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Call For Papers for Our Next Conference

"A Return to (What Never Was) Normal: Discourses of (Ab)Normalcy in US Culture, Literature, Arts, and Politics; Past, Present, and Futures"

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9) "Ominous Future, Damaged Present and Nostalgia for the Past: Return to Normalcy?"
Panel Chairs: Laura Álvarez Trigo, Anna Marta Marini, Universidad de Alcalá (Instituto Franklin-UAH)
E-mail: alvarez.trigo.laura@gmail.com, annamarta.marini@gmail.com  


Nostalgia is a common response to social change, it embodies an attempt to look for a presumably lost normalcy. The idea of "returning to normalcy" evokes a nostalgic return to an imagined better past, at times accompanied by both revisionist and reactionary positions against historic narratives. An ever-increasing infiltration of nostalgia has characterized 21st century popular culture. This trend was established at the beginning of the millennium, triggered by 9/11, the late 2000s' economic crisis and, most recently, influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nostalgia and legacy convey a utopic normalcy to aspire to—such as idealized representations of the 80s and 90s as prosperous contexts—and build affect in consumers and audiences through their familiarity, both explicit and implicit, creating appeal in the recognition of what is being referenced. These types of narratives mark TV shows, movies, and other contemporary popular texts that elicit a sense of a damaged present opposed to a selective romanticized past.

The panel looks for papers that, dealing with nostalgia in contemporary popular culture, focus on the intersection between a search for stability and recovery in a better past and/or that criticize the present through it. We aim to explore questions related to the implications of connecting nostalgia with a return to normalcy and to interrogate whether and how this already-present tendency of recycling the appeal of specific formal and narrative elements has been mediated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Analysis of such intertextuality in American popular culture (from both thematic and aesthetic perspectives) as well as of the dialogic relation to the present that foregrounds the origin of contemporary problems in the past (such as climate change, armed conflicts, economic crises, and diseases) are welcome. .



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, 2022. Panel chairs are expected to accept/reject proposals and have panels set up by November 7.


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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