When Serena Williams wore a ‘catsuit’ during the 2018 French Open, this choice of clothing was banned because it allegedly showed a lack of “respect” for the game of tennis. The decision, and the overall incident, caused an uproar that went well beyond the world of sports, with many commentators criticizing the ban as a punishment directly aimed at policing women’s bodies. Such practices align with a long history of regulating especially Black and female bodies in the United States, from the Middle Passage and the institution of slavery dehumanizing Black bodies to the physical perils encountered by immigrants coming into the country, from deriding ‘non-normative’ bodies in nineteenth-century freak and minstrel shows to contemporary fights over women’s reproductive rights.
Bodies, and processes of embodiment, loom large in cultural imaginations of America. More recently, investigations into the corporeal have been invigorated by insights from fields like disability studies, fat studies, or the medical humanities and through impulses from queer and affect theory that continue to productively complicate mind-body dichotomies. How specific cultural artifacts, scientific developments, or political decisions imagine bodies, regulate them, imperil them, mark them, or differentiate between them thus does particularly noteworthy cultural work in the United States—something that is always intricately connected to questions of power and control.
For its fifteenth issue, aspeers dedicates its topical section to “American Bodies” and invites European graduate students to critically and analytically explore American literature, (popular) culture, society, history, politics, and media through the lens of the body (or bodies) in the US. We welcome papers from all fields, methodologies, and approaches comprising American studies as well as interdisciplinary submissions. Potential paper topics could cover (but are not limited to):
Narratives, images, or representations of bodies in literature, film, television, comics, games, nonfiction, etc.
Analyses of how bodies are gendered, raced, classed, aged, sexualized, pathologized, etc., and of the complex intersections between these processes
Historical discussions of the role of bodies, e.g. in fields such as sports, migration (especially within the Americas), policing, medicine, war, the history of violence, etc.
Processes of embodiment and disembodiment, e.g. in digital culture
Explorations of the figurative work of ‘bodies,’ e.g. as political or economic bodies, regulatory bodies, etc.
aspeers, the first and currently only graduate-level peer-reviewed print journal of European American studies, encourages fellow MA students from all fields to reflect on the diverse meanings of “American Bodies.” We welcome term papers, excerpts from theses, or papers specifically written for the fifteenth issue of aspeers by October 17, 2021. If you seek to publish work beyond this topic, please refer to our general Call for Papers. Please consult our submission guidelines and find some additional tips at www.aspeers.com/2022.
aspeers: emerging voices in american studies
American Studies Leipzig
04107 Leipzig, Germany