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"'Fear Narratives' and their Role/Use in the United States"

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1) “Domestic Spaces, Safety, and the (Micro)Political in the United States”
Panel Chair: Rodrigo Andrés and Cristina Alsina Rísquez, Universitat de Barcelona.
E-mail: rodrigoandres@ub.edu / alsina@ub.edu


The COVID-19 pandemics has forced all of us to re-examine our relations with(in) our living spaces. This panel invites contributions that reflect on houses, safety, and the political.

Domestic spaces provide safety and protection, both physical and mental: "the house shelters daydreaming, the house protects the dreamer, the house allows one to dream in peace" (Bachelard). In American literature, images of "the home as a haven, providing security, safety, and certainty are persistent, in contrast to wider social insecurities" (McDowell). However, the house is not immune to dreads and anxieties and is, in fact, haunted both by the world—"Houses aren't refuges from history. They are were history ends up" (Bryson)—and by our private nightmares (for Freud the homely—Heimlich—can contain its very opposite, the uncanny) (Briganti and Mezei).

It is true that "We need a refuge to shore up our states of mind, because so much of the world is opposed to our allegiances" (de Botton). For bell hooks and other African American feminists, the home is a space of resistance to oppression. However, "people may feel 'homeless-at-home,' trapped in a space 'of tyranny, oppression, or persecution'." As a matter of fact, hegemonic representations of the house "often overlook the violence, dislocation, and social exclusion that shape the lives of those whom Julia Wardaugh calls 'domestic refugees' and 'gender or culture renegades' (…), 'Those who are not able, or choose not to, conform to the gender, class, and sexuality ideals inherent in establishing a conventional household, find themselves symbolically (and often literally) excluded from any notion or semblance of home'" (Robertson).

This panel welcomes contributions on literary/cultural representations of American houses and other (un)liveable spaces such as Irving Goffman's "total institutions" (asylums, prisons, the plantation), Foucauldian heterotopias (the ship), boarding residences, refugee camps, the street.



Abstracts of Proposals are to be e-mailed directly to the chair of the selected panel using this form. The deadline for submitting abstracts is October 15, 2020. Panel chairs are expected to accept/reject proposals and have panels set up by November 15.


Non-members of SAAS (of all nationalities) are welcome to participate in the conference, but will be required to pay membership dues for one year as well as the conference registration fee. Members of ASA (American Studies Association), AISNA (Associazione Italiana di Studi Nor-Americani), APEAA (Portuguese Association for Anglo-American Studies) and HELAAS (Hellenic Association for American Studies) need only pay the conference registration fee.

Further guideliness for participants can be found here.

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