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2014 New York Metro American Studies Association Conference: American Vernaculars
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When: 11/15/2014
Where: Stella and Charles Guttman Community College
New York, New York 
United States
Contact: Sarah Chinn

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Responding to tensions between official and emerging forms/formats/modes within and beyond academia, the New York Metro American Studies Association has chosen the theme of "American Vernaculars” for the annual conference. Rooted in the ordinary, vernaculars are languages, movements, objects, spaces, technologies, practices, and beliefs people use in their everyday lives. Through these and other vernaculars, NYMASA and contributors seek to explore questions such as: How does the vernacular relate to the academy? How do vernaculars create, define, protect and sustain communities? How do vernaculars interact with, confront, resist, and/or subvert elite and exclusionary discourses? How do vernaculars change over time and how do they produce change across geographic and social terrains? How do vernaculars create, define, protect, and sustain communities, especially marginalized and racialized communities?


NYMASA invites participants to engage with any of the following issues (or any others the topic inspires):

  • The vernacular and the authentic
  • The vernacular and Critical Race Theory
  • The vernacular and the African-American rhetorical/musical traditions
  • Racialized vernaculars
  • Vernacular and Composition/Rhetoric
  • Vernacular architecture and design
  • Visual vernaculars: signs, billboards, found objects, realism, the handmade, graffiti
  • Spoken/written vernaculars: jargon, lingo, slang, dialect/s, accents, Yiddish, Global English, neologism
  • Vernacular nationalisms: patriotisms, fascisms, globalization, Americanization
  • Vernacular politics: strikes, demonstrations, protests, chants, slogans, songs
  • Digital vernaculars: memes, selfies, hashtags, wikis, tweets, likes, vine, emoji, text-speak, email novels
  • Code-switching vernaculars: code-meshing, translingual writing and rhetoric, bilingualism
  • Vernacular memories/vernacular histories: storytelling, monuments, textbooks
  • Dangerous vernaculars: cussing, cursing, codes, censorship
  • Urban vernaculars: graffiti, street fashion, city talk,
  • Vernacular food: food carts, locally grown/sourced, cookbooks, the Food network
  • Vernacular movements: Chautauqua
  • Vernacular knowledge: rumors, gossip, myths, jokes
  • Vernacular media: folk, jazz, hip-hop, talk shows, talk radio, music videos, Polaroids, Instagram
  • Vernacular medicine: midwives and obstetricians, doctors and healers, self-help
  • Vernaculars of the body: gender/gendering, sexuality, taboos, tattoos
  • Vernaculars of the future, dystopian/utopian vernaculars
  • Religious vernaculars: spiritualism, direct revelation, translations of the Bible
  • Vernacular scholarship and the scholarship of the vernacular: ethnography, participant-observation
  • The appropriation of vernaculars: advertising, consumer culture
  • Archaic/obsolete/vanished vernaculars


NYMASA welcomes papers on any historical period in American Studies, as well as 21st century topics. Preference will be given to presentations that circulate across historical and disciplinary borders, presentations in formats other than the 20-minute paper, and those that incorporate performance and/or visual art. Please note that abstracts will be accepted for individual paper presentations only, not pre-constituted panels.


Abstracts Due: July 15, 2014
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