Words of Welcome
Philip John Davies, EAAS President,
Director, Eccles Centre for American Studies, The British Library, London
Change and scholarship walk hand in hand. Scholars are consistently searching for new ways of understanding their subjects, alternative paradigms to add to those already accepted and in use, better evidence to apply to their work, new problems, contexts and cultural artefacts to examine. American Studies has always been a subject rich in stimulating change and we meet in Constanta at a time when the United States is once again providing us with an almost theatrical display of change and challenge to the status quo.
Our Constanta conference coincides with an American presidential election year and perhaps that is a context in which we should be unsurprised by change. With the end in sight of the first African-American presidential administration there is the potential simultaneously for the USA’s first female-led administration or, if not that, of an administration led by an outsider who may capture the Republican party nomination against a tidal wave of opposition from that party’s leadership. Whatever the particulars of the result, there is going to be plenty of change to investigate, and the literature will be awash with broken paradigms. It is just one small example of how fascinating our subject is, and how important an area of study.
The EAAS conference structure has also altered. No longer confined by a tightly defined theme, an international array of scholars have volunteered to present work across the spectrum offered by American Studies. This meeting provides multiple opportunities for that scholarship to be examined and supported by teams of colleagues from different institutions, different countries, and different American Studies approaches – a creative opportunity for multi- and inter-disciplinary debate rarely achieved in any academic meeting. This positive response to internal change is gratifying, but might have been predictable in a community as firmly engaged and intellectually inquisitive as our American Studies colleagues.
Stimulating though it may be, change is not easy, and I wish to congratulate the local organisers from the Romanian Association for American Studies, the hosts in Constanta and especially at Ovidius University, and the officers and Board of the European Association for American Studies for the way in which this new format EAAS conference has been created.
According to legend Ovid was dismayed to be exiled to Constanta. He was too far from the literary sources and company that he craved. He nevertheless continued to produce work of huge import, informed perhaps by his unwanted experience. He provides a valuable lesson that great scholarship can be achieved in difficult circumstances. Within our own international organisation there are colleagues who face difficulties and who deserve our support and admiration as they continue their unflagging efforts to extend our understanding of American Studies in all its forms. It is more than pleasing that EAAS has been able to use the small grants programme introduced at the last conference to provide modest help to almost fifty young colleagues attending the conference.
Our experience in Constanta is different to Ovid’s in many ways. We have chosen to come here, and we find a welcoming community of scholars willing to share with us their admirable facilities where we can search together through all of those elements of American Studies that startle us into discussion of their new shapes, shifts of direction and changes. It would be an almost unfathomable challenge to produce anything as lasting as Ovid’s work, but it certainly provides us with a great context for intellectual enquiry.
It is a pleasure to be spending my final EAAS conference as President of the Association here in Constanta, and it will be a pleasure to meet as many fellow-members and visitors as possible during the four days we are together. May I wish you a productive and enjoyable 2016 conference, and suggest that you pencil in for 2018 our next conference, to be hosted in London.
Philip John Davies
Sorin Rugină, President, Ovidius University Constanta
On behalf of Ovidius University Constanța, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the European Association for American Studies Conference 2016 organized in Constanța, Romania, from April 22-25, 2016.
Ovidius University Constanța (OUC) is a public higher education institution which was founded in 1961 and became a comprehensive multicultural university in 1990. With over 15000 students, of which about 1200 international, and more than 650 permanent academic staff OUC is the largest university at the Black Sea in the European Union. Nationally and internationally accredited, OUC has bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs in various fields of scientific endeavor, ranging from medicine and life sciences, to engineering and natural sciences, arts and humanities, law, social and economic studies. OUC is an active international institution, being part of several higher education associations such as the EUA, EURASHE, BUA, and the DRC and holds the permanent general secretariat of the Black Sea Universities Network, BSUN.
One of our priorities is to enhance the international dimension of Ovidius University Constanța. We operate on an international stage and this must be reflected in all areas of University life: from our students and staff, to our collaborations and partnerships that tackle problems transcending national boundaries, and in the important scientific, cultural and societal contributions we make. We are already an Eastern gateway to Europe, but our ambition is to be recognized as a regional leader in higher education and scientific research, to establish ourselves as The European University at the Black Sea.
Our patron, the Roman poet Publius Ovidius Naso, has left a lasting legacy to the entire world, a heritage that teaches, through the ancient myths of Metamorphoses, about passion, the power of love, about creation, evolution and transformation. Faithful to our patron and to our traditions, our institution has changed significantly over its 55 years of existence, becoming a regional intellectual hub.
We are proud that the European Association for American Studies has chosen Ovidius University Constanța as host of the 2016 Conference. We are convinced that this meeting of outstanding scientific quality will be an inspiring and informative event to all participants.
We also hope that your stay in Constanța will be enjoyable. Bathed by the waters of the Danube and the Black Sea, Dobrogea has always been a bridge between East and West, North and South, an ethnic and religious mosaic welcoming to all visitors. We encourage you to take the opportunity and explore the region and interact with the people. I am confident that you will want to return.
Professor Sorin Rugină, M.D., Ph.D.
Hans Klemm, U.S. Ambassador to Romania
It is with great pleasure that I join the representatives of the Romanian Association for American Studies and of Ovidius University, the hosts of this year’s EAAS biennial conference, in extending a warm welcome to Constanta to all European and American scholars, as well as to your colleagues and friends from other continents and countries.
As the call for papers indicates, 2016 brings various important anniversaries relating to American history and culture. Proposing them as themes for the conference provides generous room for scholarly reflection and analysis. I would like to contribute some suggestions to the list of inspiring anniversaries, such as 115 years since the birth of Louis Armstrong and 45 since his death, 380 years since Harvard College was created and 170 since the foundation of the Smithsonian Institution, 60 years since the publication of Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl,” 95 years since Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique, was born, 155 years since Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States and 160 years since President Woodrow Wilson was born. The papers announced in the program connect, from different perspectives, to these and other moments, works, achievements, and people that significantly changed America and the world.
I would like to thank you for your enthusiastic interest in looking at the United States from various angles and in bringing fresh ideas to the transatlantic dialogue in American Studies. I am sure that the conference will be a stimulating and rewarding academic event and I wish you much success for this and for all future endeavors.
U.S. Ambassador to Romania
Adina Ciugureanu, RAAS President, EAAS Treasurer
As President of the Romanian Association for American Studies (RAAS), I am delighted to welcome you to the 2016 EAAS conference in Constanta, Romania.
Constanta has grown on the foundations of the ancient Greek city of Tomis (6th century B.C.), now bordering on a popular sea resort. A favorite holiday destination in the summer and a student metropolis for the rest of the year, Constanta attracts a variety of people of all ages with its present and past alike, its historical vestiges, mixed architectural styles, multi-ethnic culture and warm hospitality. The presence of the Roman poet, Publius Ovidius Naso, exiled here in the year 9 A.D., is evoked today in the largest institution of higher education in the region, Ovidius University, the venue of the conference. It has been our hope that this will be a convenient place for the new EAAS open-format conference. This is a young and energetic university open to changes and challenges, which is delighted and honored to welcome you here, today.
The new format of the present biennial conference was intended to offer every academic interested in American Studies the opportunity to propose a panel, workshop, roundtable, or an individual paper. The 400+ participants in this conference are the living proof of the boost which the non-restrictive call for presentations has produced, taking into account that 2016 is a year which marks various important American historical, cultural and literary events, enumerated on the conference site. In addition, 2016 marks the completion of President Obama’s second term, while also being animated by the Presidential race for the top White House office. I am certain that the format of the EAAS biennial conference will provide good opportunities for discussion, analyses, proposals, for intellectual dialog based on academic research and experience.
I am very happy to welcome the EAAS President, the ECCLES Center Director for American Studies, Professor Philip Davies, the EAAS officers and board, representing 22 European associations, our distinguished key-note speakers, Executive Director of the Romanian-US Fulbright Commission, Professor Rodica Mihaila, Paul Mellon Professor of American Studies, Gary Gerstle from Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Executive Director, Bronx River Alliance/Bronx River Administrator, New York, Linda Cox, the American Studies scholars, researchers and graduate students from 38 countries around the globe.
Last but not least, I would like to extend my gratitude to the university and faculty administration for support and, especially, to the organizing team, my very supportive colleagues, my friends, as well as to the energetic student volunteers.
On behalf of the EAAS and RAAS, I look forward to meeting you in Constanta in April 2016.