Founded in 1951 during the Cold War, the American Studies Association (ASA) is the largest and oldest association devoted to American studies. It has regional chapters all over the country. The ASA was founded to reflect and challenge reigning ideas regarding American exceptionalism.
In 1967, it held its first national convention in Kansas City, Missouri. The move toward democratization of universities in the US and social movements led to the ASA highly emphasizing studies on race, gender, class, and empire. The ASA adopted American Quarterly a year after it was founded, a publication focused primarily on studies in the culture of the United States with an emphasis on globalism and utilizes an interdisciplinary approach.
Each year the American Studies Association holds an annual meeting. In 2013 the meeting was held Baylor University and the event was highlighted by a number of conferences and film viewings such as “The Day Kennedy Died.” to commemorate the 50 years since the tragic assassination of President John F. Kennedy; creative writing readings by Elizabeth Bates, Cassy Burleson, Kathleen Hudson, Donna M. Johnson, Jenuine Poetess, June Zaner, and Richard M. Zaner; “Faulkner’s Bear: Squirrels, Timber and the Ecological Self” by Ken Hada, East Central University Department of English & Languages; and “Poe and the Blackwood’s Tale” by Brooke H. Smith, San Antonio I.S.D., both moderated by Mia Moody-Ramirez.
With the effects of a worldwide pandemic still heavy on us, the 2021 Annual American Studies Association conference will be held via a hybrid of face-to-face and virtual programs. The first week will be dedicated to an in-person convention to be held in San Juan, Puerto Rico on October 7-10, 2021. The following week will be reserved for a 100% virtual conference and in line with this, book exhibits will be held virtually as well. These changes were implemented to account for an adjustment to the many changing circumstances brought about by the global pandemic of 2020.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Creativity within Revolt,” which can be described as a condition in which those who refuse to or are unable to tolerate the normalization of global and domestic productions of both state and extra-state violence. It expresses a will toward a collective consciousness that intends to displace, challenge, and hopefully abolish relations of dominance that negatively impact not just our lives but the lives of those we share this world with.
Revolt can be considered a historical imperative carried out as a creative and dynamic act by communities who have been under conditions of duress, something inherited by most but embraced only by a few. Building on the momentum of the 2019 annual meeting theme “Build As We Fight”, the aim of this year’s theme is to encourage a critical conceptualization of both “revolt” and “creativity.” As such, the American Studies Association calls on its vastly diverse, multicultural, interdisciplinary community to consider forms of participation that involve creative scholars, practitioners, and artists from as many sociopolitical contexts and places as possible. These include those who have been oppressed, incarcerated, or exiled, community activists, those working under conditions of occupation or apartheid, social movement veterans, and survivors of all kinds.
The Association seeks workshops, panels, and experimental forms of collective engagement and creativity that demonstrate commitment to universal accessibility and inclusivity.
The ASA hopes that this will all set the stage for the 2022 Annual Meeting which, if circumstances permit, will be held from November 3 to 6 in New Orleans, Louisiana.