In 2018, half a century will have passed since the social revolutions of ‘68. Social protest movements—from the Transcendentalists to the Beat Generation, from the Civil Rights to feminist movements—and their respective struggles still stand today as hallmarks for counterculture and achieved equality in the United States. In light of current events, dissent and public protest are seeing a revival, both in the US and other parts of the world. Leftist and liberal movements, such as Occupy Wall Street or Black Lives Matter, as well as nationalist and/or conservative groups, such as the Unite the Right rallies or figures such as Kim Davis, have shown that America is once again at the crossroads of competing visions in a globalized world. Recently, historian Ralph Young has highlighted the “interrelatedness of dissent and what it means to be an American” in his book Dissent: The History of an American Idea (2015). Shifting the focus in this way allows us to understand America itself as a project of dissent. The conference thus seeks to contribute to a contemporary, albeit historically informed, conceptualization of dissent, exploring past as well as more recent phenomena relating to the topic.
With our Sixth American Studies Leipzig MA-level graduate student conference “American Cultures of Dissent” we invite contributions investigating diverse representations and conceptions of dissent. The conference will deal with, while not being confined to, questions of counterculture(s), critical theory, grassroots movements, oppression, subversion, and the relation between the body politic and ‘otherness.’ These issues can be examined through the lenses of literary and cultural studies, political science, sociology, historiography, media studies, economics as well as from an interdisciplinary perspective.