Great Divides

Great Divides is an interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the University of Saskatchewan/Treaty 6 Territory & Métis Homeland and the Canadian Association for American Studies. It will take place online from October 22-24, 2021.

The Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans are seamed together by the Continental Divide of the Americas. Branching off from that divide are numerous other hydrological divides that, contrary to their name, tie the Americas together from north to south and east to west, from the Bering Sea to the Gulf of Mexico. While possessing a specific geographical denotation, “Great Divides” nonetheless evokes other kinds of geographical, geopolitical, and ideological divisions, some imposed by nature and others as a result of human intervention, including generational, class, and race-based divides. What ruptures do these divides threaten to maintain, enlarge, or create anew? How do discourses of “division” historically belie networks of continuity and affinity? What role might American Studies scholarship play in revealing the seams and unities that exist within these divides? 

Drawing on the manifold connotations of this theme, we invite proposals for papers and other presentations on the topic of “Great Divides.” We welcome approaches to this theme from all disciplines, fields, and historical periods. Papers on other topics relevant to American Studies will also be considered.

Topics and themes might include (but are not limited to):

  • Toxic environments
  • “Open road” or road trip narratives
  • Generational divides
  • Historical ruptures
  • Temporal divides/discontinuities
  • Intellectual divides or debates
  • Cultural elitism or anti-intellectualism
  • Income gaps
  • Red states/Blue states
  • Rural/Urban
  • Sacred/Profane
  • Nature/Culture
  • Interstitial spaces
  • Space, place, and human geography
  • Theories of political sovereignty with or against practices of ecological and/or geographical sovereignty
  • Geographical imaginaries at home and abroad
  • Imperial archipelagos

The conference program will operate on Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) and take place over Zoom. Given the online format of this year’s meeting, presentations will be limited to a maximum of 12-15 minutes each (shorter formats are welcome and encouraged). Presentations will not be expected or required to express a fully formed argument. In the interest of promoting more robust conversation, we invite the thoughtful presentation of new or exploratory ideas, structured meanderings, collaborative interrogations, and creative interventions in the ways we currently share and disseminate knowledge in this field. To these ends, we invite proposals for roundtable conversations, pedagogical workshops, and creative works in addition to traditional individual paper and formal panel proposals.

To participate, submit abstracts of 250-300 words to caasconference2021[at] by July 19, 2021. Please include a brief bio and 3-5 keywords that describe the content of your presentation. Panel submissions, roundtables, and other presentation formats will be considered, but an abstract, bio, and keywords are required for each conference participant. Questions about the conference, or about submitting a proposal, can be sent to the conference co-organizers, Ross Bullen (rbullen[at] and Jenna Hunnef (jenna.hunnef[at]