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Call For Papers for Our Next Conference

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

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15) "The Many Masks of Fear in American Poetry"
Panel Chair: Viorica Patea, Universidad de Salamanca
E-mail: vioricap@usal.es  


This panel seeks to consider the various ways in which American poets have expressed, explored, and dealt with fear. Poets have been preoccupied by fear since time immemorial. Plato identified fear as a ubiquitous threat, affirming that "we can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light," while Aristotle defined fear as "pain arising from the anticipation of evil." Later, Marcus Aurelius opened a new perspective on the object of our fears: "It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

Melville declared that "ignorance was the parent of fear," whereas Dickinson contrasts fear with the numbness of despair. Fear can protect one from harm, but it can also exert a paralyzing effect on the individual. Rilke wrote about the "Fear of the inexplicable" while Eliot placed fear at the center of the human condition, the quest for wisdom and self-knowledge: "I will show you fear in a handful of dust." On a more existential note Louise Gluck versified on the only too human "The Fear of Burial."

Poems also address ways of overcoming and handling fear. As the Hindu scriptures of the Isa Upanishad declare, "Who sees all beings in his own self, and his own self in all beings, loses all fear" with which Robert Frost's "The best way out is always through" seems to be in agreement.

Whether in the Transcendental mode, in strained avant-garde poetics, or with postmodern ennui, American poets have expressed a whole gamut of fears: fear of love, of emptiness, of betrayal, of death, of bodily pain, of oppression, of living under the pressures of a globalized world.

This panel invites proposals on American poetry in consideration of these and many other aspects related to fear.


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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