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Call for Papers

Occasional Paper Series #40


This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York island, 
From the Redwood forest, to the Gulf Stream waters, 
God blessed America for me.

Woody Guthrie’s God Blessed America—written in February of 1940 in New York City, shortly after a frigid cross-country trip—was a direct response to Irving Berlin’s God Bless America.   With a few edits over the next several years, including changing each stanza’s tagline to “This land was made for you and me,” it became This Land is Your Land, a song now known the world over, which many would agree is a classic statement of American patriotism.

But why? In a lesser-known original verse, Guthrie wrote: 

One bright sunny morning in the shadow of the steeple
By the relief office I saw my people
As they stood hungry, I stood there wondering if
God blessed America for me.

Is that a statement of American patriotism? 

In this issue of the Bank Street Occasional Papers Series, we invite contributors to take Guthrie’s transition from declaration to question as an invitation to reflect upon the complexities and contradictions of patriotism—here and now.  While Guthrie was an American, the relevance of his inquiry extends to all lands, far beyond the borders of the United States.

If patriotism is “love for country,” what kind of love? Blind or bottomless, questioning or critical?  And what does country refer to? A government or a leader, a history or a culture?  Patriotism is often fixed on the “scale” of the nation-state—but can patriotism also be specific to a family, or an acre of land, or a local community…or Earth’s entire ecosystem?  

Patriotism is a complicated topic that gets even more complicated when we consider schools.  In the current era of political divisiveness, what does it look like to teach about patriotism and extol patriotic virtues in the classroom? What does it look like to learn about patriotism, to even learn to be patriotic? What versions of patriotism find places in school curricula and what are the stakes in this work? How does the erosion of citizenship- and democracy-focused social studies education contextualize contemporary patriotic education?

We seek papers that explore the meanings of patriotism and teachers’ related work. We are interested in submissions that story and analyze teachers’ and students’ real experiences in classrooms and schools. We welcome papers that trouble narrow and seemingly fixed notions of patriotism and patriotic education. As part of this troubling, we invite papers from places big and small, here and there, investigating any scale of patriotism.

Some questions that papers might take up include:

  • Am I, and is my teaching, patriotic?
  • Is patriotism a desirable outcome of student learning?
  • What does it look like to teach about the complexities of patriotism with young children, middle grades youth, or adolescents?
  • How might different educational movements—global education, placed-based education, social justice education—intersect with patriotic education?
  • What are the tensions and points of resistance in how patriotism is presented explicitly or implicitly in social studies education? How are patriotism discourses implied, assumed, or included in other school curricula?
  • In the current worldwide political context, what are the implications for justice-oriented citizenship and liberal democracy given the rise of populisms and nationalisms with strong patriotic claims?

Manuscripts Due: Feb 1, 2018

Papers may be between 3,000 and 5,000 words, double-spaced and formatted in APA Style.  Papers lacking APA formatting will not be reviewed.  Only unpublished manuscripts that are not under review by other publications are eligible for consideration.

For more infomation, please review our submission guidelines.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your ideas, contact Guest Editor Mark Kissling at


Guest Editor

NoneMark T. Kissling is an assistant professor of education at Penn State University, where he teaches, collaborates, researches, and writes about ecological citizenship, patriotism, and place-based (teacher) education, among other topics.