CFP: Protest and Persuasion

Call for Papers
Fifth Biennial European Early American Studies (EEASA) Conference
Lublin, Poland, 11-13 December 2014

Protest and Persuasion: Writing, Print, Speech, and Performance in Early America and the Atlantic World

Persuasive communication has been at the heart of much of Western social and political development. It played a crucial role in the early promotion of colonization, struggle for independence, campaigns for the recognition of independence by European powers, the making of the constitutions, laying foundations of the new states, justifying or repudiating slavery, and building and manipulating alliances with Native Americans. Several decades of scholarship have elucidated the dynamics of authorship, publishing and reading in the Americas and the Atlantic world as forms of public relation practice in the pre-mass media world. Meanwhile, numerous studies of public opinion have built upon and responded to Jürgen Habermas’ thesis about the transformation of the public sphere in the eighteenth century. These two strands of scholarship have often intersected, and in both areas the scholars have insisted on the need to move beyond the reified notions of “print culture” and the “public sphere” to consider the interaction of oral, scribal, printed and behavioral forms of socially and politically motivated communication.

The 2014 EEASA Conference will provide an opportunity to present fresh and more nuanced insights on how political communication actually worked in the Americas and the Atlantic world. What strategies of communication and modes of persuasion and protest did people develop and with what goals? What constraints – technical, geographic, legal, or cultural – help to explain the adoption of certain forms of expression and the content of the messages? How did the meaning and significance of words and images evolve as they travelled from place to place? How were persuasion and protest articulated in non-verbal forms, such as gesture, symbol, image, and performance? What political consequences – intended or unintended – resulted from the way people used speech, writing, print, and group action in early America and the Atlantic world?

The following list contains some potential topics to be addressed:
– the evolution of the forms and genres of persuasion, protest, reconciliation, and cooperation (speeches, sermons, newspaper articles, pamphlets, broadsides, songs, slogans, poems, engravings, etc.);
– the interaction of words and images in political communication;
– the migration of texts from spoken to written (or printed) and vice versa;
– the migration, re-uses and transformation of concepts, images, music and sounds from other colonies and Europe as well as foreign language texts in political culture
– the role of translators and interpreters;
– censorship and other forms of restraint on speech and writing;
– the use of the body through performance, gesture, or dress to communicate messages;
– group protest tactics: petitions, marches, town and country meetings, activist organizations, etc.

Please send your proposal to by 30 September 2013.

The host of the 2014 Conference is the Department of English at Maria Curie-Sklodowska University (UMCS) in Lublin, Poland. UMCS, established in 1944, is the biggest university in eastern Poland with 25.000 students. The conference venue will be the Faculty of Arts.