1963: A Watershed Year?
Friday, March 15, 2024

Call for Book Chapter Proposals: 1963 – A Watershed Year? 

Subject Fields: History, American History, American Studies, Film and Film History, Literature, Black Studies, Gender Studies. 

When considering the evolution of the African American Civil Rights movement, 1963 looms large in historical study and memory.  In 1963, the Birmingham campaign (and the state violence wrought upon it) captured national and international attention, and a quarter of a million people marched on Washington D.C. and listened to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s iconic ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. The wider struggle for civil liberties extended beyond the Civil Rights Movement, even while it remained inspired by and crucially intertwined with it. From housewives inspired by the publication of Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique to white evangelicals protesting the secularization of public education, 1963 was a year in which the struggle for civil liberties manifested in new forms and adopted new rhetorics. As such, the year of 1963 demonstrates how broader changes in the political, intellectual, media, and cinematic landscape provided a variety of societal groups with new ways to interact with the civil rights story and to reimagine themselves as part of it.  

This edited volume engages with and interrogates the historical concept of the calendar year, capturing the breadth of diverse historical actors whose ideals and actions were inspired by and interwoven with the Civil Rights Movement. The kaleidoscopic nature of 1963 - with interconnected shifts at a micro and macro level - indicates the distorting and transforming impact of the year on American life. This strict chronological focus, combined with a thematic breadth of papers, offers a range of new perspectives on a crucial year for the Civil Rights Movement. However, it also encourages students and scholars to reflect on the purpose, significance, and potential limitations of the calendar year as a category of analysis in history.    

We are seeking chapter proposals that interact with the concept of 1963 as a ‘watershed year’ in the struggle for civil liberties. Whilst we will consider papers from a broad spectrum of topics, we particularly encourage papers that address gaps in the current plan for the volume. These include, but are not limited to:  

  • Students and student activism 

  • Women’s history and the history of feminism 

  • Cultural forms and their relationships to civil rights, including literature and literary figures 

Chapter proposal submission: 

Please contact the volume editors, Uta Balbier (uta.balbier@history.ox.ac.uk), Emily Brady (emily.brady@rai.ox.ac.uk), and Megan Hunt (megan.hunt@ed.ac.uk) by March 1, 2024, if you are interested in submitting a proposal for the volume. Please include a proposal of 300-500 words, alongside a short biography (max. 300 words). 

Deadline for abstract submission: March 15, 2024 

Further information: We intend to conduct a workshop for authors which will take place in September 2024 (in person or online depending on funding) to workshop draft chapters and to work jointly towards a cohesive volume. 

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