On April 3, the first day of the 60th anniversary conference of the European Association for American Studies, NASA organized the first student conference in the history of the EAAS in cooperation with Leiden University College. The idea was to give our European colleagues a taste of the BA and MA student participation at our annual NASA American Studies Days and to elevate this practice to the European level. To ease the participation of students from abroad NASA awarded 15 travel grants to help foreign students cover their travel expenses. The student conference attracted over 45 student participants from all over Europe resulting in 11 parallel workshops covering a broad range of topics related to the conference theme ‘America: Justice, Conflict, War.’
The informal kick-off for the student conference in fact already took place on the evening of April 2, when the student participants gathered for welcome drinks at Leiden University College. After some drinks and initial introductions they took off together for a wonderful BBQ on the beach organized by the newly installed StudentNASA board, which provided a nice opportunity to get to know each other before the big conference day while enjoying a beautiful North Sea sunset. On the morning of April 3, the student conference was formally opened by NASA President Dr. Marietta Messmer and StudentNASA President Marie-Claire Bovet after which an exciting twohour round of parallel workshops started with presentations on topics ranging from ‘War, Trauma and Culture’ and ‘Racial and Social Conflicts’ to ‘Questions of Liberty and Empire’ and ‘Foreign Policy and Diplomacy.’ After the lunch break the conference resumed with five more parallel workshops covering the following topics: ‘Post-9/11 Culture: Fiction and Music,’ ‘War and the Visual Arts,’ ‘Fiction, War and (Racial) Conflict,’ ‘Global Conflicts, Local Effects,’ and ‘USEuropean Relations and Diplomacy.’ In addition Mathilde Roza (Radboud University Nijmegen) and Eric Sandeen (University of Wyoming) organized a very interesting shoptalk on ‘Launching a New European Student Network on the Politics and Cultures of Liberation.’ After the formal student program ended all participants were invited to the official opening of the regular EAAS conference in the marvelous Kloosterkerk.
Many student participants expressed their appreciation of the conference as well as for the support they received from the student volunteers at the conference. As Andrea Schlosser from the Ruhr University Bochum (Germany) remarked: ‘I really felt cared for which made it so much easier to give my presentation.’ Thus, the 2014 EAAS Student Conference provided a rich academic program for ambitious European BA and MA students of American Studies and set an inspiring precedent that will likely be repeated in the future. Meanwhile, the discussion started in the Hague continues online, for example on the ‘EAAS 2014 Student Conference’ Facebook page, where student participants are keeping in touch, sharing pictures, exchanging paper transcripts and making new plans already.