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Annual Spring Symposium

Each year, the CALS Spring Symposium brings together prominent scholars in American literature and culture with Penn State faculty, students, and the larger public to discuss a pressing issue in today's academic world.

Previous Events

2014--Alien Form: Genre and the Production of Ethnic American Literatures
March 31, 2014

"Alien Form" focused on how genre and literature’s formal properties can be deployed to counter the strong desire to read Ethnic American literary production in terms of “identity,” “culture,” and “the authentic.” Centered on the production and marketing of Ethnic American literature as well as the cross-pollination between literary fiction and genre fiction, "Alien Form" questioned the aesthetic possibilities and limits of Ethnic American literature as itself a generic category. The invited speakers for this included award-winning writers Karen Tei Yamashita, Stephen Graham Jones, Sheree Renée Thomas, Nelly Rosario, and Ken Liu.

2013--Nerds, Wonks, and Neocons
April 29, 2013

As so-called public intellectuals and university scholars alike continue to struggle for mainstream visibility, what other forms of attention, excitement, and expertise have emerged alongside them, or as their de facto replacements? By bringing together scholars of US literature and culture with historians of science and technology, political scientists, and other scholars and critics, this symposium looks beyond the scholarly tendency to idealize intellectual activity in order to explore other models and practices of learnedness, reflection, knowledge production, and opinion circulation in the contemporary world.

2012--Editing America

Six invited participants working in various time periods and areas of American literary history joined Penn State faculty, students, and the public at large in a discussion of what “editing” and “archiving” American literature and culture means, has meant, and might mean going forward for scholars and readers alike.

2011--Crisis? What Crisis? Whose Crisis?

In the inaugural Spring Symposium, scholars and students from both within and outside of Penn State came together to discuss the place of the liberal arts in the university and in society during a time of crisis.

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