Promoting, supporting and encouraging the study of the United States since 1955

British Association for American Studies


BAAS Annual Conference 2021


Digital BAAS 2021 – The Digital Conference

April 6-11, 2021

For all inquiries and information about the BAAS 2021 Digital Conference, click here.

Call for Papers

We are excited to announce details for the British Association for American Studies’s 66th Annual Convention — its first to be hosted entirely remotely. For several years BAAS has been building towards an event of this type, in order to transcend the exclusivity and waste of our traditional conference model. Our plans have been pushed forward by our familiar enemy Covid-19 but are equally motivated by our twin concerns of environmental impact and accessibility/inclusivity. As part of the ‘Green BAAS’ agenda, we are committed to reflecting upon the environmental impact of our activities, and to making positive changes to combat climate catastrophe. The decision to host a virtual conference presents the opportunity not only to minimise international travel, but also to highlight the work of members working in the environmental humanities, and to reflect critically upon the culture of academic conferences. Furthermore, we hope that the reduced costs associated with a virtual event will facilitate the participation of American Studies students and scholars across the globe, and will help generate new and productive networks and collaborations.

We welcome scholars from all disciplines and time periods whose work engages with the culture, politics, society, and history of North America, the United States and the Americas more broadly. Proposals on any aspect of American Studies are welcomed, but we particularly encourage proposals that engage with issues of sustainability and environmental studies.  BAAS is recruiting for a conference manager for this event. Please see the BAAS site for further details.

We have extended the submission deadline to January 10, 2021, as many have expressed concern about not being able to prepare a submission in time amidst these challenging conditions. Please submit to or

Thanks to all for you who wrote with positive feedback and inquiries about the Digital BAAS 2021 conference. For those of you who already submitted, thank you very much for your interest and enthusiasm. To those whose submissions have not been acknowledged yet, sincere apologies for the delay–the hectic end of semester has made it that I have not had the chance to write back to all, but please trust that I have received your submissions in good order and you will hear from me very shortly. Should you have any urgent inquiries please feel free to write to

We now write to share more details about the upcoming conference and to announce an extended submission deadline to January 10, 2021. The conference will take place in a fully-digital format from April 6-11, 2021. This turn to the digital comes sooner than expected, but it was already on our radar as part of the Green BAAS agenda, and we are pleased to be able to have the chance to connect virtually this spring. While we understand the realities of Zoom fatigue, we hope that many will be able to join. We are planning a conference with ample opportunities for networking and community, in addition to the traditional research presentations. You may follow us for the latest conference updates on Twitter at @BAAS_2021, and we of course will also be sharing via the main BAAS account.


  • April 6-11 2021

Plenary Speakers

We are very excited to announce that we have now confirmed our first plenary speakers.

Dr. Laura U. Marks (Simon Fraser University) will open our conference with a plenary address titled “Streaming Media, Online Conferences, and the Jevons Paradox”

According to the Jevons paradox, more efficient technologies tend to encourage greater use of a resource, reducing or eliminating savings. Our skyrocketing consumption of data in streaming media and online conferences (not to mention artificial intelligence and the “Internet of things”) is obliterating any energy savings promised at the outset of these technologies. Because about 80% of that energy comes from fossil fuels, streaming data has a dangerously bloated growing carbon footprint that could well destroy any hope of meeting the Paris Climate Accords. Media corporations, telecoms, and energy companies rely on fictional future efficiencies. In contrast, I will suggest some practical, if unpopular, solutions.

——This plenary, as the description makes clear, ties in directly with the Green BAAS agenda, and will offer us food for thought about the new normal of online conferencing. Dr. Marks works on media art and philosophy with an intercultural focus, and on small-footprint media. She was the co-organizer of the 2020 Small File Media Festival. Her most recent monograph is Hanan al-Cinema: Affectations for the Moving Image (MIT Press, 2015), and in 2020 Marks published  “Let’s Talk About the Carbon Footprint of Streaming Media” in AfterImage.

Dr. Sarah M.S. Pearsall (University of Cambridge) will deliver the plenary sponsored by The Eccles Centre. Her talk is titled “The “Dangerous Disorders” of Early America.”

“Alex got better, but his mother went quick” sings the chorus in the opening song of the hit musical Hamilton, about the contagious disease that killed Alexander Hamilton’s mother and sole support.  Disease and epidemics profoundly shaped individual lives and larger structures in early America.  In the midst of a pandemic and novel vaccines, what can we learn by considering this long arc of disease, care, and prevention?  This lecture will examine how epidemics and inoculation controversies reveal a great deal about the politics, tensions, and inequalities of early America—and our own times.

——Dr. Pearsall is University Senior Lecturer in the History of Early America and the Atlantic World at the University of Cambridge. Her work probes the intersections of gender, households, and sexuality with the development, maintenance, and end of colonies in a North Atlantic world. She is the author of Polygamy: An Early American History (Yale UP, 2019) and Atlantic Families: Lives and Letters in the Later Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press, 2008), which won the Women’s History Network Prize.


  • All sessions will take place remotely and will be hosted through a digital events platform.
  • To facilitate the attendance of colleagues based outside the UK, sessions will take place between 14:00 and 20:00 GMT


  • While individual paper proposals will be considered, proposals for fully-formed sessions are preferred. We encourage innovative and experimental panel/session formats which take into consideration both the possibilities and the limitations of remote conferencing, and are designed to engage audiences in live discussion and interaction.


  • Roundtables
  • Flash papers
  • Keyword/image sessions
  • WIP discussion of pre-circulated papers
  • Reading groups
  • Pedagogical workshops
  • Network meetings

Sessions which require the circulation of pre-prepared materials, such as drafts, videos, podcasts, posters, etc, will also be considered. Fully-formed session proposals should include a summary of the session’s aims and format, and a short summary of the component presentations, if appropriate, along with a preferred duration, and any special requirements, up to a total of 500 words. Individual paper proposals should be no longer than 250 words. BAAS is dedicated to fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion. We will give preference to panels that reflect the diversity of our field in terms of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and institutional affiliation. We will also give preference to panels that include a mix of participants from across the career spectrum (i.e., from postgraduate to Professor). Historically women have been disproportionately underrepresented on panels and BAAS is taking positive action, as permitted under s.158 Equality Act 2010, to enable and encourage the participation of women. For this reason all-male panel proposals will not be accepted. BAAS may constitute an all-male panel or other presentation where absolutely necessary (but any such consideration will be other than via the call for papers procedure).

Registration Fees
Registration will start once the program has been finalized, but we do want to share the rates with you at this stage. Because of the online format, fees are significantly lower than for in-person conferencing. We hope this will enable many of you to join us. The plenaries will be free and open to the public.

Standard rate: £40
Postgrad/ independent/unwaged: £25
Friend of BAAS: £60

We encourage those who might have institutional support, or the financial means, to consider selecting the ‘Friend of BAAS’ rate to support our organization.