We are seeking contribution from all disciplines to an American Studies essay collection on DIRT. Dirt is among the most material but also the most metaphorical and expressive of substances. This collection hopes to bring together essays that explore how people imagine, define, and employ the various concepts and realities of dirt. What does it mean to call something dirty? How do we understand dirt and its supposed opposite, cleanliness? How do we explain the points at which we draw the line between clean and dirty, what we embrace and what we refuse to touch? Drawing on multiple disciplines we hope to uncover and foreground the (often unconscious) centrality of the metaphors and actualities of dirt to U.S. cultures, values, and lived experiences. Possible formulations of this keyword include (but are not limited to):

* Dirty words
* Dirty pictures and dirty minds
* Dirt and disorder
* Hygiene
* Trash
* Dirt and art
* Waste, human and otherwise
* Excess and excrescences
* Germophobia
* Fear of impurity
* Chthonic dirt
* Sanitation
* Urban construction and destruction
* Getting the dirt: gossip, revelation, exposure
* Filthy lucre
* Washing one’s hands
* Animals and animality
* Dirty jokes
* Dirty politicians
* Corruption and scandal
* Ecology/sustainability
* Dirt collectors (hoarders, Collyers syndrome, cat ladies)
* Getting down in the dirt (reality shows, mud wrestling, spectacle)
* Landfills and parks design
* Disgust, repulsion, nausea
* “Dirty immigrants” and other epithets
* Sustainable dirt

Please send abstracts and cvs to Patricia Yaeger at pyaeger@umich.edu and Hildegard Hoeller at hilhllr@aol.com by April 30th, 2011. Essays should be 9000 words and will be due December 15, 2011.