Two Calls for Papers: American Studies Association 2024

Children & Youth Studies Caucus. Logo by Megan Montague Cash
Children & Youth Studies Caucus logo by Megan Montague Cash

TWO Calls for Papers: American Studies Association 2024 (Baltimore, November 14-17)

1: Children as Medical Subjects

This Children and Youth Studies Caucus-sponsored panel seeks papers that consider the role of children and childhood in histories of medicine. From experiments across medical, scientific, and social scientific disciplines to issues of consent and privacy to interventions that delimit trajectories of child development, histories of medicine have helped shape childhoods–its bounds, temporalities, and norms–and children have helped to shape medicine–its protocols, rationales, and knowledges.

Drawing on the conference theme “Grounded Engagements in American Studies,” we seek papers at the intersection of childhood and medicine that ground their analyses by centering the experiences, knowledges, and histories of communities and persons who have navigated, survived, and/or challenged practitioners and institutions that have subjected them to harm under the guise of advancement and progress. We are interested in papers that illuminate the pivotal role children have played in the production of medical and scientific knowledges, securing gendered, sexual, and/or racialized boundaries, and/or that reveal the centrality of children/childhood to these fields.

We welcome proposals from any historical period as well as proposals that approach these issues informed by indigenous, critical race, queer, feminist, ecocritical, anthropological, historical, sociological, and/or literary methods. We especially welcome proposals that can speak to these issues from the positions of activism and praxis. Please note that should your proposal be accepted, you must be a member of the ASA by February 5, 2024.

Please send your 300-word proposal and a bio to Mary Zaborskis ( by January 22, 2024 February 2, 2024

2: Grounded in (be)longing: Nostalgia, Childhood, Social Change

Grounded in longing and directed towards imagined or (mis)remembered pasts, nostalgia may at first glance seem dangerously disengaged from the realities of power. However, nostalgia’s politics are determined by the direction(s) of its yearning. It can be restorative (Boym) — craving a unified, uncomplicated past when America was great and childhood was innocent. But it can also be reflective (Boym), radical (Bonnett), or progressive. There is also Afro-nostalgia, literary scholar Badia Ahad-Legardy’s term for a cultural practice of emotional and psychological reclamation that “reframes, and sometimes repairs, traumatic historical memories in the affective lives of contemporary black subjects.” And there’s solastalgia, environmental philosopher Glenn Albrecht’s term for negatively experienced environmental change — specifically, “the pain experienced when there is recognition that the place where one resides and that one loves is under immediate assault. . . [It] is a form of homesickness one gets when one is still at ‘home.’” Nostalgia is a transideological phenomenon that elicits a complex array of affect. Focusing specifically on the cultures of childhood (broadly defined), participants in this panel will address this question: To what extent can nostalgia provide flexible frameworks for engaging and mobilizing against the messy, interconnected structures that sustain unjust systems?
        This Children and Youth Studies Caucus-sponsored panel focuses on the cultures of childhood because, when nostalgia shifted from medical diagnosis (for severe homesickness) to emotional state, it also shifted from space (a return home) to time (a return to youth — both real and imagined). If contemporary MAGA activists/terrorists long for what Michael Kammen would call “history without guilt,” they long in equal measure for childhood without complexity. Their restorative nostalgia motivates the banning of books about accurate US history, racism, sexism, sex, or any child who is not straight, cisgender, white, and male. Yet can other forms of nostalgia mobilize the longing for justice that creates change? How might afro-nostalgic children’s culture demystify the enchantment of restorative nostalgia, unsettling its claims to historiographic primacy? Might a solastalgic film like Disney’s Strange World (2022) inspire its young viewers to support climate justice? In sum, how might children’s cultures mobilize nostalgia’s longing towards efforts grounded in action and responses to the here and now of children and adults alike?
        Please send your 300-word abstract and a brief bio to Philip Nel <> by January 27, 2024 February 2, 2024.

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