Abstract & Call for Papers
Within the emergent field of 1960s studies and within the popular imagination of the decade, 1968 has a luminous significance. The year's iconic status stems, in part, from the raw power of its defining events: in the United States, student uprisings at Columbia University and San Francisco State College, and violence at the Democratic National Convention; the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Robert Kennedy; urban unrest and the rise of Black Power; the accumulating strength of feminism, and gay and lesbian, native American, and Chicano/a activism. Internationally, 1968 saw the Tet Offensive and My Lai massacre; youth rebellions in France , West Germany , and Japan ; the Prague Spring and Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia ; the activist phase of China 's Cultural Revolution; the massacre in Mexico city , and “revolutionary” and repressive violence throughout the “ Third World .” But beyond its obvious tumult, “1968” now serves as a metonym for the 1960s as a whole and a marker of the era's distinctive sensibilities and contradictions: the mixture of exhilaration and dread, the perception of infinite possibilities and tragic constriction.
Recent scholarship on 1968 has focused on its particular eruptions and reactions, but also on the question of their systemic connection. Were the wide-ranging instances of social unrest the manifestations of a global zeitgeist, conditioned or at least influenced by broad macro-economic and geopolitical forces? Or were these phenomena the outgrowth of primarily local and unrelated conditions? Does a satisfying analysis require a partial synthesis of both these possibilities, as well as a frame for thinking both similarities and differences?
The Drew University Modern History and Literature Program Graduate Student Conference on 1968 will attempt to explore this question from a number of different angles. Areas of interest include:
- Geographies of Protest: rebel energies in Western and Eastern Europe, North and Latin America, China and Southeast Asia.
- Gender Trouble: radical transformations in gender relations and sexual identity; the women's movement; gay and lesbian rights activism.
- Protest and Print Culture: pamphlets, manifestoes, plays, the underground press, literature, posters, graphic novels, and “comix.”
- Popular Culture and the Media Massage: cross-referential/interdisciplinary investigations into film, music, television, advertising, fashion, and “pop-art.”
- Political Ideologies: Marxism, Maoism, anarchism, the Frankfurt School, Situationism, internationalism, anti-colonialism, liberalism, the roots of contemporary conservatism.
- Theoretical Explorations: the rise and fall of Marxism, the universal vs. the local intellectual, post-structuralist stirrings, anticipations of globalization.
- Counter-cultures: hippies, Yippies, Diggers, Provos, communards, enragés, happenings, undergrounds, scenes.
- Technology: Future Shock; cybernetics and informatics; from Haight-Ashbury to Silicon Valley ; the birth of the digital revolution.
- Religion: liberation theology; priests, pastors, and protest; journeys East and West; origins of New Age religion; the roots of contemporary fundamentalisms.
The papers need not be limited to the areas and topics listed above, nor the year 1968 as such. Rather, we encourage the creative combination of two or more areas of interest, as well as attempts to theorize the connection between various events, logics, and genres.
Those submitting paper proposals should be graduate students, post-docs, or very recent Ph.D.'s. Please submit a one-page abstract of your paper with your affiliation and contact information by snail mail or email to:
Cheryl Oestreicher, Conference Chair
36 Madison Avenue
Madison , NJ 07940
Faculty Sponsor: Jeremy Varon, Professor of History, Drew University. Author of Bringing the War Home: The Weather Underground, the Red Army Faction, and Revolutionary Violence in the Sixties and Seventies ( California ).
Drew University is located in Madison New Jersey, thirty miles from New York City. A commuter train runs from Madison to Penn Station in less than an hour.