55th Annual Conference in Fayetteville, Arkansas
Call for Papers:
Rereading the Italian Diaspora Across Time, Place, and Space
Intersections and Explorations of Queer & Other Identities
Date: October 26-28, 2023
Where: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Submission Deadline: April 15, 2023
Considering Antonio Gramsci, Gayatri C. Spivak, and other post-colonial critics’ theories on the subaltern, this year’s Italian American Studies Association’s conference theme explores Italian Americana and ‘otherness’ in its many manifestations. The 2023 conference aims to highlight underrepresented aspects of Italian Americana: from gender and sexuality to rural Italian Americana and migration, as well as Italian Americans and labor that stem from the numerous branches of subaltern studies. One current thread investigates LGBTQIA+ representations in Italian Americana and the Italian Diaspora.
While Italian-American texts have, in many ways, celebrated queer voices for several decades, LGBTQIA+ Italian migrants around the globe still face serious challenges, ranging from overt and covert forms of bias and discrimination to a lack of family and broader community acceptance. As Licia Canton writes, “Italian Canadians have traditionally been hesitant to openly identify as queer…being queer is still taboo” (2021, 11). Queer Italian Americans have expressed similar sentiments and explored related themes through varied modes of cultural production, including poetry, drama, essays, novels, historical accounts, and more. While a wealth of queer Italian-American writing exists, it has yet to be given a place of scholarly prominence in our field. Furthermore, in recent decades, the Italian-American community has discussed queerness predominantly in the form of the binary: gay and lesbian, while scholars outside the US have shifted the discourse to something more open, diverse, and inclusive.
Suggested topics and themes, include but are not limited to:
● Creative writing and artistic production
● Gendering the bildungsroman & Italian American stories across cultures, nations, and diasporas
● Representations of LGBTQ+ Italian Americans via media (film, television, commercials, social media)
● Italian vs. Sicilian (or other regional) sexualities
● Masculinity and Femininity
● Concepts of Motherhood, Fatherhood, e/o the New Italian American Family
● Hyper-masculinity e/o homosociality in Italian Americana
● HIV/AIDS in Italian Americana
● Sex-gender-ethnic performativity
● Vito Russo and ethnic activism (The Celluloid Closet, 1987), the documentary film VITO: The Life of Gay Rights Activist Vito Russo (2011)
● Italian/Queer Theorists (Miele, Pasolini, Bellezza, Buffoni, Penna)
● Transgender + Ethnic Identities
● Comparative approaches to “Othering” and “Otherness” in and among queer ethnic communities
● Rewriting and Queering History
● Challenges to the binary: non-binary, extra-binary (Roof), etc., in Italian Americana and the Italian diaspora
● Gendering, as a verb in Italian Americana (Roof)
● Intersectionality (from Kimberlé Crenshaw to today) and power
● Ethnic/gender/sexual identities in the age of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Labor/Class Issues
● Italian Americans and Space (City vs. Rural; Neighborhoods; Road Trips; Moving)
Hosted in Arkansas, a second conference topic examines the significance of Italian migration to the South and Southwest, emphasizing the Italian migration to rural and under-studied areas. 2023 marks the 125th anniversary of the founding of Tontitown, AR (1898), a neighbor to the University of Arkansas, and the 30th anniversary of University of Arkansas’s University Professor Jeannie Whayne’s foundational Shadows Over Sunnyside: An Arkansas Plantation in Transition, 1830-1945. Additionally, we promote comparative studies of migratory experiences in the Southern US.
Some additional themes include:
● Southern Othernesses
● The Intersection of Southern & Queer Identities
● Italian newspapers in the South and Southwest
● Rural Italian Americana, including labor and foodways
● Interactions of Italian migrants and other ethnic groups, including indigenous people
● Education in Italian Americana of the South and Southwest
● Festivals in the South and Southwest (St. Joseph Day tables, Grape Festival, Polenta Festival)
Beyond our suggestions, we welcome abstracts concerning all aspects of Italian-American and Italian Diaspora Studies and presentations on creative work and translation.
For the complete Call for Papers, proposal information, and additional information about the conference, please see https://www.italianamericanstudies.net/cpages/upcoming-conferences.
We welcome individual papers and completed sessions.