CFP: Reanimations

Reanimations is an interdisciplinary conference that will be hosted by OCAD University and the Canadian Association for American Studies (CAAS). It will take place online from October 28-30, 2022.

We are interested in work that explores the theme of “reanimation” in any of its multiple registers. In one sense, to reanimate is to imbue something with life or consciousness that has been dispossessed of it. As the United States records its one millionth death from COVID-19, and Oklahoma passes a near-total abortion ban based on its so-called “heartbeat bill,” we are reminded of the extent to which the problem of reanimation – reassertions of presence or absence and its role in the circumscription of “life” as an object of knowledge and value – remains a central feature of state biopolitics.

Since Aristotle, the question of an entity’s animation has involved the formulation of animacy hierarchies: imputing various states of liveliness, awareness, agency, and mobility to different forms of existence. Recent scholars of affect and sentimentality – including Sianne Ngai, Xine Yao, and Kyla Schuller – have argued for the centrality of the concept of animation in theorizing the historical processes of racialization. The ascription of pathological states of over- or under-animatedness to different racial groups continues to motivate US cultural scripts, from police officer Darren Wilson’s testimony of killing Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to media characterizations of China’s stoicism and impassivity in the face of a global pandemic.

That the term “reanimation” conjures a cluster of Gothic tropes – Frankenstein’s creature, the walking dead, the return of the repressed – gestures to that genre’s resurgence in the cultural mainstream as a mode of political critique. The Gothic names the aesthetic mode par excellence whose task has been the overturning of enlightenment animacy hierarchies. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that it has offered such a useful toolbox for Black, Indigenous, Asian American, and diasporic South Asian artists seeking to speak back to what Ngai in Ugly Feelings calls “the ideologeme of racial animatedness.” Jordan Peele, Misha Green, Ling Ma, Jesmyn Ward, Stephen Graham Jones, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Carmen Maria Machado are just a few of the artists who have repurposed the Gothic to theorize the intersecting forces of race, gender, class, and sexuality.

We welcome approaches to this theme from all disciplines, fields, and historical periods. Papers on other topics relevant to American Studies will also be considered. Topics and themes might include (but are not limited to):

  • Adaptation and medium specificity
  • (Re)animations and (sub)versions of the canon in the literature of historically marginalized peoples
  • Reboots, revivals, spinoffs, and sequels
  • Online reanimations: gifs, memes, screenshots, and retweets
  • Reanimating American Studies: new methodologies
  • Indigenous (re)animation of the horror genre as survivance
  • Rebooting cultural narratives in the 21st century
  • Nostalgia, pastiche, and parody
  • Gothic reanimations
  • Representation, reproduction, and reanimation
  • Literary rewrites and revivals
  • Afro-Indigenous gothic formulations: reanimating a genre
  • Animus/animosity
  • Apocalypse, Millenarianism, and other utopias

The conference program will operate on Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and take place over Zoom. Individual paper presentations will be limited to a maximum of 12-15 minutes each (shorter formats are welcome and encouraged). In the interest of promoting more robust conversation, we invite the thoughtful presentation of new or exploratory ideas, structured meanderings, collaborative interrogations, and creative interventions in the ways we currently share and disseminate knowledge in this field. 

To participate, please submit abstracts of 250-300 words using this Google Form by June 30, 2022. The proposal form will ask individual submissions to submit a brief bio and 3-5 keywords that describe the content of your presentation. Panel submissions, roundtables, and other presentation formats are also welcome. For pre-formed sessions, please have one designated person submit all information on behalf of all proposed contributors, including their abstracts and bios. Questions about the conference, or about submitting a proposal, can be sent to the conference committee (caasconference2022@gmail.com) or to Ross Bullen (rbullen@ocadu.ca).

OCAD University acknowledges the ancestral and traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudenosaunee, the Anishinaabe and the Huron-Wendat, who are the original owners and custodians of the land on which we stand and create.