The graduate students of the American Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin invite submissions for our 2013 Graduate Conference, to be held April 4-5, 2013. We encourage submissions that relate to our theme, “Reimagining the American Dream.”
In the early 20th century, historian James Truslow Adams wrote that the American Dream was “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller,” and yet time and again this promise of opportunity has fallen short: opportunity and prosperity are not demonstrably available to all, and yet this promise, this dream, continues to circulate in the personal and political imagination. After Adams’ early statements on the dream, there emerged a particular vision of dream-status in American postwar prosperity that was countered by global revolutionary and post-colonial movements. Yet the dream bore on into the cocaine-fueled 80s, only to be brought into question once more by a succession of bursting economic bubbles.
Given its historical weight, we hope to interrogate and reimagine the American Dream through a series of conversations. To what extent is the American Dream a myth rather than a real possibility? Who has access to its promises? What are the limits of prosperity? How have people leveraged the dream myth? What does the “American Dream” even mean in the 21st century, as the country is in the midst of vast demographic and technological changes? If we have an American dream, what is the American nightmare, and how might American dreams and nightmares coexist or be mutually constitutive?
We welcome both individual paper submissions and panel submissions on a wide range of topics related to the conference theme, including but not limited to the following:
- Dreams and archetypes in American literature
- Technological determinism and utopianism
- The religious imagination and the future of the nation/world
- American dystopias
- Socio-eonomic mobility and education
- Historical and contemporary explorations of immigration to America
- Psychoanalysis and the subconscious
- Spaces real and imagined—historically, nostalgically, culturally, fictitiously or materially constructed
- The DREAM Act
- Dream Teams
- Literary, filmic, artistic, or other representations of ideas pertaining to the American Dream
- The position of “The American Dream” trope in political campaigns
- Consumerism and advertising
The deadline has now passed. Stay tuned for our schedule!