Netherlands American Studies Association

Call for Papers: GKAT Conference 2020: Heidelberg Center for American Studies, 25–27 June 2020

Conference “Authority and Trust: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Perspectives”

The DFG-funded research training group “Authority and Trust in American Culture, Society, History, and Politics” is hosting an international conference aimed at junior researchers that will explore the emergence and transformation of authority and trust in American politics, society, religion, literature, and culture from the nineteenth century to the present.

We conceive of authority and trust as dynamic and complementary concepts: authority pertains to the tension between power and legitimacy and implies the ability to induce voluntary obedience; trust, by contrast, often connotes personal and intimate relationships among equals. Trust also extends to larger impersonal entities and institutions, and authority, as a social relationship based on voluntary compliance, seeks the trust of those who are asked to comply.

We seek papers that investigate different elements of authority and trust within the U.S. context and how the sources, functions, and manifestations of authority and trust have changed over time. Contributions should speak to one or several of three thematic areas:

1)         The Authority of the Modern State and Trust in Public and Social Institutions

2)         The Urban Dimension of Authority and Trust

3)         Authority and Trust in Culture, Literature, and Religion

The division between these areas provides a starting point for a larger interdisciplinary discussion between history, political science, geography, literature, linguistics, discourse studies, cultural studies, media studies, and religious history. Papers that cut across thematic, historical, geographical, and disciplinary boundaries are especially encouraged.

Abstracts (<500 words) and brief biographical information to be submitted via email (

View our full Call for Papers.

Deadline for Abstract Submission: 16 December 2019
Keynote Speakers:

  • Prof. (em.) Dr. Dr. h.c. Aleida Assmann, Professor of English Literary and Cultural Studies, University of Konstanz
  • Tom Nichols, PhD, U.S. Naval War College University Professor and adjunct Professor at the U.S. Air Force School of Strategic Force Studies and the Harvard Extension School

Program tba.
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Twitter: @GKAT2020