ACTC’s 29th Annual Conference – April 11-14, 2024 – Sheraton Downtown Memphis

Registration is $375 ($250 for graduate students and emeritus professors) and includes Thursday dinner, Breakfast and Lunch on Friday and Saturday, and Breakfast on Sunday. 

Place matters in core texts and courses. In every tradition, one finds texts that explore our place in nature, our place outside of nature, our rootedness and our deracination, our national identity and our cosmopolitanism, our desire for home, for escape, and for utopias. Are we products of our environments that must be considered in our efforts toward self-knowledge, or are we best understood according to placeless and transcendent things? How do we create and effect the places in our lives, and what is our responsibility to those places? Why read and teach texts that emerged from one’s own places, however we define them? Why read and teach texts that come from places foreign to our experience and personal history or that of our students?

We invite proposals for papers and panels that consider the ways core texts convey, consider, and contest views about our place in the oikos and the cosmos, creation, our mindfulness of home, the homeless mind, etc.

ACTC papers should not take more than 15 minutes to present, and about twenty percent of each paper should engage directly with a primary text. ACTC panels should include three to five presenters and a chair, who may also be one of the presenters. It will be up to the chair to determine whether panel papers will be shared before the conference, but it is not conventional to require papers to be submitted before they are presented. We will invite all presenters to submit a longer version of their paper for consideration in a peer reviewed volume of selected essays.  We encourage papers and panels on our conference theme, but we will consider proposals that don’t speak directly to the theme. The proposal deadline is December 29, 2023.

Keynote Speaker: Marjorie Garber

Described by The New York Times as “one of the most powerful women in the academic world,” Marjorie Garber is a leading Shakespearean scholar and cultural critic. The William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard, Garber is the author of widely admired books on Shakespeare, including Shakespeare After All, which received the Christian Gauss Book Award from Phi Beta Kappa. Newsweek chose the volume as one of the five best nonfiction books of 2004, calling it “an indispensable introduction to an indispensable writer . . . Garber’s is the most exhilarating seminar room you’ll ever enter.” Described by women’s studies pioneer Catharine Stimpson as “the liveliest, wittiest, and most scintillating of writers about our culture,” Garber has addressed a wide range of issues: from cross-dressing and cultural anxiety to bisexuality and the eroticism of everyday life, from our love of pets to our national obsession with the word “genius.” 

Professor Garber’s talk, entitled “Displacement,” is co-sponsored by Pearce Shakespeare Endowment and the Project for the Study of Liberal Democracy, Rhodes College; and the Naseeb Shaheen Memorial Lecture Series and Marcus Orr Center for the Humanities at the University of Memphis. 

Featured Artists: The Mighty Souls Brass Band

The Mighty Souls are brewing up a strong, stanky pot of Funky Memphis Soul just for You! 

Mighty Souls Brass Band, a Memphis‐based rotating collective of composer‐players versed in a multitude of musical traditions, isn’t a soul band, nor is it a funk band, a marching band, or a swing band. And yet, depending on where you catch them live, you’ll hear all of those influences and more from around the globe. 

For proof, check the band’s debut album—Lift Up!, on Blue Barrel Records—largely recorded live, to catch the infectious synergy of the group. You’ll hear all of these influences, but you’ll also hear the writing and arrangement talents of MSBB’s members, who themselves composed ten of the album’s dozen tracks. This vigorously creative impulse to weave something new from the threads of various traditions is what makes Mighty Souls Brass Band a unique act even among brass ensembles. This is a band that knows where its roots lie, but also where its branches are reaching, far out into the world, a world that seems invariably to express its deepest spiritual desires and celebrations through music. 

Mighty Souls Brass Band is a group attuned to that desire, that celebratory spirit. It’s a music that swings, that soars, that swoons—all of which is suggested by that profound, that humble, that most human of words: “Soul.”