Call for Papers for the 51st Annual Italian American Studies Association Conference

51st Annual IASA Conference at the University of Illinois,  Chicago


— Call for Papers —

“The Conflicts of Immigration Past and Present:

The Position[ing] of Italians and the Diaspora”


Date: October 18-20, 2018


Location: University of Illinois, Chicago


Submission Deadline: Friday, April 27, 2018


Upload/submit proposals to Submittable:


For inquiries, please contact the conference committee at:


The Italian American Studies Association (IASA), formerly the American Italian Historical Association (AIHA)*, celebrates its fifty-first year of academic inquiry into all things Italian and Italian American. This year’s conference theme will address (teaching) the conflicts and tensions in the diaspora, and especially about bringing attention to collective phenomena and how the Italian Diaspora intersects with other diasporic communities. The call is for papers that examine, interrogate, or reflect on the broad themes of the Italian Diaspora that move scholarship forward.

Possible presentation and panel topics may include but are not limited to the following:

  • Italian Chicago as the gateway to migrant expansion
  • Italian Chicago, the churches, and sainthood
  • Italian Chicago and organized crime
  • Historiography of the Italian Diaspora
  • The Diaspora in the community: bureaucracies, institutions, power, leadership
  • Urban neighborhoods and other spatial formations
  • The changing models of the immigrant/migrant experience through time
  • The Italian Diaspora in relationship to other ethnic and racial diasporas
  • The narrative quest for the American Dream (as seen in the media, sports, film, literature, etc.)
  • The Italian Diaspora as seen through creative expression
  • Italian Diaspora from the perspective of the behavioral and social sciences
  • Whiteness, blackness, and identities in diasporic communities

The conference is interdisciplinary in its perspective and methodology. IASA welcomes scholars from all disciplines (including, but not limited to: political science, urban studies, film, literature, women and gender studies), especially those interested in the ethno-historical, religious, and psychological ramifications of migration as well as creative writers (novelists, poets, and memoirists) and visual-media artists. The conference committee will consider proposals that do not specifically address but may complement this year’s conference theme.  

You must email an abstract of your individual presentation or panel proposal and include a brief biography (150 words max.) and academic affiliation, if applicable. For panel proposals, attach a biography of all presenters as well as their affiliation. The abstract should not exceed 500 words. Include requests for audiovisual equipment or special accommodations.  

We encourage the submission of organized panels of no more than three presenters, not including the chair and respondent, and creative writers and artists of three or more presenters. All presentations are limited to 15-20 minutes based upon the number of people on the panel. Participation is limited to 3 presentations; this may include academic papers, creative readings, and/or as a part of round table or respondent. If you are willing to serve as chair, please indicate that willingness in your cover letter. This is separate from your presentation(s).

All presenters, respondents, and discussants must be members in good standing of the Italian American Studies Association by September 1, 2018. Dues are for the calendar year.

For further information, please visit 

IASA encourages proposals in diverse formats, including round tables, debates, workshops, teaching sessions, and performances. We prefer fully formed sessions, although we also encourage people to submit individual presentations, as well as we encourage submission of individuals who would prefer to moderate or to comment. If this is your interest, please submit a CV and statement of areas of interest and expertise. We are especially interested in linking scholars across fields and we welcome participants from multiple disciplines, roles, and backgrounds.

Guidelines for Proposals:

Sessions will be 75 minutes, and we will ask the presenter to limit her or his remarks to 15-20 minutes each, so there is ample time for Q&A and discussion. Proposals may be for one of three forms:

  • Individual presentation, paper, or talk.
  • Panel session or workshop, featuring multiple presenters.
  • Performance, reading, or screening of creative work.

Proposals should include:

  • Proposal title and a brief (250-word description)           
  • Suggested topic category (see list above)      
  • Brief biographical statement, affiliation, and e-mail     
  • Technology needs, if any.

* December 1966, a group of historians, educators, sociologists, and other interested persons met at the LaGuardia Memorial House in New York City and founded the American Italian Historical Association. Since then, the Association has grown exponentially to reflect the diversity of scholarship that now subtends Italian-American studies.

Keynote Speakers: Rebecca West & Jennifer Guglielmo

Keynote title: TBA

Rebecca West, William R. Kenan, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor Emerita of Italian Literature, and the Department of Cinema and Media Studies

I was trained as a literary scholar with a specialization in Italian Studies; my major field is modern and contemporary Italian literature, and I have a secondary research and teaching interest in medieval studies, specifically Dante and early lyric poetry. As a scholar of contemporary Italian literature and culture, I also focus on cinema, which is one of the most prominent artistic forms of modern Italian culture. I maintain an interest as well in Italian American cinema, which has both deep ties and wide divergences from the Italian film canon. In the field of cinema studies, my research and teaching have concentrated on intersections of literature and film, the role of the screenwriter in the elaboration and production of cinema, feminist and queer film theory, Italian and French classical and contemporary film theory, comparative screen representations of masculinity, and stardom. I have published articles on the Italian American directors Martin Scorsese and Abel Ferrara, and their collaborations with actor Harvey Keitel, on the Italian screenwriter Tonino Guerra, on contemporary Italian writer and filmmaker Gianni Celati's video production, on screen versions of Collodi's Pinocchio,  on semiotics of the clothing of Cary Grant, and I have edited a volume of articles by graduate students in our doctoral program in Italian literature, on the intersections of film and literature entitled Pagina, pellicola, pratica: Studi sul cinema italiano (2000).  My film courses have included a seminar on modern Italian history and culture since national unification, and on Italian American culture, as seen in films ranging from classics of Neorealism to the Spaghetti Western, and from Scorsese's earliest films to Ferrara's work such as Bad Lieutenant . I have also taught a course on comparative screen representations of masculinity, in which I concentrated on the work of Harvey Keitel and Marcello Mastroianni, and explored constructions of diverse masculine types from the perspective of gender theory, as well as the phenomenon of stardom and its impact on collective conceptions of the normative and non-normative male in contemporary American and Italian society. I have taught a course that builds on this earlier seminar, and focuses specifically on the types of the "Latin Lover" and the "Tough Guy."  A course that dovetails with my current book in progress is on film adaptations of mystery novels by women, including Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell, Vera Caspary, and others. Adapted mainly by male directors, these novels are transformed in their journey from page to screen in terms of plot elements, stylistic emphases, and diverse views of the problematics of gender contained in them. As a scholar who is deeply committed to gendered approaches to the study of literature, film, and culture, and as the former Director of the Center for Gender Studies, I have been involved in feminist and queer studies approaches, and look forward to applying them to my future teaching and study of film.

Keynote title: TBA

Jennifer Guglielmo, Associate Professor of History

Jennifer Guglielmo is an associate professor of history at Smith College where she teaches histories of women, labor, race, migration, working-class communities, transnational cultures and revolutionary social movements in the United States, from the nineteenth century to the present. Her publications include the award-winning Living the Revolution: Italian Women’s Resistance and Radicalism in New York City, 1880-1945 (2010), and Are Italians White? How Race Is Made in America (2003). Currently, she is engaged in community-based public history with the National Domestic Workers Alliance, developing tools for domestic workers and organizers to access historical knowledge and archival evidence, so it is easier to use history as an organizing tool.