An unprecedented opportunity for EMU students is coming up this Friday and Saturday. Professor Mark Metzler Sawin of the History Department is conference coordinator of the Eastern American Studies Association (EASA) and is offering students here a chance to be involved in this prestigious and landmark occasion.
This event is no small happening in any circle, but especially within the field of academics.
The American Studies Association is, according to Sawin, “A national body made up of a vast array of scholars from many different disciplines, all focused on life in the USA and the impact the US has on the rest of the world, and vice-versa. It’s massively interdisciplinary and far-ranging in its scope… as long as something happened in or in some way impacted life in what is now the United States, it’s fair game for research.”
From 2006-2008, Sawin has served as the president of EASA, which stretches from NY to VA, and is also the chair of the national ASA’s Regional Chapters Committee, the national committee that coordinates all of the regional chapters. Due to Sawin’s heavy involvement with the nationally renowned organization, the annual EASA conference is being hosted by EMU this year, and students are granted unprecedented access.
The title of the conference is “E Pluribus Unum?: Unity, Division & the Making of American Identity,” and scholars from over 25 different institu- tions “ranging from EMU and Bridge- water to UVA, Duke, U., Penn, Penn State, NYU & Yale,” according to Sawin, will be participating.
Over two dozen topics ranging from “Mickey Mouse to the Black Panthers, Puritans to Pickups, the Supreme Court to Baseball, Fashion to Fascism, Music to Medical science” will be presented during the conference.
The way that the items are selected for the conference is through a paper proposal reviewed by folks from Penn State, Rutgers, La Salle, and EMU, with the top entries making it onto the program. In addition to numerous key note speakers giving voice to a diversity of issues, there will be a graduate and undergraduate student paper contest “which provides a great opportunity for young scholars to meet and work with well-established scholars and professors for other institutions,” said Sawin.
In addition to an immensely impressive line-up of speakers from numerous universities, several EMU people will be presenting as well, including Howard Zehr, CJP; Lynne Mackey, Music; David Evans, Seminary; Bonnie Lofton, Staff/Editor; Carah Ong Whaley, Political Science; Holly Scott, History; Mark Metzler Sawin, History; and Sophomores Mat- tie Lehman and Sara Ritchie.
The keynote speech will be delivered by Priscilla Wald of Duke University, entitled “What is Human Now?: Species Identity in the Age of Biotechnology.” While official registration for the conference is now closed, everyone is invited to attend the panel sessions which will run from 2:00-3:15 p.m. and from 3:30- 4:45 p.m. in the Seminary Building on Friday, March 22, and from 8:00-9:15 a.m., 9:30-10:45 a.m., and 11:00 a.m.- 12:15 p.m. at the Lucy Simms Center (Harrisonburg’s former African-American school which is about 1.5 miles from campus at 620 Simms Ave).
According to Sawin, this event promises to be “a great series of fascinating papers on a huge range of diverse topics.” The full conference schedule can be accessed online through my.emu.edu, and all who have an interest are encouraged to attend.