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"Heritage and the State" Conference
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4/8/2011 to 4/9/2011
When: 4/8/2011
Where: Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 
United States
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The Middle Atlantic American Studies Association joins with the Pennsylvania Political Science Association and the Middle Atlantic Folklife Association to sponsor a conference with the theme, "Heritage and the State," in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, April 8-9, 2011. The conference has the special feature of holding its meetings in the State Capitol of Pennsylvania dedicated in 1906 and envisioned by its architect Joseph Huston as a "Palace of Art." Harrisburg as the state capital and center of rural, urban, and suburban areas is nationally significant in the intersection of government and culture because there state legislators wrote heritage stewardship into the state constitution and established groundbreaking programs such as the first state historian and folklorist positions and a state heritage affairs commission. The location is also home to the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, State Archives, State Museum, National Civil War Museum, Institute for Cultural Partnerships, Institute for State and Regional Affairs, Historical Society of Dauphin County, Penn State’s doctoral programs in American Studies and Public Administration, and other major institutions concerned for public policy and heritage issues.

The sponsoring organizations from different fields will join together to present special events, tours, and plenary sessions in the State Capitol. The conference theme is intended to explore issues related to the relationship of culture, government, and communities through time and space. It raises questions, too, about the emergence of "heritage” as a term, rhetoric, concept, and subject for study in American discourse on culture, society, and tradition. A context for this discussion is dramatic shifts in the responsibilities and functions of government in stewarding America's cultural heritage during recent years of economic crisis and social change. Many states in the Middle Atlantic region and beyond have seen funding and programming cut for education, art, cultural programming, museums, historic preservation, and institutions working with heritage and with these changes have precipitated public discussions about endangered resources of American culture.

Proposals are invited for presentations that give interdisciplinary perspectives on the relationship of heritage in the public sphere, including historical, ethnographic, political, and philosophical views of heritage creation, maintenance, and change; the role of communities past and present in shaping their own heritage in discourse with government and educational institutions; the politics and policy history of culture in heritage programming and funding; local color literature, dialect and ethnic language maintenance, and regional writing as heritage; prospects for traditional heritage institutions such as museums, historical societies, and cultural agencies and new directions for public needs in heritage literacy; influence of media such as the History Channel and popular films on heritage awareness; tourism and festival as cultural boosterism; relationships of folk and popular culture regarding the representation and dissemination of heritage; sustainability of cultural/natural landscapes and community folk culture against the pressures of modernization and technology; interpretations of historical heritage movements such as the Colonial Revival, "roots” phenomenon, nostalgia and antiques crazes, Arts and Crafts movement; evaluation of new forms of heritage construction in media and the Internet; and the roles of authenticity and representation in oral/visual/material/cyber-culture.

Undergraduates interested in presenting their work in the annual American Studies Undergraduate Roundtable at the conference should select a mentor and then contact Dr. Francis J. Ryan at Graduate students should identify their status and program/school affiliation when making submissions. Accepted graduate students will be encouraged to submit their final papers electronically several weeks prior to the conference so as to be considered for the Simon J. Bronner Award for outstanding graduate paper in American Studies. During the luncheon near the conclusion of the conference, the award is presented along with the Francis Ryan Award for Undergraduate Research.

Submit abstracts and resumes no longer than 2 pages to ”Heritage Conference” at before January 10, 2011. For more information, see

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