CFP: The Arts and the Public

New England American Studies Association Annual Conference
massachusetts Historical Society, Boston, MA
October 1-3, 2010

The New England American Studies Association welcomes proposals for its 2010
conference on "The Arts and the Public," to be held at the Massachusetts
Historical Society, October, 1-3, 2010. Proposals for papers, panels,
workshops, and other forms of presentation will be accepted at through April 9, 2010. Proposals are limited to 300
words. NEASA welcomes proposals from across the disciplines, from
primary/secondary as well as higher ed, from artists as well as scholars,
and from outside the academy as well as within. More information is
available at

The relationship between the arts and the public has always been both
contentious and celebrated in American life. From debates over the
propriety of early American novels to present-day attacks on public-arts
funding, from nineteenth-century responses to abolitionist literature to
controversial post-9/11 representations of Muhammad, the link between the
artistic and civic has long generated suspicion and argument. At the same
time, the arts are frequently understood as an essential component of an
education in democratic citizenship and have throughout the twentieth
century been supported by the state. Indeed, the establishment and
institutionalization of American Studies itself owes a great deal to such
state sponsorship. It is clear that the arts interpellate, just as they
also help construct new publics - new collectivities based on race, gender,
sexuality, and other orientations - that challenge dominant values of the
public. The histories of social and identity movements are also the
histories of art and aesthetics.

In inviting proposals for papers, panels, workshops, and presentations on
this topic, NEASA conceives of "the arts" and "the public" very broadly. We
welcome work on the visual, literary, print, (new) media, performance,
photographic, musical, cinematic, plastic, fine, and popular arts, as well
as material culture, industrial arts, kitsch, built environments,
architecture, and folklore. We hope for papers and panels on public policy,
public funding, Public History, Public Humanities, public art, public
education, public sphere theory, and counterpublics. Papers may even
challenge the very idea of "the arts" and "the public." Participants may
address the topic historically, theoretically, politically. We are
interested in the work of practitioners as well as scholars, of visual and
performance artists as well as those who work with the arts in public

Additional fields and objects of engagement might include:

Black Arts Movement
The New Deal and WPA
Native-American arts
Arts and the border
Transnational arts
Histories of public art
Folk art and folklore
Publication and circulation
Privatization of publishing
Free publishing
New Media and the public sphere
Popular music
Copyright, patent, and intellectual property
Open Source and open access
Open universities
Secondary Education and the Arts
Culture fronts
Relational aesthetics
Queer film, zines, poetry, fiction, performance . . .
Art of the book
Graphic novels
Religious iconography
On-line learning
American Studies and the public
The history of American Studies and other disciplines
The crisis in the humanities
Cultural tourism
Art markets and criticism
Private/public splits
Questions of cultural identity and the public sphere
Citizenship and the arts
The neoliberal notion of culture
Controversies and censorship
Education and pedagogy
Culture wars
Public funding of the arts
Sociology of literature and art
The intersection of the aesthetic and the political
Museum studies
Democracy and the arts

Michael Millner, President, NEASA


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