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Ana Manzanas & Jesús Benito, Occupying Space in American Literature and Culture


Manzanas Benito




REN: Revista de Estudios Norteamericanos




Número 16 - 2012



Unsteadily Marching On: The US South in Motion (2013), Ed. by Constante González Groba





Call For Papers for Our Next Conference

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

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2) "McCarthyism and Cold War Literatures: A Cultural Response to Fear and Paranoia"
Panel Chair: María Laura Arce Álvarez, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
E-mail: laura.arce@uam.es  


The intention of this panel is to discuss the different literary manifestations produced during the McCarthy era and Cold War times in the United States as a response to what was called the "Red Scare" experienced by the whole American community from the 1950s onwards. McCarthyism was a controversial period in American history that shaped the postmodern literature and culture of the time. However, it was a time resulting from the combination of political, social and cultural factors that took place before the 1950s and which continued during the following years. This period of fear and paranoia conditioned the literature produced at the time not only because of the persecution of some authors in McCarthy's red hunt, but also as a product of the political and social atmosphere that alienated them.

The Witchcraft Trials of the 17th century became an inspiration for Senator Joseph McCarthy and the HUAC (House of UnAmerican Activities) in his fight against intellectualism, culture, and art. McCarthy's red hunt had its target in the different ethnic communities including African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and of course the LGBT community creating what was called The Lavender Scare, which was led by McCarthy's lawyer and best friend Roy Cohn. The HUAC hearings left historical testimonies of playwrights, authors, screenwriters, film directors among many cultural figures who were persecuted for their artistic and literary manifestations. These include playwrights such us Arthur Miller or Lilian Hellman, authors such as Langston Hughes or screenwriters such us Dalton Trumbo.

The Red Scare brought with it different literary manifestations during the 1950s and after in which the fear and persecution suffered by authors and artists is fictionalized as a cultural response to the political, social, and cultural terrorism practiced by Senator McCarthy and those who continued during the 60s, 70s and 80s with the Red Scare. Novels such as Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, The Book of Daniel by E.L Doctorow (1971), I Married a Communist by Philip Roth (1998) or even The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (1963) become explicitly or implicitly fictions about McCarthyism, Cold War, and the red scare and therefore narratives of fear.

This panel welcomes papers that address and discuss how McCarthyism and Cold War were manifested in literature, media, visual arts and films in the following issues (but not limited to them):

o McCarthyism and literature during the Red Scare and afterwards;

o The Lavender Scare and gay literature;

o Lesbian Pulp Fiction during McCarthy's time;

o Women literature and McCarthyism: the fear to be a woman during the 1950s;

o African American Literature and the "Black" listing;

o Cold War and Asian American Literature: narratives of fear and secrecy;

o Cold War impacts in Native North America; o Cold War and the "radicals in the Barrio" ;

o American Science Fiction and Cold War;

o McCarthyism and the Beat Generation;

o McCarthyism and Theatre;

o The hearings or how to create a fear narrative;

o McCarthyism and cinema: the Hollywood Ten;

o After McCarthyism: Roy Cohn and Donald Trump, the beginning of a very long friendship;

o Repercussions of McCarthyism and Cold War in contemporary literature, visual arts and films.



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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