Inspired by its host city, the dynamic capital of the Norwegian petroleum industry, the theme of the 2015 ASANOR conference is The Machine in the Garden: Energy, Industry, and Technology in American Culture. The 40th annual conference of The American Studies Association of Norway (ASANOR) will take place in Stavanger on October, 23-25.
Energy, Industry and Technology
ASANOR 2015 will provide a forum for exploring the interrelationships between technological and sociocultural developments in America. American cultural forms express a profound ambivalence about Americans’ attitudes towards the nonhuman environment and the various technologies that have systemically transformed how Americans live within interconnected ecosystems.
For centuries, the American continent has fueled national fantasies about developing a more natural, utopian society. But this imaginary America, as Leo Marx argued in «The Machine in the Garden: The Pastoral Ideal in America» (1964), often contradicts the complex reality resulting from techno-capitalist developments. A half-century after the publication of Marx’s pioneering study, how relevant is the machine-in-the garden trope for American Studies?
Recent events — from declarations of digital utopianism broadcast from Silicon Valley’s corporate campuses to Edward Snowden’s exposure of NSA surveillance of communication networks to the BP blowout in the Gulf Coast to resistance to the Keystone Pipeline to activism in support of net neutrality and open-access publishing initiatives — suggest that variations of Leo Marx’s machine-in-the-garden trope, and the different visions of American progress they invoke, are more relevant than ever.
Conference presentations will address topics related to the theme of energy, industry, and technology in American Culture.