Call For Papers: congres Transatlantic Studies Association, Gent, 7-10 juli 2014

Deadline for panel and paper proposals: 20 March 2014. In 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed, bringing to an end the War of 1812 between Britain and the United States. 1914 saw the outbreak of four years of devastation with World War I. To celebrate two hundred years of peace and alliance between Britain and the United States and the role of Europe in bringing it about, and to mark the remembrance of the First World War, the TSA will hold its first annual conference outside Britain and Ireland in Ghent.

Keynote Lectures:

Duncan Bell (Cambridge University)

Gregory Castle (Arizona State University)

Jamie Shea (NATO)

Author Roundtable: Sarah Churchwell (University of East Anglia), and Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby

Call for Papers

In 1814 the Treaty of Ghent was signed bringing an end to the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States. Although tensions would remain throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, this turned out to be the last time that Britain and America would be at war. Ghent therefore marks the beginning of a remarkable political, economic, and security relationship between these two Atlantic powers. 2014 also marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, which brought the United States out of its self-inflicted isolation from European affairs and established it for the first time as a major diplomatic power-broker on this continent. Both 1814 and 1914 therefore represent decisive moments of change in the politics and diplomacy of the transatlantic region, largely because of the fact that both represent a new relationship between the United States and Europe, firstly with its former colonial overlord and later with the continent as a whole. This conference aims to explore the significance of these anniversaries and to examine 1814 and 1914 as turning points in modern transatlantic history, particularly concerning the rise of the United States as a regional and global power. The papers at the conference will cover the diplomatic, military, economic, and cultural dimensions of this transition, with special reference to moments such as the Treaty of Ghent which mark out key points of change that have hitherto been downplayed or disregarded in the Grand Narrative of the transatlantic region. As we move further into the 21st century, global power is becoming more diversified across nations and regions. As a result, it is a perfect opportunity for re-considering the last two hundred years of the transatlantic world by making use of new perspectives and approaches.


The conference has three central aims.

1) multinationality. The event will provide a meeting place for scholars from across Europe and North America to present papers covering a variety of national perspectives on the transatlantic relationship over the past 200 years. The Anglo-American relationship has tended to dominate the historiography of this topic due to the unique ‘special’ relationship between the United States, Canada and the UK. Yet other nations also have special ties and relations with the US and Canada – for instance, the French (Québec), Central and Southern Europe and the migrations of the 19th and early 20th centuries, Germany and two world wars and their aftermath, the Scandinavian countries and the linkage with North America through the Arctic. The conference is also open to scholars to explore the rising importance of relations between Europe and Latin American nations, as the dynamics of the transatlantic economy and developments in regional and global governance see an expansion of the notion of the ‘transatlantic’ as a relevant moniker for regional cooperation.

2) multidisciplinarity. The conference encourages papers from across the social sciences and humanities on this theme, incl. literary studies, to ensure a vibrant cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches to the transatlantic phenomenon.

3) diversity. The conference aims to provide a platform for PhD students and younger scholars to present their ongoing research, and to have the opportunity to meet with more established figures in their field. Academic conferences can often be a challenging environment for younger scholars to present their work, and the intention here is to create as conducive an environment as possible for them to develop ideas, test conclusions, and build contacts for the future. To that end, registration for junior scholars will be kept at a lower rate: sufficient accommodation has been arranged in university-owned and other hostel-type housing.


Transatlantic relations are currently predominantly examined from two broad perspectives. Firstly, there is the focus on the Atlantic World of the 16th to the 18th centuries, with special emphasis given to the trade links, slavery, and the ‘triangle’ of commerce between North-Western Europe, Africa, and the Eastern and Southern seaboard of the United States and the Caribbean region. Secondly, there is the rise of the United States as a global power from the early 20th century onwards, and the close relationship between this rise to prominence and the intricate involvement and engagement of the United States with the European continent.

This conference challenges this established division in historiography by taking a different starting point – 1814 – and by linking the 19th and 20th centuries to open up space for an alternative, longue durée narrative of cross-continental contacts, contracts, and flows. This academic perspective is bolstered by the deliberate aim to involve other national perspectives in order to add further layers and dimensions to this transatlantic narrative. Transatlantic relations will in this way be re-positioned beyond the Anglo-American central point of the past decades, allowing for a spatial and temporal re-examination of interests, trends, and conflicts over the past two hundred years.

The conference will also provide an opportunity for considering the present and future significance of the transatlantic region. As the structures of global governance change according to new power shifts, it is an opportune time for questioning whether the transatlantic era is fading out or merely adapting and reforming to changing circumstances.

Panel proposals and individual papers that fit within the following themes are welcome:

  1. Literature and Culture
  2. Economics
  3. International History, Security Studies / IR, and NATO
  4. Planning, Regeneration and the Environment
  5. Migration and Diaspora in the Atlantic World

Please send paper proposals (a 300 word abstract and brief CV) and panel proposals to the conference email:

Deadline for panel and paper proposals: 20 March 2014

Please contact the local conference organisers for any additional information:

Professor Gert Buelens

Professor J Ken Kennard


For further information on the Association please visit