ALA Symposium on The City in American Literature, New Orleans, Sept. 10-11

The Society for the Study of American Travel Writing is organizing a panel for the American Literature Association Symposium on The City in American Literature to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, September 10-11, 2015. More information is available at The City in American Literature Symposium.

The city is an iconic topoi in travel writing. Cities challenge and inspire us. By drawing so much into them, they beckon us to browse their trappings. They throw us into startling encounters and present us with novel experiences. They disorient with their headlong rush and hustle, churning up our deepest anxieties and ambitions, stressing our faculties and expanding our horizons. They throw us into welters of ethnic, cultural, and social difference, compelling us to acknowledge our prejudices. They foreclose access to much while yet promising so much more. They cow us into conformist crowds then open sanctuaries that coax individualities out of us. They are haunted with legacies of the past while they aspire to bright futures, astonishing us with their architecture, their arts, their ideas. They are crowded with accomplishment and degradation, moral stridency and utter depravity. They overwhelm our senses with decadent goods, rotting refuse, planned gardens, relentless music, lush food. As special sorts of places, cities demand admiration as well as fierce criticism. They require distinctive modes of representation, especially for travel writers.

So, when travel writers plunge into the world’s cities, what do they discover?

All aspects of travellers’ encounters with cities will be considered—foreign travellers visiting American cities, Americans taking in cities abroad, Americans in American cities, either their own or those of others. Questions of form, ethics, identity, hybridity, and politics are particularly encouraged.

Send queries and/or 250 word proposals to Andrew Vogel by June 27, 2015 at noon, as panels are due in to the conference organizers by June 30. Please be sure to include contact information and a brief discursive vita with proposals.


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