massive class sizes are a considerable part of the problem, but since these numerous students are the reason why we can put food on our tables, what can we do to make sure our research in turn offers them a nourishing intellectual environment ? Academics teaching civilisation often define themselves as historians, sometimes as sociologists, anthropologists, or political scientists, seldom as philosophers or geographers. Some do cultural studies, others take a gender turn. But civilisation suffers less from a theoretical under-determination than from the silence surrounding its methods and objects in the way it is being taught to undergrads, a silence that is highly detrimental to them. Conceptual weaknesses in the productions of graduate students and Agrégation or Capes candidates are a reflection of this problem. This roundtable thus sets to start a discussion on the way our research and our theoretical backgrounds can enrich our teaching from freshman year on. What can interdisciplinarity, cultural studies, gender studies or even literature contribute to a redefinition of civilisation ? What importance should they be given, how can we present them to classes of 100+ students ? How can we evaluate students in such conditions ? The workshop will be a place to share pedagogical tools, experience of teaching American studies in France and abroad and, why not, to start designing a new civilisation textbook that would be the product of our discussions.

This workshop will be organized as a round table. Colleagues interested in participating should contact Emilie Souyri by January 4th, 2016.


  1. American Foreign Policy : Assessing the Obama Years
    Pierre Guerlain and Raphaël Ricaud (Université Paris-Ouest Nanterre-La-Défense)

The Obama Administration has yet to reach the end of its second term. Nonetheless, one can already assess the extent to which foreign policy under Obama’s watch—faced with constraining forces—has resembled and differed from that of preceding Administrations.

In his 2009 Cairo speech, President Obama had insisted on America’s will to recast partnerships. By pivoting to the Pacific, and by favoring a different approach in the Middle East, Obama’s foreign policy put a new set of priorities on display, producing a number of tangible successes and setbacks. The relationship between the United States and Israel, for instance, has evolved. Bi-lateral relations with Iran and Cuba underwent major changes. Upheaval in Egypt led to several stages of changes, resulting in a modified partnership with the United States. And the relationship with Russia has deteriorated.

On the other hand, there are indicators that some aspects of American foreign policy have differed but little from the past : both Venezuela and Ukraine are cases in point. The fight against terror has been in keeping with the previous administration, but there have been some new characteristics too, such as the military use of drones. The same can be said of public diplomacy : Obama’s engagement is somewhat similar to previous forms of public diplomacies, but there are novelties worth mentioning too.

One might also want to assess the role that domestic factors play in foreign policy, and conversely the impact that international changes have on the decision-making process. In the case of Syria, one can easily see how both the domestic and international factors are entwined.

This workshop thus welcomes papers on (but is not exclusively limited to) :

  • Specific aspects of American foreign policy (with a focus on a specific country / area).
  • Theoretical reflections on the determining factors that shape American foreign policy.
  • The part played by the President of the United States in the decision-making process.
  • How actors who set the foreign policy agenda interact with one another in specific contexts.

Please send a 250-word proposal and short biography to Pierre Guerlain and Raphaël Ricaud by January 4th, 2016.


  1. A Historiographical Survey of Science and Religion in America
    Sabine Remanofsky and Gilles Christoph (Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon)

The goal of this workshop is to examine the historiography of the relationship between science and religion in America.

Since the final quarter of 19th century, the question of the compatibility between science and religion, as well as that of the epistemic authority they have wielded over each other through the centuries, has given rise to numerous theories. With the paradigmatic examples of Galileo’s trial and the heated controversy surrounding Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in mind, chemist John William Draper and historian Andrew Dickinson White put forth between 1874 and 1896 the idea of an inevitable conflict between science and religion. Interestingly, modern proponents of this “conflict thesis” include prominent scientists like Carl Sagan and Richard Dawkins as well as fundamentalist and creationist Christians. Rejecting the conflict thesis, historian John Heilbron has highlighted a long and harmonious history of financial and intellectual cooperation between the Catholic Church and the astronomers in her employ. Other scholars still, convinced neither by the conflict nor the harmony thesis, have come out in favor of what historians of science David Lindberg and Ronald Numbers term the “complexity thesis”, a position arguing that the historical relationship between science and religion is a long, ever-changing and complex one which is impossible to describe in sweeping concepts of harmony or discord.

Currently, the relationship between science and religion is being remodeled perhaps most prominently by new medical biotechnologies. While a majority of believers – the Amish excepted – gladly welcome most technological inventions, some new technologies, like stem cells or cloning, are effectively reshaping and further complexifying the relationship between science and religion. Indeed, the championing, by religion, of the kind of moral injunctions that have long defined the very notion of humanity might seem at odds with the goals of science, which, as a collective enterprise, can seem less preoccupied by ethics than by progress. One can wonder how contemporary historiography is dealing with this further reshaping of the boundaries between religion and science.

Presentations illustrating or refuting some of the theses mentioned in this call for papers as well as more systematic attempts at surveying the changing contours of the historiography of the relationship between science and religion in America are equally welcome. Papers can of course focus on any of the existing majority or minority religions in America.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Sabine Remanofsky and Gilles Christoph by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Studying US Social Movements : An Epistemological and Methodological Assessment
    Guillaume Marche (Université Paris-Est Créteil)

What is the situation of social movement scholarship within American studies in France ? At the time when American studies grew autonomous from Anglophone studies and American civilization emerged as a distinct field within American studies, social movements represented a fairly large share of the French scholarship on the United States. A case in point is the Civil Rights Movement, but also feminist mobilizations as well as other social movements that surged up, or again, in the 1960s and 1970s. Part of the reason is that these movements were either recent history or were contemporaneous with the development of American studies and American civilization, so that some of the French scholars who studied them were movement witnesses—sometimes participants—who intended both to testify, and to uncover and analyze the dynamics underlying them. More recently, however, social movements seem to have generated less scholarly interest, in France, among Americanists than among historians, geographers, sociologists, or political scientists. Unlike in American studies, social movements represent a large body of these disciplines’ academic production—especially in the United States, less so in France. Thus, for example, collective identities—be they ethnic, racial, based on sex, gender, or sexuality—that are strategic to many social movements seem to be addressed by American studies scholars in terms of cultural representations rather than collective mobilizations. And at the same time, the agendas and issues in mobilizations are more often approached from a political and institutional viewpoint, than as the bases of social protest.

The first question this raises is that of academic disciplines : do the respective approaches derived from sociology, history, and political science used by American studies scholars complement, or compete with, each other ? The field of American studies is fundamentally interdisciplinary as scholars usually borrow from a multiplicity of sources : does this mean that American civilization scholarship is ideally suited for a transdisciplinary approach to social movements ? Or, on the contrary, do the materials, sources, and methods of the various disciplines that inspire scholars differ so much that disciplinary boundaries are necessary or unsurmountable ? This brings a second set of issues related to curriculum : have social movements somehow become passé, as the historical part of the curriculum tends to focus on major political and institutional issues, while the current political situation in the United States necessarily pushes social movements in the background ? Yet, recent developments such as the Black Lives Matter movement might revive French academics’ interest in teaching social movements—as it does in the United States. And, to put it provocatively, one may wonder if the richness, inventiveness, and resulting attractiveness of cultural studies has somehow quelled or diverted students’ and professors’ interest in the empirical study of collective struggles and mobilizations.

The workshop will give preference to paper submissions presenting works in progress, regardless of their degree of advancement, that are based on empirical data—especially drawn from archives and fieldwork—and that address the disciplinary, theoretical, and methodological issues above. Contributions from young scholars and more experienced scholars are equally welcome.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Guillaume Marche by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Towards a French Queer Theory ?
    Antoine Servel (Université de Tours)

Queer theory is strongly connected to Europe and more specifically, to France. It was defined by Teresa de Lauretis, who was born in Bologna and studied in Milan before moving to the United States, while someone like Judith Butler draws heavily on Foucault, Lacan, de Beauvoir, Kristeva, Freud, Derrida, Wittig or Irigaray. Yet, such fundamental concepts as genderqueer or camp are having difficulties crossing over to Europe and France. In fact, several key concepts have not found a translation in French (the use of genre in French is somewhat troubling as it both translates “gender” and “genre”, while “queer and “camp” are not translated and kept in English). All this in spite of the fact that French philosophers gave birth to the second sex that spawend the third or described the “disciplinary regimes” within which gender and sexuality operate.

This workshop wishes to explore what gender and queer studies are bringing to contemporary research in France and how French scholars in American studies are interpreting these theories.

Proposals may include but are not limited to :

  • The impact of American research and delays in translation (while Adrienne Rich’s 1980 text on compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian identity was translated into French in 1981 for Nouvelles Questions Féministes, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s Epistemology of the Closet (1990) was only translated in 2008 (Maxime Cervulle) and Gender Trouble (Butler, 1990) in 2005 (Cynthia Kraus) – perhaps because the 70s feminist magazines did not continue into the 1990s ?) – Queer Studies (and its extensions such as Cyborg studiesFat Studies…) in France today
  • The relevance of queer studies in the context of “mariage pour tous” ?
  • Queer capitalism and Pinkwashing
  • Queer readings of the canon, new discoveries and new readings, from Shakespeare to Rock Hudson, Willa Cather, Zora Neale Hurston or Vincente Minelli
  • Queer anachronims (The Intimate World of Abraham Lincoln, C. A. Tripp, Laurel & Hardy, The Watermelon Woman)

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Antoine Servel by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Popular Culture(s) and Cultural Practices
    Danièle André and Elodie Chazalon (Université de La Rochelle)

From Matthew Arnold’s book (Culture and Anarchy) to the more recent works, popular culture has been open to debate. There seems to be no encompassing definition of what popular culture is because it is at the crossroads of the unique and the expected, but also of high, folk and mass cultures, and because the hybridization between these cultures creates new forms and new connections.

Still, part of the definition of popular culture lies in the opposition and tension between domination and subordination, between power and resistance (J. Fiske, Understanding Popular Culture). It is all the more interesting and difficult to define it as definitions, perceptions, and interpretations of popular culture vary according to the geographical and cultural areas and to gender, ethnic, social and age groups. Moreover, academic research on popular culture is interdisciplinary, international, specific, and relies on different approaches, but more importantly, the definition must integrate the link existing between popular culture and a mass-consuming and profit-making economic system.

This workshop aims at re(de)fining our perception and conception of popular culture(s) by dealing with its/their interactions with popular practices. Considering that there is no “authentic” folk culture and that the individuals consume mass-produced goods and can only resort to an “art of making do” (M. de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life), it would be relevant to analyze the impacts of cultural industries on individual and/or collective practices, including our practices as teachers-researchers and scholars (thematic and methodological choices, etc.). In the same manner, we will wonder how the “tactics” of “the weak” can influence in return mainstream culture.

Several issues can be tackled :

  • remakes, adaptations, and shifting categories or genres, changes for new audiences (e.g. superheroes taken over by new generations of artists and directors, etc.)
  • fandom and the commodification/commoditization of cultural productions and of the objects and practices associated with them (impact of iconic films, universes and characters, etc.)
  • the influence of popular culture on people’s life and/or imagination (science-fiction and science, etc.) or ways of playing games and theorizing game playing (video games, role playing games and their evolution)
  • fashion trends, sartorial statements and body rituals of “youth” subcultures which illustrate the trickle down/bubble up effect (T. Polhemus, Street Style, D. Hebdige, Subculture. The Meaning of Style, S. Hall and Toni Jefferson, Resistance Through Rituals) ; the return of former fashion trends, of practices and objects associated with them in the collective mind (vinyl records, iconic objects, collectibles and relics, etc.)
  • age and gender blending. While generation X takes over the tools and imitates the practices of generation Y (Internet, social networks, online games and purchases, fashion trends, music, etc.), generation Y takes to favoring vintage fashions and classics, a trend well echoed by the industries and the media. Are recycling, bricolage and bartering ways of avoiding planned obsolescence, mass consumption, and waste, or mainstream practices ?
  • the promotion of a certain vision of hybridity and gender blending in the media (androgyny, performances mixing painting, music, play acting, and other interactive approaches to art)
  • interdisciplinary academic works, partnerships between public and private institutions in interactive cultural projects, the increasing importance of one’s personal tastes in academic works and projects. The evolutions of theories on popular culture(s) : field(s) popular culture belongs to (cultural studies, specific field) ; use of the singular or plural form.

We welcome interdisciplinary approaches to one or several of the topics listed above. Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Danièle André and Elodie Chazalon by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Material culture in question
    Mathilde Arrivé (Montpellier 3), Géraldine Chouard (Paris Dauphine), Jean Kempf (Lyon 2)

Material culture, once widely studied, fell out of favor in the social sciences, making way for the study of popular culture and cultural studies programs, which have gained ground especially in North America. Recently, a “material turn” has pushed material culture back into the spotlight, with anthropological and ethnological studies, the history of images (distinct from visual studies) and the study of social spaces by geographers in particular (viz John Stilgoe’s work).

Material culture is not limited to mass consumption, a fairly obvious reference in the United States and one which has been written about extensively. It is a history of everyday life and the “arts of doing” – as lauded by Michel de Certeau –, which places particular emphasis on artefacts and vernacular objects. This renewed interest in the expression of the human subject through objects is a reflection on the uses, practices and rituals objects produce, as well as on the emotions and values they generate (Baudrillard and his System of Objects).

Papers may focus on the historiography of the notion, which intersects many disciplines, and case studies – hopefully numerous and varied – dealing with the role of objects as vehicles of meaning, explanatory factors and architects of the social and symbolic world.

It is also possible to examine the process of cultural legitimization of objects (through collections, museums and heritage), as well as the issues linked to the physicality of image-objects, as related to time (the process of restoration and conservation), the body (distance, visual touch, sensory approaches) and space (museographic strategies and other types of scenography).

From a broader perspective, discussion could extend to gestures and rituals, which, from cooking to medicine and DIY, have helped build this material culture. In short, this workshop offers to explore how « a history of banal things » (Daniel Roche) in the United States can be written.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Mathilde Arrivé, Géraldine Chouard and Jean Kempf by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Building on Film Theory : Emerging Approaches and Contemporary Debates
    Marianne Kac-Vergne (Université de Picardie Jules Verne) and David Roche (Université Toulouse Jean Jaurès)

This panel seeks to explore emerging approaches in film studies and the way they build on or break away from previous paradigms. Two of these approaches—cognitive film theory (M. Smith, E. Tan, C. Plantinga) and phenomenology (V. Sobchak, L. Marks)—have become increasingly popular in North America since the 1990s. Both call into question tenets of film studies grounded in psychoanalysis that were dominant in French film theory of the 1970s and 1980s (most famously in the works of C. Metz). If these approaches have, for the most part, failed to find support in film studies in France, other approaches are, on the contrary, gaining ground. French film scholars are notably furthering the work initiated by J. Naremore on the specificities of acting in cinema. Gender studies is also slowly gaining ground, although it still divides many scholars in French film studies, as it breaks away from a tradition of cinephilia that has traditionally assessed a film’s quality through purely aesthetic criteria. Is it possible to reconcile an emphasis on aesthetics and auteurship with ideological concerns on questions of identity politics ? Another venue of investigation lies in considering debates within cultural studies and its move away from a Marxist critique of mass culture to focus on the role of the spectator and the possibilities of reading against the grain (reception studies, queer theory). Finally, talks that explore discussions in other branches of film studies (documentary studies, film genre studies, media studies,…) are welcome, as are interdisciplinary approaches combining film theory with other frameworks. Speakers are invited to both address these critical debates and assess the usability of specific approaches through case studies of American films.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Marianne Kac-Vergne and David Roche by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Whither Comics Studies ?
    Jean-Paul Gabilliet and Nicolas Labarre (Bordeaux Montaigne)

Comics studies have grown spectacularly in the last decade. From nine courses taught at post-secondary level (six in the USA, three in Canada) listed by the then newly created National Association of Comic Art Educators in 2011, there are nowadays dozens of non-studio comics courses offered in higher education establishments across North America. The number of academic books on comics has also increased dramatically during the same period.

Yet one should not trust a superficial reading of quantitative indicators. In their overwhelming majority, courses about comics are taught at undergraduate level in departments of English, occasionally languages, arts, and (even less frequently) communication studies. They are very often elective courses, loss leaders of sorts perceived by most of the students that choose them as moderately demanding, intellectually non-challenging means to secure extra credits. As far as faculty are concerned, scholarly expertise in comic art is a double-edged weapon : a PhD on comics is admittedly of little value in today’s hyper-competitive “market” of arts and humanities, where most of the young doctors specializing in canonical domains are hard-pressed to find jobs matching their expertise. As for “comic studies” positions, there are none, regardless of occasional three-headed monsters of the “children’s lit / popular culture / graphic novel” ilk…

The ultimate paradox of comics in the world of North American higher education is that the medium has gained acceptance mostly under the “graphic novel” sobriquet. Popularized in the 1980s, the term was originally (and still is to a large extent) a marketing ploy but it originated the gradual acceptance by the general public and academics of comic-strip narratives provided they seemed to share structural characteristics with the literary form of the novel. From this evolution resulted new reading habits sometimes more inspired by snobbishness and cultural blindness than by any actual interest in the medium, encapsulated in the now commonplace one-liner : “I don’t read comics—I only read graphic novels.”

Academia is by no means immune to the allure of the graphic novel as a would-be vehicle of cultural distinction. A recent study of the scholarship on comics in English-speaking journals has evidenced the thematic domination of a politically correct and transnational leading trio comprising Art Spiegelman (Maus), Marjane Satrapi (Persepolis), and Alison Bechdel (Fun Home), whose landmark titles are almost invariably cited in the present-day graphic novel “canon.” Yet, just as many foremost creators (A. Bechdel, A. Spiegelman, D. Clowes, C. Ware, etc.) say they create comics, not graphic novels, there is no reason why the scholarly study of the medium should be dominated by “literary” and/or “artistic” approaches because comics are supposedly pretty pictures with real chunks of text inside.

The goal of this panel is to look into the diverse angles from which comics studies can develop both in North America and/or by engaging North American-made comics.

Rather than formal case studies of individual works, we will welcome focuses on the following topics (inclusively of course) :

  • comics as objects of cultural history
  • historiographic trends
  • primary sources : newspaper comic stripscomic booksoriginal artfanzines, etc.
  • comics vs. graphic novel : economic models, cultural models, historical mutations
  • the making of legitimacy : permeability and rigidity between scholarly criticism (academia, The Comics Journal) and popular criticism (IGN, comicbookresources, Wizard, etc.)
  • superheroes : what to make of them ?
  • North American perspectives on the transnational study of comics
  • paper vs. screens/paper and screens : digital media, webcomics, transmedia products.
  • Bibliographic suggestions :

Charles Hatfield, « Indiscipline, or, The Condition of Comics Studies », Transatlantica [En ligne], 1 | 2010, mis en ligne le 27 septembre 2010, consulté le 15 juillet 2015. URL :
Gregory Steirer, « The State of Comics Scholarship : Comics Studies and Disciplinarity », International Journal of Comic Art 13.2 (Fall 2011) : 263-285. URL:

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Jean-Paul Gabilliet and Nicolas Labarre by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Constructing and reconstructing television narratives
    Claire Cornillon (Université du Havre) and Shannon Wells-Lassagne (Université de Bretagne Sud)

Much ink has been spilled describing the quickly evolving television landscape, the move from broadcast to cable to video on demand to webseries and Youtube. These changes in medium have of course been accompanied by changes in narrative forms ; Jason Mittell reminds us in his new work Complex TVthat “In the past 15 years, television’s storytelling possibilities and practices have undergone drastic shifts specific to the medium.” As the scope and possibilities of serial television narratives continue to broaden, so too television studies continue to evolve, becoming a locus for narratological, psychoanalytical, or aesthetic approaches (to name but a few) in addition to the sociopolitical analyses of television that have long held sway. In this panel, then, our focus is double, both on how television narratives are being constructed and reconstructed according to changing expectations and formats, andon how academics are reconstructing their own discourse to adapt to these changes.

Possible topics might include :

  • Comparative case studies, between similar genres in different forms of television media (broadcast vs. cable vs. webseries), between different time periods (how have medical dramas changed, for example, between Marcus Whelby, M.D. (1969) to St. Elsewhere (1982), ER (1994), and House (2004) ?), between channels (examining the evolution a series undergoes when it changes channels, from Buffy the Vampire Slayer (WB to UPN) to Community (NBC to Yahoo !), demonstrating an evolution (or lack thereof) in television narratives
  • Case studies examining new televisual forms (the importance of serialized television, the popularity of “event television”, or anthologized television on our screens), or older narrative techniques readapted to television from other media (“real” time in 24, point of view in The Affair, single-take tracking shots in True Detective, the increasing presence of prequels and reboots, etc.)
  • An analysis of the changing nature of television studies, or of television’s industrial practices (from the changing role of the executive producer to the auteur-like showrunner, for example, or from individual writers of independent episodes to a writer’s room), or of our own changing reception of television (from the television set to the computer or the mobile device, from live viewing to digital recording, streaming video, and binge watching)
  • Teaching TV Series : how does an academic construct, deconstruct, reconstruct a series for use in the classroom ? How are the tools to do so evolving ?

This list is not exhaustive.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Claire Cornillon and Shannon Wells-Lassagne by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Reshaping the Stage : Poetical and Political Transformations
    Emeline Jouve (Université Toulouse Jean-Jaurès) and Xavier Lemoine (Université de Paris Est Marne-la-Vallée)

On account of its protean nature, the American stage is central to the reflection on transdisciplinarity and cultural differences. These reflections play an important part in the internal and external understanding of the notion of americanness. Throughout its history, American drama and theatre—influenced by European and Asian arts—, have been in perpetual motion, shaping and reshaping itself. From the 1960s, the emergence of what became known as “performance” has given the impetus to the deconstruction of traditional conceptions of representation not only from an aesthetic point of view but also from a political one. If the concerns over multiculturalism and post-modern identities are still pregnant nowadays, the presence of technology on stage—in the wake of multimodal art—further questions the traditional theatrical paradigms. Can we talk of an epistemological shift on stage similar to the one taking place in a society undergoing the growing expansion of the digital ? Or is theatre a heterotopia escaping from the technological hegemony ? How do all these questions contribute to the interpretation and/or production of the discipline of American studies ?

By focusing on contemporary production and the historical evolution of the American stage, this panel aims at considering to what extent theatre and the performing arts can be viewed as not only reflections of the society which produces them but also the impetus to the shaping and understanding of American studies. Papers on the following topics are encouraged although contributions on other related topics are welcomed :

  • Intermediality on contemporary stages and in the history of the United-States
  • Representations of post-modern identities (queer, post-colonial, feminist, racial approaches…) and empowerment (visibility, erasure, manipulations etc.)
  • Epistemological considerations on the cultural evolutions linked to the stage (performance, theory)
  • Analyses of shows in relation to the evolution of American and cultural studies
  • Political outreach of aesthetic experimentations
  • Academic teaching and performance (practical or theoretical studies of class work on American studies)

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Emeline Jouve and Xavier Lemoine by January 4th, 2016.


  1. Research in the Work
    Ariane Hudelet (Université Paris Diderot – Paris 7)

In the 21st century, the lone researcher has evolved from bookworm to geek – still obsessive, but more trendy. Information technology has transformed research practices and by the same token, the very objects of research. The development of collective research, online archives and data bases have transformed the access to resources. Institutional changes and the new allocation of work time have had a great impact on the time devoted to research, depending on one’s position. Publications, conferences and other modes of transmission have been transformed and reinvented. This workshop will present new research practices, including but not limited to :

  • computer-based research, bibliographic software, word-processors,
  • online research communities,
  • research, film and video,
  • images and copyright in the digital age,
  • launch and/or impact of online publication,
  • connecting research and curriculums,
  • creative use of the Internet (interpreting forums, user comments) The workshop will include short presentations from participants who are welcome to either share their technical experience or analyze the impact of recent technological changes on the research in their field.

Please send a 250-word abstract and a short biography to Ariane Hudelet by January 4th, 2016.