Friday, November 27, 2009

CFP - Re-Visiting the Lower East Side

Call for Proposals: Re-Visiting the Lower East Side: A NYMASA Summer Institute

The New York Metro American Studies Association (NYMSA) invites proposals for participants in a summer institute from June 14th to June 18th, on the theme Re-visiting the Lower East Side. This weeklong series for educators will allow participants to visit and re-visit New York's Lower East Side (LES). It will focus on the history of the LES as a site of immigration, urban development, architecture, commerce, and art as well as a site of fantasy and cultural tourism. Almost as long as immigrants and internal migrants have flooded into the LES to settle, survive, and create communities, readers and tourists have been curious enough about the LES to allow a culture of real and virtual cultural tourism to be sustained. The LES has been commercial as a neighborhood and has been commercialized for those not living there. The seminar will explore both aspects of LES history. The seminar will be interdisciplinary in nature, hoping to draw participants from immigration studies, urban studies, American studies, sociology, history, literature, theatre, women studies and other fields.

The institute is designed to bring together 15 scholars and teachers from the New York metropolitan area to engage in the study of the Lower East Side. Our goal is to create an academic community that studies, reads about, and walks through the Lower East Side.

One segment of the institute will include visits to partnering organizations such as the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the New-York Historical Society, and the Ellis Island Museum, in-depth tours of their exhibits, and discussions with curators about the issues that arise out of preserving histories of immigration in an area that bears the weight of so much personal and cultural memory. In visiting these cultural institutions, we hope to revisit not just the Lower East Side itself, but the narratives that have grown up around it. The rest of the week will be taken up with seminar-style discussions of shared reading and writing workshops in which participants can present their own work and gain valuable peer analysis of their research in the field.

The instituted is sponsored by an American Studies Association Regional Chapters grant and hosted by Hunter College, CUNY. The cost of the week will be $100, and will partly cover breakfasts and lunches and admission to all cultural events. NYMASA is not able to provide accommodations for participants.

Proposals should include: a current cv; a writing sample, ideally on a relevant topic (scholarly, pedagogical, or creative writing are equally acceptable); and a cover letter outlining the applicant's interest in the institute, current project, and possible intellectual contributions to the group. Please send two copies of all materials by January 31st, 2010 to Sarah Chinn, English Department, Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10065.

The institute is open to educators of all kinds, including doctoral students and college and university faculty; K-12 teachers are encouraged to apply.

For more information, please contact either Sarah Chinn at or Hildegard Hoeller at