Call for Participation: Material Culture Caucus at 2017 ASA Conference

Jennifer Black's picture

Please see the CFP below from the ASA's material culture caucus: 

The Material Culture Caucus of the American Studies Association wishes to encourage participation in the November 9-12, 2017, Annual Meeting: Pedagogies of Dissent” in Chicago.

To read the conference Call for Papers see:

The Material Culture Caucus welcomes papers and panels that explore an expansive definition of pedagogy that includes all spaces, institutions, and objects that shape American thought and character including schools, religious institutions, workplaces, entertainment venues, civic institutions, retail environments, resorts, parks, etc.

We hope to help link potential panelists with shared interests in material culture topics. If you, your colleagues, or doctoral students are considering proposals for the conference, please email us your panel CFP or your paper idea and we will work to connect similar panelists and papers. We are also happy to offer suggestions on complete panels.

If you are interested, please submit your ideas or abstracts to Anne Verplanck (aav3  [at]  psu dot edu) as soon as possible (and before January 9, 2017). Feel free to be in touch by email with any questions.

NB: All interested parties who email us will still be responsible for following all posted instructions and for submitting their own panels or papers to the ASA by the ASA deadline (February 1, 2017).

Topics related to the theme that proposals might address include:

  • Circumventing consumerism - freeganism, simple living and its communication and representation
  • Reappropriation - Native American dissent from Indian themed branding, African-American ownership of jazz, creole cuisine
  • Spaces for Performing dissent - performance as pedagogy
  • Repurposed tools of oppression - the fire hose, the bus, the water fountain (bubblah)
  • Occlusion
  • Disguise
  • Labor unrest
  • Civil disobedience
  • Anti-patriotism - (flag/draft card burning, anti-parades)
  • Treason - (spycraft aiding the enemy)
  • Sedition - (tools of insurrection)
  • Armories and Militias
  • Religious compounds and cults - Jim Jones (People’s Temple), Branch Davidians, The Manson Family, Heaven’s Gate
  • Heresy - religious dissent, abortion clinics, birth control
  • Labor unrest - (strike signs, magazines/ newspapers/ posters, uniforms, cityscapes, guide books)
  • Cross dressing and understanding the gendered other
  • Passing and understanding the racial other
  • Hiding from the state (avoiding Foucault’s surveillance state, living off the grid, survivalism and learning to do without formal governance)
  • Nudity - (the opposite of occluding, baring it all)
  • Sex work and sex education
  • Transcience - (making the legible, illegible (Scott) - shanty towns, homeless shelters, hobo camps)
  • Vandalism - Graffiti and its new-found main-stream acceptance
  • Squatting
  • Conscientious objection - teaching peace through protest
  • Hacking the material world (IKEA hacks, Parcour, self-education through deconstruction)
  • Ad hoc repurposing the designed object. (shopping carts and cardboard boxes for the homeless, college students who use milk-crates as furniture and ping-pong balls for drinking games)
  • Street-theater - (civil rights activism, the fire hose, the bus, the radical faeries, act up)
  • Kitsch - (inversion of cultural hierarchies)
  • Alternative medicine (anti-vaccines, homeopathy, eugenics, phrenology, quack medicine, midwives, shamanism)
  • The non-nuclear family (same-sex families, domestic partnership, bachelor pads)
  • Assent (the other half of the dissent binary). Is there such a thing as a pedagogy of assent, or is the definition of pedagogy the norm the accepted? Is the implication of assent to give up control of some sort?


After submitted panels are reviewed and selected by the ASA, the Material Culture Caucus may select one of those panels as an official Caucus-sponsored session. The MCC will publicize all related papers and panels.

Interested in the 2014 Material Culture Caucus session that celebrated the 20th anniversary of the caucus, “Twenty Years, Twenty Questions to Ask an Object”? To view the video: 


To read the questions:


Best wishes,


P.J. Carlino, Boston University

Emilie Johnson, Monticello

Anne Verplanck, Penn State, Harrisburg