What’s in a name?
As you all will have noticed, the Newsletter has undergone a name change, and has now become American Studies in Britain. There were several reasons for the name change. The main one is that when I as your Editor invite you to submit essays, reports, book reviews, and so forth, I am well aware that for RAE purposes a line on your vita stating that you have published in American Studies in Britain has a somewhat more impressive ring than an item in a mere Newsletter, which, perhaps unfairly, sounds like something cranked out by the local vicar on a mimeo machine. It was thus felt that the new name reflected the expanded character and aspirations of the Newsletter. That said, however, our primary purpose continues to be to provide news of what is happening in Britain in the area of American Studies and to debate issues that are relevant to all of us as Americanists.
Another novelty is that, for the first time, we have accepted advertising; as Editor, my aim is to put American Studies in Britain on an autonomous financial footing, and we are making strides in that direction. We would thus be delighted to accept additional publicity from presses who publish titles related to American Studies. As many of you are actively publishing monographs and articles, and have links with major publishing houses, it would be excellent if you could give your publishers a nudge, and suggest that they contact American Studies in Britain: good for your own book sales, good for your publishers, and good for us. Don’t forget that we reach a readership of more than 500 Americanists in Britain and abroad! And those numbers are on the rise.
Once again, colleagues have outdone themselves in providing items for inclusion in the current issue. As usual, we have news from major American Studies centres across Britain. The Forum column provides debate about Quality Assessment, an issue which is of direct concern to us all. As well, the concerns of postgraduate members of BAAS are discussed. The issue of American Studies at secondary school level merits a section of its own with a report from Derek Murphy. Mick Gidley, Our Man in Europe, gives us a report of the doings of the European Association of American Studies. The usual rubrics (Kudos, New Members, Calls for papers, Letters to the Editor, and To Err is Human) are included as well.
American Studies in Britain also receives books for review, and indeed some reviews are included in the current issue. I am currently compiling a database with the names of potential reviewers and their areas of expertise. If you would like to review books for us, please contact me at S.Castillo@englit.arts.gla.ac.uk.
On the cover of this issue, the one and only Elvis. At this point, I should confess that your Editor once owned a blade of grass, pickled in formaldehyde, allegedly from the lawn of Graceland, on which Elvis is said to have trod. On hearing this, a colleague of mine here in Glasgow said tartly, ‘I hope that’s all he did.’ But it seemed somehow appropriate to grace the first cover of American Studies in Britain with the image of the King.
Glasgow is a busy place these days, and I could never have produced this issue without the help of my Editorial Assistants Marie Tate and Sean Groundwater, simply the best. To them, and to Mark Ward, Dean of the Arts Faculty of the University of Glasgow, my heartfelt thanks.
See you next March in Glasgow!
Susan Castillo, Editor
Department of English Literature
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141-330 6393
Fax: 0141-330 4601
BAAS 1999, Glasgow, 26-29 March 1999
Together with this issue of American Studies in Britain, you will be receiving registration forms for the 1999 conference of the British Association of American Studies, to take place in the Gilmorehill Centre on 26-29 March. Events will kick off with a drinks reception and banquet in the splendidly neo-Gothic Bute Hall. The organisers, headed by Simon Newman, have been inundated with paper proposals from Britain, the US, Italy, Germany, Japan, Turkey, Greece, Bulgaria and China.
In order to allow the maximum number of members to take part, we have opted for parallel sessions, and have limited the number of plenary lectures to four. The plenary lecturers are, in American football terms, an All-Star Lineup: the welcoming speech on Glasgow and American Studies, by Andrew Hook, will be delivered at the opening banquet; the Journal of American Studies lecture will be given by Sacvan Bercovitch and the Plenary Lecture on Politics, by Charles Jones; and the closing lecture, by Peter Parish.
Members will be pleased to know, however, that the conference will not be a case of All Work and No Play. There will be optional excursions to Glasgow, 1999 City of Architecture, to that other really very nice place down the road (I am referring, of course, to Edinburgh), and to Culzean Castle, with its links to Eisenhower. As well, we are planning a ceilidh (pronounced kay-lee) for Saturday night in Queen Margaret’s Hall, where BAAS members can learn or rediscover the delights of Scottish country dancing and shake a tailfeather or two. Glasgow is a wonderfully warm and vibrant city, with marvellous art galleries, museums, concert houses – and of course great pubs and discos, for those who wish to carry out research into local popular culture.
The community of American Studies scholars at the University of Glasgow looks very much forward to welcoming you all to Scotland next March!
The Annual General Meeting of the British Association of American Studies will be held on Sunday 28 March 1999 at the University of Glasgow.
- Elections: Secretary, three committee members
- Treasurer’s Report
- Chair’s Report
- Amendments to the Constitution
- Annual Conferences 2000-2002
- Report of the Publications Subcommittee
- Report of the Development Subcommittee
- Report of the Libraries and Resources Subcommittee
- Report of the Representative to EAAS
- Any Other Business.
Members are reminded that the Treasurer may come to the AGM to propose a change in subscription rates for calendar year 2000.
At the 1999 AGM elections will be held for three positions on the Committee (three year term), for the secretary of the Association (three year term) and for any other offices that fall vacant before the AGM. Current incumbents of these positions may stand for re-election if not disbarred by the Constitution’s limits on length of continuous service in Committee posts.
The procedures for nomination is as follows: nominations should reach the Secretary, Jenel Virden, by 11:00 a.m. on Saturday 27 March. Nominations should be in written form, signed by a proposer, seconder, and the candidate, who should state willingness to serve if elected. The institutional affiliations of the candidate, proposer and seconder should be included. As agreed at the last AGM, candidates should submit a short written statement outlining their background, experience and views on the future of American Studies in the UK.
Amendments to the Constitution
The Committee has considered changes to the Constitution to clarify subscription categories. It wishes to forward these amendments to the membership for their consideration at the AGM.
Current Clause 4.2 to be amended to read:
Each member in categories a, d and f shall also pay the membership subscription to the European Association of American Studies, the amount to be collected and forwarded by the Treasurer of the Association.
Annual BAAS Conference – Swansea 2000
Preparations are already underway for the British Association of American Studies Annual Conference for the year 2000, to be hosted by the Department of American Studies at the University of Wales Swansea from April 6-9. Though no theme or themes for the Conference have yet been announced, we hope that the timing of the Conference will help celebrate the (arguably) millenial year, and highlight the historical and ongoing cultural and social ties between Wales and America. Plans are also being made to include cultural events and countryside excursions that will capitalise on the strengths of the American Studies community in Swansea and throughout Wales and the rich cultural heritage and natural beauty of the area. More details will be announced at a later date, but in the meantime questions, comments and suggestions should be directed to Michael McDonnell, Conference Secretary, Department of American Studies, University of Wales Swansea, SA2 8PP, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
BAAS is also interested in attracting bids from institutions wishing to host the 2001 conference. Those wishing to make bids should contact Vivien Miller, Chair of BAAS Conference Subcommittee, School of Humanities & Cultural Studies, Middlesex University, White Hart Lane, London N17 8HR.
In a lecture to mark Manchester’s 40th year teaching American Studies, Dennis Welland traced the origins of the subject at the University to September 1947. A few years later BAAS was formed as the professional association of the subject, and half a century later American Studies is taught in some form in around fifty universities and colleges around the United Kingdom. It was not surprising, therefore, to see that deep consternation at this year’s BAAS AGM at the University of East Anglia when it was revealed that the Quality Assurance Agency consultation document on subject benchmarking had located American Studies as a sub-section of English. An organisation whose decisions will have far-reaching impact in higher education had managed to act in apparent ignorance of the development and character of our subject.
For many BAAS members, the AGM discussion was the first they had heard of the QAA proposal, and the threat that American Studies would be benchmarked by colleagues from outside the field. The reaction from the profession was uniform and strong. BAAS made a formal response to the QAA consultation, but we also acted to try to get the news to every programme and department in the country. Colleagues throughout the country reacted by directing their own responses to QAA, and the effect of these letters was direct and prompt.
The day after the closing date for responses, QAA Chief Executive John Randall invited BAAS to meet him to discuss the way forward. Douglas Tallack and I spent a day at the QAA headquarters with Mr Randall and his colleagues, where we were well received, and the discussion was helpful and positive. A letter from John Randall following these consultations state that, ‘In the light of the points you made about the nature of American Studies Programmes I agree that it is inappropriate for American Studies to be included with English for the purposes of subject benchmarking. Instead we will create a new subject category of Area Studies. This will encompass American Studies and other area studies that are not based primarily on the study of a language.’ Subsequently, and in response to an invitation from QAA, BAAS has nominate Professor Douglas Tallack to the Agency’s working party on Multidisciplinarity and Modularity.
The American Studies proposals generated very significantly more response than any other element of the QAA document. The strength and focus of this mass of letters and faxes proved beyond doubt the coherence and commitment of colleagues around the UK to American Studies, and provided the strong foundation for our discussions with QAA. The credit for any positive change lies with all of you who made it plain to QAA what you thought of the idea that American Studies should be subsumed into English!
The case of QAA indicates that our strong subject can suddenly become fragile in the face of change implemented by unknown organisations. A time of considerable reform in educational process is one when we need to be particularly aware of these threats. Experience makes it clear that when organisations without close knowledge of our multidiciplinary and interdisciplinary subject are charged with designing and implementing policy change, difficulties may be created, and the profession must be ready to respond firmly.
This response was prompted again this summer by UCAS/HESA proposals to eliminate the UCAS code for American Studies. While admitting the health and attractiveness of American Studies undergraduate programmes, UCAS considered that American Studies comprised elements from political, social, historical or cultural studies within a ‘regional’ context. The course code for any particular programme would then be constructed in the usual way depending on the relative weighting of the components. This vision entirely disregards the potential for American Studies to be an interdisciplinary subject, or, indeed to be an evenly balanced multi-disciplinary subject. The case put by BAAS was recognised by UCAS as ‘cogent and robust’, and once again colleagues responded to the information passed on by BAAS, both by direct representation, and by making sure that many universities responded strongly to the UCAS/HESA consultation document.
BAAS will continue to represent American Studies and Americanists in all the ways it can. Recent contacts aimed at maximising the visibility of the subject have included exchanges with the Arts and Humanities Research Board, and the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. Our membership of the Co-ordinating Council for Area Studies Associations proved a help when representing the American Studies case to the QAA, and we are now in touch with the Association of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences in order best to represent Americanists in the proposed establishment of an Academy for the Social Sciences.
The Association’ s strength in campaigning for the subject comes from the members. Individual members alert to emerging threats prompt BAAS to make representation, and to circulate important information to the rest of the membership. The membership response is a factor that can convince relevant organisations that here is a point of view that has to be considered seriously.
The next RAE will be of direct interest to many BAAS members, and the Association has registered an interest in nominating people to the RAE panel. We have not been given a deadline for nominations, nor any other information regarding the number of nominations that may be requested, but may I now invite members, department and programmes to contact me as soon as they wish with any names that they would like to be considered for the list of BAAS nominees. When BAAS is called on for nominations it will then be able to react fully aware of its members’ opinions.
Philip Davies, BAAS President
BAAS Postgraduate Agenda
The details, set out below, as well as being the operational basis for me as postgraduate representative is a consultative document in which I seek your advice and suggestions. Replies to the letters section of the newsletter please or you may e-mail me directly:email@example.com
Making best use of Postgraduate Student Potential Several postgraduate students commented during Norwich and previous conferences that more could be made of the student body within B.A.A.S. in order to activate the organisation at grass roots level and to raise the profile of postgraduates at committee level. Much of this general idea is taken up by the proposals below which are designed to produce the following:
- an increase in the amount of information flowing between individual postgraduates regarding each others research.
- greater organisation and involvement at a local level with both B.A.A.S. postgraduates and other non-member American Studies students attending both graduate and postgraduate courses.
- greater commitment to B.A.A.S. postgraduate conferences in terms of attendance. These are events arranged by postgraduates for postgraduates and are a great opportunity to give papers in a friendly and slightly less formal atmosphere than the main conference.
- More opportunities for postgraduates to communicate with each other through forums proposed within the newsletter and through the BAAS website.
Many of the proposed activities are linked to career opportunities and likely to benefit all those who take part and support the initiatives. It is, therefore, in everyone’s interest to assist in raising the B.A.A.S. postgraduate profile.
As some of you are no doubt aware getting work published can be extremely difficult. Whilst we have to accept that the competition for essay publication in journals like The Journal of American Studies is very high, there are journals that will look more favourably on postgraduate work. One possible way of increasing postgraduate awareness about the way in which to get work published is to invite members of the editorial team of journals like Borderlines and Overhere to run workshops at postgraduate conferences. Whilst BAAS publications will always want to maintain their already high standards there is no reason why those who have recently graduated and junior lecturers should not submit proposals for the BAAS Paperback Series. Again, it may be possible to get a member of the relevant editorial team to come and offer advice on this at the postgraduate conference.
In an ideal world there would always be a substantial reduction for Postgraduates attending the BAAS conference, in reality this is not always going to be possible. BAAS does not have the resources available to fund concessions for postgraduates to any great extent. That said, those of us who did attend the conference at Norwich have received a £25 refund. In addition, there is likely to be some reduction for those attending the next conference in Glasgow. All postgraduates, in my opinion, whether they are funded or not, should receive some kind of subsidy but the emphasis must be on the universities themselves rather than BAAS. It is they who must, in the end, have the responsibility for funding their students whether they are giving a paper or simply attending. Those postgraduates not receiving adequate funding should press their supervisors and department heads for proper expenses or at least the formulation of some sort of policy so that students know where they stand. I would greatly welcome any comments on this issue so that I can raise the matter within committee.
Regional Branches/Reading Groups
Many American Studies postgraduates working in the ‘new’ universities or in establishments without an American Studies department may lack the necessary social environment in which their particular discipline can find like minds with which to discuss material and ideas. In order to avoid such isolation and in order to develop American Studies activities at a local level it is proposed that B.A.A.S set up, or assist the setting up, of ‘local’ ‘Regional Reading Groups’ or ‘forums’ that can organise events, lectures and seminars on a regular basis, bring in new members, publicise conferences and form links with other similar affiliations. Whilst developing a camaraderie to combat the traditional isolation of the researcher such groups have the added bonus of providing students with a wealth of information from other disciplines from which to draw upon for their own studies. Any administration of a local grouping will also look good on c.v.s. Regional Branches of BAAS such as Midlands BAAS and the one in the process of getting off the ground in Yorkshire could help to nurture such groups and provide assistance and possible funding for communications and guest speakers. Alternatively, the formation and subsequent organisation of postgraduate reading groups in areas of the country without regional representation could greatly assist in the creation of Regional Branches. Please write in to the newsletter if you are interested in starting up a reading group at your establishment. I believe that thriving local BAAS reading groups and Regional Branches are the best means to broaden the membership of BAAS and should help to raise American Studies in general. Anything that helps to establish an American Studies department as dynamic and attractive to undergraduates as well as postgraduates is very important when people are reporting trends in student course selection toward curricula which are directly vocational.
A comment picked up from a postgraduate at Norwich mentioned that in recent conferences we get it too easy in terms of the demands made of us by the themes that the so-called ‘mini-conferences’ ask of us. Whilst acknowledging that the titles for annual conferences have to take into account the number of differing disciplines involved there must be a case for defining the postgraduate conferences more strictly so that the theme is made enticing enough to attract students from outside of the organisation and from students who would not normally attend. Having recently organised the exciting and well attended ‘RePulsions’ conference on the abject I feel that postgraduate conferences could be better attended (and therefore more profitable), better publicised, and project a higher profile than at present. The ‘American Fictions-American Facts’ conference at Central Lancs in December 96 was very successful and well attended and could be used as a template upon which to build even more successful events with even greater participation and organisation from postgraduates. I would be very interested to hear comments on this subject from anyone at Sussex where the next postgraduate conference is to be held in December.
All comments gratefully received.
Richard Hinchcliffe, Postgraduate Representative
American History in Schools
United States’ History at GCE A level – New Developments
The study of American History has become increasingly popular within schools and colleges, in particular at GCSE and GCE A level. With the launch of the new Key Stage 4 GCSE the study of Modern World History has become increasingly popular. Within the Modern World History syllabuses of all examination boards topics such as FD Roosevelt and the New Deal and the Cold War are key elements.
In recent years there has been a growth in popularity of American History at GCE A level. From my own experience at the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board (NEAB) the American History syllabus has doubled its candidature since 1994. However, just as American History has begun to establish itself as a major period of study against periods such as Tudor England and 17th Century Britain it faces a new threat in the form of the present government’s plan to reform the GCE A level system.
From September 2000, ALL schools and colleges will have to teach a completely new set of examinations. These are the Advanced Subsidiary examination and a new A level examination (designed A2). The new AS examination will be set at a level somewhat half way between GCSE and GCE A level. The A2 examination will be at A level standard. All History syllabuses will have to comprise six modules (3 AS and 3 A2).
The major area of change which could affect American History at A level is the proposed requirement that all History syllabuses have a compulsory British History element (30% of the content). This will affect American History because, at present, it is usually taught with European or World History instead of British History. In future all centres may have to teach American History with British History instead of European World History.
Since the first appearance of these government proposals, in January 1997, various attempts have been made to get the Government agency responsible (QCA or Qualifications and Assessment Authority) to change its minds. Several members of BAAS have written to the QCA expressing their concern. Also the Labour Government gave educational institutions the opportunity to comment on these proposals through a questionnaire entitled ‘Qualifying for Success’. Since the publication of ‘Qualifying for Success’ a panel containing representatives from the examination boards (AQA [NEAB and AEB], OCR and Edexcel) have met earlier this year to review the subject criteria on which the new examinations will be based. They have reported to QCA by July 1998. From September-December 1998, a new consultation period is to take place. I am of the understanding that the subject criteria panel were split on the issue of a compulsory British History element but that QCA will include it in the criteria unless they received strong recommendations to the contrary during the consultation.
Therefore, it is important for all those concerned with preserving and extending the study of American History to contact QCA during this period. The person to contact is Gill Watson (0171 509 5567;WatsonG@qca.org.uk) or write to the QCA, 29 Bolton Street, London W1Y 7PD
Derrick Murphy, Chair of the NEAB History Committee and GCE A Level Chief Examiner
Conference – Teaching American History in Schools
A very successful one-day conference on Teaching American History in Schools was held at the University of Nottingham on July 15, 1998. Twenty-One teachers attended. Also present were Robin Berrington, the US Cultural Attache, Phil Davies, Chair of BAAS, Ian Ralston, Director of the American Studies Resources Centre at Liverpool John Moores University, and Douglas Tallack, Head of the School of American & Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham and chair of the Development Sub-committee of BAAS, under whose auspices and with whose financial support the conference took place.
In the first of three lectures, Tim Lomas, Vice-President of the Historical Association and a member of the Lincolnshire board of Education Inspectorate, discussed the place of History in the school curriculum, especially American History. He suggested that, despite some justified fears regarding the place of History in the school curriculum, there were also grounds for optimism. At the primary school level, for example, History teaching had greatly improved, and it included some American History topics. The National Curriculum had on the whole been to the benefit of History, especially since two of the most prominent Secretaries of State for Education during the formulation stages of the National Curriculum were historians, namely, Sir Keith Joseph and Kenneth Baker. However, there were dangers. Kenneth Clarke had dropped History as a compulsory subject in Key Stage 4. Also, although some American subjects were taught at Key Stage 3, such as the New Deal, the Cold War, blacks and Native American, the emphasis in the History curriculum was strongly on British History. The present situation was fluid, with important curriculum decisions to be made within the next few years, so that there was need for lobbying to press of greater prominence within the National Curriculum for History in general and for American History in particular.
Derrick Murphy, a History teacher at St Ambrose College in Altringham in Cheshire and NEAB Examiner in American History, talked about the 1998 A-level exam in American History and distributed copies of the exam paper. The most popular topics on which pupils had answered questions were the New Deal, Immigration, the Cold War, Civil Rights, LBJ and JFK. Derrick Murphy gave some examples of some gems which illustrated how much the pupils had actually taken in during their classes, such one pupil’s answer about WEB Bu Bois and the Viagra Movement!
Scott Lucas, who teaches American History at the University of Birmingham, gave a version of the splendid presentation which he made at a recent BAAS conference, showing video clips to illustrate the use of video in the teaching of American History. Those of us with educationally-subnormal skills in the art of putting on a video which actually comes up with the picture, sound and subject intended, were filled with admiration for Scott’s dexterity.
Discussion groups were then held, which produced useful feedback. Douglas Tallack had begun lobbying efforts, which will be ongoing. Teachers expressed the need for suitable texts at school level, and discussions on this matter have subsequently opened with Routledge and others.
It was agreed that continuation and ongoing contact could be achieved through the Newsletter of the American Studies Resources Centre. The Cultural Attache subsequently wrote to the conference organiser, stating that he felt that the conference had been very successful ant that this was precisely the type of activity which would have strong support of the US Embassy. Another conference is being planned for next year at the University of Nottingham. The tentative date and subject is Wednesday, July 9, on an American literary text which is on the English A-Level syllabus, examining the work as a literary text and also giving the historical context, with a session also on the teaching of American History in schools as a follow-on from this year’s conference. Anyone who has any ideas regarding the conference or wishes to attend should contact
Department of American & Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
News from American Studies Centres
ASRC Annual Report 1997-98
The academic year has seen a number of significant changes to the operations and development of the ASRC that will have major long term implications for its continued success as the national centre for the study of the United States in schools, colleges of further education and increasingly undergraduate programmes. The developments outlined in this report do point to not only continued success in established fields, but also new areas which the ASRC is actively exploring and developing.
The year began with the completion of the relocation of the ASRC from the Riversdale Campus of Liverpool Community College to the Aldham Robarts Centre of Liverpool John Moores University. The formal reopeninng of the ASRC took place in early March. At a celebration in the Robarts Centre, the US Ambassador to the UK, Philip Lader, accompanied by JMU Vice Chancellor Professor Peter Toyne and LCC Principal Wally Brown welcomed guests from not only the American Studies community in the UK, but also from representatives of American corporations on Merseyside and other invited guests. Professor Bulford Crites (of the ASRC’s US based Advisory Panel) represented both the City of Palm Desert and the College of the Desert in California. An exhibition of the work of American artist James Fowler Cooper, prepared by Steve and Jeanne-Marie Kenny was also on display. Full reports of the days events were carried by JMU News, American Studies Today, and are also available on the ASRC’s new, upgraded web site. The recognition of the success of the work of the ASRC over the last eleven years was highlighted by Ambassador Lader and was reinforced by a letter of support from President Clinton.
In October the ASRC held its annual student conference, again at the Maritime Museum in the Albert Dock, Liverpool. The event was also supported by the British Association for American Studies. Full details of the conference can be found in both the 1998-9 issue of American Studies Today and on the ASRC web site. The conference was a significant success despite a change in speakers brought about at the last moment due to Mike Pudlo’s illness. (Our best wishes go to Mike for a speedy recovery and our thanks to Mike O’Grady for stepping in to help.) The 1998-9 conference details have already been finalised. The topic of the Theory and Practice of American Political Institutions is expected to attract up to 200 students and teachers. (Details of this can again be found on the ASRC web site.) The ASRC also collaborated with Peter Boyle at the University of Nottingham and BAAS on a successful teachers conference on Teaching American History in Schools, which was held in July.
David Forster (ASRC Resources Co-ordinator) deserves particular mention for the vast amount of work he has put in, in a number of important areas. David has not only continued to develop the ASRC’s databases, but also liased with the Connect organisation over the re-design of the ASRC web site. The new site was officially launched by Ambassador Lader at the March celebrations. The site not only contains details of the ASRC’s services, but also links to numerous organisations, conference details and reports, and an extended version of American Studies On Line (the web version of American Studies Today.) The success of the new site has been clear by the statistical returns collated regarding ‘hits’ on the site. From February 5th to July 3rd over 25,000 hits were made from all over the world including the USA, Canada, Russia, Australia, Scandinavia, Africa, Asia and every western European country. This was also reflected in the large number of email requests received for further information. The number of organisations that offer a direct link through the the ASRC’s pages has also greatly increased, through academic sites both in the USA and the UK. The development and further expansion of the site will remain as one of the priorities for the next academic year.
Jitka Ramadanova and Stepanka Korytova-Magstadt from the American Studies Programme at Zapadoceska University in Pilsden, the Czech Republic, visited the ASRC in September 1997 to study the operations and management of resourcing in the UK, as well as the content of American Studies programmes in British universities. An article by Jitka and Stepanka on American Studies in the Czech Republic is now available on the ASRC web site and this years issue of American Studies Today. Whilst over in the UK for the opening of the ASRC, Professor Buford Crites presented a lecture to American Studies and Environmental Studies Access students at the Riverdale Centre of LCC. Buford gave a lively and informed presentation on the activities of environmental pressure groups who had worked to ensure the passage of the Wilderness Protection Act through the US Congress. Students and staff at JMU and LCC also heard lectures from Linda Berube, a visiting Fulbright Scholar, based in East Anglia, on the issue of American-English. An article by Linda on this topic appears in this years issue of American Studies Today and on the ASRC web site. Our thanks go to both Buford and Linda for the time and effort they dedicated to both institutions.
At the beginning of the academic year it was feared that the number of external requests the ASRC would deal with would fall slightly due to the temporary communication problems brought about the relocation of the Centre. However, this has not proved to be the case. The number of requests for information reached 440, which is a slight increase on last years figures. It is important to note that this figure does not include requests from JMU and LCC students, which have also risen considerably. The number of requests for audio visual loans has also increased substantially, particularly in the field of US Government and Politics, due to the links between the ASRC and the Politics Association. Visits to the ASRC for conferences and study days also rose to over 1,600 hours. Again, this does not include JMU and LCC staff/students.
As noted earlier, plans have been finalised for next years student conference. Discussions are also taking place regarding JMU hosting an exhibition of the work of former Fine Art student, Paul Clarkson. Paul has already established a reputation as one of the areas leading young artists who is exploring the African-Caribbean contribution to British society. An article by Paul’s brother, a former Access student at LCC, will be published in the 1999-2000 issue of American Studies Today, on Paul’s work. Work on the Audubon CD-ROM is also continuing, with hopes for a release date in the near future. The ASRC will also be visited by Professor John C Walter, head of the American Ethnic Studies Department and the University of Washington, in the spring and Professor Lenny Quart of City University, New York, in late 1998. Again, as noted earlier, David Forster will be continuing his work on the web site development with the inclusion of additional articles and ‘online’ booking forms for materials. A proposal to develop an academic research wing to the ASRC is also being examined, with the hope that this will come into operation in the near future. Other significant developments are also under discussion and members of the Advisory Panel will be informed of progress ion these and other areas at a later date.
As usual, this report ends with a recognition of all those who have contributed to another successful year. Our thanks go to BAAS for its support of our conferences, the US Embassy for their continued support and encouragement (in particular Sue Wedlake), especially during the preparation for the visit of Ambassador Lader, and all JMU staff (particularly Harry Pepp and John Freeman) who actively contributed to the ASRC’s work and the celebratory events. The hard work of Alan Rawlinson and the Journalism students at JMU on the 1998-9 issue of American Studies Today again deserves the ASRC’s thanks, as do all contributors to the magazine. Finally, we would like to thank all members of the US and UK Advisory Panels, especially Buford Crites, for continuing to support both the year by year functions of the ASRC and its future developments.
Ian Ralston (ASRC Director)
David Forster (Resources Co-ordinator)
University of Edinburgh: Compton American History Library
University of Edinburgh: Compton American History LibraryThe University is delighted to announce the creation of the Compton American History Library. A room within the History Department has been custom-built to house the fine collection of about 1700 books generously donated by Professor James V. Compton, a former member of staff at both Edinburgh and San Francisco State. As well as reflecting Professor Compton’s research interests in the New Deal and twentieth-century foreign policy, these volumes include books on all aspects of American history from the colonial era through to the present day. Professor Compton is flying in from San Francisco for the opening ceremony on October 29th. Edinburgh is also pleased to announce the appointment of two new lecturers, bringing its compliment of American historians to five. These are Frank Cogliano, who took his PhD at Boston University and is an expert on the Revolutionary era, and Robert Mason, who obtained his DLitt from Oxford, and specializes in recent political history. The five on-staff American historians within the newly-created American History Section within the History Department are complemented by a further five tutors, one of whom, in the Autumn Term, will be Professor Bill Anderson, from SUNY/Suffolk. Professor Anderson will also be an honorary fellow of the university. A prize-winning teacher in New York, he will undertake research into the teaching of American History in Scotland. Most students of American subjects in Edinburgh take single- or joint-honours degrees but, in 1998, the first American Studies MA class graduated (the MA is in Scotland a first degree). For the purpose of this degree, ‘America’ is taken to mean the whole of the Transatlantic land mass, and students may choose courses on Latin American and Canadian subjects, as well as on the United States. A wide variety of courses is offered, and students spend their second year in an American university. The degree is the pioneering achievement of Dr Alan Day. Beginning in the academic year 1999-2000, the university will offer a new MSc degree in American History and Politics (in Scotland, MSc denotes a one-year research degree). This degree involves the departments of Scottish History, History, and Politics. Candidates choose one of the following modules: (a) Early American History, c.1550-1787 (b) The Early American Republic, 1787-1815 (c) Scotland and North America since 1603 (d) Ireland and America (e) American Espionage 1898-1996 (f) Modern American Political History, 1928-1993 (g) Contemporary Issues in American Politics. Early in the Summer Term of 1999, Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) will sponsor a rolling colloquium on the theme The North Atlantic Triangle: Public Myths and Secret Intelligence Services, 1939-1962. At its core will be Professor David Stafford, resident fellow at IASH and a leading authority on British/American/Canadian intelligence history, and Professor Wesley Wark (University of Toronto), recently appointed the official historian of Canadian intelligence and a visiting fellow at IASH. Enquiries about this or about the new MSc degree should be addressed to Professor Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones at the Department of History, University of Edinburgh.
University of Edinburgh: North American Studies Seminars
Edinburgh’s North American Studies Committee has been actively promoting and co-ordinating North American Studies seminars offered by different departments across the University. On 23 October, Professor Ken Shepsle, Chair of the Department of Government at Harvard University, spoke on ‘Intemporal Politics.’ This will be followed by ‘Understanding Nationalism Today in Quebec’, by Professor Jocelyn Latourneau (5 Nov), ‘Clinton and the 1998 US Midterm Elections: Presidential Scandal in Political and Historical Perspective’, by Drs. Frank Cogliano, Robert Mason (History, Edinburgh), and Dr. Rob Singh (Politics, Edinburgh), on 11 Nov. Dr. R. A. Anderson of Simon Fraser University will present on 13 Nov. a lecture titled ‘Cowboys and Indians: the Gustafson Lake Incident and Aboriginal Treaty Negotiation in British Columbia.’ Finally, Iain Donald of Aberdeen will discuss ‘The Scottish Press, the Spanish-American War and the Proposed Anglo-American Alliance.’ More seminars are planned for the spring and summer terms. For additional information, please contact Dr. Alex Murdoch, Convener, Edinburgh University American Studies Committee, tel 0131 650 4030
University of Glasgow: Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies
It’s been a busy past few months for Glasgow’s community of Americanists. As a result of Simon Newman’s outstanding work in recruiting, the new taught MPhil in American Studies is up and running with ten students, two of whom are from the US. As well, the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies is sponsoring, jointly with the US Consulate in Scotland, a series of lectures on topics related to American Studies themes. The first lecture, by Belfast journalist and genealogist Billy Kennedy, dealt with the Scots-Irish on the American Frontier; it was preceded by a reception hosted by Quintiles Scotland. This will be followed on 25 November by Mark MacLachlan’s lecture on the Hollywood Scots (no, not Mel Gibson!), sponsored by Chubb Insurance. Finally, Glasgow’s own Sam Maddra on 16 December will deliver a lecture on the Ghost Dance shirt currently on display in Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum, and will discuss the complex issues linked to repatriation of artefacts. More events are planned for next spring. Watch this space!
University of Central Lancashire: American Studies
We are very pleased to welcome Ms Eithne Quinn as a new lecturer in American Studies. Eithne will strengthen our research and teaching interests in popular music and African-American culture. Dr George McKay has been promoted to Reader in Contemporary Cultural Studies, and his new collection may be of interest to Americanists working on youth/counterculture: DiY Culture: Party & Protest in Nineties Britain is published by Verso. We are launching what we hope will become an annual one-day colloquium on American Studies, characterised by our particular interests in transatlantic cultural relations, as Dr Alan Rice is organising a conference for late Spring 1999 on the Black AtlanticÑmore in the next Newsletter. (You can contact Alan before then on firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. 01772 893036.) We were pleased to welcome as a guest lecture in March Professor Wilfred Samuels from University of Utah.
The University has continued its involvement in the Maastricht Center for Transatlantic Studies, which began its teaching programme in the Spring. Based at Teikyo University Holland, the Maastricht Center offers two semester-length study-abroad programmes per year, focusing on a comparative, multidisciplinary approach to transatlantic relationships and developments.
Keele University: The David Bruce Centre
The David Bruce Centre welcomes applications from candidates wishing to study for a PhD. Grants-in-aid are available for registered students for travel and subsistence costs in the United States. In 1997/98 eleven students received Bruce Centre awards. The Centre is also able to send one student to the John F Kennedy Institute, Free University, Berlin, for up to three months.
David Bruce Centre for American Studies
Staffs ST5 5BG
T el.: +44 1782 583015 secretary: +44 1782 583010
University of Leeds: Developments
The literature MA programme at Leeds has been broadened to include modules in film and photography, and has been retitled as an MA in American Literature and Culture. This has enabled it to increase its intake of interdisciplinary American Studies graduates while retaining its traditional intake of students with more purely literary interests. In addition, from 1998 onwards, it is possible to take the MA with a semester of study at one of eight partner institutions on the continental mainland; these are Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin, Copenhagen, Munich, Orleans, Turin, and Venice. Students are awarded an MA in American Literature and Culture (With European Study). This scheme, which is partly funded by the EU Socrates programme, is associated with a curriculum development project, convened by American & Canadian Studies at Nottingham, to produce ‘European Modules’ in various aspects of American Studies.
Despite the fact that Leeds created Britain’s first chair in American Literature – a chair which, unfortunately, lapsed for a while – at the undergraduate level American offerings have never been more than options. It is pleasing to report, therefore, that from 1999 onwards, American Literature will constitute part of the ‘core’ for English degrees. In addition, one of the option modules, Writing America, has been designed, through the inclusion of cultural contextual material, to serve as the first step of a ‘pathway’ in American Literature.
At doctoral research student level, recruitment in American topics has been lively, perhaps mainly due to two factors. The first was the creation of full fees awards equivalent to those offered by the British Academy, with an additional element for travel to the U.S. These Douglas Grant Scholarships were named after the first holder of the American chair at Leeds. For financial reasons, their award is currently in abeyance, but it is to be hoped that they will again be offered for entry in 1999. The second factor is the very lively postgraduate culture in the School of English as a whole. The fact that there are strong cohorts of MA and PhD students in most areas of English studies, including Postcolonial, with a sufficient base for postgraduates to run their own seminar series and a couple of one-day postgraduate per year, in itself acts as a magnet.
Last but definitely not least, as they say, the American literature group has been expanded by the addition of Bridget Bennett, formerly of Warwick. Bridget will teach on the modules mentioned above and on specialist options of her own in turn of the century literature, journalism and women’s writing.
For more information on any aspect of American literature and culture at Leeds, please contact Mick Gidley, School of English, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT; email@example.com
Midlands Branch of the British Association for American Studies (MBAAS) Annual Report 1997-98
The main activity of MBAAS in this session was the organization of regional postgraduate conference for postgraduates on February 7th. The branch has taken note of the proliferation of postgraduate conferences in the last year. Overhere held its postgraduate conference in Plymouth and postgraduates primarily at Birmingham also organised a themed conference on the 1950s. On reflection, however, the committee agreed that there is still a need for regional conferences, primarily as a means of introducing the relatively small number of research students in American Studies to their peers in a locality. Larger conferences do not seem to be more effective in terms of the number of students attracted and themed conferences are understandably limited in scope. Every year the students who attend the MBAAS conference indicate that they have enjoyed the format of the day and the opportunity to meet other postgrads, to make links between their own work and that of others and to learn via the workshop sessions on publications and job applications about the practicalities of career development. Every year attending postgrads are invited to add their name to a postgrad email list so that I can inform them of matters of interest in the region. In this way, I can publicise guest lectures at Warwick and one-day jazz workshops at Nottingham and thus hopefully sustain the collegiality that maintains BAAS itself.
The MBAAS committee is a relatively small one with currently two officers from Nottingham. We hope to include other regional institutions, although given the difficulties of getting everyone together even once or twice a year, and the travel costs involved, we are wary of adopting a policy of full institutional representation across a region that can go as far North as Alsager and Sheffield, as far South as Northampton, as far West as Wolverhampton and as far east as Hull. However, if anyone wishes to join the committee, we would welcome them.
Branch officers: Peter Ling (chair); Elizabeth Clapp (Treasurer); Mark Jancovich (Secretary). Co-opted: Tim Lustig
University of Wales Swansea: American Studies
The Department of American Studies at the University of Wales Swansea is pleased to announce the formation of a new research group – focused upon Border Areas and in particular the US-Mexican border – funded by a generous grant from Alcoa and additional funding from the US Embassy in Britain and directed by Dr. Phil Melling. The funding has enabled the department to make two full-time appointments in the field, Dr. Candida Hepworth and Dr. David R.Bewley-Taylor, and provide support for a number of research trips which will lead to future colloquia and conferences. The Department is also pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Duncan Campbell, who recently completed his Ph.D. at Cambridge on Britain and the American Civil War, and who will bring added strength to the Department’s history provision and will teach a module on The Civil War in American Culture. In addition, the department appointed to a permanent position Dr. Craig Phelan, who is currently finishing his third book on labour organisations and leadership in the US, the most recent on Terence Powderly and the Knights of Labor. Finally, Borderlines: Studies in American Culture, a quarterly journal edited by Dr. Jon Roper and Dr. Phil Melling at the Department, is entering its fifth year of publication. Now published by the University of Wales Press, the journal has added a book review and review essay section and continues to thrive under the steady hand of Managing Editor Candida Hepworth, who has also guest edited a special issue on Chicana/Chicano Studies, due out after Christmas. Contributions and queries about submissions should be directed to
Department of American Studies
University of Wales
Book Review queries to Dr. Michael McDonnell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscription information, queries and samples to the University of Wales Press
6 Gwennyth Street
CF2 4YD, UK
Three Cities Project Update
The following is an update on the work of the HRB funded Three American Cities: New York, Chicago and Los Angeles Project. As some will know the project is based at the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham, directed by Professor Douglas Tallack with Dr Liam Kennedy as co-director and Drs Anna Notaro and Maria Balshaw as project Research Fellows. The group has been working together for just over a year now and there are a number of developments in the project work that may be of interest to BAAS members. This year has seen the development of a project web site. The site is located at http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/3cities/ The web site has been a great success, being showcased as part of the American Studies Crossroads Electronic Expo, and playing a significant role in the dissemination of project information. The web site also contains further details about the project members, their research in progress and their recent publications in the field of American urbanism.
The first project conference, entitled Urban Space and Representation, was held in Nottingham in May this year. For those who weren’t able to get to the conference, there are transcripts of the conference papers and discussion on the Conference page of the project web site.
The group would like to invite BAAS members to visit the Conference page and provide feedback to the papers and discussion. A form for this purpose is available online. This feedback will be published on the web site and discussion will be opened up so that authors may respond to comments. The group envisages a geographically extended version of a conference Q & A. This will be an exciting opportunity to participate in a virtual continuation of the conference and the group looks forward to seeing responses from BAAS members. Anna Notaro, conference organiser, will be editing a volume that will include the papers and (with the permission of participants) the virtual debates they engender. This will be a unique experiment in real and virtual collaboration and is a good example of the kind of work the Three Cities Project seeks to foster. The next big event for the group will be a Three Cities conference in Birmingham in September 1999 (date to be confirmed). This will focus on all three cities and will take papers from any historical period and any discipline. A formal call for papers will be sent out at the end of September.
Other project events include regular Urban Cultures seminars held at Birmingham (monthly on a Saturday) and Nottingham (during termtime in the evening). Please contact Maria Balshaw at M.J.Balshaw@bham.ac.ukfor further details on any of the above, or see the project web site.
Maria Balshaw on behalf of the Three Cities Project Team
Maria Balshaw, Research Fellow in American Literature/ 3 Cities Project, Dept. of American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK; Tel: ‘+44 121 4143274; Fax ‘+44 121 4146866
Obituary- Herbert Nicholas, 1911-1998
Herbert Nicholas was a founding member of the BAAS and its second Chairman. He took pride in the fact that under his chairmanship between 1959 and 1962 BAAS membership swelled from 212 to nearly 400. At that time he was primarily seen as a political scientist, being Nuffield Reader in the Comparative Study of Institutions at Oxford, though his contributions to historical scholarship were more fully recognized in 1969 when he was elected the first Rhodes Professor of American History and Institutions. Today many practitioners of American Studies see themselves as advancing an integrated, interdisciplinary field of study. The early pioneers of the subject, such scholars as Denis Brogan, Marcus Cunliffe and Herbert Nicholas, moved easily between the traditional disciplines and did not draw sharp boundaries between them.
In some ways, perhaps, Herbert Nicholas was an unlikely Americanist. The son of a Welsh Baptist minister, academic talent had won him a place at Oxford, where he had read Classics, securing an unlikely Third in the first part of his degree but vindicating himself in 1934 with a First in Greats. He thereafter lived in Oxford for virtually his whole life, much of it in his beloved New College, and, with his precise language, sharp wit, and somewhat austere bachelor manner, it would be tempting to characterize him as a ‘typical Oxford don,’ if such a creature existed. Such a background might have made him part of that snobbish Oxford coterie which doubted whether there was much to be learned from the United States.
But the scholarly classicist became a committed Americanist. Part of the explanation may lie in his Welsh roots, for he inherited not only his father’s piety but also his identification with the Liberal party and a belief that the lot of humankind can be improved. Another part was his experience of New Deal America as a Commonwealth Scholar between 1935 and 1937, when he came greatly to admire the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt, with its demonstration that political institutions can offer hopeful solutions to the most serious problems. An intellectual stimulus, encountered while in the United States, was Denis Brogan’s American Political System, which showed him that American political culture was at least as vibrant and challenging as the older cultures of Europe. And another vital stage in his transformation was the critical international situation of his young manhood. He recognized early that the role of the United States in the coming war would be decisive to its outcome, and his appreciation of the American dimension was deepened during the war when he served in the Ministry of Information’s American Division. In the post-war order, he had come to believe, world peace would depend on the behaviour of the United States. ‘As far as the Free World was concerned,’ he wrote of that country in the immediate post-war period, ‘her shoulders held the sky suspended.’ His first book, the final draft of which was completed in 1946 before the new American role in the world was resolved, abandons its scholarly detachment in its conclusion with a plea to the United States not to revert to isolationism now that ‘it was world civilization which was at stake.’ Herbert Nicholas was part of that generation of academic Americanists, many of whom had served in Whitehall or in the armed services during the Second World War, who believed that the United States could be a benign influence in the world and who cherished strong Atlantic ties. At the time of Suez the Liberal Herbert Nicholas and his Conservative contemporary Harry Allen were both moved to protest against that ‘lunatic folly,’ though neither habitually engaged in public demonstrations.
Thus Herbert Nicholas abandoned classical and 17th-century studies for the study of political institutions and the United States, taking his part in combating the anti-American prejudice he found among some of his fellow dons. (‘A professorship?’, one college head had sniffed when the Harmsworth Chair was established. ‘I hardly think the subject warrants that. A lectureship perhaps.’) At Oxford he laboured at the uphill task of extending the teaching of American history and politics, participating in the teaching of the celebrated special subject Slavery and Secession and eventually founding a new one on the New Deal. Perhaps his own Oxford persona helped him to advance the cause more successfully than a more recalcitrant figure might have done. In his many years at Oxford too he trained generations of graduate students.
To the wider academic world Herbert Nicholas became known largely through his publications. The American Union (1948) was designed to meet the stirring interest of British students in things American. But his own interests were not confined to the United States, as when he produced the Nuffield study of The British General Election of 1950 (1951) in the series later identified with David Butler. His interest in electoral politics never diminished, and for several years he covered American presidential elections for the Journal of American Studies. (Indeed, while not all were reported in the Journal, he visited the United States for every presidential election between 1948 and 1988). But he made his greatest scholarly mark in the field of international and especially Anglo-American relations. To judge from the battered copies in university libraries, such publications as Britain and the United States (1963) and The United States and Britain (1975), continue to be widely used. A major pioneer work which saw several editions was The United Nations as a Political Institution (1959), written in part out of his anger over Suez and the revelation of the widespread ignorance among both the British public and even political elites about the UN, though it was to sell more copies in the United States. One suspects that the book he most enjoyed producing was Washington Despatches, 1941-1945 (1981), an edited collection of the vivid weekly political reports sent by the British Ambassador in Washington to the Foreign Office in London during the war, most of which had been drafted by his friend and sometime philosophy tutor Isaiah Berlin. Herbert Nicholas’s scholarship was to earn him not only the Rhodes Chair but also election as a Fellow of the British Academy in the same year, 1969.
In his heyday Herbert Nicholas was a familiar and convivial figure at American Studies conferences, and a tireless visitor to the United States. His graduate students sometimes saw less of him than they wished, for it could seem that either he or they were on an American trip at any given time. In retirement he disappeared from conferences for a while as he cared for his ailing elder sisters, returning the loving attention they had given him in his early sickly childhood when they had taught him at home. When they died he enjoyed a brief Indian Summer in the Americanist community he had helped to create, returning to BAAS Conferences as he approached 80, perhaps his last being at Aberystwyth in 1989, where he zestfully played the role of Grand Old Welshman. From 1991 a stroke precluded further such activity, and he thereafter lived quietly in Oxford.
Herbert Nicholas’s natural diffidence did not make him the most immediately approachable figure for students and younger colleagues, but once the ice had broken his good humour, kindliness and zest for life bubbled through. He helped to establish American Studies in this country at a time when it needed his gravitas, his access to high governmental and academic places in both Britain and the United States, and his shrewd judgment and scholarly charm. His role won him many warm friendships on both sides of the Atlantic, and those friendships in turn helped to enrich the single world of Americanist scholarship that he saw as transcending national boundaries.
The Conference Scene: Conferences/Calls for Papers/Seminars
Oxford American Studies Works in Progress Seminar Series Oct-Nov 1998
In anticipation of the Oxford American Institute, the following seminar series is announced.
Mondays of even weeks, Van Heyningen Room, St Cross College, 3.15 – 4.30pm
19 October (2nd week) ‘Property, Shmoperty: Philip Roth and the Contradictions of Cultural Property’ Prof. Ron Bush (St John’s College)
2 November (4th week) ‘British Identity Politics in the American Revolution’ Dr. Dror Wahrman (University of Warwick)
16 November (6th week) ‘Letter-Writing and Representations of Selfhood in America, 1750-1800’ Konstantin Dierks (Brown University and the McNeil Center for Early American Studies)
30 November (8th week) ‘Towards Recovering Ideas of Transatlantic Cultural Community in 18th-century British North America’ Dr. James Raven (Mansfield College)
This seminar series is deliberately informal. Speakers talk about their current work for about twenty to thirty minutes, followed by forty minutes of questions, feedback, and discussion.
All welcome. Dr Peter Thompson (St. Cross), Sarah Knott (St. Hugh’s and Royal Holloway) and Josh Civin (Merton)
For further information please contact Josh Civin at:email@example.com
The American Politics Group – 25th Annual Conference, 6-8 January 1999
The American Politics Group is very pleased to announce that It will hold its 25th Annual Conference at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge. The conference will take place from Wednesday January 6th to Friday January 8th. The conference is open to all those interested in the politics of the USA. The American Politics Group has been of enormous value to US politics specialists. We hope that you will join us for this celebration of the organisation’s first quarter century. Please refer any questions to the conference convenor: Professor Philip Davies (APG Conference Convenor), American Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, De Montford University, Leicester LE1 9BH, England, UK; Phone/voicemail: ’44  116 257 7398; Fax: ’44  116 257 7199; Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annual Commonwealth Fund Conference in American History, January
January 29-30 1999 ‘Two Souths: Towards an Agenda for Comparative Study of the American South and the Italian Mezzogiorno’, the annual Commonwealth Fund Conference in American History will be held at University College London (UK). The conference builds upon recent writing on the two regions and explores the possibilities of comparison. Professor Peter Kolchin will deliver the keynote address. Panel sessions include: ‘Constructions of the Souths,’ ‘Elites’, ‘Migration,’ ‘Race, Class, and Nation,’ ‘Rural Workers and Agrarian Transformation,’ and ‘Gender.’ For details, including information about accommodation, contact Enrico Dal Lago, Department of History, University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, UK email: email@example.com
Institute of Southern Studies, Black Majority Conference, 12-13
Walter Edgar writes that the Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC will be hosting a conference on slavery in the colonial South in observance of the 25th anniversary of the publication of Peter Wood’s Black Majority on 12-13 February 1999. Among the participants will be Peter Kolchin, Ted Rosengarten, Ira Berlin, Peter Coclanis, Philip Morgan, Judith Carney, Joyce Chaplin, Charles Joyner, Leland Ferguson, Mary Galvin, Dale Rosengarten, Larry Hudson, Jennifer Morgan, Kathleen Brown, Robert Olwell, Jack Greene, Dan Littlefield, Robert Weir.
Call for Papers: Scholars are invited to submit papers for two sessions: ‘South Carolina and the Slave Trade’ and ‘South Carolina and the Revolution’.
Interested scholars should contact Professor Tom Brown, Assistant Director Southern Studies, USC; Email: BrownTJ@garnet.cla.sc.edu
The Politics of Evangelicalism Seminar, February 28-March 7 1999
The Center for U.S. Studies at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) announces an intensive seminar: ‘The Politics of Evangelicalism: Conservative Christianity and the State in the U.S. Since 1945″ (February 28-March 7, 1999)
This interdisciplinary course will trace the political resurgence of conservative Christianity in the United States, , which has left a distinct mark on modern American culture and society. Although evangelicalism is commonly associated with a right-wing agenda, it is a complex and dynamic movement that ultimately defies clear political categorization. In the course of the semester we will look at evangelical religion in relationship to race and gender issues, the welfare state, liberal culture, and American politics.
The seminar is geared toward students of history, the social sciences, and American studies, and is open to students from all over the world. It is conducted in English and covers the material of an entire semester (15 sessions) within the span of one week. Students are expected to prepare for the seminar in advance and will receive a reading assignment of approximately 500-700 pages one month prior to the seminar. Course participants will receive undergraduate credit from Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg upon successful completion of all course requirements. In order to earn university credit (Schein), participants are required to submit a research paper no later than six months after the end of the seminar.
Seminar participants will be selected on a competitive basis. During the seminar, course participants are housed at the Leucorea Foundation. The seminar fee for admitted students is DM 150.- and includes instruction, accommodations, and meals. Costs for travel to and from Wittenberg are the student’s responsibility. A limited number of stipends to defray seminar fees may be available.
The Center for U.S. Studies operates under the auspices of the Leucorea Foundation, a non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Halle-Wittenberg. The Leucorea administers the holdings of the former University of Wittenberg and promotes educational, cultural, and research activities in its historic buildings. The Center fosters a better understanding of American history, politics, culture, and literature through a variety of programs. The Internet-linked computer labs and the Center’s library provide access to resources in a wide range of subject areas. The academic seminars are made possible through the generous support of a number of sponsors including the Leucorea Foundation, the United States Information Service, the Kšrber-Stiftung, the German Academic Exchange Service, the German Fulbright Commission, and the State of Sachsen-Anhalt.
Application Procedures: The application deadline for the course ‘The Politics of Evangelicalism: Conservative Christianity and the State in the U.S. Since 1945″ (February 28-March 7, 1999) is December 1.
If you are interested in participating in the seminar, please send a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, and a letter of recommendation to:
Dr. Axel R. Schaefer The Center for U.S. Studies Stiftung LEUCOREA / Martin-Luther-UniversitŠt Halle-Wittenberg Collegienstra§e 62, D-06886 Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Germany Tel.: (0049) 3491-466137 Fax (0049) 3491-466223 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The cover letter should include the following: Seminar title, dates, and instructor’s name; Your name, address, year of study, and university affiliation; Your interest in and commitment to the seminar and the topic; Your fields of study, academic advisor, related university-level courses you have taken, and other relevant experience and competencies; Your proficiency in English; Your visa requirements (if any) in order to come to Germany. Any additional information about yourself that you think would have an impact on your participation in the course.
For further questions and registration information, please contact us by e-mail at email@example.com, by phone (03491-466137), or by fax (03491-466223), or visit our homepage at http://www.zusas.uni-halle.de
Post-War American Poetry Conference 3-4 March 1999
A two-day conference on Post-War American Poetry will be held at the University of Liege, Belgium, on March 3-4, 1999. Participants include Maxine Chernoff and Paul Hoover. Abstracts / one-page proposals for papers on any aspect of post-war American poetry are invited. Possible topics might include, but are not limited to:
– anthologies; canon formation – American poetry in an international context – American poetry and multiculturalism/multilingualism – the use, or nonuse, of traditional modes, genres, and subgenres – the politics of poetic form – poetry and the performing arts – American poetry and postmodernism – Language writing – American poetry and the mass media
Publication of the proceedings is planned.
Call for Papers: Please send abstracts and proposals, by January 15, 1999, to:
Michel Delville & Christine Pagnoulle Universite de Liege Departement d’anglais 3, Place Cockerill 4000 Liege (Belgium) Fax: ’32 4 366 57 21 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Liverpool Hope University College
Call for Papers, A Reminder: Collegium for African American Research. Proposals for papers for the 3rd International Conference ‘Black Liberation in the Americas’ at the University of Munster, Germany, 18-21 March 1999 should reach Carl Pedersen, Center for American Studies, Odense University, Campusvej 55, DK 5230 Odense, Denmark, Fax: 54 65 93 04 90, email:firstname.lastname@example.org also by 15 September 1998.
Black American Liberation in the Americas Conference, 18-21 March 1999
The next workshop will be held in Vienna from April 8th through April 11 organized by Waldemar Zacharasiewicz. The theme for the conference will be ‘The Many Souths: Class in Southern Culture’. The participants in the conference will largely be accommodated in a conference hotel on the outskirts of Vienna (which was used for the Faulkner Conference in 1991). Attempts are going made to find sponsors for the event, but no details can yet be given concerning registration fee and accommodation costs. The regular price for a hotel room would be approximately $70.00 per night. Call for Papers: Proposals for papers (of about 25 Minutes) containing a short abstract not exceeding one page should be sent by 15 September 1998 to: Waldemar Zacharasiewicz, Institut fur Anglistik und Americanistik, Universitat Wien, Universitatscampus AAKH – Hof 8, Spitalgasse 2-4, 1-1090 Wien, Austria; Fax: 43 (1) 4277 42497; Tel: 43 (1) 4277 42410
On to Vienna, SSF Workshop April 8-11 1999
Symbiosis addresses the artificial divide between literatures in English on either side of the Atlantic, a divide recognised by few creative writers but institutionalised in the modern academic community. It is the only Journal uniquely concerned with studies of literary relations between the British Isles and the Americas and is interested in all genres, all theoretical approaches and all periods from the beginnings of Anglophone America to the present.
Call for Papers: Proposals requested by 1 March 1999. Organised by the University of the West of England, Bristol.
Professor Kate Fullbrook, tel. 0117 965 5384, ext. 4339
Mrs. J. Garland, tel 0117 965 5384, ext. 4529, e-mail email@example.com. Faculty of Humanities, University of the West of England, St. Matthias Campus, Oldbury Court Road, Fishponds, Bristol BS16 2JP
The Second Symbiosis Conference: Textual Relations Between Britain and America, 5-7 July 1999
As part of the HRB funded Three Cities: New York, Chicago and Los Angeles project we are pleased to announce a call for papers for our second international conference, Cultures and Representations, to be held September 3-4, 1999 at the University of Birmingham. The project, a collaborative venture based at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham is pioneering interdisciplinary work on the study of urban formations and representations, focused on New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in the modern period. A primary aim of the project is to foster national and international collaborative links between researchers working on these cities from the broadest range of disciplinary approaches. As part of this initiative we invite papers from scholars working on our focus cities in any period and from any disciplinary orientation.
The project is developing the use of multimedia in the study of urban formations, visual, literary and cultural representations of urban space and urban theory and we would particularly welcome papers that seek to utilise or address the use of new technologies for the study of city spaces. The project members and many of our associates work on representations of urban space in literature, photography, fine art, maps, architecture, popular art, advertising, television and film and many draw on contemporary work in urban and visual theory, cultural studies and cultural geography. We would be pleased to see papers reflecting these emphases. However, the project also has an historical and material aspect to it and we would particularly encourage scholars from disciplines such as history, social science, urban planning and architecture to submit papers in order that different standpoints and approaches may be brought into productive dialogue with one another. Likewise, though the primary foci of the conference will be the cities of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles we welcome comparative papers that set these cities in a wider national or international context.
Call for Papers: Papers should generally be 25-30 minutes in length. We are open to papers that think creatively about the paper presentation – whether this is through the use of video, computer or visual presentation. We also welcome proposals for whole panels, short roundtable discussion panels, or presentation and response sessions.
Plenary speakers for the conference (one to be focused on each city) will be announced mid-December.
The deadline for proposals is March 1st, and proposers will be informed of their acceptance by April 1st. Proposals should be submitted on paper and disc and should be no more than 300 words in length. The proposal should be accompanied by a covering letter detailing institutional affiliation (where appropriate), contact address and where possible email address. Proposals can also be submitted electronically to Dr Maria Balshaw at M.J.Balshaw@bham.ac.uk
Details on conference cost, registration and accommodation will be announced mid-December.
For further details and enquiries please contact Dr Maria Balshaw at The Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Birmingham Edgbaston Birmingham UK Tel: 0121 414 3274 Fax: 0121 4146866; Email: M.J.Balshaw@bham.ac.uk
Information on the conference and further details on the Three Cities project can be found on our project web site at: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/3cities/
Please check this site regularly for updates on conference speakers and plenaries.
Three Cities Cultures and Representations, Conference September 3-4 1999
Sharon Monteith (University of Hertfordshire) and Suzanne Jones (University of Richmond) are co-editing an issue of Critical Survey on the American South called ‘South to a New Place’. Critical Survey is a journal of literary studies that addresses central issues of critical practice and literary theory. The project should result in a collection of essays to be published in the US as well. Interested contributors are invited to interpret the topic as broadly as they wish but the editors are interested in such topics as the South’s place in European Studies or in the American consciousness: new theories of Southern regionalism or literature; new perspectives on place in Southern literature. Anyone interested in contributing a paper should send a short abstract outlining their ideas in no more than 500 words.
Call for Contributors: The deadline for submission of completed papers (5,000-6,000 words) will be 1 February 1999. Enquiries may be addressed to Sharon Monteith mail: S.Monteith@herts.ac.uk
Call for Contributors – Critical Survey, ‘South to a New Place’
Their Eyes Were Watching God in the Anglo-American Academy: Critical Reception and New Reading Paradigms, Gloria L Cronin, Ed.
The Editor is seeking contributors of scholarly articles for a proposed volume on Their Eyes Were Watching God which deals with one or any contribution of the following topics:
Reception history; Popularity in the 1980s and 90s academy; The Afrocentric critical response; The Eurocentric critical response; The politics of multi-culturalism; The politics of canon reformation in the 1980s and 90s; Pedagogical strategies and politics; Feminist re-evaluations; New interpretative paradigms; Postcolonial perspectives.
Please indicate your interest in submitting an essay for this volume by sending a proposed title and abstract for your article to the Editor:
Dr. Gloria L. Cronin
Brigham Young University
Provo, Utah 84602
Early Americanist Group Established in the UK and Ireland
Following upon a very successful two-day colloquium on Early America at Cambridge this past spring organised by Betty Wood, Mary Geiter, Bill Speck and Tony Badger and funded by Tony Badger and the Mellon Fund, a large and growing group of cross-national scholars working in the field of early America broadly defined have established an e-mail discussion and communication list as the first step in organising a more formal society or group. Plans are also being made to hold an annual colloquium, and a more formal biennial conference sponsored jointly by Cambridge and the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture in Williamsburg, Virginia. The group also hopes to capitalise upon and provide a warm welcome for the OIEAHC when it holds its Seventh Annual Conference in Glasgow in the year 2001. For more information or if you would like to be added to our e-mail list, please contact Michael McDonnell, Department of American Studies, University of Wales Swansea, SA2 8PP, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Colloquium: Jazz Contexts
If jazz is of central importance to American culture, not only as a part of African American expression but also as an indigenous, national artform – why does it so rarely get a mention on American Studies programs? Is it because teaching music requires a technical expertise seldom found in departments, or is there a particular resistance to jazz which is not the case with more commonly studied music like rock or hiphop? Such a neglect, and the means of addressing it in teaching and research, was the focus of the colloquium Jazz Contexts: the Music and its Role in American Culture, hosted jointly between American & Canadian Studies and Music departments at the University of Nottingham on 6 June 1998. In addition to pedagogical issues, the day’s discussion involved a number of specific topics and figures: from Art Tatum to Charles Mingus, from jazz’s origins in Chicago and New Orleans to Sun Ra’s origins in outer space.
First, Donald Clarke (editor of The Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music) raised issues relating to the writing of jazz history: highlighting work still to be done in reconstructing the 19th century’s musical environment, and the need to place jazz in a socio-economic context. Graham Taylor then spoke about Sun Ra, arguing that his claims to come from Saturn are less a matter of eccentricity than a mode of signifying on Afro-Baptist traditions and a reworking of Black narratives of deliverance. (Taylor, aka. Graham Lock, is author of Blutopia, a study of Ellington, Ra and Braxton to be published next year.)
Peter Townsend of the University of Huddersfield asked: how do we interpret the emergence of free jazz in the 1960s? How much is it an evolution away from greater harmonic complexity, and how much is it a response to social conditions? Comparing Ornette Coleman’s polyphonic style in Free Jazz (1960) to John Coltrane’s denser, unindividuated textures in Ascension (1965), Townsend indicated the shortcomings of both approaches before combining them in an emphasis on the music’s return, for both political and aesthetic reasons, to African American folk forms.
One of the crucial matters, then, was how to relate formal and cultural analyses. David Horn (director of Liverpool University’s Institute of Popular Music) cautioned against a kind of critical deafness which neglects the technically virtuoso work of a figure like Art Tatum for more ‘readable’ formal innovations; and the issue was treated in depth in the day’s main event, an open session on the teaching of jazz. With George McKay’s course at the University of Central Lancashire as a model – one of the few to present American popular music as a subject in its own right – people discussed the need to develop a musical vocabulary, the exchange of analytical skills and cultural competencies, and the problems of teaching something which is never far from questions of taste. Much of the debate centred on value, both artistic and educational – and here the question seemed to be: is there something in jazz which gives it a significance above other musical forms, or a cultural significance beyond its role in African American history?
Overall, what emerged from the discussion and the day as a whole was a much wider debate, not only about the kind of cultural picture American Studies should offer, but also about changing relations between staff, students and knowledge.
Colin Harrison, Liverpool John Moores University
Conference Report: Identifying America/American
The School of English and American Studies at the University of Exeter hosted the annual BAAS Interdisciplinary One-Day Postgraduate conference on 6th December 1997, entitled ‘Identifying America / American Identities’. BAAS gratefully provided a grant of £200 to support the conference, as well as helping to publicise the event in the early stages.
The conference was quite modestly attended, perhaps due to the relative geographical remoteness of our University. We also had to overcome several last minute problems of illness and cancellation. Despite all this, the conference was friendly and relaxed, and proved to be a useful and stimulating experience.
The conference was organised around four panels. The morning session was on ‘Nostalgia’. Paul Grainge (University of Nottingham) spoke on ‘Time’s Past in the Present: Nostalgia and the Black and White Image’ followed by Maurice Bottomley (Manchester Metropolitan University) on ‘Back in the Day: Nostalgia and the New Classic Soul’. Despite the differing subject areas, the discussion afterwards raised some interesting points about the American desire for nostalgia.
The session was followed by an announcement from Anna Notaro (University of Nottingham) on the forthcoming HRB funded ‘Three Cities’ project, which is being run jointly by the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham.
After lunch, the conference split into two concurrent panels. The ‘Ethnicity’ session heard papers by Eric Kaufmann (London School of Economics) on ‘From Anglo-Saxon to Avant-Garde: Modernism and White American Identity Since 1913’, Richard Crownshaw (University of Sussex) on ‘The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Jewish-American Identities and the Nationalisation of Holocaust Memory’ and David Kennedy (University of Exeter) on ‘Martin Scorcese – Italian-American?’. The discussion period found useful common ground between the three papers, and was informative in its considerations of what ethnicity might mean in contemporary American society.
Next door, the session was called ‘Looking Outside / Looking Inside’. Saer Mary Ba (University of Exeter) spoke on ‘Religion and Struggle Against Racism: the case of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam’ and Sue Wragg (University of Nottingham) spoke on ‘A Modernist Identity?: The US and French Modernity’. Thanks are especially due her to Candida Taylor (University of Birmingham), who stepped into the breach caused by one of the last minute cancellations and presented her paper on Zoot suits and 1950’s Chicano fashion and style. The discussion afterwards found shared thematic concepts between the papers while remaining sensitive to the specific differences between them.
Next the delegates were given a tour of the Bill Douglas Centre, the University of Exeter’s new museum and research facility. Collected by the late Scottish filmmaker Bill Douglas and gratefully donated by his friend Peter Jewell, the collection consists of over 15,000 books and over 30,000 artifacts relating to cinema and popular culture.
The final session of the day was on ‘Women Writing’. Ann Hurford (Nottingham Trent University) spoke on ‘Speaking out and Soap Opera: Anne Tyler’s Interrogation of Language in A Slipping-Down Life’ and Hilary Dixon (Independent) on ‘Margaret Fuller: Identity Work’. One of the conference casualties, Sophia Taylor (University of Nottingham), who had injured her back a few days before the event, arranged to have her paper on ‘Ellen Glasgow’s Spiritual Identity: Skeptic or Believer?’ read by her colleague Helen Oakley. Despite the chronological differences between the writers addressed, the discussion session again found useful links between the papers.
The conference as a whole was a good advert both for the quality and diversity of work being done in American Studies at the postgraduate level and all of the papers provoked stimulating and interesting discussions. Paul Giles from the editorial board of OVERhere invited all the contributors to send their papers in to be considered for publication, and it is hoped that a selection of them will appear.
We would like to thank Jo Whitmore, the postgraduate secretary in the School, for her help in all aspects of organising the conference, as well as PhD student Fan Austin for her help on the day. Finally we thank BAAS and OVERhere again for their support.
David Kennedy and Richard Bradbury
EAAS and BAAS
EAAS Spring 1998 Conference Report
In the spring of 1998 the European Association for American Studies (EAAS) ran an extremely stimulating and successful conference in Lisbon. There were three plenary lectures (including a spell-binding reading-cum-lecture by novelist Robert Coover), several parallel or ‘stream’ lectures by a range of scholars from all over Europe and the U.S., and thirty workshops – in my view the heart of the conference – most of which met for two 2-hour sessions, enabling over 200 scholars to give presentations. In April of 2000 EAAS is mounting a conference in Graz which should prove equally large and exciting (please see the call for papers printed elsewhere in this issue of the Newsletter). Such biennial conferences are the most visible EAAS activity. Other activities include: support for new institutional American studies work in Europe, especially in eastern Europe; publication of American Studies in Europe, the Association’s newsletter, which is edited by former BAAS Chair Bob Burchell; occasional book-length publications (including support for the series titled European Contributions to American Studies put out by VU University Press in Amsterdam); an EAAS www site; and co-operative ventures with the U.S. American Studies Association and with a variety of European and American governmental organisations.
Over the years I have enjoyed taking an active role in EAAS conferences – for example, I co-convened workshops at the meetings in Budapest and Warsaw – so I was very pleased to be elected to succeed David Adams as the UK representative to the EAAS Board. I was elected (for a 5-year term) at the Birmingham BAAS conference in 1997 and attended my first Board meeting at the Lisbon conference earlier this year. I would like to pass on my two clearest impressions. The first is that EAAS is definitely an important organisation which is in touch with current concerns. (In the past, the rather hierarchical nature of the composition of the Board, with some members serving for extraordinarily long periods, meant that this was not always the case, and it was understandable that some of us in BAAS could entertain doubts about EAAS’s effectiveness). The most pressing issues are consequences of the larger political evolution of Europe. Associations from the new post-Cold War eastern European states are clamouring to join, but are they each ready to do so? Do they have democratic constitutions? If they each join, the Board could grow to a membership of over 25; would it, therefore, be sensible to create a two-tier Board? Could equality between member national associations be maintained in such circumstances? Should it be? The current President, Heinz Ickstadt of Berlin, is very sensitive to these matters, and whoever succeeds him in 2000 will have to be equally attuned to both political and intercultural nuances. EAAS, especially its Board, is like a microcosmic mirror of Europe as a whole, and it is exciting to be part of this dynamic process.
This leads me to my second observation: we in the UK, in BAAS, are not playing as significant a part in EAAS as we should be. Next to the German association, our membership vies with that of the French association as the second highest in Europe, yet when I looked through the list of conference-goers in Lisbon we were nowhere near second in numbers. There were not only more French participants and more participants from such neighbouring countries as Spain, but more Scandinavians, possibly more Dutch. Some of this may be the result of our traditionally poor funding for conference attendance, exacerbated when the British Academy eliminated overseas conference grants, but I think larger and more nebulous cultural forces are also at work. Judie Newman, the most recent former Chair of BAAS, was fond of using the expression ‘to punch our weight’. Thanks to recent Chairs and Committee members, we are now punching our weight in domestic issues – witness Phil Davies’ successful representations re the RAE or over ‘benchmarking’ within the external examining system – but we are not yet doing so in Europe and EAAS. I hope we can speedily put this to rights.
The most telling thing we can do is to participate more fully in EAAS conferences. I hope that, in comparison with the past, many more of you will put yourselves forward for Graz as potential parallel or ‘stream’ speakers and workshop organizers; equally important, when the workshop topics are announced in the EAAS newsletter in the spring/summer of 1999, I hope many others will submit proposals to offer workshop presentations. (And if Graz in 2000 is not possible for you, 2002 holds the prospect of somewhere else equally wonderful.) There is a special excitement in consideration of American culture in an international and multi-cultural context. In my own case, it has definitely made me conscious of just how European I am. This consciousness will surely not be a matter of choice for the British American studies academics who will succeed us. I believe they will need to put it to work, both at the research level and in institutional life. We should be preparing the way. Actually, we should be there already.
If you would like to contact me about EAAS, please do so: fax: 0113-233-4774; e-mail: email@example.com.
Full addresses of the Board members, the officers of all constituent associations, and the EAAS www page may be found in the EAAS newsletter, American Studies in Europe, which is distributed to all full members of BAAS.
EAAS-L distribution list moderated by Jaap Verheul firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contribute to the list by sending your posting to: email@example.com
The address of the EAAS homepage has been changed to: http://www.let.uu.nl/eaas
EAAS Conference, Graz, Austria, April 14-17 2000
Call for Stream Lectures and Workshop Organizers ‘Nature’s Nation’ Reconsidered: American Concepts of Nature from Wonder to Ecological Crisis.
Today’s advanced understanding of nature calls for a drastic re-conceptualisation of traditional ideas about our relation to the natural environment. At the beginning of a new millennium an adequate understanding of ‘nature’ will be of utmost importance, and an investigation into the dominant ideas and attitudes of a nation and culture powerful enough to change that environment on a global scale would seem highly appropriate. A host of historical, socio-political and economic as well as cultural, literary, and psychological approaches can be applied to the theme in an attempt to understand the place and function of nature in American history (and the history of American self-definition) as well as the current manifestations of a new interest in nature in various areas of American culture and society. Lectures and workshops could thus inquire into the powerful impact the idea of nature had on American society and culture in the past, but also into the creative (‘utopian’) potential it still has in contemporary conceptualisations of alternative or different lives (and life styles). They could explore the multitude of myths and concepts relating to ‘nature’ and ‘America’ (European and American projections, Jeffersonian ideals and agrarian myths from the early republic to the New Deal, from pastoral self-confinement to the dynamics of westward expansion), conservation movements (the establishment of national parks and natural museums), nature writing, the representation of nature in literature, the arts, photography and film. They could also deal with Native American natural religion and its echoes in contemporary mainstream and (ethnic) counter-culture(s), with ecological movements in politics and the arts, with eco-feminism; or with the various manifestations of ‘artificial’ nature in plastic or in cyberspace.
You are invited to propose lecture topics or workshop topics for this conference. In the case of workshops, you may wish to propose a co-organizer; if so, this person must be from another country.
Please send proposals for parallel lectures (an abstract of 1 page maximum) to Mick Gidley, with a copy to Professor Heinz Ickstadt, President EAAS, J.F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universitat Berlin, Lansstrasse 5-9, D-14195 Berlin, Germany
Please send proposals for workshop topics (an outline of potential coverage of 1 page maximum) to Mick Gidley, with a copy to Professor Walter Hoelbling, Secretary EAAS, Karl-Franzens-Universitat, Graz Institut fur Amerikanistik, Attemsgasse 25, A-8010 Graz, Austria
Mick Gidley’s address is:
Professor Mick Gidley
BAAS Delegate to EAAS
School of English
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
At the BAAS conference in Norwich, a small group of people met to discuss future prospects for the study of America in Scotland, and the possibility of establishing a new association. It was envisaged that this association would have a strong link, of a nature to be determined, with the BAAS. Representing Americanists throughout Scotland, this organization would have among its functions the lobbying of the forthcoming Scottish parliament, a legislature that will have responsibility for Scotland’s already distinctive educational system. The small group established a steering committee consisting of Dr Colin Nicolson (Stirling), secretary, and Dr Simon Newman (Glasgow) and Professor Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (Edinburgh), joint chairs. Professor C. Duncan Rice, Principal of Aberdeen University, was elected honorary president. Among the topics discussed was that of composition and nomenclature. The provisional acronym SASHA stands for the Scottish Association for the Study of the History of America. With Glasgow’s Susan Castillo taking the lead, support is now being canvassed amongst literature specialists, so the acronym may become SASHLA, or SASA. Views will also be sought from colleagues engaged in the study of American politics. In the meantime, the fledgling association is giving enthusiastic backing to the Glasgow BAAS conference, where it hopes to meet again, and solidify its plans for the future.
Opinions and suggestions are welcome, and may be sent to any of the following Email addresses:
The Library Company of Philadelphia
The Library Company of Philadelphia is an independent research library with collections documenting every aspect of the history and background of American culture from the colonial period to the end of the nineteenth century. A collection of national importance, its holdings number approximately a half-million printed volumes in a wide variety of formats: 75,000 graphics; 160,000 manuscripts; and a small, distinguished collection of early American art and artifacts. The collection is especially strong in Afro-Americana; American science, technology, banking and business, architecture, agriculture, natural history, education, philanthropy, and medicine; German-Americana; pamphlets of the American Revolution, Federal and Jacksonian Periods, and the Civil War; American Judaica; Philadelphia area history; the history of printing, book collecting, and reading; the history of women, domestic economy, and family life; and printmaking, mapmaking, and photography in Philadelphia. In addition, the library has extensive holdings of American novels, plays, poems, essays and orations up to 1860 and complementary collections of British and Continental eighteenth and nineteenth century literature, popular non-fiction, and periodicals.
Photographic Exhibition: Native Nations
Native Nations: Journeys in American Photography examines the photographic representation of and by Native North American people from 1850s to the present day. The first ever exhibition of its kind, it features over 500 fantastic photographic images which introduce visitors to Native history and culture, exploring and challenging the romantic stereotype of the ‘red indian’ or a ‘vanishing’ race prevalent to this day. For any of you interested in the changes in North America over this time period, this is a fantastic opportunity, not to be missed, offering a fresh insight into Native North American culture. 10 September-10 January (closed 24 December-1 January).
Frank Cogliano, University of Edinburgh, was awarded a research fellowship by the David Library of the American Revolution in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, in order to complete research for a work on the experiences of American prisoners during the American Revolution.
Professor Stanley Engerman (University of Rochester) the distinguished southern economic historian will be the Pitt Professor of American History and Institutions at Cambridge University for the academic year, 1998-1999.
Professor John David Smith (North Carolina State University), one of the leading authorities on nineteenth century race relations and southern historiography is to be the Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, Munich for 1998-99. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Amerika-Institut, Universitat Munchen, Schellingstr.3, 80799, Munich Germany; Tel: 49 89 2180 2137.
Mike Woolf has joined Syracuse University as Director of the University’s London Centre. His role includes development of the University’s relations in Asia. New phone number is 0171 229 0005; E-mail: email@example.com.
On the Air
S. Jay Kleinberg (Brunel) appeared on Woman’s Hour on 10 July to speak about the 150th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Declaration.
In Print: Members’ Publications
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (University of Edinburgh), The CIA and American Democracy (Yale University Press, 1998, paperback $18, ISBN 0-300-07737-8), second edition. This edition has a new section covering the period since the end of the Cold War.
Clive Webb (Reading) has published ‘Big Struggle in a Small Town: Charles Mantinband of Hattiesburg, Mississippi’ in Mark K. Bauman and Berkley Kalin, eds., The Quiet Voices: Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1880s to 1990s (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 1997).
Karen L. Kilcup, Associate Professor of American Literature at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, was keynote speaker at the ’19th-Century American Women Writers: Issues and Perspectives for the 21st Century’ international conference at Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat in Frankfurt, Germany, this past July. In addition to suggesting issues for future scholarship, she discussed her work published in the past year, including: two journal special issues, Questioning Jewett: Centennial Essays (Colby Quarterly), Nineteenth-Century American Culture (Overhere: A European Journal of American Culture); three books, Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: An Anthology (Blackwell. Oxford, 1997. ISBN: 0-631-19986-1), Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers: A Critical Reader (Blackwell. Oxford, 1998. ISBN: 0-631-20054-1) , and Robert Frost and Feminine Literary Tradition (Michigan. Ann Arbor, 1998. ISBN: 0-472-10967-7 ); and four articles on related subjects.
At the Department of American Studies, University of Wales Swansea, Jon Roper has published an article entitled ‘Richard Nixon’s Political Hinterland: The Shadows of JFK and Charles de Gaulle,’ in Presidential Studies Quarterly 28 no. 2 (Spring 1998), Nick Selby has recently published The Icon Critical Guide to Moby Dick (Cambridge: Icon, 1998), and David R. Bewley-Taylor’s article, entitled ‘Certification Meets NAFTA: More Schizophrenia in the Misguided War,’ will be in the International Journal of Drug Policy this fall whilst Michael McDonnell’s ‘Popular Mobilization and Political Culture in Revolutionary Virginia: The Failure of the Minutemen and the Revolution from Below,’ will be published in the Journal of American History in December 1998.
Exchange Programmes: The Debate Continues
Exchange Programmes: Views Sought
Thanks are expressed to everyone who sent a reply to the questionnaire on Exchange Programmes in the Spring issue of the Newsletter. This has provided useful information which will form the basis for the session on Exchange Programmes at the BAAS conference in Glasgow in April, 1999.
A copy of the questionnaire will be sent this autumn to all American Studies departments which did not reply. The information from the questionnaires will then be summarised on the BAAS Homepage, by January, 1999. Delegates to the BAAS conference who attend the session on Exchange Programme will thereby be in a position to be well-informed well in advance of the BAAS conference.
The current debate on Exchange Programmes was initiated in an editorial in the BAAS Newsletter by the previous editor, Steve Mills, who suggested that, although American Studies programmes which incorporated a period of Study Abroad at an American university within a three-year degree might be unaffected, it may be impossible to continue American Studies four-year degree programmes which included a year at an American university, in the light of declining numbers of applications for a degree in American Studies and the introduction of tuition fees. (BAAS Newsletter, 77, Autumn, 1997). This provoked a vigorous response in the last issue of the Newsletter from William Riches of the University of Ulster, who wrote that ‘the faculty teaching in the American Studies programme at this university will fight to the bitter end to keep the intercalary year.’ (BAAS Newsletter, 78, Spring/Summer, 1998).
Two main questions appear to be emerging in the debate. First, how important is a period of study at an American university as an element in an American Studies degree – a sine qua non; virtually essential; very desirable; of limited value; not necessary? Second, is it necessary for students to go to an American university for a full year and thereby add a fourth year to their degree, or are the benefits of study in America gained sufficiently by a semester at an American university, which is integrated into a three-year degree?
Views on these questions and on any other points relating to Exchange Programmes should be sent to the organiser of the BAAS conference session, Peter Boyle, Department of American & Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham,NG7 2RD, or by e-mail, Peter.Boyle@nottingham.ac.uk
Work or Study in the USA: False Oppositions
In the last two issues of ‘The Newsletter’ the question of the comparative role of work versus study in the USA has been raised. Steve Mills introduced the issue in the light of Dearing and the introduction of student fees. His was a timely summary of what choices may lie ahead for American Studies. At the heart of the question is the simple issue of how, in the current circumstances, departments might best ensure that their students have valuable experience in the USA as part of their undergraduate education. He raised the possibility of giving some form of recognition to the kinds of work experience readily available through reputable agencies (such as BUNAC and Council on International Educational Exchange). This was not, in any sense, an attack on the value of study in the USA. To recognise the value of work experience is not to deny the value of study.
William Riches, however, interpreted the remarks precisely as just such an attack and wrote as a kind of defender of the faith: ‘prepared to fight for education, independent thought and to offer students challenges that they should face in the academic community.’
This position misinterprets the points made by Steve Mills and ignores some key issues:
1. In the changing circumstances it may be necessary to think of creative alternatives to traditional educational patterns precisely so as to maintain the challenging environment we all value. Further, the question of the length of the degree (four or three years) is hardly a matter of excellence versus mediocrity but rather an inevitable one in these times. Failure to raise the question at this point is tantamount to taking a stance more akin to the ostrich than the hero.
2. In essence, work experience in the USA brings a number of benefits and responds to current realities. It recognises student and government demand that some form of experiential learning be integrated into all degree studies as a means of ensuring that students are, to some extent, better qualified to enter the job market after graduation. In addition, it demonstrates the direct correlation between the world of work and the world of study. Working in the USA also offers students an experience of American culture as participants rather than observers thus creating precisely the ‘bonus for…graduates’ that William Riches desires: ‘they can prove that they can adjust to a different culture and succeed.’ The adjustment required to work abroad is surely a greater challenge than that required to study abroad when, after all, a classroom in the UK is not a substantially different environment from a classroom in the USA.
As Director of the Council on International Educational Exchange for over 10 years, I was deeply involved in creating work experience opportunities in the USA for UK students (as well as promoting study programmes in the USA). I am now Director of Syracuse University programmes in the UK and part of my responsibility is to develop work experience for US students in this country while maintaining and improving the standards of our academic programmes. I believe, therefore, that it is possible to have a balanced commitment to both study and work abroad.
To go a little further, the combination of work and study creates, I believe, the conditions for a significant enhancement of academic experience. Two examples may suffice: A student of literature would gain insight into the real nature of literary reputation by spending a period in a bookshop, a publishing house or agency, or with a review department of a newspaper. In that context they might experience the degree to which literary reputation is, at least in part, a consequence of promotional activities rather than just aesthetics. Similarly, a student of history could benefit from a period of work in a museum or art gallery where they would have the opportunity to experience the fact that versions of history and culture are constructed precisely by the choices the institutions make of acquisition or display. It is arguable that failure to demonstrate those realities is academically irresponsible. If this is true in the fields of literature and history, it is evidently the case that there exists a direct relationship between academic study and work in the other areas represented in the broad church of American Studies.
In short, we do not face a ‘fight to the bitter end’ to defend study abroad. This ‘struggle’ is a seductive illusion: a ‘heroic’ defence of what is not being attacked. It is ultimately absurd to see work and study as mutually exclusive options when they both serve our shared objectives.
Dr. Michael Woolf, Director, Syracuse University London Centre; Tel: 0171 229 0005 Fax: 0171 792 0791
The David Healy Award
In 1977-78 David Healy, Professor of American History at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) engaged in a faculty exchange with Peter Boyle of the University of Nottingham. An outcome of the exchange was the introduction of an award every second year of a two-year Teaching Assistantship in the Department of History at UWM to a final year student in History or American Studies at the University of Nottingham.
The award celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, and it has been a resounding success in every respect. All recipients of the award successfully completed an M.A. at UWM, and they have gone on to distinguished careers. Four went on to take a Ph.D. at an American university (Princeton, Johns Hopkins, Rutgers and the University of Iowa). One is now teaching at Texas Christian University in Houston. Another, Mark White, teaches at Eastern Illinois University, after a two-year spell at St. Andrews Ñ he is author of The Cuban Missile Crisis and General Editor of Longman’s forthcoming ten-volume history of the United States. The recipient of the award who is best known to us is Simon Newman, lecturer in American History at Glasgow University, Director of the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies at Glasgow and the Conference Secretary for the BAAS conference in Glasgow in April, 1999. Recipients of the award who pursued other than academic careers include two teachers, a lawyer, a television documentary-maker and a Foreign Office official.
The award has been a scheme in which everyone has gained and at no cost. UWM has gained a steady supply of high-quality graduate students and Teaching Assistants, who have been screened out by the University of Nottingham’s selection process. The University of Nottingham has gained an attractive offer, which it has within its gift. Above all, the students who have held the award enjoyed a tremendous experience, which in many cases opened up opportunities which transformed their lives.
The Barra Foundation Fellowship
The Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania each year jointly offer one-month fellowship support to research in residence in their collections by a foreign national scholar living outside the United States. The fellowship is funded by the Barra Foundation, Inc.
The Library Company and the Historical Society are independent research libraries adjacent to each other in Center City Philadelphia. They have complementary comprehensive collections capable of supporting research in a variety of fields and disciplines relating to the history of North America up to about 1900. Founded in 1731, the Library Company was the largest public library in America until the 1850s and thus contains printed materials on every aspect of American culture and society in that period. It has since become a research library of 450,000 books, pamphlets, newspapers and periodicals, as well as 75,000 prints, collections of personal and business papers, along with comprehensive collections of printed materials concerning the political, social and family history of the Philadelphia region.
Together, these two collections are especially strong in Afro-Americana, German-Americana, American Literature and popular culture, history of women, domestic economy, economics and business, medicine, agriculture, natural history, philanthropy, education, art (including Philadelphia area prints and photographs), architecture, technology, and printing and publishing. Both also have significant collections of British and Continental books, reflecting the European background of American culture.
The fellowship supports both post-doctoral and dissertation research. The project proposal should demonstrate that the Library Company and the Historical Society have primary resources central to the research topic. Candidates are encouraged to enquire about the appropriateness of a proposed topic before applying The fellowship is tenable for one month at any time from June 1999 to May 2000. The stipend is $2,000, plus an allowance for travel expenses. The fellow will be assisted in finding reasonable priced accommodations.
Candidates must apply by February 1, 1999. The appointment will be made by March 20. There are no application forms. To apply, send a curriculum vitae, a two to four page description of the project, and one letter of reference to:
Library Company of Philadelphia
1314 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Note: The Library Company of Philadelphia also offers a number of short-term fellowships for research in its collections only, without restriction by nationality or place of residence.
Applicants for the Barra International Fellowship will automatically be considered for Library Company fellowships if their research topics are appropriate to the Library Company Collections.
Research Award Reports
Report – Karen Wilkinson
Report on Karen Wilkinson’s BAAS Sponsored Research Trip to The United States of America, 12/8/98 – 25/8/98.
After a number of false starts (I’d originally planned to make my trip in May) I arrived in New York amidst a major heatwave in the middle of August. Since I am no great lover of excessively hot weather this, and the fact that I couldn’t initially find my luggage was enough to make me want to get straight back on the plane and return to the familiar and less intimidating territory of Heathrow. Needless to say I didn’t follow my initial instincts, and after negotiating Manhattan bus station I finally arrived at Highland Falls – the home of West Point Military Academy and home to the Constitution Island Association which now takes care of Susan Warner’s family home and archives.
Having visited a number of writers homes in England, I had expected to find the people involved in the Association as interested in Warner’s writing as they were in the house and her connections with the Military Academy. I was therefore a little surprised to find, that although they do have copies of Warner’s published work in the library at the house, that only a passing interest is shown in her work. Perhaps the main reason for this is that the house itself is an important part of American history in it’s own right Ñ one part of the building dates back to the revolutionary period and the island and fortified house had played an important role in defending the area against English attack. That said, with increasing interest being shown by the academic community in Susan Warner as a writer I think that the Association is making a conscious effort to consolidate and organise their own material and knowledge in this area. One of my main reasons for going to Highland Falls was to try to find out information about a chapter from Warner’s first novel The Wide, Wide World that had been left out of the final draft. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my search but, I was able to have free access to Warner’s surviving papers and journals (which are held at both the Association Office and at the Military Academy) which will prove invaluable in my research. I was fortunate enough to speak with Ronnie Coffee (the current President of the Constitution Island Association) and the West Point Historical and Archive departments prior to my visit. Having made earlier contact with these people meant that I was made to feel extremely welcome and everybody concerned did everything they could to ensure that my all too brief visit was as productive as possible.
The final few days of my trip were spent in New York where I took advantage of the wonderful Nineteenth Century literature and periodical collection available at New York Public Library. Since I was only able to spend a very short time at the library, I only had time to look at a very small sample of the materials available. However, having ready access to the work of writers like Hale and Beecher as well as many less well known writers of the period will enable me to add a far greater depth to my thesis than I had previously hoped for. In addition I will now be able to plan future trips with a far clearer idea of what is available and ease of access to the rarer documents. (The NYPL archive collection is divided over a number of sites and prior planning is essential – a lesson I learnt very earlier on in my stay in New York!)
Overall the trip was extremely productive and the material I was able to collect will undoubtedly be of great use to me as I write up my thesis. I would like to extend my thanks to BAAS for awarding me the short term travel award and the wonderful opportunity it gave me to make the trip.
Report – Janet Greenlees
Report of Research Trip to New England for BAAS by Janet Greenlees
I recently spent several weeks in New England conducting research for my DPhil thesis entitled ‘The Impact of Women on Industry: A Comparative Study of the Lancashire and New England Cotton Industries, 1790-1860’. My research was greatly aided by a BAAS Short Term Travel Award. I found extremely useful records in archives in Boston, Cambridge, Lowell and Taunton, not just about the well-known mill girls of Lowell, Massachusetts, but also workers in smaller mills in other parts of New England. This enabled me to compare the business practices of different sized mills concerning labor, especially women. The evidence gathered supports my overall hypothesis that labor influenced the development of business practices in early manufacturing and that the relationship between labor and management was flexible.
Business records revealed a natural concern about the market for cotton goods and the state of the market. This greatly influenced all aspects of business. The majority of mills were water powered throughout the nineteenth century, resulting in the weather greatly affecting continuous mill operations, including flooding, drought and ice jams. These problems would mean offering a workforce continual, full-time work throughout the year would be virtually impossible. Other sources reveal that few women sought year round employment. Rather they took the best paid, available work when necessary. Many letters reveal women took time off for various reasons at different times of the year. When these factors are combined with the shortage of male labor, it could make mill work mutually beneficial to women and manufacturers.
Traditional labor patterns were another problem with which early manufacturers had to contend. Because smaller mills relied on a local labor supply, these mill managers had to be more flexible with work patterns. Local labor practices often included extended holidays, time off to care for family members, market days, and other, unexplained reasons. Smaller mills had greater competition for workers than did the larger corporate mills, because the often could not afford to recruit labor from other areas. Therefore, owners of small mills had to offer wages that were competitive to the local area. The larger, corporate mills, such as those owned by the Boston Associates at Lowell, hired women from all over New England and housed them on mill property. As a result, these companies were able to exert greater control over both the work day and operatives’ lives. There are mentions of Lowell women taking time off to care for relatives, but days off for holidays and traditional activities are not mentioned. Women also left for other mills or other industries which paid better wages particularly after mid-century. Although smaller companies tried to copy the Lowell regimented work day, they found it much more difficult and traditional patterns of labor remained. In spite of their problems regulating both workers and the work day, these smaller companies id not disappear. They remained competitive players in the cotton industry throughout the nineteenth century. This could have resulted from their flexibility in both goods produced and managerial style.
From the early nineteenth century through the 1840’s, mills had difficulty obtaining and retaining skilled labor. In the smaller mills, concern was particularly great. Workers in these mills seemed to have held multiple skills because when there was a shortage of workers, others took over the necessary tasks. It was the corporate mills that introduced the idea of a worker performing one specific task repeatedly, revealing that workers in smaller mills were more highly skilled than those in corporate mills. This probably would have remained the case since larger mills were financially able to replace old machinery more rapidly with new, labor saving devices, which required less skill to operate. Yet the Boston Associates did have some regard for their workers and their abilities, particularly by the 1840’s. Managers considered operatives responses to changes in daily operation, wages and boarding house rates. They also transferred workers to different departments, both from workers requests and abilities, demonstrating that manufacturers valued their workers.
Concern was widespread that American labor conditions were better than in England. Many papers commend not only the higher wages, but also the better living and working conditions in America. Comments about the issue and even the efforts to maintain this edge concentrated on Lowell, almost as if Lowell was a model community. Interestingly, none of the commentators challenged women’s right to work outside the domestic environment, whereas in England the ideal was a male-breadwinner. Instead, American concern centered around the health and moral well-being of the women.
The various sources examined indicate a great diversity within the American cotton industry, both in patterns of work organization, labor issues and business matters. Although Lowell might have housed the largest and most publicized cotton mills, it was by no means the industrial norm.
Research Information: US National Archives (‘Archives II’) at College Park MD
Many members will recall visiting the US National Archives, located between the White House and Capitol Hill, whether as a tourist, to witness Americans filing past those relicts that are the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights, or as researchers in the very different atmosphere of microfilm readers and photocopiers. Since archival microfilm became readily available elsewhere not so many have visited the Pennsylvania Avenue site as was once the case. Fewer still will now need to visit the downtown site given that the US Archives have now essentially completed its long term strategy to decentralise the facilities, not just to regional centres across the country, but specifically out to the Maryland suburbs. Once the Pennsylvania Avenue site had been declared full (back in 1970) ever more material was held at the National Records Center out in Suitland, Maryland. Now the original site holds almost nothing for the professional researcher with the opening of the ‘US National Archives at College Park’ (generally known as Archives II) on 33 acres donated by the University of Maryland.
Archives II (are they implying that next comes Archives III, the movie?) opened for research as far back as 1994. Records held here include: the Nixon Presidential Materials; electronic records; motion picture, sound, and video records; the John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection; still pictures; the Berlin Documents Center microfilm; and textual records from most civilian agencies and military records dating from the Second World War; plus cartographic and architectural holdings. A ‘Fax-on-Demand’ service, for use with the handset on a fax machine, gives information on many topics. Tel: 00 1 301 713 6905 or www.nara.gov. Selected textual records have been removed from both the downtown and the Suitland sites to the College Park building, further enhancing the service now on offer at College Park. Records are retrieved for researchers at designated times Monday through Friday for use in the research rooms, though records can be used during evening hours or on Saturday if they have already been retrieved. If researchers can only attend on Saturday or after the last retrieval time, advance arrangements can be made to have records available by calling ahead. The infamous Nixon tapes can be listened to Monday through Friday 0845 – 1600. Fortunately much of what researchers seek is available on microfilm, on video, as maps and in still pictures is available for self-service retrieval.
Some useful phone numbers: (all should be prefixed 001 from the UK) General reference information: 301 713-6800 Nixon Presidential Materials reference: 713-6950 Cartographic reference: 713-7040 Textual reference: 713-7250 Motion Picture, Sound, & Video reference: 713-7060 Electronic Records reference: 713-6645 Kennedy Assassination Records reference: 713-6620 Still Picture reference: 713-6660
Researchers first visiting Archives II for the first time should initially speak with an archivist in room 1000 (‘Researcher Registration’) located off the main lobby. The archivist provides an orientation to both the building and the records, and conducts the registration procedure. This can be more than a dull formality, being a discussion about the research potentials of the available collections with a fellow professional.
There are the usual research collection restrictions, but personal materials such as briefcases or laptop cases, may be deposited in basement lockers near the cafeteria (a refundable quarter is needed). A complete copy of Rules for Using Historical Records in the National Archives is available through ‘Fax-on-Demand’ or by calling the general reference number. The general inquiry e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copying Paper to paper copies of most documents can be made on self-service copiers at a cost of 10¢ per page. Microfilm to paper copies are 25¢ per image. Before copying any textual records researchers must show a staff member the original material they wish to duplicate. Self-service Polaroid copiers are available in the Still Picture Research Room that make colour or black and white photographic prints for $8.60. Researchers may copy certain audio-visual records using their own equipment or may rent the use of a dubbing station available in the research room. There is a ‘Fax-on-Demand’ service outlining what cannot be copied (such as the Nixon White House tapes and copyrighted newsreels).
Researchers may use their own laptop computers, approved scanners (though not hand held ones), typewriters, tape recorders, tape decks, cameras, and other equipment. A phone jack is available for researchers who wish to transmit data, though this is unlikely to be of much use to overseas researchers as only local or US 800 numbers are accessible. Basic details can be found on the National Archives Homepage, with more specific details on www.nara.gov/nara/dc/Archives2
Monday & Wednesday 0845 – 1700 Tuesday, Thursday & Friday 0845 – 2100 Saturday 0845 – 1645 Closed Sunday
Location and Directions
Archives II is located at 8601 Adelphi Road, near the University of Maryland ‘s College Park campus. From the Beltway take the New Hampshire Avenue exit south, taking a left at the second light onto Adelphi Road. After a couple of miles there is a large Archives II green sign on the left. Turn into the entrance for the ample free parking. Warning: do not attempt to find Archives II by first finding the university. That will lead you into a substantial and unnecessary detour as though on university land the complex is totally separate and is not accessible whether by car or by foot from the main campus. There is a shuttle bus service for registered University of Maryland students and faculty from the centre of campus, but others should use their own car, or use the bus service from Prince George’s Plaza. Do NOT take the Metro to the College Park station, which is on quite the wrong side of the vast campus. Instead take the Metro to Prince George’s Plaza and then take the R3 Metrobus, serving the Greenbelt, Prince George’s Plaza, and Ft. Totten Metrorail Green Line stations, and stops at Archives II. For a timetable update contact Metro at (202) 637-7000. As it does not run on Saturdays a free researcher shuttle bus runs on Saturday only between the Prince George’s Plaza Metrorail Green Line station (Belcrest Road side) and the College Park building on the following schedule: Depart Metro: 0815 0915 1015 1115 12:15 1315 1415 1515 1615 1700 Depart Archives: 0845 0945 1045 1145 12:45 1345 1445 1545 1645 1730
Alternatively a staff shuttle bus runs on the hour from 0800 to 1700 Monday through Friday between the College Park and the Pennsylvania Avenue site. Visiting researchers may use it on a space available basis. To confirm these details see www.nara.gov/nara/directions or write to:
National Archives at College Park, 8601 Adelphi Road, College Park, MD 20740-6001, USA.
(Tel: 00 1 301 713 6800). Having visited the complex with British postgraduate access in mind I have to say I was impressed at the level of service provided. The move out to the suburbs seems to have involved a change of culture in the organisation, for where I was once confronted with ‘No, now what’s the question?’ I was instead greeted with ‘How can we best help you move your project along’. The days of underfunding and overcrowding in the Pennsylvania Avenue site were never conducive to the provision of a user-friendly service. Do however visit the Web site, and do consider making use of the ‘Fax-on-Demand’ system which can provide vital prior information to ensure a productive visit. The details of this system alone run to about 10 A4 sheets, but can be accessed at http://www.nara.gov . Details range from how to opening hours to what is held by era, region, and source. But most of all I would urge all would be visitors to read up on how to reach to facility. If you remember nothing else when you visit Archives II ignore College Park and the University of Maryland campus completely, and either follow signs from the Beltway straight to Archives II on Adelphi Road, or take the Metro to Prince George’s Plaza for a transfer to Metrobus R3.
Letters to the Editor
Historical Traveling Exhibit
This letter is a solicitation for assistance in seeking venues for an historical traveling exhibit depicting the revisionist history of the contributions of Blacks and Spanish in the Western part of the United States and their development. The original research for the development of this exhibit was developed and implemented by Dr.Cortez Williams of the University of New Mexico and his students. Dr.Williams teaches a course titled, ‘Blacks in the West,’ which is offered in our American Studies Department. This work is a complication of fourteen years of intensive research and grant from the New Mexico Endowment of Humanities. Numerous others who want to see the world to share this exhibit have provided some sponsorship. We can sincerely say that there is nothing else like this in the world. However, we want to share it with all of the American Studies Departments throughout European countries. This exhibit is also a work of art used to illustrate the complex diversity of cultures, nationalities, ethnic groupings, racial and religious mixtures of political groups of the U.S. West.
This exhibit will raise the consciousness of all its patrons to include the rich history of the true West that provides contemporary viewers with and expressive interpretation of the past. This exhibit provides many interesting stories about Blacks who played major roles in the historical unfolding of the West. The exhibit depicts people like Sebastian Rodriquez, drummer for De Vargas in 1692 to Stagecoach Mary, the woman with strongest right hand in the West. Each art piece has an historical panel that creates a bridge between the past and present by tapping into the adventurous and historical spirit of the viewer allowing h/her to get a taste of the Old West. The art work has been designed in such a way to stimulate the imagination as well as inform the viewer. Dr.Williams will make himself and others available for lectures if you wish, but it may not be necessary. We recognize that this could be expensive and working to defer some of the course. If you are truly interested in such an exhibit, you may see some of it on our web site at http://www.blackexhibit.com.
Currently there are forty-two pieces to the exhibit and we add additional pieces at each venue. The exhibit is shipped in 5-6 crates weighing a total of 500 pounds. It is estimated that the exhibit uses approximately 500 square feet of wall space. You may have the exhibit for 30 to 90 days at a rate of $500, plus shipping and transportation insurance cost. All venues are responsible for their own public service announcements, press releases or advertising for the exhibit. We ask only that you send us a copy of any and type of releases. Posters are available to help defray some of the cost. You may see posters on the Web site. Additional information will be provided upon request by letter or e-mail: email@example.com, or you may call 1-(505)880-0686. This exhibit will be traveling for only five years and already it has been traveling for 18 months. The exhibit is currently booked through April, 1999. Would you be interested in future booking? Cortez Williams, Ph.D. Project Director/Curator CW/jag New Mexico African-American Research Group University of New Mexico Division of African-American Studies 4000 Mesa Vista Hall Albuquerque, NM 87131-1581 USA tel: 1-(505)880-0686 fax: 1-(505)880-0401
To Err is Human
In the rubric News from American Studies Centres, the University of Central Lancashire was mistakenly indicated as the University of Central Lancaster. Apologies to our Central Lancashire colleagues.
The report on Candida Hepworth’s excellent paper, ‘The Colonial Space of the Chicano/Chicana’ presented at the BAAS Norwich panel on The Literatures of Colonial America, went astray in the mail. Please see the missing report in the section Norwich: The Sequel.
Alex Goody, who appeared as ‘he’ in the previous New Members issue of the Newsletter, is in fact a ‘she’. Your Editor, feeling horribly sheepish, apologises to Alex Goody, with thanks for her good humour about it all, and wishes to reiterate the fact that no gender essentialism is at play here. Dr. Goody has taken up a Lectureship in the Faculty of Art and Cultural Studies at Falmouth College of Arts in Cornwall.
Douglas Tallack has recently been appointed to a Quality Assurance Agency committee to examine quality issues as they affect inter-disciplinary, multi-disciplinary and modular subjects. This committee is likely to meet for a total of five days in the period November 1998 to June 1999. Would anyone who has views on this matter which they would like raised please contact Douglas. Douglas can be contacted as follows:
Professor Douglas Tallack
School of American & Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
Tel: 0115 951 4262
Fax: 0115 951 4270
School Homepage: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/american/
Director, Arts and Humanities Research Board Project: Three American Cities Homepage: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/3cities/
BAAS Website Noticeboard
A new development due to arrive on the BAAS webpage at http://human.ntu.ac.uk/baas, hopefully by the new year, will be a noticeboard open to all members. Details have yet to be thrashed out with the webmistress (aka Dick Ellis) but the facility should allow members to post messages concerning conferences, courses, lectures, publishing possibilities and anything else relating to American Studies that needs publicising.
American Exceptionalism by Deborah L. Madsen
Deborah Madsen’s book charts the development of American exceptionalism as a concept which has contributed to American cultural identity and which has resulted in acutely different manifestations in both literature and film, from Moby Dick to Rambo. Madsen proposes that ”from the Colonial period, through the Revolution, again during the upheavals of the Civil War and into the twentieth century, Americans have agonised over what they are and where they are headed. Exceptionalism is the ideology to which such thoughts most frequently return.” Her intention is to ”explain the historical context of contemporary uses of exceptionalism in a form comprehensible to the student, non-specialist, scholar and civilian”. To this end, she provides a clear and concise introduction to the origins of exceptionalism in seventeenth-century Puritan sermons, poetry and prose, and suggests that ”it is evidence of the power of exceptionalist rhetoric that it has given rise to three centuries of counter-argument”. Her account begins with the Massachusetts Bay colonists, who believed that as Puritans (bringing with them the exceptionalist rhetoric of the Tudors) their spiritual and political destiny as a ‘redeemer nation’, was to create a model for Europe in the New world. While exceptionalist claims were not surprisingly contested by native American writers, Madsen points out that some native Americans engaged in the rhetoric of exceptionalism in order to promote Indian assimilation and to argue for a place from which they could share an exceptional destiny.
Exceptionalism was specifically employed to explain and justify the expansion of the United States both westwards and into the south west. Madsen analyses pictorial and filmic representations of the West and discusses twentieth century interpretations of the conquest of the West in the work of Owen Wister and Zane Grey, the cinema of John Ford and later ”spaghetti” Westerns. She outlines the Chicano response to the experience of annexation of the Hispanic south-west and the ideology of the ‘Manifest Destiny’ which attempted to justify this. In her final chapter, Madsen discusses the work of Larry McMurtry, Thomas Pynchon and Toni Morrison and their different responses to and deconstruction of the myths on which the exceptionalist assumption is based. The continuing power of exceptionalism as authority and justification for foreign political and military involvement (in this case south-east Asia), is discussed with reference to the representation of the Vietnam conflict in contemporary fiction and film.
Madsen’s account provides an introduction to the concept of American exceptionalism and outlines the diverse interpretations of an exceptionalist rhetoric which has led to its deployment in support of dramatically contradictory claims. By virtue of its brevity (less than 200 pages), this is a summary which describes the tip of the conceptual iceberg. The necessary engagement with a multiplicity of perspectives, from the seventeenth to the twentieth century, and the inherent complexity of charting American exceptionalism as it influenced and was influenced by the evolution of diverse cultural identities, is accommodated in a coherent and comprehensive account. Madsen presents the groundwork (not to mention a great deal of the homework) for the ”student, non-specialist, scholar and civilian”, and successfully whets the appetite for further exploration of an ideologically powerful and enduring concept.
Tiffany McKirdy, University of Glasgow
Tomcat In Love by Tim O’Brien: Do not underestimate Thomas’s gibbering
Tim O’Brien is perhaps best known for his explorations, both fictional and factual, of America’s part (and his own) in the Vietnam War. His war memoir
If I Die in a Combat Zone (1973) recounted his tour of duty from 1969 to 1970. His fantasy novel Going After Cacciato (1978), his collection of inter-related war stories The Things They Carried (1990) and his mystery novel In The Lake of the Woods (1994) are all powerful works of fiction where O’Brien has managed to create three very different novelistic forms, all of which reflect the sense of uncertainty, betrayal and outrage commonly associated by Americans with the events of the Vietnam War. O’Brien’s other two books to date, Northern Lights (1975) and The Nuclear Age (1981) (both relatively unknown here in the UK), while following a more conventional novelistic structure, still carry as a central theme the concerns both of returned veterans and of their non-combatant peers. His books regularly appear as set reading on college courses devoted to the Vietnam War. It would seem, then, that Tim O’Brien’s position in the American literary canon has been securely cemented into place: Tim O’Brien is a Vietnam War author. Or is he?
O’Brien has, this Autumn, produced Tomcat in Love, a new novel which is being marketed by his publisher under the somewhat surprising new umbrella of romantic humour. According to the American publisher’s jacket blurb, Tomcat in Love represents a quirky love story which is ‘by turns hilarious, outrageous, romantic, and deeply moving’. The sales pitch goes on to say that, in an apparently astonishing move away from his usual Vietnam War combat material, O’Brien’s new book represents a ‘battle of the sexes’ whose main protagonist, Thomas H. Chippering (the Tomcat of the title), is ‘a blundering, modern-day Don Juan who embodies the desires and bewilderment of men everywhere’. A radical change indeed, apparently.
When the new novel first appeared in American bookshops in September this year the initial reaction, in the press and on the Internet, consisted of an almost uniform appreciation of O’Brien’s brilliantly funny and successful new departure into comedy (the exception was a rather viperish New York Times review which lamented O’Brien’s failure to live up to his past literary glories). It is, of course, early days yet, and there is plenty of time ahead for some serious critical analysis of the book. For example, I look forward eagerly to seeing what the feminists and gender specialists will make of it – O’Brien (possibly intentionally, given his low opinion of some of the more caustic feminist criticism levelled at his past work) has, in the creation of his woman-obsessed antihero Thomas Chippering, laid himself open to some barbed charges of misogyny. For now, though, the general opinion – positive or negative – is that Tim O’Brien has changed course, from war to love, from the torment inherent in combat to the comedy inherent in sex. However, I remain unconvinced by claims of change.
I don’t feel that much has altered at all: at the heart of this new book there still lies O’Brien’s relentless obsession with human behaviour under stress. In O’Brien’s seventh book I detect the same complex examinations of the nature of truth and fiction which have appeared in his previous work, including even his most explicitly autobiographical war stories; I detect the same blending of the real with the unreal (and even the surreal); I detect the same interest in the associations of language as well as in its literal meanings (see Thomas Chippering’s ‘private dictionary of love’); and I detect the same refusal to moralise on any count: sex, murder, love, arson, deception, grievous bodily harm (to language as well as to people). All the old familiar acts of psychological and bodily violence, previously associated in O’Brien’s novels with war combat, are now committed by a variety of characters who, were this mere comedy, might simply be drawn as outlandish lovesick fruitcakes. However, in Tomcat in Love O’Brien has chosen to draw his characters as ordinary (albeit eccentric) people who happen to have found themselves living their lives in extremis and who are modifying their behaviour accordingly.
Tomcat in Love is narrated in the first-person by its central character, the egotistical linguistics professor Thomas H. Chippering (the pun on ‘gibbering’ should not go unremarked). Tom is obsessed in almost equal measure by women, by language and by his own imagined greatness (this character will be god’s gift to feminists, appearing to prove all the worst theories about male behaviour traits). Tom is in turn cuckolded by his bizarre wife Lorna Sue, who leaves him for a hairy tycoon whose name Tom cannot bring himself to utter (names are important in O’Brien’s fiction, therefore we must assume a certain significance – in Tom’s case, almost a castration – in this non-utterance). Tom’s ex-wife Lorna Sue is the capricious but irresistible child-woman after which every man allegedly hankers (another one for the feminists to play with), while his in-laws constitute the family from hell. The new woman in his life, Mrs Robert Kooshof (note Tom’s difficulty with identifying her as female), pursues and consumes Tom with the single-mindedness of a snake swallowing an egg. The college kids Tom teaches are either ‘young lovelies’ (the girls), who manipulate him mercilessly, or ‘troglodytes’ (the boys), who seem to possess only a hazy awareness of the existence of a world outside their own limited experience.
All of O’Brien’s characters are exquisitely drawn and the central players are woven up into complicated, multi-faceted marionettes, persistently and disastrously pulling on one another’s strings. Their behaviour and character flaws may seem, on the surface, like the stuff of pure farce. However, O’Brien’s new novel cannot be passed off as the mere comic cuts implied by the jacket blurb. Tom repeats in a sinister aside throughout the novel: ‘I am a war hero. I am hazardous. Do not underestimate me.’ Thus, in Tomcat in Love, O’Brien’s comedy is always tempered with a sense of menace; Tom Chippering’s behaviour is a constant reminder of the thinness of the line which separates the merely laughable from the horribly dangerous. The humour is present in O’Brien’s new book: there is irony and gentle humour, along with the frustrated smile that comes from observing the dedicated self-destroyer; there are even a few belly-laughs. But also there is always the possibility for the reader that the next turn of the page will reveal the true violence and horror behind Tom’s obsessions.
So, has Tim O’Brien changed direction? Is Tomcat in Love a black comedy? Is it an example of outrageous misogyny, or perhaps simply a romantic farce? Or is it, as the New York Times reviewer suggested, a cruel parody of the post traumatic stress disorder suffered by so many Vietnam War veterans in America? Well, the critics will pay their money and make their choices. My own view is that, whatever the chosen critical interpretations, this book is unmistakably the stuff of the old Tim O’Brien as well as of the new. To be sure, Tomcat in Love tells us a comic tale of an incorrigible womaniser receiving back some of his own medicine, but it also makes us re-examine what we think about imagination and truth, about the perceived and the real; and it makes us face those thoughts that we’d never admit to openly: what we’d like to do to our loved ones when they refuse to keep loving us back. Nasty stuff. Disquieting stuff. Maybe even Monica Lewinsky stuff, if that’s the kind of analogy you like to make. Thomas Chippering’s ineptitude and inability to ‘commit’ to reality is comical to outside observers – the stuff of true farce – but it’s also menacing, threatening and life-destroying to the people involved in it: the tale is pure Tim O’Brien. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
Lynn Wharton is a postgraduate research student at King Alfred’s College, Winchester. She is currently working on a MPhil/PhD thesis exploring the work of Tim O’Brien.
Women, America, and Movement: Narratives of Relocation edited by Susan L. Roberson
If migrations and movement constitute the promise of ‘America,’ then the patriarchal imposition of stasis on women, either as domestic icons, social ornaments or political dependents, effectively renders them adversaries of adventure, freedom, and the rugged individualism deemed necessary for progress. But as this new collection of essays suggests, there is a complicated, provocative, and decidedly progressive relation between ‘women, America and movement’ expressed in narratives from what can be contentiously called ‘the first American novel,’ Charlotte Temple, through Gertrude Stein’s rhetorical ‘America,’ to the contemporary mixed blood fictions of Louise Erdrich. These narratives articulate what editor Susan L. Roberson dubs ‘a politics of relocation,’ a term that takes us from Michel Chevalier’s observation in the early republican era of the restlessness of ‘Americans,’ through Huck Finn’s famous ‘lighting out’ for the West, to Jack Kerouac’s emblematic road trips, all via Adrienne Rich’s feminist notion of a ‘politics of location.’ Insisting that our perspectives are shaped not only by our geographical and historical locations but by inhabiting gendered bodies in particular space and time, Rich anticipated later theorists, especially post-colonialist critics, who redefine location as a dynamic site of colliding and multiplying social relations. It is only a short step to understanding that ‘writing is itself a location, a site for the construction of further spaces of power and knowledge, spaces that are also gendered’ (7). The essays in this collection show how women have cultivated these sites, thereby making a strong case for including the discourse and politics of relocation as yet another category in our critical discussions of identity, agency, narrative, and even ‘America,’ long the privileged site of mobility as a national past-time.
But in any theoretical endeavor organized around sexual difference, there is bound to be fissures around the concept of ‘woman.’ Despite the admirable culturally diversity of this collection, it is not sufficiently self-conscious of those fissures. In Kaye Gibbons’ white antiracist fiction, for example, the main character’s ‘physical and conceptual dislocation’ from an abusive home ‘enables her ultimate relocation, both literal and ideological’ in a self-willed, reinvented ‘family.’ Other white female writers, like Constance Fenimore Woolson or the diarists of the Western expansion, actively seek dislocation or discover in an imposed uprooting the dislodging of ideological constraints necessary for increased feminine agency. Women of color have no such luxury and their narrative representations of relocation seem, on the whole, more tragic yet also more potentially productive. For example, Sandra Cisneros’ characters cross and recross a border which is simultaneously geographical, cultural, linguistic and epistemological. Yet, for women defined by patriarchal and racist mores, there is no ‘other side.’ Mary Lee Paik’s autobiography of Korean immigration reveals the destructive simultaneity of cultural displacement and discriminatory racial placement in dominate US society, an imposed relocation that forces her to ‘home’ and that most American of dreams, ‘freedom,’ as interior and metaphysical. Native American fiction, for all the dislocations it narrates, is structured around a return home and a recognition of attachment to place, a structural element of male as well as female writing. This raises the question of how the cultural specificity of a ‘politics of relocation’ complicates or transcends gender difference. Finally, Bharati Mukherjee’s novel Jasmine can be read as rejecting the essentialism at the heart of cultural assimilation, thus pushing us into the next phase of cultural politics where we can begin to complicate and perhaps dismantle the seemingly intractable Western dialectic of self and other. Nevertheless, all of these essays depict to some extent ‘the center in crisis,’ and thus contribute to the ongoing critical project of American Studies.
Ivy Schweitzer, Dartmouth College
Black Movements in America by Cedric J. Robinson
Black Movements in America is a concise and informative account into the history of black activism. Cedric J. Robinson’s work is composed of intriguing tales of resistance and rebellion dating from pre-Revolutionary America, following through the Civil War and Civil Rights movement and finally coming to rest with contemporary conflicts against white supremacy in the lamentable struggle for equality.
Robinson is a Professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara in the field of Black Studies and Political Science. His other works include Black Marxism (1983) and The Terms of Order (1980). In Black Movements in America, Robinson highlights the multi-faceted nature of black American culture by journeying through the trials and tribulations of black people in the American history. Condemned to a life of servitude African Americans were inappropriately given the hope of equality through the Declaration of Independence. Robinson exposes the unfulfilled promise of equality still felt in America today, his contemporary assessment is explored in correlation with the ideals of such prominent black leaders as Marcus Garvey, Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcom X.
Robinson appropriates an unusual and interesting perspective on black American history. In particular he pays detailed attention to the role of African American women and the nature of their two fold oppression based on colour and gender. He also relates the black experience to that of the Native Americans and draws comparisons between the treatment of both races and shows how they forged an alliance in an attempt to contest the Europeans. Impressively Robinson also uses accounts from Gwendolyn Midlo Hall which helps to define the research within a particular geographical region, that of Louisiana.
Unfortunately at times the narrative seems to be exceedingly preoccupied with too much detail. This manifests itself in lists of statistics and dates which would be far more appropriately placed as footnotes. The result of too much additional and uninteresting detail breaks up the flow of the text and therefore the account becomes somewhat unimaginative and heavy going.
Nevertheless, Robinson’s book embarks on unfamiliar ground with enticing tales that have been left untold for generations concerning the plight of the African American against servitude and segregation. The history of the African American activism is dealt with in a chronological order opening with the arrival of the African on American soil and then exploring early black resistance including marronage and the political problems which arose during the institution of slavery and how the problem was left to fester. Controversially, Robinson points his finger at many prominent political figures and exposes their pro-slavery tendencies.
The tempo of the work abruptly increases when Robinson relates the disappointment felt in the black community at the unsettled covenant during the period of Reconstruction which succeeded the American Civil War. The major disappointment of this text is Robinson’s decision to close his research in the late 60s early 70s leaving the reader anticipating a concluding chapter of black activism spanning the last decade and a half. Despite this Black Movements in America is essential reading for anyone interested in black politics and history.
Ruth Doughty, Keele University
Four Reasons to be a Member of BAAS
As you know, BAAS organises of financially supports conferences (national, regional and postgraduate), produces a Newsletter, runs a Website, and offers reduced subscription to The Journal of American Studies. However, you might not know that BAAS is active on a ‘political’ front on behalf of American Studies and during the terms of office of the current and previous Chairs of BAAS this role has become more noticeable and – just now – is crucial. Everyone involved in American Studies benefits, not least postgraduates who need the subject to flourish so that there are posts and grants to apply for, and so I hope you will photocopy this item and pass it to members of staff and postgraduates in your department. (My apologies to signed-up members.)
Will there be a UCAS Code for American Studies? Thanks to the vigilance of colleagues at Swansea, in particular, Phil Davies as Chair of BAAS, was able to organise a letter-writing campaign to resist UCAS/HESA’s proposal to remove certain course codes, including that of American Studies. If this proposal goes ahead it will be disastrous for recruitment purposes but at least our views have been made very strongly.
What will replace Teaching Quality Assessment? As a consequence of another letter-writing campaign encouraged by Phil Davies, he and I were invited to QAA in Gloucester. We had a meeting with QAA’s Chief Executive, John Randall, and other senior colleagues and we believe that we have been successful in preventing American Studies being lumped in with English in QAA’s ‘benchmarking’ exercise. We hope that a non-language Area Studies/inter/multidisciplinary benchmarking panel will be established with American Studies playing a significant role.
Will American Subjects be squeezed out of the 16-19 curriculum? Changes to the national curriculum being proposed by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (formerly SCAA) seriously threaten the study of American history and literature, among other American subjects, at A- and A/S-level. Judie Newman, previous Chair of BAAS, and I have visited QCA and, supported by many colleagues, have made representations against the changes. Other members are currently on Examination Boards and BAAS is financially supporting a programme of regional Teachers and/or VI Form/Access Conferences to drum up or at least maintain support for American subjects at grassroots level.
Will there be an American Studies panel for the next Research Assessment Exercise? BAAS has helped to give the subject the necessary profile to ensure that there will be a panel in 2001. The ‘benchmarking’ developments outlined above point to a welcome correspondence between teaching and research assessment structures.
Please encourage your staff and postgraduate colleagues to support BAAS’ efforts on their behalf by becoming members. They should contact Dr Jenel Virden, Secretary BAAS, Department of American Studies, University of Hull, HULL HU6 7RX. Email: J.Virden@amstuds.hull.ac.uk
Douglas Tallack (Chair, BAAS Development Sub-Committee)
The British Association of American Studies is pleased to welcome the following new members:
Jonathan Bell is preparing an M. Phil at Cambridge University on the nature and importance of Republican Party ideology in the 1940s and 1950s, with particular reference to the US Senate. In the next academic year he plans to carry out research in the Senatorial archives at the University of Maryland (College Park).
Holly Lynn Boren is Academic Administrator of the Washington International Studies Council in Oxford. She holds a Ph. D. in American Literature from University College London.
Nicola Carr is Commissioning Editor at Edinburgh University Press, and has been involved in developing the BAAS Paperback Series.
Brian Jarvis lectures in American literature at Loughborough University. He is the author of Postmodern Geographies: The Geographical Imagination in Contemporary American Culture (Pluto, 1998).
Lee Jenkins lectures in English and American Literature at University College, Cork. His Ph. D. (at Cambridge) was on the poetry of Wallace Stevens. He is now completing a monograph on Stevens, articles on Frederick Douglas, and co-editing a collection of essays titled Locations of Modernism.
Mark Leahy is carrying out research on contemporary American poetry (with an emphasis on language poetry) at the University of Leeds. As well, he is an editor of Poetry and Audience magazine at Leeds. His other interests include contemporary visual arts, theatre and performance.
James Lyons is a doctoral student at the University of Nottingham, where he is preparing a these on ‘Pre-Millenial Tension: Representations of Seattle in Contemporary Culture.’ His interests include urban and visual culture, film, US-Mexico Border culture, Harold Lloyd, youth culture and detective fiction.
Mark Masoliver teaches History and Politics at Harris City Technology College in Upper Norwood, London.
Jason Mulloy is completing his Ph. D. research at Leeds on ‘Writing for the Space Age: William Burroughs in Contemporary Culture.’ His research interests also include the treatment of literary space (on which he is co-editing a collection of essays) and the history of cinema.
Rachel Palma recently received her B.A, and is planning to continue her studies by doing an M.A in American Politics.
Leslie Peel, a recent graduate of the Open University, has begun research for an M.Litt in History at the University of Stirling. She is principally interested in Scottish Loyalists at the time of American Revolution.
Shelley Saguaro holds a Ph. D., and lectures at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education.
Theresa Saxon is a postgraduate at Manchester Metropolitan, where she is carrying out research on Henry James and Herman Melville.
Robert Ward is researching the work of the writer Nelson Algren and his connection with the penal system in America from 1930 to the 1970s. He is interested as well in writing from American prisons, such as that of Malcolm Braly and James Blake, and the 1930s.
Sheryl Christine Wilson is a Ph. D. student at the University of the West of England, School of Cultural Studies, looking at the discourses of Selfhood articulated in confessional television talk shows with specific focus on the Oprah Winfrey Show.
Peter Williams is Distinguished Professor of Religion and American Studies at Miami University, Ohio. He is the author of Popular Religion in America: Symbolic Change and the Modernisation Process in Historical Perspective, America’s Religions: Traditions and Cultures, and Houses of God: Region, Religion and Architecture in the United States. As well, he has edited the Encyclopedia of the American Religious Experience and Encyclopedia of American Social History.Archive