Conference in Citizenship Studies 2011: Bodies and Citizenship

Date and time

March 31 - April 2, 2011

About the conference

Citizenship is about defining which bodies matter and what or who should govern them, either informally or formally. Classical understandings of the dimensions of citizenship – rights, responsibilities, and dependency – reflect a variety of contexts in which ideas about bodies and realities of the biological are themselves rooted. Thus, citizenship is often connected to larger questions and assumptions about where you are born (birth rights), where you have a right to live (immigration and transnationality), and your age and what that means in terms of what you are allowed or expected to do (voting, military service, work).

It also encompasses what expectations individuals have for what citizenship will provide them (the welfare state, dependency in the post-neoliberal age, resources – food/water/air, free and unrestricted access to information). Incorporating, but also moving beyond the traditional focus of the biopolitical nature of citizenship, this conference encourages participants to focus on the historical, political, economic, social, and cultural dimensions at the intersection of bodies and citizenship. Plenary speakers will be Kathleen Canning from the University of Michigan and Susan Wells from Temple University.


McGregor Conference Center
Wayne State University
495 Gilmour Mall
Detroit, MI 48202


Kathleen Canning

Arthur F. Professor of history, women's studies, and German at the University of Michigan

Kathleen is the author of Languages of Labor and Gender: Female Factory Work in Germany, 1850-1914 (Cornell, 1996; 2nd edition: University of Michigan, 2002) andGender History in Practice: Historical Perspectives on Bodies, Class, and Citizenship (Cornell, 2006). Her co-edited volumes include Weimar Publics/Weimar Subjects: Rethinking the Political Culture of Germany in the 1920s (with Kerstin Barndt and Kristin McGuire) (Berghahn Books, 2010) and Gender, Citizenships and Subjectivities (with Sonya O. Rose) (Blackwell, 2002). She was the director of the Eisenberg Institute for Historical Studies at Michigan from 2006-2009 and former co-editor of Gender & History. She currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Modern History and Central European History and is a member of the Executive Board of the German Studies Association. She is currently writing a book on bodies and citizenships in the aftermath of war and revolution in Germany, 1916-1930.

Susan Wells

Susan's most recent book is Our Bodies, Ourselves and the Work of Writing (Stanford University Press, 2010). Her interests include rhetoric and composition, critical theory, theories of the public sphere, and feminist studies of science. Wells's book on nineteenth-century women physicians and scientific writing, Out of the Dead House, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in 2001 and won the 2002 W. Ross Winterowd Award for the most outstanding book in composition theory. She has also published Sweet Reason: Rhetoric and the Discourses of Modernity (Chicago, 1996) and The Dialectics of Representation (Johns Hopkins University, 1985).

Recent articles

  • “Technology, Genre, and Gender: The Case of Power Structure Research,” in Rhetorics and Technologies, Ed. Stuart Selber. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2010, 151-72
  • “Stories and Their Structures: Narrative Forms in Our Bodies, Ourselves,” in Women Physicians, Women’s Politics, and Women’s Health, Ed. Manon Parry and Ellen Moore. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009, 184-204
  • Our Bodies, Ourselves: Reading the Written Body,” Signsa Journal of Women in Culture and Society 33, no 3 (Spring 2008), 697-724
  • Introduction to Our Bodies, Ourselves
  • Susan Wells teaches courses in the history of rhetoric, political rhetoric, and the rhetoric of science. She received the College of Liberal Arts Distinguished Teaching Award in 2001

Presentations and notes


More than 40 presenters attended the Center for the Study of Citizenship's "Bodies" conference at Wayne State University this year, including participation from India, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada as well as the United States.

Conferees have provided unique and challenging visions of citizenship based on the body and its attributes, and the creation of knowledge that accompanies this gathering of scholars is expected to be of enormous importance.

Kathleen Canning, The Stakes of Citizenship: Bodies in the Aftermath of War


Susan Wells, Genres of Citizenship: Power Structure Research in the 1960s and 1970s