INTERNATIONAL GRADUATE CONFERENCE
AND AMERICAN STUDIES
Private Voices and Public Spaces”
2-3 May 2014 Faculty of Humanities – University of Coimbra (Portugal)
Dalia Kandiyoti (City University of New York) & Manuel Portela (University of Coimbra)
CLOSING CEREMONY: Maria Irene Ramalho (U.Coimbra / University of Wisconsin-Madison)
Following on from the 2012
graduate conference, “Discourses That Matter,” in this second edition we
continue to examine how English and American Studies as academic fields matter in the current state of affairs.
However, we will be taking our previous theme one step further by introducing
the issue of space and extending our
inquiry into matters of subjectivity,
privacy, and surveillance. Both the free access to digital information and the
post-9/11 security politics have brought to the fore pressing questions of
legitimacy that demand a reconfiguration of the public/private dichotomy. This question is actually not new,
bearing in mind feminist critics’ powerful argument that the private has always
been political, which made access to public space a condition to full
citizenship. The dangers entailed in the world of network technologies, the
recent WikiLeaks scandals, the revelation of a domestic spying program in the
U.S., and suspicions of its existence in other countries, have made us realize
the fragility of the balance between personal privacy and public authority, and
how easily instances of surveillance sideslip into instances of ‘surviolence.’
On the other hand, the denunciation of private instances of violence or
oppression through their exposure in the public space (documentaries,
photojournalism, photography, social media), the mobilization of citizens
across space through social networks, the invasion and occupation of public
space by protesting citizens, migratory movements from postcolonial to postcapitalist
spaces (and the entailed disruption of assigned social space), artists turning
private bodies into public spaces or occupying public spaces for their artistic
interventions, are some of the many instances that complicate our perception of
the right to privacy, the limits of public policing, and the creative
possibilities around the issue of space.
How can we contribute to a
timely and necessary reflection on the reconfiguration of the public/private
dichotomy, and how can English and American Studies intervene in this debate?
How have literary and cultural studies approached these subjects? Where do we
draw the line between public and private nowadays? What spaces are not public? What voices are still private? Is there such a thing as the privacy of public spaces? Is it
always negative when private spaces become public? Is it desirable that public
spaces are appropriated by private causes? What is the role of social media in
our thinking of private/public spaces? What impact do these matters have on the
body? And how can interventions be considered as acts of performativity?
As interdisciplinary academic
fields concerned with entities bearing a common imperial legacy, English and
American Studies hold a privileged position for understanding today’s world.
From this vantage point, we will try and find how interventions in public and
private spaces take place and shape our realities.
We invite proposals in the
Humanities and Social Sciences from graduate
students and early career scholars
for 20-minute presentations; papers
should address one or several of the following areas:
- English and American Literatures - Comparative Literatures and Cultures
- Ethnicity and National Identities - Postcolonial Studies
- Visual Studies -
Media, Communication and Cybercultures
- Cultural Studies -
Gender and Queer Studies
- Discourse Analysis - Performativity Studies
Students who are beginning
to pursue their MA or PhD degrees are also welcome to participate in a roundtable, where research projects can
be briefly introduced and discussed (max.
10 minutes). Our aim is to provide an informal setting based on cross-institutional
collaboration, so as to enable dialogues about current research projects and
future working life.
presentations should be limited to 300 words, and be accompanied by the author’s name, e-mail address,
institutional affiliation, and subject area according to the list above.
Students wishing to participate in roundtables
should send a summary (100 words) of the topic they wish to
discuss, along with the author’s name, e-mail address, and institutional
Paper proposals and
roundtable summaries should be sent to our e-mail address at firstname.lastname@example.org. Only one submission per participant per category will be considered.
The conference will be held
January 20, 2014: Deadline for submission (a confirmation e-mail
will be sent).
February 3, 2014: Notifications regarding paper proposals.
2014: Deadline for regular registration.
For more information, please