Promoting, supporting and encouraging the study of the United States since 1955

British Association for American Studies


Issue 80 Spring/Summer 1999


Issue 80 Spring/Summer 1999


This issue of American Studies in Britain, which includes descriptions of papers presented at the Glasgow BAAS Conference, is a lengthy one, given the number of panels and the variety of papers presented. I would like to thank Session Chairs for presenting their reports in timely fashion, and indeed to express the gratitude of American Studies at Glasgow to all the friends and colleagues who helped make the 1999 conference such a success. As well, thanks are due to my wonderful Editorial Assistants, Marie Tate and Sean Groundwater (responsible for graphics, layout, and the image of the immortal Joltin’ Joe on the cover), and our printer Jim O’Donnell.

Very special thanks go as well to Gerard Sweeney, wo arranged for e-mail to be forwarded to my home while I was on research leave, and to Mike Black of Humanities Computing here at Glasgow University, who heroically zapped yet another virus which had invaded my machine. As some of you are aware, my computer was replicating e-mails in lunatic fashion, to the tune of 113 copies of each message in some cases. To those who received dozens of messages from me, may I hasten to reassure you that this is not a Fatal Attraction scenario, lovely though you all are! Apologies to those concerned and to those whose text may have vanished into cyberspace.

One exciting bit of news is that American Studies in Britain now has an ISSN number. One hopes that this will prove to be of particular interest to contributors and reviewers as RAE approaches!

In conclusion, I would like to express gratitude to Professor Mark Ward, Dean of the Arts Faculty of Glasgow Unversity, whos stint as Dean will be coming to an end in July. It is only fair to say that it would have been totally impossible to produce this review in its present expanded form without his constant support and encouragement. American Studies in Britain (the publication) and American Studies in Britain (the community of scholars) are in his debt.

Susan Castillo


BAAS Annual Conference – Glasgow 1999

Conference Banquet

After a reception hosted by the Lord Provost of Glasgow and the American Studies programme of the University of Wales, Swansea (BAAS conference location, 2000), there followed pipes and pomp before everyone settled to an excellent meal served in the impressive surroundings of Bute Hall. The BAAS Chair welcomed participants to the conference, announced the award of this year’s BAAS Essay Prize to Graham Thompson (Nottingham Trent University), introduced Allan Lloyd Smith of UEA who announced the award of this year’s Arthur Miller Prize to Paul Giles (Nottingham), and then introduced this year’s conference opening speaker:

Andrew Hook: Glasgow and American Studies

Andrew proposed to make the case that ‘Glasgow deserves to be recognized as the first city of American Studies’ …. a claim made with ‘a polite, peripheral, postcolonial perspecuity.’

The good sea-road between the west of Scotland and the eastern seaboard of America was a ‘material reality underpinning all those links in trade and commerce, emigration, and the export of everything from letters and books to philosophical, religious and political ideas…’ This trans-Atlantic link in the 18th century was pre-eminently focused on Glasgow and the Clyde, and while there are clear influences made by individuals, Hook drew attention to the more general influences. Graduates of Glasgow University were the bedrock of the foundation of the influential Presbyterian church in America. Glasgow educated pedagogues and philanthropists led education initiatives in America, and Glasgow University continued to receive American students who were educated and trained in Scotland before returning home, continuing to cross-fertilise American and Scottish values and influence well into the 19th century.

When John Nichol took the newly-created Chair of English Literature at Glasgow in 1862 there was an established tradition of Glasgow-America links. Nichol took an active part in promoting the Northern cause on public platforms during the American Civil War, and afterwards made an extended visit to the USA. His ambition to relocate in America was never realised, but his book American Literature, An Historical Sketch, 1620-1880 was groundbreaking. ‘For a senior British academic such as Nichol to choose to specialize in American writing at this time is simply extraordinary …. not even within America itself had a comprehensive history of American literature appeared.’ He presented American literature within the context of American history and society – and while his book did not have the impact he might have hoped for, his idea, that American literature is part of American culture, and not a mere offshoot of English literature, lies at the core of an understanding of American Studies. Along with his friend James Bryce, author of The American Commonwealth, Nichol deserves recognition as a Scottish pioneer of American Studies.

Philip John Davies, De Montfort University

Andrew Hook: Glasgow and American Studies

Andrew Hook: Glasgow and American Studies

Andrew proposed to make the case that ‘Glasgow deserves to be recognized as the first city of American Studies’ …. a claim made with ‘a polite, peripheral, postcolonial perspecuity.’

The good sea-road between the west of Scotland and the eastern seaboard of America was a ‘material reality underpinning all those links in trade and commerce, emigration, and the export of everything from letters and books to philosophical, religious and political ideas…’ This trans-Atlantic link in the 18th century was pre-eminently focused on Glasgow and the Clyde, and while there are clear influences made by individuals, Hook drew attention to the more general influences. Graduates of Glasgow University were the bedrock of the foundation of the influential Presbyterian church in America. Glasgow educated pedagogues and philanthropists led education initiatives in America, and Glasgow University continued to receive American students who were educated and trained in Scotland before returning home, continuing to cross-fertilise American and Scottish values and influence well into the 19th century.

When John Nichol took the newly-created Chair of English Literature at Glasgow in 1862 there was an established tradition of Glasgow-America links. Nichol took an active part in promoting the Northern cause on public platforms during the American Civil War, and afterwards made an extended visit to the USA. His ambition to relocate in America was never realised, but his book American Literature, An Historical Sketch, 1620-1880 was groundbreaking. ‘For a senior British academic such as Nichol to choose to specialize in American writing at this time is simply extraordinary …. not even within America itself had a comprehensive history of American literature appeared.’ He presented American literature within the context of American history and society – and while his book did not have the impact he might have hoped for, his idea, that American literature is part of American culture, and not a mere offshoot of English literature, lies at the core of an understanding of American Studies. Along with his friend James Bryce, author of The American Commonwealth, Nichol deserves recognition as a Scottish pioneer of American Studies.

Philip John Davies, De Montfort University

Glasgow Conference 1999 – Panel Reports:

Plenary Lecture I

Chair: Richard Gray (Essex)
Robert Gross (College of William and Mary; and Fulbright Scholar at Odense University), ‘Transnational Turn: Rediscovering American Studies in a Wider World’

In the inaugural Journal of American Studies lecture, Robert Gross considered transnationalism as the latest move to alter an interdisciplinary field that has been radically remade over the last two decades, thanks to the challenge of multiculturalism. He offered insights into American cultural politics and identity politics since the time of Thoreau; and he examined the connections between ‘the transnational turn’ and the processes of globalization in economics, communications, and culture. Examining recent developments, he linked attempts to deconstruct classic questions about national character with the projects of pluralising American culture and internationalising problems of race, ethnicityh, and gender. This sweeping and sophisticated lecture was both a persuasive summaryof the present state of the American Studies debate and a provocative contribution to its future development.

Socio-literary intersections at the turn of the century

Chair: Helen Dennis (Warwick University)
Kevin McCarron (Roehampton),'”I do hate a drunkard”: WD Howells, Temperance Narratives, and the American fin de siecle’
Lisa Ganobcsik-Wiliams (Warwick), ‘Intersections of Race and Science in the turn of the century reform literature of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Pauline Hopkins’
Bridget Bennett (Warwick), ‘Christian Science at the turn of the century: Willa Cather, Mary Baker Eddy and Mark Twain’
Janet Beer (Manchester Metropolitan) and Katherine Joslin (Western Michigan), ‘Jane Addams and Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Civic Housekeeping: Establishing the Safe House’

Kevin McCarron argued for the importance of WD Howells in the formation of the ‘recovery narrative’, since he did not believe that alcoholism was caused by an impoverished environment, but rather that it was a failure of will, and thus a condition over which the person of good character could gain control through the exercise of moral choice. Howells’ influence on the development of the recovery narrative thus extends to the methodology of Alcoholics Anonymous. A further similarity between Howells’ fiction and AA is the use of the illusory equivalence, which in the case of AA is exemplified by the meretricious equivalence drawn between a Jamesian ‘Higher Power’ and the social amiability of recovering alcoholics.

The theme of social and moral reform was continued by Lisa Ganobcsik-Wiliams’ paper on ‘Intersections of Race and Science in the turn of the century reform literature of Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Pauline Hopkins’. Gilman’s gendered concept of social evolution conceived of a progress towards racial unity, through assimilation to the ‘white world’. While Gilman believed that society had evolved to a stage where white women could take their full part in civic life, she considered that African-Americans were at a different evolutionary stage. Thus while the ‘safe house’ paradigm was appropriate for the education of women for full democratic participation, it was unsuitable for African-Americans who needed to be educated through indoctrination to assist them to ‘grow up’. By way of contrast Pauline Hopkins believed that the African-American could develop and participate fully in contemporary society and advocated their following a similar model to Gilman’s for white women only. Hopkin’s appraisal of African-American potentiality was far more optimistic than Gilman’s, but employed a similar appeal to science. She subscribed to the theory that the origins of Western civilization were located in a highly-evolved, ancient black African, Egyptian civilization, which scientists of modern times had not yet managed to emulate. Lisa concluded by suggesting that the reason why Gilman chose not to use the strategy adopted by Hopkins was not based on rational scientific argument so much as on her political judgement.

Bridget Bennett’s paper, ‘Christian Science at the turn of the century: Willa Cather, Mary Baker Eddy and Mark Twain’ argued that 19th century Spiritualism was a formative influence on Christian Science, despite identifiable diferences in the two movements, and furthermore that both occupy a significant place in the American literary imagination. Mary Baker Eddy followed a pattern common to numerous young women who engaged in spiritualism and used their powers as a means of socio-political advancement. Later she denied her roots in spiritualism, although Cather’s Life details the connection. Bridget alluded to the ways in which spiritualist ‘conversion narratives’ lent themselves to the cause of radical reform movements associated with women’s rights and abolition, despite the inherent conservatism of their content. Spiritualism helped prepare the way for Christian Science by providing challenges to Clvinism which were both doctrinal and practical; most significantly it enabled women to speak publicly and have their voices sanctioned.

The final paper was a joint presentation by Janet Beer and Katherine Joslin, entitled ‘Jane Addmas and Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Civic Housekeeping: Establishing the Safe House’. This paper discussed Jane Addams’ work to create a safe house for herself – the single professional woman in inner-city Chicago – as well as for the poor and working class immigrant women who were seeking shelter from the ‘relentless and elemental forces’ of urban life. Addams’ version of civic housekeeping did as much to secure her own sense of safety as it did to shelter her neighbours and many of her ideas developed at Hull House – particularly about appropriate living space for working women – were taken up by Charlotte Perkins Gilman in both her sociological and fictional writings. Gilman promotes such spaces as both safe and health promoting; she links communitarian living with freedom from domestic drudgery and incorporates within her exposition her controversial views on courtship, eugenics, women’s education and childcare.

A number of cross connections were evident both to the panellists and the audience, but unfortunately there was insufficient time to explore them fully.

The American South

Chair: Helen Taylor (Exeter University)
Sharon Monteith (Hertfordshire), ‘”Black and White Together” in Popular Cinema: White Women and Black Men in the Civil Rights South’
Allison Graham (Memphis), ‘Elvis, Shakespeare, and Stanislavsky: Reeducating the Southerner in Postwar Popular Culture’

These two papers from collaborating scholars complemented each other well, raising important issues about the ways popular culture mediated post-Civil Rights anxieties about national, regional, social and moral education, southern whiteness, class, gender, racial ambiguity and interracial relationships.

Sharon Monteith focussed on post-Civil Rights film, especially in terms of its reperesentations of white womanhood and black masculinity. Using Richard Rorty’s argument that film, TV and fiction have ‘replaced the sermon and treatise as the principle vehicle of moral change and progress’, she examined Driving Miss Daisy (Beresford, 1989) and Love Field (Kaplan, 1991) as consolatory or compensatory liberal representations. Interracial alliances between marginalised white women and black men may offer utopian perspectives on race relations, though Monteith’s paper and the subsequent discussion debated their status as reactionary texts functioning within pre-Civil Rights discourse or as interrogative spaces for radical political possibilities. The commercial success of the more lyrical and conservative Driving Miss Daisy was contrasted with the box-office flop, and video-only UK distribution, of the more innovative Love Field, which gestured towards successful inter-racial sexual relationships.

Alison Graham identified the 1954 Brown v Board of Education ruling as marking the beginning problematisation of the southern white man, who has been seen increasingly as ill-educated, uncontrolled, vulgar and criminal (uncomfortably close to definitions of southern blacks). Countering the widespread southern resistance to public education itself, mainstream Hollywood cinema produced broadsides on behalf of the nation, urging the re-education of southern white men to redeem the very notion of whiteness. The ‘hillbilly’ and ‘redneck’ were reclaimed and domesticated in TV and film characters played by Andy Griffith (celebrated and mocked as ‘white trash’, despite being a relatively sophisticated and educated actor), Paul Newman and Marlon Brando. Graham argued that Elvis Presley, who most embodied the vulgarity and criminality of working-class southern whiteness, remained unreconstructed, seen in his later years as the hick, racially-ambigous ‘White Negro’ who stumbled into the big-time and who moved uneasily between southern urban and rural, black and white. The discussion focussed on the extent to which the different periods of Elvis’ career may be collapsed into this single problematic, especially given his relationship with black music and thus black identity.

Economic Realities and the Politics of Identity

Chair: Marina Moscowitz (Glasgow)
Ruth Kamena (Independent Scholar), ‘Counting Politics or The Politics of Counting’ Dennis Nickson (Strathclyde) and Chris Warhurst (Glasgow), ‘”Little Americas”: Hotels, Americanisation and the International Economy’

This session brought the perspectives of the social sciences to bear on issues of American identity. In her timely paper on the United States Census, Ruth Kamena addressed critical issues of the decennial process of ‘counting,’ and how that counting results directly in allocations of power and money. First, Kamena examined the controversies over statistical methodology in enumerating state population figures, which in turn determine the allotment of representatives to the lower house of the United States Congress. Kamena showed examples from the fascinating advertising campaigns placed by the Census Bureau through the Ad Council, in order to encourage high response rates to census questionnaires. Second, Kamena explored the ‘race question,’ in which the racial mix of state populations, as represented by the Census, can affect the apportionment of federal funding flowing to individual states. Kamena raised the issue of, in essence, forcing persons of mixed racial heritage to identify solely with one group, for the sake of the ‘economic realities’ of government funding.

In a joint presentation, Dennis Nickson and Chris Warhurst shifted the focus from personal and racial identity to corporate identity, in their critique that ‘the epistemology of globalisation is erroneously applied to the ontology of an international economy.’ Nickson and Warhurst asserted the continuing dominance of the United States in the international economy. To support this claim, Nickson and Warhurst first examined the concept of the ‘transnational corporation’ (TNC) and showed that nine of the ten top firms in the world are in fact American companies, with the top three being Microsoft, General Electric and Exxon. Then, Nickson and Warhurst developed a case study of the hotel industry, in which they examined not only the dominance of American firms, but also the increasing adoption of standardized services and decor by leading European hotel chains, in order to compete with the perceived American model. The question and comment session raised such issues as the uses of marketing in both the census-taking and ‘Americanising’ processes and the forms of resistance to these political and economic events.

Translantic Cultural Exchanges

Chair: Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (University of Edinburgh)
Jack Pole (Oxford), ‘The American Revolution and the Construction of Sovereignty’
Julie Flavell (Dundee), ‘Reconstructing the Typical American Colonist in London in the Late Colonial Period’
Tom Humphrey (Cleveland State), ‘”The Mask of Grins and Lies”: Deference and the American Revolution in New York’s Hudson Valley’

Former Princeton Graduate Cricket Club captain Jack Pole (Oxford) opened the session by addressing the theme, ‘The American revolution and the Construction of Sovereignty.’ Drawing on his forthcoming edition of ‘The Federalist’, Pole explored some of the sources upon which the authors of the Papers drew, ranging from the Aegean League to Bodin. Showing himself to be a master of the limited overs game, he finished in an elegantly constructed fifteen minutes.

Former Scottish Universities swimming representative Julie Flavell (Dundee) contributed next, with a discourse entitled ‘Reconstructing the Typical American Colonist in London in the Late Colonial Period’. The American colonists in London were ‘well-born’ and mingled without trace of distinctive identity with the English upper crust – in contrast, for example, to the Scots, who gathered in their own coffee houses. Nevertheless, the English stereotyped the Americans in the abstract as exploitative planters. Will Kaufman (Central Lancashire) now spoke on ‘The American Sectional Crisis in the British Reviews and Magazines’. The controversy over the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska bill was a turning point for British reporting on the sectional crisis. From then on, the periodicals took an intensive and diversified interest and adopted stances that changed little once the Civil War had broken out.

The concluding speaker was Tom Humphrey (Cleveland State). Humphrey’s study of Livingston Manor in the Hudson Valley indicated that, between 1700 and 1766, tenants’ deference led them to vote for the manor lord or his agent in elections for the colonial assembly. But this changed in 1767. Patterns of deference nevertheless remained, because the landlord-tenant relationship remained unequal, if symbiotic. The papers stimulated a lively debate that would have continued long beyond the twenty minutes allowed.

Creating, Interpreting and Defending Identities: Law, Gender and Settlement

Chair: Simon Newman (Glasgow University)
Bruce Dorsey (Swarthmore), ‘The Gendered Meanings of African Colonization for Black and White Americans During the Antebellum Years’
Martha Hodes (New York), ‘Beyond Mission and Empire: Outsiders in the British West Indies’
John Weiss (London), ‘The Florida Negroes and the Admirals: Forbes v Cochrane & Cockburn 1824 revisited’
Laura Edwards (UCLA), ‘Bodies, Violence and Citizenship in the Antebellum US South’

In this session four scholars explored various aspects of race in ninteenth-century America in a coherent and illumination panel. Bruce Dorsey spoke about his research into the ways that gender affected Northern reformers’ responses to slavery, concluding that white rhetoric described colonization in terms of sexual conquest.

In the second paper, Martha Hodes examined the enslaved population of Grand Caymen Island, a non-plantation Caribbean British colonym using the discrete narratives of British officials, Scottish missionaries and a white New England woman, illustrating how their very different perspectives demonstrate a breadth of perspective that says much about the diversity of the Atlantic World as played out in one tiny island.

John McNish Weiss presented his research into the case of Forbes v Cochrane & Cockburn (1824), which dealt with the slaves of a British citizen in East Florida who had secured their liberty by running away to British forces during the War of 1812. His paper demonstrated how the issues of slavery and liberty were played out through military, maritime and common law.

Laura Edwards analysed how violent acts during Reconstruction illustrated how particular changes in law and governance in the nineteenth-century South gave rights physical form and made the body itself a political site. Thus control over the body was linked to definitions of citizenship and the structure of the polity, thereby demonstrating how individual acts were connected to larger structures of governance. This was a panel of the very highest quality, which spurred critical discussion throughout the following days of the conference.

Plenary Session II

Chair: Philip John Davies (De Montfort University)
Professor Charles O Jones (University of Wisconsin at Madison; Olin Visiting Professor, Nuffield College, Oxford), ‘Clinton and Congress: Risk, Restoration and Re-election’

Chuck Jones, former President of the American Political Science Association, and leading analyst of the modern presidency, turned his attention to the administration led by Bill Clinton. Jones identifies Clinton as the president of the permanent campaign – an energetic and enthusiastic participant who campaigns vigorously not just for office, but also as a strategy for governing. In a political system separated not only by constitutional structure, but also by the electorate’s consistent habit in the last generation of voting for executive and legislature from different political parties, the permanent campaign focused on policy serves to close the gaps in the attempt to progress policy proposals to final legislation.

In 1992 Clinton had no coattails, only 43 per cent of the vote, and no national crisis on which to build a mandate for change, yet this was the first US national government unified by political party since the late 1970s, so expectations were high. Clinton’s room for manoeuvre was defined by the lasting context of previous administrations – accumulated debts from Johnson to Reagan. A mixed record in his first congressional term culminated in the Republican victories of 1994, and in the years thereafter the permanent campaign became increasingly relevant. The Republicans claimed an ideological mandate from their 1994 victory – the rhetoric was strident – and President Clinton moved to the centre on budgetary and policy matters, concentrating on small initiatives that have substantial public resonance.

Clinton, claims Jones, using great skill, constant discussion and negotiation, and considerable work, developed the ability to Voice policy based a the caring attitude on day-to-day issues. The 1996 acceptance speech in Chicago was a prime example of the overlap between this approach to campaigning in elections as well as government. After re-election Clinton built carefully towards his 1998 State of the Union address, only to be derailed by the Lewinsky revelations. His campaign contributed to his job approval remaining high, a fact not powerful enough to sway Congress, but simultaneously leaving Congress without the strength to progress an alternative agenda.

Regardless of the embarrassments of Clinton’s late period in office, he has shown how a president can use the permanent campaign in a policy process that is increasingly public and participatory. This strategy has involved a significant increase in the use of polls, a greater role for consultants, an increasing use of campaign-style tactics, sophisticated use of communications to reach beyond the White House press corps, advertising campaigns on major policy matters, and greater public communications by Members of Congress on policy issues. Clinton’s ability to absorb, identify and articulate public policy in this changing environment make him a model of this new president, showing even more effectiveness when the Republicans held Congress than when his own party allies were in power. The election of 2000 could initiate a period of complex combinations of party power in Washington, in which the skills of the permanent campaign will be especially significant.

American Women’s Cultures

Chair: R. J. Ellis (Nottingham Trent)
Judie Newman (Newcastle), ‘Stowe’s Sunny Memories of Highland Slavery’
Danielle Ramsay (Newcastle), ‘Semantic Passing’
Celeste-Marie Bernier (Newcastle), ‘Diverse Black Narrative Form in Pauline E. Hopkins’ Topsy Templeton (1916)’
Lindsay Traub (Lucy Cavendish college, Cambridge) ‘The Atlantic Monthly – Cradle of Talent’
Lisa Merrill (Hofstra University), ‘Charlotte Cushman’s Performance of Nationality, Sexuality and Gender on the Nineteenth-Century Stage’

Judie Newman kicked off this packed, absorbing session in lively fashion with a trick question: which passage comes from Stowe: (A) ‘counting the natives and their slaves and prey, [they] disposed without scruple of them and all that they had, reckless of the wrongs and misery they inflicted’; or (B) ‘An almost sublime instance of the benevolent employment of superior wealth and power in shortening the struggles of advancing civilization’. The gradualist proposition contained in the second quote is Stowe’s, taken from her Sunny Memories of Foreign Lands, whereas the first is taken from M’Leod’s angry riposte, Gloomy Memories in the Highlands of Scotland – an account of the forced clearance of the Naver valley in the Scottish Highlands. M’Leod rebuts Stowe point by point, but Stowe would later repeat her ‘couleur de rose’ version, even when confronted with counter-evidences. Newman’s question was, why? – since Stowe’s inaccuracies provided easy ammunition to her critics, allowing them to impugn generally her authenticity. Newman’s claim was that Stowe’s whitewash was done expressly. The considerable parallels between slavery and the clearances (forced transportation, lack of legal protection, enforced immorality, and docility under oppression) meant that ‘equalizing comparisons’ could beckon, and so play straight into the hands of Abolition’s opponents. Indeed, M’Leod suggestion that were slaves to be offered the lot of Highlanders they would opt to remain slaves opens the door wide for Southern apologists. So Stowe preferred stonewalling to equalising comparisons.

Danielle Ramsay used the two surviving versions of Sojourner Truth’s speech to the 1851 Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio to establish a critique of Henry Louis Gates’ theory of ‘signifyin[g]’. The version best remembered is the one written out by Frances D. Gage, twelve years later, centering on the chorus, ‘And ain’t I a woman?’. The lesser-known one appeared at the time of the speech, in the Anti-Slavery Bugle. Ramsay’s point was that the Gage version enjoys currency because, in the words of one black feminist, it ‘speaks the truth’. Ramsay wanted to unpack the inherent ironies in this (truth/Truth), and use these to explore how Gates, in explaining how ‘signifyin[g]’ works, has it both ways, seeing ‘signifyin[g]’ as the artful form of African American writers but also as ‘specific uses of literary language’ – the latter contradictorily allowing for a form of ‘semantic passing’, where white writers (like Gage) could ‘signify’ in a way going far beyond racist parody: ceasing to reading Truth’s ‘speech’ simply as ‘her’ words plays havoc with singular, univocal notions of truth.

Celeste-Marie Bernier argued that Pauline E. Hopkins re/invented a black feminist identity and a flexible narrative form in which to articulate it. Topsy Templeton opens up an experimental critical dialogue with her earlier writing (particularly Of One Blood), upsetting socially endorsed hierarchies of gender, race and caste, undermining the generic constructions of black and black female identity found in domestic fiction and abolitionist rhetoric, and exploring how the conflation of white assumptions about black male and female physicality in the metonymic equation of rape and lynching exposes their ideological underpinnings. Bernier argued that the way Hopkins is repeatedly concerned to write Topsy’s experience into semantic and syntactic gaps in white discourse illuminates Hopkins’ meta-textual agenda. So, when Sophronia determines to rear Topsy ‘as an example of what may be done by environment and moral uplift’ these sentiments are surgically undercut by her reflection that this ‘adventure … will undoubtedly increase sales of my book’. This sort of self-reflexive procedure establishes why, in Topsy’s words, ‘A colored person has just got to fight her way along in this world’ – and Ramsay urged us to observe how this fighting black has been silently identified as female.

Lindsey Traub began by noting how, in Henry James’ words, ‘everybody’ read The Atlantic. It therefore seems essential to consider not only who ‘everybody’ was (the young Boston brahmins and their friends and relations) but also what it was they read. What was read was often by women, and often far from conformist. In particular, the fiction of Harriet Prescott, Elizabeth Stoddard, Louisa Alcott and Gail Hamilton shows for a period (January 1860 to April 1861), when James Russell Lowell was succeeded by J.T. Fields, a fluidity of genre and an innovatoriness that cumulatively unsettled conventional assumptions. When in April 1861 Rebecca Harding Davis’ ‘Life in the Iron Mills’ was brought out, the stage was already well set for the way this story goes well beyond ‘realism’ to become, also, a refection upon women and their position: ‘look at that [sculptured] woman’s face! It asks questions of God and says, ‘I have a right to know”. Under Fields’ editing, these writers manipulated genre to find new ways of relating to their readers’ expectations, before William Dean Howells arrived to end the Atlantic’s ‘good season’.

Finally, Lisa Merrill charted the enthusiastic reception of the American actor, Charlotte Cushman, in Britain in the eighteen-forties, and how her performances called into question beliefs about gender, sexuality, nationality and power. Skillfully incorporating slides into her discussion, to show how representations of Cushman’s acting treated with her transgressiveness (most famously, by taking on the role of Romeo opposite her sister, Susan Cushman), Merrill explored how the masculinity of Cushman’s appearance, performances and roles helped cement in place an idea that to be masculine as a woman could surpass denigatory connotations to embrace ideas of seriousness, intellect, force, achievement and status. Genius was one particular label that Cushman recurrently secured in critical receptions of her vehement emotional expressiveness. What could and could not pass for female acting was being redefined by such enthusiasm for her stage-performances. This reception contrasted with that of Edwin Forrest, whose ‘manliness’ was seen as uncouthly American beside her self-contained passionateness, which remained commensurate with British ideas of dignified stalwartness, whilst also being seen as American in its forcefulness.

Documenting Identity in the American Film

Chair: Douglas Tallack (Nottingham)
Kris Jozajtis (Stirling), ‘”The Birth of a Nation”: Event in American Religious History’
Margaret Roberts (Exeter), ‘Masculinity and Sexuality in the films of Sidney Poitier’
Catherine Griggs (Eckerd), ‘American Identity and the Primitive in Early Documentary Film: Grass

The three papers in this session did not fit together particularly well but, in their own terms, addressed different aspects of American identity. Kris Jozajtis (Stirling) used Robert Bellah’s notion of ‘civil religion’ and, more recently, Stewart Hoover’s work on religion, media and culture to argue that D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation is ‘an important turning point within the history of American civil religion.’ Mostly, Jozajtis offered a contextual interpretation and this subsequently provoked questions on reception which were also addressed to Margaret Roberts’ paper. Jozajtis did include a short analysis of the framing mechanism in Birth of a Nation, though its subtlety would have been enhanced had a clip been shown.

Margaret Roberts (Exeter) had clips for her paper on masculinity and sexuality in Sidney Poitier’s films but did not have time to show them. In her case it was the theoretical vocabulary, arising from Laura Mulvey’s essay on the gaze which needed visually illustrating. Certainly it is a neat idea to put Poitier’s image alongside Mulvey and also alongside theorists of performance but the strengths of Roberts’s paper and the way out of the trap of circling round the critical debate trying to touch every base lay in the interesting treatment of Duel at Diablo and Paris Blues.

Unfortunately Catherine Griggs (Eckerd College) could not attend. Her paper, ‘American Identity and the Primitive in early Documentary,’ was read by Margaret Devine (Glasgow), who also showed an extract from Grass, a product of the collaboration between Marguerite Harrison, Merian Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack. The use of the film as a counterpoint to the frontier thesis and other strenuous American texts came across well but, quite understandably, the question session could not encompass this paper. For various reasons and through no one’s individual fault this was not an entirely satisfactory session even though the research being presented has plenty of potential.

Labyrinths of Identity

Chair: Candida Hepworth (University of Wales, Swansea)
Andrea Dlaska (Warwick), ‘Imperial Fantasies and American Identities in Bharati Mukherjee’s Leave It To Me
Barbara Shaw-Perry (Birmingham), ‘Ethnic and Gender Performance in Borderland Literature: A Case Study of Judith Ortiz Cofer’s The Line of the Sun
Helen Oakley (Nottingham), ‘Reading the Labyrinth: the intertextuality of William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and Juan Rulfo’s Pedro Paramo
Angela Groth (University of Kent at Canterbury), ‘The Precession of Hawthorne’

At first sight rather out of place on this panel, Angela Groth’s discussion of ‘The Precession of Hawthorne’ actually provided the framework for this session’s contemplation of the dynamics of identity formation, arguing for a consideration of the manner in which one is manufactured into a personage. Taking the career of Nathaniel Hawthorne as her example, Groth argued that this author’s production was specifically engineered in order to fill a gap in the literary marketplace. In collusion with the publisher James T. Fields, Hawthorne conspired to sell both his work and himself as a very particular commodity. Taking Baudrillard’s suggestion in Simulations that, in time, reality comes to be replaced by appearance, Hathorne – now Hawthorne – connoted not so much the substance as the image.

Barbara Shaw-Perry again insisted upon the necessity of understanding identity as performance in arguing the case that Judith Ortiz Cofer’s The Line of The Sun shows ethnicity and gender both to be ongoing processes of invention. In a world which prefers to deal with stable signifiers. However, according to which we are seen as one thing or another, this stable identity – in itself performative – is shown always to to force the Puerto Rican immigrant into the position of ‘other’. He or she, the novel claimed, was granted a degree of acceptance only if they ‘performed’ in a manner compliant with American norms. For Marisol, then, the novel’s narrator, the challenge becomes one of negotiating between the two cultures, a process of identity formation which is, even at the novel’s end, without closure.

The challenge of reinterpreting oneself in the face of the United States’ representation of the ethnic ‘other’ similarly concerned

Nation, Sentiment and Spirituality

Chair: Kasia Boddy (University College London)
Glenn Hendler (Notre Dame), ‘Martin Delaney’s Sentimental Black Nationalism’
Peter Coviello (Bowdoin), ‘The Bonds of Sane Affection: Intimacy and Nationality in the American Renaissance’
Sophia Taylor (Nottingham, ‘Covenants and Judgements: Ellen Glasgow’s Calvinist Fiction’
Claire Keyes (Salem State), ‘Of Religion and Science: The Poetry of Pattiann Rogers’

Four papers complimented each other in a busy session which still allowed time for some fruitful discussion. Glenn Hendler began by considering the notion of sentiment in Martin Delaney’s thought – looking particularly at his engagement with the Negro Convention movement and conflict with Frederick Douglass (which led to his forming a breakaway emigrationist faction), his attendance at the 1860 Statistical Congress and his novel, Black. Delaney argued that since blacks would always be a statistical minority in the US, full civil and political rights would never be granted. Delaney frequently draws on a familial sentimental discourse, essentially to maintain that ‘if the United States has been a bad mother . . . her children’s love can be displaced onto one who loves them better’.

Next to speak was Peter Coviello who noted the prevalence of what he called ‘anti-state nationalism’ in a range of antebellum writers; in particular, Whitman. The problem which these writers had to address, Coviello argued, is ‘if the state fails so utterly to account for . . . true ‘American-ness’, of what, exactly, is nationality made?’ For Whitman, the problem of nationality is how it explains the intimate relation of people unknown to each other. The notion of an American (white) ‘race’ was Whitman’s first way of accounting for the connection; in later work, desire becomes the dominant model of anonymous attachment. Coviello concluded that ‘a shift in emphasis from the problem of the subject to the problem of relation – from affiliation to identity’, would benefit American Studies more generally.

Sophia Taylor then brought us into the twentieth century with a paper on Ellen Glasgow. Although Glasgow rejected Calvinism at an early age, three of her novels, The Deliverance (1904), Barren Ground (1925) and Vein of Iron (1953) explore her heritage. In particular the Calvinist aesthetic of binary opposites enabled Glasgow to explore questions of selfhood and community, heredity and environment, in the changing modern world.

Finally Claire Keynes came right up to date with a paper on the poetry of Pattiann Rogers, a poetry which engages fully with modern science to find within it possibilities for a new spirituality. Using vocabulary drawn from cosmology, geology, physics and biology, Rogers envisages a notion of divinity emerging from a continuously changing interaction with the natural world.

Identification of the Self in 19th and early 20th Century Writing

Chair: Lindsey Traub (Cambridge)
Anne-Marie Trudgill (Manchester Metropolitan), ‘Reflections of the Female Self in the writing of Elizabeth Stoddard’
Shirley Foster (University of Sheffield), ‘Nation and Identity: the travel writings of Catherine Maria Sedgewick and Harriet Beecher Stowe’
Karen Wilkinson (Manchester Metropolitan), ‘Self-Reliance in the novels of Susan Warner’
Bert Bender (Arizona State University), ‘Willa Cather’s contribution to the Eclipse of Darwinism’

Four diverse and interesting papers were given drawing on a range of genres but all, coincidentally, by women writers.

Anne-Marie Trudgill (Manchester Metropolitan) discussed Elizabeth Stoddard’s deployment and subversion of a range of tropes and both literary and social conventions in constructing female identities rich in erotic self-awareness and self-determination. Although widely read on publication, The Morgesons (1862) and her other novels did not achieve lasting popularity – now republished by Penguin, perhaps Stoddard’s time has come at last.

Shirley Foster (Sheffield University) drew attention to subtle twists in the process of self-definition in the writing of Catherine Maria Sedgewick and Harriet Beecher Stowe in response to their travels in England. Both, already established critics of their society, acknowledged cultural difference and similarity by moving between direct, reflective comment and delighted self-irony: exploring while subsuming the ambivalence of the American abroad.

Karen Wilkinson (Manchester Metropolitan) took up the problematic notion of self-reliance for mid-nineteenth century women through the aptly named Miss Fortune Emerson, in Susan Warner’s The Wide, Wide World. While advice books frequently counselled acquiring a ‘means of self-sustenance and self-protection’, Warner expresses clear ambivalence about spiritual independence, for which Emerson himself warned ‘a man must be a non-conformist’. Only in the late 1860s did Warner propose a heroine, in her ‘Daisy’ trilogy, whose character is shaped by resistence and self-determination.

Finally, Bert Bender from Arizona State University, brought the discussion towards and into the twentieth century by exploring the development of Willa Cather’s relation to Darwinism and more particularly to Henri Bergson’s ideas of creative evolution and the ‘elan vital’.

A lively and focussed discussion followed with special interest in the processes and imagery of ‘reflection’ in a wide variety of 19th century texts in the construction and identification of identity and the self.

How the West Got Wild: American Media and Frontier Violence

Chair: Jo Ann Manfra (Worcester)
Robert R. Dykstra (State University of New York at Albany), ‘Configuring Dodge City: Homicide, Moral Discourse, and Cultural Identity’
Michael A. Bellesiles (Emory University), ‘History is not a Film: The Influence of Westerns on Historical Scholarship’

Robert Dykstra pointed out that frontier Dodge City, Kansas, is currently a metaphor, both in the United States and elsewhere, for homicide, civic anarchy, and moral depravity. Yet, the historic village, a famous cattle town from 1876 through 1885, actually suffered only fifteen adult homicides during that period. What, Dykstra asked, led to the development of the received cultural image? His answer: Dodge City is and always has been a media creation in which gun violence was enormously exaggerated. By the late 1870s the town was already experiencing national attention, some of it self-generated. In the twentieth century popular interest revived. During the Depression, Dodge began advertising itself as a tourist attraction; in 1939 Hollywood began to exploit the locale; and from the 1950s to mid-1970s three television serials definitively inserted an imaginary Dodge City into the public consciousness. The specific metaphor emerged during the Vietnam War, and was employed to designate any dangerous place.

Michael Bellesiles began by noting that the United States has the highest rate of interpersonal homicide in the world. He argued that, despite published research to the contrary, historians and other scholars continue to assert that the reason is America’s violent frontier heritage. But in making this culturally broad casual linkage they often generalize not from historical materials, but from Hollywood films that they accept as accurate representations of past reality. Such assertions were magnified as Hollywood Westerns themselves became more violent in the 1960s, culminating in Sam Peckinpah’s Vietnam-inspired The Wild Bunch (1969). Professor Bellesiles showed videotaped excerpts from this and George Steven’s Shane (1953) to illustrate his point.

A lively discussion prompted by questions from the audience of about thirty persons followed the presentations.

(Post)Modern Textual Economies

Chair: Richard Hinchcliffe (Central Lancashire)
Brian Jarvis (Loughborough), ‘The Book of Daniel: Doctorow’s Discipline and Punish?’
Julian Crockford (Sheffield), ‘Walter Benn Michaels and the (postmodern) Logic of the The Gold Standard’
Martyn Bone (Nottingham), ‘The Post-Southern “Sense of Place” in Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer and Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter

This involving session had speakers all deeply engaged in examining three systems of postmodern expression, namely punishment, money, and space. Brian Jarvis’s paper expertly delineated the relationship between punishment and capital as seen through E.L. Doctorow’s The Book of Daniel and Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. Brian argued that Doctorow’s novel sees the visibility of state discipline and the importance of punishment as spectacle as crucial to capitalist hegemony during the cold war. The execution of the Rosenbergs, the novel’s metaphorical use of electricity and Foucault’s observation that plague allows the state to impose draconian measures of control all contributed to a richly informative paper. Its keynote was that Doctorow got it right and Foucault got it wrong in that the latter failed to acknowledge the visibility of punishment provided by the mass media in modern times.

Julian Crockford looked at the conceptualization and representation of money in Walter Benn Michaels’ The Gold Standard and the Logic of Naturalism. Asking if the impossibility of referential stability that post-structuralism describes can be linked to structures found in money, Julian noted how Michaels describes the capacity of capital to determine reality through economic definition. Materiality itself becomes questioned by the emptiness of abstract money shorn of its connection to the weight of stored gold bullion. A disturbing but very interesting examination of the power of money.

Real estate space and post-Southern geographic sensibility was Martyn Bone’s focus, examining Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer and Richard Ford’s The Sportswriter. The paper skilfully exploited the sense of place found in the characters of both novels and showed how such awarenesses contribute to the idea of the post-South. In particular, Martyn’s paper highlighted the notion of Southern characters being fascinated or disturbed by an ‘absence of place’ found in the industrial north.

Popular Consciousness and Political Thought

Chair: Philip John Davies (De Montfort University)
Brendan McConville (State University of New York, Binghamton), ‘Oliver’s Last Campaign’
Tim Milford (Harvard University), ‘John Gardiner, liberalism, and the versatile elite’
Zoltan Vajda (Jozsef Atilla University, Hungary), ‘The Idea of Progress in John C. Calhoun’s Political Thought’
Ian Margeson (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education), ‘William Smith and his Miranian Vision’

Brendan McConville (State University of New York, Binghamton) presented a paper examining the changing symbolic significance of Oliver Cromwell in late 18th century America. The written and oral memory of Cromwell in the 1700s was significant, and there is much reference to him in American print culture. Early eighteenth century references were generally critical and disparaging. Cromwell was seen as too militant and disorderly, but events in American changed the context and both memories and analysis underwent a revision from which Cromwell emerged a republican hero, and symbolic protector on American ideas of rights, liberty and property. The revision affected all levels of American thought, from serious theoretical support from the President of Yale to many calls for the establishment of a public holiday on the Lord Protector’s birthday. The calls faded, and the 19th century growth of Irish-American impact on politics undermined any lasting fashion for lauding Cromwell.

Tim Milford (American Studies programme, Harvard University), followed the pragmatic and shifting career of a late 18th century lawyer in his paper ‘John Gardiner, liberalism and the versatile elite’. Gardiner was a trans-Atlantic character, as were many of the elite of this period. Born in Massachusetts he travelled to Glasgow to train, and emerged a qualified lawyer. An acquaintance of John Wilkes, Gardiner gained experience as a circuit lawyer in Wales, providing a foundation of case knowledge that would serve him well in later work in St Kitts, and then back in Massachusetts. Gardiner served with equal felicity the English, French and American polities, exercising the authority of the king at one point, but having the versatility to promote himself on his successful return to Massachusetts as a long-standing promoter of American freedom.

In ‘The Idea of Progress in John C. Calhoun’s Political Thought’, Zoltan Vajda (Institute of English and American Studies, Jozsef Atilla University, Szeged, Hungary) discussed Calhoun’s understanding of the interrelationship between progress, inequality and government. Bringing together an analysis of Calhoun’s ideas of progress expressed in A Disquisition on Government, and applying this to his positions on slavery and Mexicans, Vajda concluded that the Calhoun’s idea of progress can act as a foundation for racist assertions, tying entitlement to liberty to innate intellectual and moral capacities, which were then defined as racially and ethnically differentiated.

Concluding this international panel, Ian Margeson (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education) examined the visions of a less well-known 18th century thinker and activist, William Smith. Aberdeen-born Smith moved to America in the 1740s, rising to prominence as a educationalist in Philadelphia. As a moderate Loyalist he wrote a series of letters published over the pseudonym ‘Cato’ during March and April 1776, but he had founded the intellectual pursuit of his ideas in the utopian treatise A General Idea of the College of Mirania. The same ideas underpinned his teaching and encouragement of intellectual, social and artistic development in Philadelphia. He fostered majored talents in his circle, but also progressed the ideas ‘ordered progress’ in America.

The four papers and the following discussion provided stimulating insights into the thinkers and the competing political ideas of the early American nation.

Culture and Character in American Studies

Chair: Susan Castillo (Glasgow University)
Ron Bush (Oxford), ‘Philip Roth, Cultural Property, Political Correctness, and Censorship’
Donald E Pease Jr (Dartmouth), ‘American Studies into Cultural Studies: Paradigms and Paradoxes’
Paul Giles (Nottingham), ‘British American Studies and American American Studies’
Michael Barton (Pennsylvania), ‘The Measure of Americans: New Approaches to the Studey of National Character’

In a well-attended session, participants came to grips with the complex question of American national identity. Ron Bush, in a lucid paper titled ‘Philip Roth, Cultural Property, Political Correctness, and Censorship’, dealt with the thorny issue of cultural property and the rights of ethnic groups to censor the cultural productions of individuals belonging to such groups, illustrating his points with the example of Philip Roth.

Donald Pease, in ‘American Studies into Cultural Studies: Paradigms and Paradoxes’, drawing on Gene Wise’s concept of paradigm dramas, provided a stimulating discussion of the ways American Studies paradigms change and evolve, as well as the existence of epistemological categories that attempt to suppress the emergence of new paradigms. A particular case in point is the recent move toward concepts of hybridity and borderlands, in contrast to the reductive either-or character of multicuralism.

Paul Giles, in an articulate and thought-provoking paper titled ‘British American Studies and American American Studies’, went on to analyze the implications of the push toward globalization for the re-mapping or re-situating of American Studies, focusing on the consequences of this for American Studies in the United Kingdom.

Finally, shifting to the perspective of the social sciences Michael Barton, in ‘The Measure of Americans: New Approaches to the Study of National Character’, provided a highly illuminating (and amusing!) overview of more quantitative studies of American character, and of how Americans see themselves. A lively (though all too brief) discussion followed.

Conservation and Catastrophe

Chair: David Seed (Liverpool)
Karen Wills (Bristol), ‘The Changing Nature of Yellowstone Park’
John Wills (Bristol), ‘Diablo Canyon, California: A Nuclear Wilderness Park?’
David Ingram (Brunel), ‘Free Willy and the Hollywood Conservationist Movie’

Karen Wills first outlined the history of the Yellowstone National Park, the first in the USA, and identified a tension between preservation and contrivance. The park managers constantly shaped and ‘improved on’ Nature. In the 1930s a policy change occurred shifting the emphasis from entertainment to education. This redefinition was symbolized by the decision to reintroduce wolves, extinct since 1926.

John Wills next discussed the controversy surrounding the decision by Pacific Gas to construct nuclear installations in Diablo Canyon. Where the nuclear establishment promoted reassuring garden images, the opposition drew on fears of nuclear catastrophe, developing a trail culture around the area. The controversy demonstrated a complex interrelation between military-industrial facilities and the natural landscape.

Lastly, David Ingram examined the anthropomophizing strategies in the film Free Willy, which he read as a redemptive narrative both for the boy protagonist and the humanized whale. The film was set in the context of representations of wild animals and all three papers connected through the importance of culturally mediating imagery.

The Racial Dilemma: War, Religion, Film and Athletics

Chair: Rebecca Starr (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education)
Joel Helfrich (Glasgow), ‘Tom Molineaux: The Life and Career of an African-American Boxer’
Mark Newman (Derby), ‘Race, Religions and Jim Crow: White Southern Baptists and the Defence of Segregation during the Civil Rights Movement’

George Mikes (How to be an Alien) has the following logic to offer. ‘The French say life is a game. The English say that cricket is a game.’ His incomplete theorem , that the game and life are the same, is left for human reason to grasp. Being a historian is something like being an alien. We stand on the outside — looking at the familiar as though never before seen — asking new questions, finding new patterns. Sport is one such familiar arena, but as we learned from Joel Helfrich’s paper (‘Tom Molineaux: The Life and Career of an African-American Boxer’) , sport seen through the lens of social history can open exciting new perspectives on racial and national identities. Born into slavery in South Carolina in 1784, Tom Molineaux exchanged a talent for bare knuckled fighting , first for his freedom, and then for a career in professional boxing in New York and finally in Great Britain. Molineaux’s challenge to England’s [white] heavyweight champion of the day, aroused heated feelings of national and racial pride in Britain’s sporting public, whose rhetorical flourishes Helfrich is tracing in newspapers, publicity posters and a variety of off beat sources. Equally important, Molineax’s pre-bout challenge speeches, a hype formula still familiar in the boxing world, may reveal something about the African- American’s own view of his dilemma, a contender for the prize in a microcosmic world, where rules imitate laws and penalties and rewards imitate judgements Ñ in short , reflections (or refractions) of justice.

Expanding on the theme of race and nation, Mark Newman’s paper (‘Race, Religions and Jim Crow: White Southern Baptists and the Defence of Segregation during the Civil Rights Movement’) on Southern Baptist’s dilemma in the segregation debates of the 1950s and 1960s, offered a thoughtful analysis of religious leader’s use of scripture as a guide to interpreting government’s policy on racial integration. (Even preachers were not immune to mixing scripture and sports metaphors in Dixie, the heartland of American football, where one described Washington’s pro-integration policy as ‘fumbling the ball in God’s plan’). The autonomous nature of each Baptist congregation permits the historian to penetrate local views on ideas about race and national allegiance. Both these papers suggested original methods and sources for the study of ideas about identity, provoking a lively and developed discussion from those attending.

The Transmission of Cultures

Chair: Marina Moskowitz (Glasgow)
Paul Grainge (Nottingham), ‘Time’s Past in the Present: nostalgia and the black and white image’
Jeffrey S. Miller (Augustana), ‘English Channels: British Television, American Culture and the Myth of Cultural Imperialism, 1969-1976’
Anna Notaro (Nottingham), ‘Visions of the Future in the American Modernist Metropolis’

This session brought together three excellent papers focusing on representations of American culture in a variety of media. Paul Grainge, in his presentation which last year won the BAAS Essay Prize, set out to discuss the concept of nostalgia, not, as he said, ‘as a mood, but as a mode.’ He explored the use of black and white imagery on the covers of Time magazine, explaining that when the magazine as a whole went to full color in 1989, the use of black and white acquired a status it had not earlier had. Grainge presented readings of cover images of Princess Diana, President Clinton, race relations around the time of the Los Angeles riots, and the business dealings of Apple and Microsoft to prove his thesis that while ‘color reports, black and white chronicles’ and adds the authority of history to whatever is depicted.

Jeffrey Miller followed with a discussion of American borrowings from British television in the 1970s. Miller discussed the large influence, ranging from the wholesale importation of British shows, such as New York’s WOR presenting a week of wildly popular programs from Thames Television to celebrate the Bicentennial in 1976 to the more subtle appropriation of British series remade into American situation comedies. Miller discussed the politics of transforming British shows such as Till Death Do Us Part and Steptoe and Son into the now classic American shows created by Norman Lear, All in the Family and Sanford and Son. While these programs originally borrowed not only the concept but actual scripts from their British models, Miller also discussed the transmission of concepts such as the comedy sketch show and the mini-series. With these examples, Miller successfully challenged the often assumed dominance and ‘imperialism’ of American television.

Anna Notaro then discussed the imagery of modernist architecture in both drawing and film. Notaro explored the ways in which film could serve as both an exaggeration of modernist architecture and as a way to educate the public about its common features, such as extreme verticality. By showing the futurist urban vision in films such as Metropolis (1926) and Just Imagine (1930), filmmakers and set designers created a desire for modernist architecture. Cinema was a place where the most visionary ideas of architects could be carried out in a more dynamic form than drawings; film added the experience of moving through space and time inherent to the modern metropolis. A lively discussion period followed, in which comparisons between the various media, and their contemporary implications, were discussed.

BAAS Postgraduate Meeting

Chairs: Richard Hinchcliffe & Karen Wilkinson (Postgraduate Representatives)

Douglas Tallack attended the meeting and suggested a number of ways in which postgraduates could obtain funding to continue research. He also offered advice with regard to preparing for the job market and suggested ways in which postgraduates could increase their profile through presenting conference papers at both postgraduate conferences and at full conferences such as the BAAS annual conference. In addition, he suggested that it was important for postgraduates to gain some teaching and administrative experience, and gave examples of ways in which his own department at Nottingham provided forums for postgraduates to gain this experience as well as discussing their work within research groups.

Richard Hinchcliffe and Karen Wilkinson reported on their first year as members of the BAAS Executive Committee and highlighted the fact that almost every issue brought to the Committee had some input from each of the postgraduates in their roles on the Development and Conferences sub-committees. Richard emphasised the importance of postgraduates taking part in the OVERhere postgraduate mini conference and reported on the success of the last conference held at Sussex in December. In addition, postgraduates were made aware of the BAAS website and in particular the postgraduate pages. Philip Davies, reported that it was hoped that within the near future the website would have its own domain.

Amongst other issues raised at the meeting, was the proposal going before the AGM, that postgraduate subscriptions to BAAS would be increased to £10 a year, and an announcement was made concerning the possible formation of a Scottish Association.

Race, class and politics in African-American Narratives

Chair: Karen Wilkinson (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Fiona Le Brun (Keele), ‘Honouring the Difficult: Alice Walker’s Activism in Fiction and Film’
Ann Bomberger (Bilkent), ‘Tidying Class and Racial Boundaries: Representations of Domestic Service’
Ikram Elsherif (Royal Holloway), ‘Paradise: Toni Morrison’s Development of an Anti-Racist Attitude’
Maria Balshaw (Birmingham), ‘”There is only one Frye Street” All the world is there’, Geographies of Racial Disaffection in the Writings of Marita Bonner

In this session, panellists provided an interesting and thought provoking view of representations of race and class in African American narratives.

Fiona Le Brun considered the novel Possessing the Secret of Joy in light of Walker’s experiences in film media. In particular she examined the novel in relation to Walker’s documentary film journal Warrior Marks: Female Genital Mutilation and the Sexual Blinding of Women in which she depicts her journey to Africa as an advocate for the end to the practice of female genital mutilation. Le Brun argued that in both novel and journal, Walker can be seen to present a ‘strategic lie’ in her construction of an alternative history of black maternal genealogical inheritance, deployed as an instrumental means of healing an historical wound. Le Brun found that Walker’s reliance upon images which transcend the limits of embodied subjectivity (in particular her obsession with reincarnation, mysticism and pantheistic experiences) produce complex methodological conflicts in her writing. Le Brun traced the origin of such conflict in the dichotomous representations of the body in the novel and journal, and concluded that out of her deeply flawed account of womanist genealogy, Walker writes some of her most interesting and controversial accounts of female sexuality.

Ann Bomberger’s paper suggested ways in which domestic service provides a space in which feminist discourse can attempt to negotiate class and racial discord, and that ideologies of womanhood focusing on maternal roles, housework and exertions of authority come to the fore in these negotiations of power which occur in the home. In order to further her argument, Bomberger considered some of the negotiations of power between domestic workers and employers in Puerto Rican American Esmeralda Santiago’s novel America’s Dream (1996) and African American Barbara Neely’s Detective novels, Blanche on the Lam (1992) and Blanche Cleans Up (1998). Bomberger argued that , Santiago’s America’s Dream emphasises the protagonist’s initial victim status (of both domestic violence and domestic service) and describes her movement towards self-empowerment. Within the novel, Santiago analyses intentional and unintentional methods of victimisation and suggests strategies for empowerment. By comparison, Barbara Neely’s novels centre around a protagonst who is a strong-minded, independent domestic worker who deflects employer’s attempts to demean her and in the proces uses her intellect and intuition to solve murders which occur in the houses in which she works. In concluding her report, Bomberger suggested that whilst there were difficulties in professionalising domestic service due to the fact that employers will use the discourse of the private sphere to perpetuate class and racial inequalities, the Blanche novels do celebrate the autonomy found in a job that once provided very little autonomy.

Ikram Elsherif’s paper examined the way in which Toni Morrison’s latest novel Paradise (1998) expresses a humanitarian stance previously unseen in her earlier work. Arguing that in both Tar Baby and Beloved, characters are split by class and race divisions which are always sustained by white racist ideology, Elsherif suggested that such racial marking is notable absent from Paradise. That in this latest nove., Morrison was able to move away from this dichotomy between black and white and concentrate more fully on the relationships within the black community.

In the final paper of the session, Maria Balshaw argued that with the exception of writers such as Zora Neale Hurston and Jo Baker, women writers of the Harlem Renaissance can be seen as retrograde, and that Marrietta Bonner’s writing in particular, casts a new light on the Harlam Renaissance and its participants. Bonner’s work affirms both gender politics (through focussing on psychosexual realities) and considers the implications of urban life in Chicago and the interracial relationship. Balshaw suggested that there were fundamental problems of seeing ethnicity and race as self authored, and that overtones of race lines can be seen in Bonner’s work through her inclusion of children playing. However, whilst the earlier works can be seen as offering a more positive view of these issues, the later stories become more pessimistic, and show migrant aspirations being crushed, thus linking Bonner’s work to other highly politicised work of the period.

The papers were followed by an interesting discussion of some of the issues raised.

Recent American Poetry

Chair: Nick Selby (University of Wales, Swansea)
Maria Anita Stefanelli (University of Rome 3) ‘Kenneth Patchem between Poetry and Performance’
Liana Sakelliou (University of Athens), ‘Gary Snyder’s Poetic Call for the Discovery of America’
Nerys Williams (University of Sussex), ‘The Poetry of C.K. Williams: Extending lyric boundaries on a line?’
Frances Barry (University of Sussex), ‘”words are not acts / out of my text I am not what I play”: Performing Language Writing’

In this session, the only one in the conference devoted specifically to poetry, a small audience was privileged to hear four excellent papers. Both entertaining and intellectually stimulating these papers – and the lively discussion that followed – were evidence of the quality of research in American poetry that is currently being done by Americanists in Britain and Europe. Though highly diverse in their approaches and specific foci, a concern with the ways in which poetry can be seen to perform American culture emerged as a common theme in all four papers. As a whole, the session served to empahsise the vitally important role that attention to America’s poetry can play in the formulation of a critique of American culture and ideology.

Maria Stefanelli’s paper examined the relationship between poetry and performance in the post-war work of avant-garde poet Kenneth Patchen. Stefanelli argued that Patchen’s work represents a deliberate breaking away from the sorts of academic poetry tht dominated American literature in the 40s. She argued, therefore, for seeing Patchen as a precursor (by quite some time) of the experimental poetry of the Beats in the 50s. Patchen’s interest in a poetics of ‘play’, led him to explore expressive media other than the narrowly poetic. And his political and aesthetic force derives from his stuggle to dissolve what he saw as artificial barriers between poetry, painting, jazz, vocal improvisation and performance. By transgressing the boundaries traditionally erected between disciplines, he discovered unexpected inter-cultural relationships and ultimately succeeded in bridging the gap between high and low art as well as contributing to re-defining the changing panorama of mid-century American art. The paper focused on Patchen’s 1942 colaboration with John Cage on the radio play The City Wears a Slouch Hat. A tantalisingly brief section of the (seldom heard) recording of this play demonstrated the power of Patchen’s poetics of performance. It was in the physical impact of his poetry on the listener’s mind and body that, the paper concluded, Patchen’s poetry explored and mapped the whole terrain of the human psyche by opening up questions about the performance of identity within American ideology.

Liana Sakelliou’s paper, which discussed the poetry of Gary Snyder, likewise examined the means by which America is discovered by poetry. It argued that Snyder’s poetry seeks to present us with an America that we have never known, and indoing so traced the changes in his poetry and social attitudes from 1974 to the present. Sakelliou described how Snyder’s 1974 collection Turtle Island calls for a recolution in one stroke by changing the myths on which people base their political, social, environmental and life choices. It asserted, though, that after Turtle Island, Snyder’s views on society become more cooperative, practical and specific as a result of his idea of the need for a sense of place. He calls for smaller changes in technology to make them more ‘bioregionally appropriate’. The paper concluded by asserting that now Snyder views nature no longer solely as something being destroyed by civilisation; nature is also the civilisation that destroys. In No Nature (1992) Snyder therefore improves his former poetic sense of social ills by eliminating in himself the sense of nature as something outside the self, and other than society. This allows Snyder in his poetry to see beyond the limited perspective of many of his contemporaries.

Nerys Williams’ paper addressed the issue of C.K. Williams’ verse line, and was itself written verse. Unconventional as this may have been in terms of academic conferences, this bold move provided a new angle on questions of poetry, performance and the breaking down of barriers that were emerging in the session. Williams’ was a finely nuanced reading of C.K. Williams’ poetry and deftly argued for a rethinking of traditional ideas of the constitution of the speaking voice in lyric. The paper suggested that there are forms in which the lyric can move beyond the boundaries of intimate personal experience to address a complexity of subject matter, where language is not taken for granted. It argued that Williams’ ‘long line’, rather than valorising an abstract myth of transparancy in language, actually renders words themselves with a degree of opacity, suggestive of how we inhabit the sentences that we speak. C.K. Williams’ poetry becomes therefore, the paper concluded, an inclusive structure that plots the dynamic of a shifting sensibility in a line that travels both spatially and temporally.

The final paper of the session, performed by Frances Barry, was another examination of the relationship between poetry, performance, and academic paper-giving. True to the chance-driven and experimental nature of much ‘Language Poetry’, the topics that Barry tackled were determined by the audience. The paper, therefore, was both brave and challenging by making explicit the questions: how do you perform this poetry? And how does this poetry perform? The paper argued for a rethinking of the process by which poetry defamiliarizes our relationship to language itself. But it also pointed to the implicit political power of a poetry that deliberately questions convention. To raise such questions, the paper argued, is to question an idea of measuring performance that has become insidiously commonplace in comtemporary America. It is to open up late capitalism to investigation. It is to assert: ‘What’s your performance indicator… answering the telephone within three rings? We’ve all been there’.

Defining Americanness

Chair: Tom Humphrey (Cleveland State University)
J. Russell Snapp (Davidson), ‘Reflections on American character’
Fergal Cubukcu (Turkey), ‘Reflections on American Character’
Karl E. Campbell (Appalachian State), ‘Defending Jim Crow: Senator Sam Ervin and the South’s Legal Strategy against Civil Rights’

Christopher Gadsden and his perceptions of what constituted an American in the eighteenth century, by J. Russell Snapp; Reflections on American character as portrayed somewhat sarcastically by Hollywood and how those views conflicted with how Americans viewed themselves and how others viewed Americans, by Fergal Cubukcu; and Senator Sam Ervin’s Constitutionally based strategy against Civil Rights in the 1950s and 1960s by Karl E. Campbell. Together, these papers presented historical and contemporary perceptions of Americanness that focused on race, ethnicity, status and myth making, prompting us to examine how the inhabitants of different centuries defined themselves, Americanness, and others. The papers were followed by a rousing discussion on what Americanness means and meant.

Women, Warriors and Warfare: The Social and Cultural Dimensions of Imperial Conflict in 18th Century North America

Chair: Sam Maddra (University of Glasgow)
Gail D. Danvers (University of Sussex), ‘Gendered Encounters: The Impact of Warfare on Iroquois Gender Roles’
Matthew C. Ward (University of Dundee), ‘”Where all is at stake, and mutual destruction the object”: The Transformation of Algonquian Warfare in the Eighteenth Century’
Stephanie Pratt (University of Plymouth at Exeter), ‘From Canassatego to Outalissi: making sense of the Native American in Eighteenth Century culture’

I was drafted in at short notice to chair this session and it proved to be a thoroughly stimulating experience, with all three papers provoking a variety of questions from the floor.

Gail Danvers explored the process of cultural synthesis and its relevancy to the alliance between the Iroquois and Superintendent of Indian Affairs, William Johnson, between 1740-1765. Arguing that rather than the creation of a bi-racial culture, there was in fact an ascendancy of Anglo-American culture over that of the Iroquois, Danvers demonstrated how Johnson used his knowledge of Iroquois practices, in particular, he manipulated one facet of their culture – gender – to promote the interests of the Crown and colonies, and the consequences of this policy on the power and cultural autonomy of the Iroquois.

Matthew Ward examined how Algonquian warfare developed a broader sense of strategy during the latter half of the eighteenth century, arguing that their participation in the global wars was marked by an understanding of the role of psychological warfare against both civilian and military targets, and an appreciation of the importance of prisoners in diplomacy with European and American powers. Despite the success of such strategies, their reliance upon them led to disastrous consequences, fuelling a growing cycle of vengeance.

Stephanie Pratt probed the relationship between texts and images as bearers of meaning, with regards to representations of Native American eighteenth century culture. Through the examples of travel writing, the novel, and poetry, Pratt demonstrated that notwithstanding claims advanced in the written texts about eye-witness accuracy or the utilisation of authoritative accounts, the presumed desire for empirical truth was often undercut by the accompanying illustrations, which show the extent to which pre-existent tropes, especially classicising references, checked any turn towards what might be considered an authentic representation.

US-East Asian Relations in the First Half of the 20th Century

Chair: Yone Sugita (Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Osaka)
Mark Caprio (Rikkyo University, Tokyo, Japan), ‘Japanese and American Images of Korea: A Tale of Two Occupations’
Tracy Steele (Sam Houston State University, Texas), ‘Friendly Persuasion: American Manipulation of the Question of Chinese Membership in the United Nations during the Johnson era and the British Connection’
Yone Sugita (Osaka University of Foreign Studies, Osaka), ‘The Dulles-Yoshida Negotiations and U.S. Ambivalence with Japan’

Mark Caprio examined American and Japanese images of the Korean people under two separate occupational periods. While there are stark differences in duration and stated purpose of the two periods, he found similarity within the images the two peoples drew to justify their presence on the Korean peninsula. One area highlighted in his paper was the idea that the Korean people were a victim of ‘bad government’: they could not be entrusted with their country’s administration. In the end, many Americans found more in common with the Japanese enemy than with the Koreans they had come to liberate.

Tracy Steele argued that although American tactics and justifications shifted over the course of the presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson, the goal of American policy remained the same: retention of the Republic of China in the seat reserved for China in the UN and its subsidiary organs. By manipulating the rules of the United Nations and issuing threats, subtle and otherwise, the United States flexed its power and authority over key member states that in turn cast their votes as virtually proxies of their host nation. Her paper explores the means and methods used from the ‘moratorium’ procedure to the ‘Important Question.’ The American lobbying effort continued unabated; friendly persuasion kept the allies in line but at a cost to the United Nations and the US.

Reexamining the significance of the Yoshida-Dulles negotiations between January and February 1951, Yone Sugita’s paper demonstrated the limits and irony of American hegemony in occupied Japan. Japan, an undependable former enemy, eventually became America’s only regional ally in the unstable Asia-Pacific region. The United States believed that it would have to make a continuous commitment to manage Japan and to stabilize the region as a whole. The United States exercised its power to shape the future course of Japanese development, but every success seemed to cause the country to take on that much more of a burden in order to consolidate success.

After the presentation, we had a lively discussion on US images of Asian nations, on British political manuevering in Chinese affairs, and on the impact of US bases on Japanese-US relations.

Bellow and Blackness

Chair: Alan Rice (University of Central Lancashire)
Jim Hall (Falmouth), ‘The Revolving Brush’
Carol Smith (King Alfred’s College), ‘The Jewish Atlantic – The Deployment of Blackness in Saul Bellow’
Aliki Varvogli (UEA), ‘”The Corrupting Disease of Being White”: Notions of Selfhood in Bellow’s Mr Sammler’s Planet
Alex Benchimol (Glasgow), ‘The Cultural Dialectic in the Twentieth-Century American Public Sphere: From Lionel Trilling to Cornel West’

In a vibrant Sunday afternoon session the speakers looked at the relationship between African American and Jewish writers and the depiction of blackness in the work of Saul Bellow. Jim Hall’s paper, ‘The Revolving Brush’ discussed the elided figure of the black in The Bellarossa Connection and Humboldt’s Gift with passing reference to the fiction of Tom Wolfe. He delineated the way in which the African American contribution to Chicago is downplayed by Bellow in his critical writings whilst his role in the fiction is as mere functionary.

Carol Smith concentrated on Henderson the Rain King in her paper ‘The Jewish Atlantic – The Deployment of Blackness in Saul Bellow’. After critiquing Bellow’s essentialised portraits of Africans, Carol moved to an excellent close reading of the key episode where Henderson blows up the frogs in an attempt to ‘save’ the village water supply. Herein she identified a racialised language which belies Bellows’ claim that the novel should be read as mere mythology.

Aliki Varvogli’s paper on ‘Notions of Selfhood in Bellow’s Mr Sammler’s Planet’ was an excellent revisiting of the black pickpocket incident which sought to defend Bellow against over-reductive readers and critics.

Alex Benchimol in his paper on Lionel Trilling and Cornel West sought to create a critical genealogy between the two thinkers which cuts across racial difference. The paper provided a crucial overview of philosophical relations between black and Jew which provided a handy backdrop to the other more textual papers. A brief discussion afterwards concentrated on the autobiographical nature of Bellow’s fiction, whether he could be indicted for racism and the context of black/Jewish relations in New York and Chicago.

Veils and Sharp Edges: Concealment and Disclosure in American Literature

Chair: Janet Beer (Manchester Metropolitan)
Maureen McDermott (Glasgow), ‘On editing the unpublished diaries of Edith Wharton’
Birgit Behrend (Marburg, Germany), ‘The Veil of the Soul: Aesthetic Perception in the Works of Washington Irving’
Nick Selby (Swansea), ‘Moby-Dick, the American Renaissance and the Ethics of Consumption’

The panel featured papers on Washington Irving, Herman Melville and Edith Wharton. Maureen McDermott began her paper with a consideration of the dual imperatives of concealment and disclosure in the writing of diaries and followed this with examples from Edith Wharton’s various diaries to illustrate her argument. Particular attention was paid to the differences between Wharton’s recording of observations about private and public matters, material noted for gardening and other domestic purposes and that which was later used in published work, especially the travel books.

Birgit Behrend discussed The Sketch Book (1819/20) in terms of the discrepancy between Irving’s literary descriptions and 19th century European reality, using Edgar Allan Poe’s definition of the ‘veil of the soul’ to refer to an aesthetic perspective similar to the Claude glass, by which the visual perception of the artist is transformed and he is able to conceive an idealized scene. She argued that Irving fuses the romantic notions of the picturesque, the ideal and the power of the imagination into the unity of an aesthetic mode of perception that enabled him to conceive his version of a romantic Europe.

In his paper Nick Selby argued that Moby Dick is sustained by an ethics of consumption, analysing the variety of metaphors of consumption which Melville proposes so as to assess how far the text goes toward deconstructing its own ‘cannibalistic encycopedism’ (Bersani). Selby further suggested that the playing out of an ethics of consumption is grounded in a notion of abjection and that, following Julia Kristeva, the text can be read as a study in abjection, both consuming and being consumed by the literary, mythic and real whales it depicts.

Postcolonialism and American Multiethnic Literature

Chair: Deborah L. Madsen (South Bank University, London)
Candida Hepworth (University of Wales, Swansea), ‘The Postcolonial Dialectics of Gloria Anzaldœa’s “We Call Them Greasers”‘
Joanna Price (Liverpool John Moores University), ‘Figuring Race and the Commodification of Identity in Toni Morrison’s Jazz’
Susan Forsyth (University of Essex), ‘The Wounded Knee Massacre and the Problem of Indigenous Evidence’

If there was a common theme to this panel it was the exploration of the implications of the idea of ethnic authenticity and the problematic issue of ethnic voice. Candida Hepworth’s paper ‘The Postcolonial Dialectics of Gloria Anzaldœa’s ‘We Call Them Greasers”; Joanna Price on ‘Figuring Race and the Commodification of Identity in Toni Morrison’s Jazz’ and Susan Forsyth’s talk, ‘The Wounded Knee Massacre and the Problem of Indigenous Evidence’ all dealt in some way with the practical difficulties and theoretical complexities of the idea of ethnic authenticity.

Candida Hepworth gave an insightful and penetrating close analysis of a single poem by the Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldœa, ‘We Call Them Greasers’. This poem is notable within the context of the book in which it appears, Borderlands / La Frontera (1987), as being the only poem in which Anzaldœa adopts the voice of the oppressor. There is an intercultural dynamic at work, for the poem’s author is Gloria Anzaldœa not the white male who is narrating the events of this conquest, which is both territorial and sexual; the author is a colonized female, a Chicana, who chooses in this poem to place herself in an inverted relationship of colonizer and colonized. The ‘we’ of the poem refers to the Anglo imperialists who violated the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo by clearing from the land ceded by Mexico in 1848 those ex-Mexican now US citizens who had elected to stay on their lands and relied on the protection of the Treaty. Anzaldœa addresses the violence, the raping and lynching, that was this imperial acquisition of territory. Candida Hepworth analyzed the ways in which Anzaldœa’s crafting of the poem reduces the colonized ‘other’ to the position of subaltern and then deprives them of voice – as a monologue the poem does allow them to speak directly as the Anglo speaker assumes the power to narrate this historical moment which is seen through his colonialist perceptions. Chicano/a literature is commonly conceived as one of the United States’ many ‘resistance literatures’ – resisting the hegemonic ideology of ‘America’, the ‘we’ versus ‘them’. The complex postcolonial inheritance of the Chicano/a, however, is represented as a hybrid cultural consciousness, a colonial dialectic between colonized indigene and Spanish, first, then US, colonizers. The colonial encounter of which this poem speaks clearly illustrates the elements of contest and consort that characterize this dialectic. Candida Hepworth concluded her account of postcolonial dialectic of ‘We Call Them Greasers’ with the observation that the poem articulates multiple acts of conquest – of the woman, of the land, of the ‘other’ – that comprise the Chicano/a postcolonial inheritance.

Joanna Price’s paper situated Toni Morrison’s writing as postcolonial in that it creates a discourse which anticipates a position, for African Americans, beyond that which has been delineated by colonial discourse. Joanna Price argued that the figures which Morrison creates for this position are problematic, specifically, in that they may require a repetition of the essentialism of colonial discourse. The paper examined the way in which Morrison, in Jazz, departs from her usual critique of the effects of white consumer culture on African Americans, by returning to the 1920s as a moment in which the gaze of the consumer appeared to offer the possibility of deconstructing the signifiers of race. Nella Larsen’s Quicksand and Passing were discussed as offering significant intertexts of Morrison’s exploration of this in Jazz. The paper concluded by asking whether Morrison’s use of two figures to deconstruct racial essentialism remains locked in the very visual economy which they are asked to critique: namely, the figure of the ‘wild woman’ which, despite the text’s deconstruction of it, seems to connote an originary blackness associated with femaleness, Nature and the South; and also Morrison’s use of the figure of the visible ‘hybrid’, Golden Gray, to challenge an essentialism which depends upon the fetishization of skin colour.

The fetishization of colour within colonial discourse, the signifiers of race that allow ‘passing’ for white as a strategy of survival in a deeply racist culture, the erasure of ethnic voice within the imperialist discourses of Anglo America – these issues raised by Candida Hepworth and Joanna Price were focussed in Susan Forsyth’s discussion of historical accounts of the Wounded Knee Massacre. The question of evidence and the reliability or authenticity of the accounts given by witnesses to the massacre was heavily prejudiced by racial and ethnic issues. Susan Forsyth showed the ways in which the events leading to the killing were differently construed by Native as opposed to Anglo witnesses and the evidence given by these witnesses was differently evaluated according to their ethnicity. The testimony of Native witnesses like the reservation physician Charles Eastman was regarded as impressionistic and untrustworthy while the testimony of white witnesses was regarded as factual and reliable. Susan Forsyth set out a compelling account of the complicated nature of the historical record which resulted from this biased use of witnesses’ testimony and she concluded by pointing to the ambiguity which still shrouds even the factual representation of the Wounded Knee Massacre. The authenticity of ethnic voice, the voice of the colonized, in the historiography of Wounded Knee is evaluated by the colonizers and according to the rationale of white supremacy, just as Gloria Anzaldœa shows poetically is the case in the representation of the history of the Southwest. The voice of American subalterns – Native, Chicana, and Black – is silenced by the postcolonial conditions under which they seeks to make themselves heard.

Meeting of Scottish Americanists (SASA)

The Founding Meeting of the Scottish Association for the Study of America was held on March 28, 1999 at the University of Glasgow. The association aims to provide a forum in Scotland and beyond for academics, postgraduates, writers, school teachers, and others who have a professional or personal interest in the study of America. The meeting discussed attracting members from several disciplines including history, literature, politics, social science, and cultural studies. Expressions of support had also been received from colleagues active in the fields of economic history and international relations, and from academics in the US and the rest of the UK.

After agreeing the title of the association, its broad aims and objectives, the meeting proceeded to business: setting membership rates at £10 and £5 for the unwaged and postgraduates, with special concessionary rates for life-time subscribers; office-bearers were elected and mandated to draft a constitution.

Prospective members will be contacted with details of the membership scheme and the association’s aims and plans as soon as is possible. There will also be a web site.

The first major event will be a one-day conference for postgraduates to be held at a convenient time and place sometime in 2000. One of the key aims of the association is to provide a foundation to expand graduate studies in Scotland and the North of England. Two postgraduates were elected to the executive committee: Sam Maddra and Kathryn Napier (Glasgow).

For further information please contact:

Colin Nicolson
Secretary SASA
Department of History
University of Stirling
Stirling FK9 4LA

Tel: (01786) 467963
Fax: (01786) 467581
Fax International: +44 1786 467581

Closing Plenary Session

Chair: Simon Newman (Glasgow)
Peter Parish (London), ‘Conflict by Consent: Democratic Will, Popular Commitment and the War for the Union, 1861-1865’

The final session of a long and full conference is not always well attended, especially when delegates face long journeys home, and it was thus a testament to Peter Parish that well over 80 people attended his lecture. Professor Parish pointed out that while Civil War historians have thought and written a good deal about popular support for the war within the Union. While the Confederacy was able to unite to defend hearth and home, the Union could only prevail if the civilian population actively supported a war far away from home that would cost a great deal of many and many lives, and Professor Parish demonstrated the significance of popular commitment to the cause of union. In a wide-ranging lecture that referred to such variables as race, gender, political ideology and identity, and regionalism, Professor Parish shared some of his findings, thereby demonstrating that his work on the subject will tell us much that we did not know about the Civil War.

The Conference Scene

BAAS Annual Conference – Swansea 2000: call for papers

Call for papers for the Annual Conference of the British Association for American Studies hosted by the Department of American Studies University of Wales Swansea, 6th-9th April 2000.

The BAAS Annual Conference for the year 2000 will be hosted by the Department of American Studies at the University of Wales, Swansea from April 6-9. Though there will be no specific or overarching theme for the conference, we hope that the timing of the Conference might help celebrate the millenial year and highlight the historical and ongoing cultural and social ties between Wales and America, as well as showcase the tremendous diversity and strengths of American Studies by featuring interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary papers from as wide a range of disciplines as possible. Papers are therefore welcomed on any American Studies topic, broadly defined.

Swansea, Wales is a culturally diverse and thriving city located at a crossroads between industrial South Wales and areas of outstanding natural beauty that include the mountains of the Brecon Beacons National Park and the long coast lines and remote beaches of the Gower peninsula – all within easy reach of Cardiff and London and generally accessible to the rest of Britain. Plans are 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.

Paper Proposals should not exceed one page and must include a provisional title. If submitted individually these will be organised into appropriate panels; alternatively, panel proposals by two or three paper-givers sharing a common theme may be submitted. Proposals are due by October 1st 1999 and should be addressed, together with any queries or suggestions, to Michael McDonnell, Conference Secretary.

Michael A. McDonnell
Department of American Studies
University of Wales Swansea, SA2 8PP

Tel:+ 44 (0)1792-295 305
Fax:+ 44 (0)1792-295 719

EAAS – Graz 2000

The next biennial conference of the European Association for American Studies (EAAS) will take place in Graz, Austria, April 14-17, 2000. The theme will be: ‘Nature’s Nation’ Reconsidered: American Concepts of Nature from Wonder to Ecological Crisis. Obviously, the theme will be interpreted very broadly (see the call for papers in the BAAS Newsletter, No 79), so the conference should mark the millennial year in a lively manner. By the time you read this, plenary and stream lectures will already have been selected from those submitted in January 1999, but there is still an opportunity for you to offer a paper to a workshop. The workshop titles, with names of convenors, will be announced in the next issue of American Studies in Europe, the EAAS Newsletter. You should submit your proposals directly to the convenor of the workshop that seems most appropriate for your offering.

EAAS web site and other matters

The Graz workshop will be announced on the EAAS web site: where you will find other information on the Association and its activities. EAAS also maintains a very helpful email list, which is looked after by Jaap Verheul of the University of Utrecht ( I should have appeared at the BAAS AGM to report on EAAS, but unfortunately it clashes with the Board meeting of EAAS, being held this year in the Czech Republic. If you have any questions or comments on EAAS, do not hesitate to pass them on to me.

Mick Gidley
School of English
University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT


Report – The American Politics Group, Cambridge

The American Politics Group held its 25th annual conference on January 6th-8th at Selwyn College Cambridge. The conference attracted a wide international audience, consisting of 85 participants from nine countries with a large American contingent of 28 participants. The keynote speaker was Professor Graham Wilson of the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His topic for the John Lees Memorial Lecture was the future of American politics, both foreign and domestic, at the beginning of the 21st century. The topic took particular note of the Clinton impeachment and what it portended for America’s future. The impeachment reached a critical stage during the conference, which kept members scurrying to find televisions in between sessions. The ever vigilant and security conscious porters made the task more sporting by rigorously enforcing limited vacation hours for the common rooms.

The programme, which contained too many participants and papers to mention here, included many panels on both domestic and foreign policy. Panels on domestic affairs included American Historical Foundations and the Supreme Court, The Right in America, Presidential Management of the Message, The Policy and Politics of AmeriCorps: Building a Clinton Legacy, States and Regions, Interest Conflicts, Congress , Parties and Elections, Economic and Social Policy, and Elections and Campaigns. International topics included Foreign Affairs and International Affairs and Domestic Perceptions. Many prominent American scholars came to present papers at the conference. Some notable examples included Professor David Walker’s paper ‘Devolution in America: 1969-1998,’ Professor Joseph Zimmerman’s ‘Citizen Law-Making: The Initiative,’ and Professor John Maltese’s ‘The Communications Strategies of the Clinton Whitehouse.’

The American Politics Group’s November Colloquium will focus on ‘Assessing the Clinton Presidency.’ The colloquium will be held on November 5th at the American Embassy in London. The convenor is Dr. Christopher Bailey of the Department of American Studies at Keele University.

The 26th Annual Conference of the American Politics Group will be held on January 7th-9th, 2000 at Keele University for those wishing a more reasonable and less crowded way to celebrate the new year. The convenor is Dr. John Dumbrell of the Department of American Studies at Keele University, who will accept any proposals for presentations but insists that they NOT contain the word ‘millennium’ in the title.

Jonathan Parker, Department of American Studies, Keele University

Seminar – Clinton Impeachment Trials

Robert Tait, Scotsman correspondent in Washington, D.C., for part of the Clinton impeachment trials, gave a seminar to American Studies and American History students and staff at the Compton Room (American History Library), William Robertson Building, University of Edinburgh, on 9 March 1999. All those present enjoyed a vivid eyewitness account which brought out several central issues relating to the Clinton Presidency, political scandal, and recent American constitutional history.

Report – Muhammad Ali Conference

More than sixty people attended a conference on Muhammad Ali on 29th March at the American Embassy in London. The conference was organised by Ian Ralston of John Moores University Liverpool and Christopher Brookeman, Univeristy of Westminster

In the morning there were two papers:

Christopher Brookeman, University ofWestminster, ‘Float Like a Butterfly, sting like a bee: Muhammad Ali, Norman Mailer and the mythology of boxing’

John C.Walter, Dept of American Ethnic Studies, University of Washington (Seattle), ‘Muhammad Ali: The quintessential American; or how did he do it?

While considering Ali’s importance more generally, Christopher Brookeman gave a fascinating account of Ali’s adoption and manipulation of many traditional stereotypes from the minstrel and melodrama traditions – Ali’s ‘performances’ variously drew on, amongst others, the figure of the crazy coon, the angry buck and the accomodating Uncle Tom. Brookeman then went on to consider Norman Mailer’s famous account of the Ali-Foreman fight (the rumble in the jungle), ‘The Fight’.

John C. Walter then went on to argue that while we tend to celebrate Ali as a thorn in the side of the American establishment (after all, he became a Muslim and refused to fight in Viet Nam), it is more accurate to pinpoint his enduring appeal in his exemplary Americanness. Supremely self-confident and honest, in particular to his own beliefs, he represents all that the ‘true American’ should be. And after all, what Americans like best is success.

In the afternoon, a video link was set up between a British and American panel to further discuss Ali and his legacy. The UK panel of Christopher Brookeman, John C. Walter, Prof Johnella Butler (University of Washington), Ian Ralston and Kasia Boddy (University College London), addressed questions to Al Brown, the legendary boxing promoter, (live from Atlanta) and Jeffrey Sammons, Professor of History, New York University. The discussion covered many different aspects of Ali’s career and legacy – from his impact on today’s boxing culture to the symbolism of his appearance as icon at the Atlanta Olympics. The message of the Oscar-winning ‘While We Were Kings’ (another version of the rumble in the jungle) was keenly debated. While Brookeman praised the film for its postmodern lack of resolution and clear ‘meaning’, Sammons expressed concerns at how little Ali spoke in the film, and how much time was given to the Mailer-Plimpton version of events. In the particular the film’s suggestion that Ali’s victory was due to a fŽticheur’s ‘hex’ provoked an interesting discussion.

The UK panel then took further questions from the audience and the session finished about 4 o’clock, with everyone agreeing that the day had been highly enjoyable and a great success.

The event was widely and enthusiastically reported in the Times, Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, Independent on Sunday and the Liverpool Daily Post. The Independent – 6 April 1999, p.4 – published an extract from Christopher Brookeman’s paper. Radio 5 and GLR Radio (London) also carried reports.

Report – Abroad in the World: Internationalising the Study of American History

In early July, 1998, some two dozen historians from eight countries participated in a conference in Florence on Internationalising the Study of American History. The second in a series of three annual meetings co-sponsored by New York University and the Organisation of American Historians, the conference took place in the elegance of a Tuscan villa, redolent of the errant internationalism of the age of the Grand Tour. Participants, some invited, others selected via a competition, debated what internationalising the study of American History might entail. The aim was to ‘imagine American historical narrative(s) that situate the United States more fully into its larger transnational and intercultural global context, with the intention of revealing more clearly the multiple narratives, time scales, and geographies that constitute the American past.’ Unlike conferences that contribute to established domains of study, this one set out to inaugurate a field. The participants were therefore groping towards, rather than pursuing, a set of organising principles and a thesis, a task that was potentially energising but also a bit perplexing.

This broad charge brought forth a wide variety of proposals and examples of diverse projects. Some general themes did emerge: the keynote address by the University of Chicago’s Prasenjit Duara argued that nations and the concept of nationhood were social constructs and should be treated as historical entities, not natural facts. National histories must be situated in broader geographical, historical and intellectual frameworks. Other participants described approaches that cut across the nation-state as an object of study and as an intellectual precept. These alternatives included regional histories, transnational processes such as colonialism, and biography. The conferees implicitly recognised that analytical categories and markers of identity such as race, ethnicity, class and gender not only shape nations but also transcend their boundaries. They also wrestled with the consequences that the proposed de-centring of the nation might have on historical periodisation. Shifting the centre of gravity away from the history of the USA and of the industrialised nations collectively identified as ‘the West’ would also require the historian to recognise the absence of a universal temporality encompassing the world. If it is acknowledged that concepts such as modernity are local, not universal, in scope, historians might have to adopt more variable, heterogeneous, overlapping and shifting frameworks and time scales.

‘American Exceptionalism’ was the most venerable of our implied intellectual antagonists, so out of fashion that the conference merely registered rather than argued for its passing. Participants also agreed with their predecessors from the previous year’s conference that comparative history carried all the baggage of national histories, if it took the nation-state as a given. Some discussion centred on a perceived decline of scholarly interest in Area Studies following the end of the Cold War, with the suggestion that placing American history in an international frame might help bridge the gap between Area Studies and American Studies.

The kind of project contemplated by the conference appears unexceptionable in many respects and yet vaguely unsettling for a member of the British Association of American Studies. Students of the United States based in Britain may not be challenged to adopt a perspective on the USA unrestricted by its geographical boundaries; gaining an insider’s perspective might, indeed, require greater effort and knowledge on our part. Addressing the implications of internationalisation for American Studies, Robert Gross raised a different challenge in his plenary lecture at the most recent BAAS conference: if the practitioners of an interdisciplinary subject such as ours find the political and geographical foundation of their scholarship eroding and dissolving into the surrounding world, we may wonder what then holds our subject together. As practitioners of many methodologies, we shall have to re-think the common ground we share if we join in reconceiving our object of study.

The Florence conferees offered some comfort to those disquieted by the prospect of a drastic reconceptualisation of intellectual domains. They recognised that doing away with the concept of the nation and the study of nations is an implausible and perhaps even an undesirable goal: construct or not, the nation is a stubborn historical fact, and many scholars’ work will continue to live happily within its bounds. Nor should one unreservedly celebrate liberation from the ideological hegemony of the nation-state, even if such an unlikely prospect were achieved. The concept of the nation has, after all, been deployed as a rallying point for democratic movements and for anti-imperialist struggle; nationhood can therefore be articulated as the common ground for an emancipatory politics.

Nations are not only symbols but also political actors with their own, inescapably material, instruments, such as military arsenals. In light of this, the most surprising absence from the conference was any substantial contribution from specialists in diplomatic and military history, fields that perforce combine a transnational perspective with attention to the nation-state. Indeed, there was scant contribution from practitioners of political history. Such specialists might have provided an important counterpoint to the sub-disciplines, such as social and cultural history, represented at the conference. Although the movement of capital and information may follow increasingly global currents, nations still exert an enormous gravitational pull in shaping their flow and accumulation. Most legal jurisdictions and sovereignties remain determinedly national in their scope and most armed forces primarily national in their allegiance.

The staying power of nation-states betrayed itself in a conference on international law taking place simultaneously in Rome. In a telling irony, while the Florence conference was broadening Americanists’ historical perspectives to embrace the world, the U.S. delegates in Rome were refusing to subscribe their nation to the newly forming International Court of Justice. They stated that they wished to shield their citizens from the jurisdiction of an international court on the grounds that this would expose Americans to frivolous prosecutions or to retribution by ‘rogue nations.’ The more serious and unspoken danger, however, is that the United States or its citizens might face bona fide prosecutions for international crimes, something that American power will not countenance. The threat of prosecution for war crimes is now increasingly being used by the remaining great power(s) as an instrument of policy. At this historical moment, we are told that dictators must tremble before the long and enduring reach of international justice. But this internationalisation of justice is frankly non-reciprocal and asymmetrical, because the U.S. government will not allow its uniformed citizens or officials to submit to the nascent international tribunal.

Another kind of imbalance afflicts the project on internationalising the study of American history. If it is still ‘American history,’ how international is it? This tension was embodied in the composition as well as the title of the conference. Not only were a large majority of the participants Americanists; most were Americans and most worked in U.S. institutions. There were no Arab or African participants and only one from Latin America (the attendance of the Cuban delegate was prevented by logistical problems). The conference funding came from the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Mellon Foundation. The organising institutions were American. Thus, although the conference took place in Italy, most of the talk came from Americans as they set the agenda for the internationalisation of the study of their nation. For the traffic in ideas to be more effectively internationalised, the challenge may be achieving international sponsorship and a better balanced membership. Perhaps organisations such as BAAS and the European Association for American Studies might assume a role in shaping the ongoing project.

The conference chair, New York University’s Thomas Bender, intends the third conference in summer 1999 to focus on exemplary work taking up the discussion to this point. A further outcome will be the publication of a selection of the papers presented at the three conferences. A report will be presented to the Organisation of American Historians, and thence to the world, putting the case for ‘widening the lens of American history’ and making appropriate practical recommendations. Early in the Florence conference, one participant speculated that this project might define a new paradigm for the study of American history. Comparing the conference papers to Frederick Jackson Turner’s presentation in Chicago in 1893, a speaker on the final day gently deflated this notion by pointing out that new paradigms tend to be rather less tentative and diffuse in their formulation than were the speculative discussions in Florence. In the end, the conference participants adopted a more modest goal, reformist rather than revolutionary, recognising that the nation-state will persist as a focus for historical study even within an augmented international frame.

Patrick Hagopian, Lancaster University

Borderlands’, University of Wales Swansea

The Department of American Studies at the University of Wales Swansea hosted a special conference on American ‘Borderlands,’ co-funded by the US Embassy, held at the University of Wales Conference Centre at Gregynog, in Newtown, Wales, 26-28th April 1999. Speakers scheduled included Rolando Hinojosa, Gary Arroyo, Candida Hepworth, David Taylor, and Jack Laurence. The Conference was of interest to students and scholars alike. For details, please contact Phil Melling, David Taylor or Candida Hepworth at:

Department of American Studies
University of Wales
Swansea, SA2 8PP, UK.

Fax: 01792-295719
Tel: 01792-295305
E -mail:

EABI Conference Announcement

Early Americanists in Britain and Ireland Colloquium, 28-29th June 1999, Brunel University, London.

Attention all Early Americanists:

After further arrangements and confirmation of details, we are pleased to be able to announce that there will be a Colloquium for Early Americanists in Britain and Ireland at the end of June. The gathering will be held at the Uxbridge Campus of Brunel University (hosted and arranged by Kenneth Morgan), on 28-29th June 1999.

The Colloquium, generously funded by Professor Tony Badger and the Mellon Fund at Cambridge University, will run for two days with consecutive panel sessions and several keynote addresses or special roundtables. We invite all early Americanists in Europe or the US to participate in the Colloquium, details of which can be found at the Brunel University website. The final details of the programme will be announced in early April, but will include both graduate students and scholars in the early stages of their careers more advanced scholars around the UK and visiting scholars from the US and abroad.

Please feel free to get in touch with one of the organisers listed below for further details or questions or if you would like to find out about accommodation possibilities. In the meantime, we hope that you will be able to join us in June and help to make the Colloquium a success. We look forward to hearing from you.

Professor Kenneth Morgan
Brunel University
300 St. Margarets Road
Twickenham, TW1 1PT

UK Fax: +44 (0)181-891-8270
Phone: +44 (0)181-891-0121, ext. 2260

Mary Geiter
9 Woodcrest Dr. Conestoga,
Pennsylvania 17516, USA

Tel: +1-717-871-0723

Michael McDonnell
Department of American Studies
University of Wales
Swansea SA2 8PP

UK Fax: +44 (0)1792-295719
Tel: +44 (0)1792-295305

Note: Of especial interest to some is the fact that the Colloquium will be held immediately before the Anglo-American Conference of Historians, whose theme this year is ‘Race and Ethnicity’ and whose key speaker is Professor David Brion Davis. That conference will be held from 30 June through to the 2 July 1999 at the Institute of Historical Research in London, and full details can be requested from Dr. Debra Birch, IHR, Senate House, Malet St. London, WCIE 7HU. Fax: 0171-436-2183. E-mail:

Call for Papers – Athens 2000

Hellenic Association for American Studies May 25-28, 2000 University of Athens, Athens, Greece

The theme of the conference will be: Culture Agonistes: Text Against Text

Papers are invited to address current debates going on in the United States and Europe in a variety of disciplines in community and the academy – in literature, linguistics, literary theory and cultural studies.

Suggested topics are: American feminism and postmodernism, postcolonialism and postmodernism, Marxism and postmodernism: contentions and contests; the debatable texts of multiculturalism; center and periphery; the changing relations of philosophy and politics in an era of deconstructionism; gendered gazes; competing texts in American film theory; ways of reading literary texts: new horizons and battles.

Closing date for proposals is October 1st, 1999. Please send a one-page proposal and a brief biographical statement to:

Professor Robert Crist
University of Athens
School of Philosophy
Department of English Studies
University Campus
Zografou 157 84

Fax:00301 7248 979


Associate Prof. Theodora Tsimpouki
University of Athens
School of Philosophy
Department of English Studies
University Campus
Zografou 157 84

Fax:00301 7248 979

Colloquium: The David BruceCentre for American Studies, Keele University

The Centre is planning to hold its seventh international colloquium in September 2000 on the subject of Writing Southern Poverty Between the Wars. There will be a limited number of places available for those wishing to attend. Inquiries should be addressed either to Professor Richard Godden or Dr Martin Crawford, David Bruce Centre for American Studies, Keele University, Keele, Staffs. ST5 5BG, UK.

Selected papers from the previous two colloquia are due to be published shortly. They are Robert Garson and Stuart S Kidd, eds., The Roosevelt Years: New Essays on the United States, 1933-45 (Edinburgh University Press) and Alan J Rice and Martin Crawford, eds., Liberating Sojourn: Frederick Douglass and Transatlantic Reform (University of Georgia Press).

News from American Studies Centres

The David Bruce Centre for American Studies, Keele University

A new Occasional Papers series is being published under the imprint of the Centre. The series will consist of working papers or extended essays that may form part of a larger work at a later stage. The first essay, rather appropriately, will be ‘”I Begin to Think of Myself as a Marco Polo”: David Bruce in China, 1973-1974’ by Pricilla Roberts.

The David Bruce Centre for American Studies has continued to build up its collections in African American History. Recent Acquisitions include further runs of the Chicago Defender, which now runs from 1982-present.

The Centre is able to provide substantial contributions towards research travel for registered research students. Twelve awards have been made since March 1998. Inquiries about research opportunities are welcome.

Steve Mills, The David Bruce Centre, Keele University

US National Archives

Readers interested in updated information on the US National Archives following last year’s article might like to know that the National Coordinating Committee for the Promotion of History at> keeps an eye on developments. A recent ‘NCC Washington Update’ includes an item on how the ‘National Archives Affirms the Importance of A Strong Regional Archives System’. To subscribe to the ‘NCC Washington Update’ send an e-mail message to according to the following model: SUBSCRIBE H-NCC firstname lastname, institution. Foreign researchers who do not intent to visit suburban Washington DC (now home of Archives II) would also be well advised to contact the National Archives’ own website> or email about what is available both electronically and at regional sites throughout the USA.

Steve Mills, The David Bruce Centre, Keele University

Robinson Library, University of Newcastle

Robinson Library, University of Newcastle, has received a bequest of £8 million and a collection of books, many of which seem to be Americana. In future there will be three research studentships (Robinson Bequest Studentships) to support research in the special collections and other areas of the Robinson Library. For further information contact: Professor Judie Newman (

Cold War Archive, Liverpool University

Cold War Archive: We are building up a collection at Liverpool of Cold War cultural material which will include popular fiction of the period, memoirs, journals, etc. If any BAAS members are clearing their shelves or attics and want to get rid of any books, pamphlets, etc. please contact: David Seed at the English Department, Liverpool University on 0151-794-2723; or via e-mail

History of Women’ Microfilm Collection at The British Library

The British Library has recently acquired Research Publications International’s ‘History of Women’ microfilm set. This collection contains more than 8,500 books, 2,000 pamphlets, 100 periodical titles, 80,000 manuscript pages, and photographs taken from American collections of Women’s Studies materials. The collection includes books and pamphlets from most of the Western hemisphere, but has a strong American slant. There is material on women in the American reform movements from the Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library at Radcliffe; on the settlement house movement, and turn of the century American reform from the Sophia Smith collection at Smith College, and on women in the Western movement from the Ida Rust McPherson collection at Scripps College. The collection also reproduces material from the New York Public Library, Boston Public Library, the Widener Library and several others. Both the guide to the microfilm collection (Ram 305.4) and the microfilms themselves (Mic.b.955/ ) may be consulted in the Rare Books Reading Room at the British Library.

In Memoriam

Harry Allan, 1917-1998

The founders of BAAS were distinguished in many ways, and not least for their longevity. In a society established in 1955, it is a remarkable fact that, with the single sad exception of Marcus Cunliffe, all its former chairmen were still living at the beginning of 1998. We had begun to think that they were ageless, but now, in the space of a few months, we have lost two of them, Harry Allen and Herbert Nicholas. The founders had much in common. Few if any of them were trained as Americanists; they were ‘converts’ to the study of the United States. Almost all of them were profoundly influenced by the experience of the Second World War. All of them battled bravely to convince the academic establishment of the day of the need to develop the serious study of the United States in British schools, colleges and universities. Their work was infused with a strong sense of being missionaries for American studies.

Harry Allen shared all of these characteristics. His wartime experiences (which included the award of the Military Cross for outstanding courage in action) instilled in him a full appreciation of the crucial role of the United States in world affairs. As Fellow and Tutor in Modern History at Lincoln College Oxford from 1946 to 1955, he did his utmost to introduce American history into his teaching. In 1955, he was appointed to the Commonwealth Fund Chair of American History at University College London, at that time the only established chair in the subject in any British university. When interviewed for the chair, he was required to produce page proofs of his book on the British-American relationship in order to convince the appointing committee that the book was not merely ‘forthcoming’ but ‘imminent’. It was entirely appropriate that his first major publication was his Great Britain and the United States, a massive history of the British American relationship which reflected its author’s deep conviction of the necessity of cordial British-American relations. A revised version of the more analytical sections of the book appeared later under the title of The Anglo-American Relationship since 1783. His other publications from this period included Bush and Backwoods (1959), a comparative study of Australia and the United States frontier societies, and The United States of America (1964), a brisk and lively introductory survey of American history.

During this same period from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s, Harry Allen was also in the forefront of the campaign to advance the cause of American history and American studies. He was an active member of the group which founded BAAS in 1955, and, having been instrumental in the establishment of the Institute of United States Studies at the Unversity of London in 1965-66, he became its first Director. In 1971, he accepted the invitation to move to a chair of American Studies at the University of East Anglis, and there he remained until his retirement in 1980. At UEA, he saw himself as a stabilising and moderating influence in the early, heady days of a new University, and his affability and adaptability, as well as his zest for academic politics, were great assets in this very different academic environment.

It was in the 1970s, too, that he made his greatest impact on the national and international academic secne. As an active and energetic chairman of BAAS from 1974 to 1977, he presided over its continuing development with much skill, and sought to build bridges between older and younger generations of its membership. Young members, perhaps attending their first conference, were sometimes surprosed to be accosted by the chairman, eager to seek their views and put them at their ease – always full of good intentions, if sometimes in a manner akin to that of the orderly officer asking the other ranks if they had any complaints. (Harry’s military experience stayed with him, and some of his early memos to colleagues at the Institute read rather like orders of the day!) In the 1970s, too, he took up a new cause, and, with the backing of colleagues at East Anglia, he injected new life into the European Association for American Studies, where he served as president from 1976 to 1980. This was a surprising turn of events for a confirmed ‘Americanist’ like Harry Allen, but he plunged into this new task with great enthusiasm, and he eventually coased his successors in BAAS into committing themselves to EAAS.

Harry Allen held a number of key positions at critical times, and in all these roles, he made a genuine contribution and made a real difference. But the measure of the man lay not only in the offices whch he held, but also in his engaging personality and in his qualities of character and leadership. He was a courteous, generous, good-natured man, with a sunny disposition, but also with deep convictions and a strong sense of what was right and proper and fair. He relished academic gossip and intrigue, enjoyed the conference circuit, and was one of the pioneer academic frequent flyers across the Atlantic. His inaugural lecture at UCL in 1955 may serve as his lasting testament as a British Americanist. ‘It is no more than a rudimentary common-sense’, he said, ‘to do our utmost to understand – if only to help us influence – this powerful nation… We must study the history of the United States: we dare do no other’. In his conclusion, he invoked the words of the Declaration of Independence, as he pleaded for better understanding of the United States as a nation which would inevitable have an overwhelming effect upon ‘our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honour’. some of his words and sentiments may have a slightly old-fashioned ring, but the essential message remians clear and relevant, and will endure along with the cherished memory of the man himself.

Peter J Parish, London

Harry Cranbrook Allen MC: born 23 March 1917; Fellow and Tutor in Modern History, Lincoln College, Oxford, 1946-55; Commonwealth Fund Professor of American History, University College London, 1955-71; Director, Institute of United States Studies, 1966-71; Professor of American Studies, University of East Anglia, 1971-80; married to Mary Kathleen Allen (died 1992), (one son, two daughters); died 21 June 1998.

Geoffrey Herbert Moore (1920-1999), An Apprecation

Members of BAAS will have been saddened to learn of the death (on 5 February 1999) of Geoffrey Moore, GF Grant Professor (Emeritus) of American Literature at the University of Hull, and one of the founding fathers of American Studies in Britain. Born in South London and educated at Mitcham Grammar School, he spent the war years at the Air Ministry and in the RAF. He then read English at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, including a brief period at the Sorbonne (where he met Samuel Beckett) and received a First in the English Tripos in 1946. After graduating from Cambridge, Geoffrey Moore taught at several American universities, including the University of Wisconsin (Madison), Tulane, the University of Kansas, the University of New Mexico, and Harvard. He also produced a radio programme in New Orleans, through which he formed a life-long friendship with Gore Vidal.

On his return to Britain in the 1950s, Moore became an editor and producer for BBC Television, was a regular contributor to The Times Literary Supplement, and was an Extra Mural Lecturer for London and Cambridge Universities. In 1955, Marcus Cunliffe brought him to the newly-established Department of American Studies at the University of Manchester, where together they devised an innovative and imaginative syllabus.

In 1962 Moore was appointed as GF Grand Professor of American Literature and Head of the Department of American Studies at the University of Hull, where he remained for 20 years. Already firmly convinced that ‘American Studies’ offered a legitamate and fertile field of academic enquiry, Geoffrey Moore proceeded to build up the American literature holdings of the Brynmor Jones Library, increased the staff of the Department of American Studies, and attracted a succession of visiting Fulbright Scholars to Hull. He was also the moving force behind the establishment of a student exchange scheme – part of the Single Honours programme which required the department’s undergraduates to study at an American university during their third year.

Geoffrey Moore’s own contributions to the field of American literature lay in his singular talents as an anthologist. He edited The Penguin Book of Modern American Verse (1954), which was acclaimed by Roy Fuller as ‘one of the very few creative and wholly satisfying anthologies of verse published since the thirties’. The revised edition (1983) was praised by Richard Ellman for its catholicity and the accompanying ‘intellegent comentary [on] a representative group of American poets’. American Literature: A Representative Anthology of American Writing from Colonial Times to the Present (1964), was Geoffrey Moore’s magnum opus, and admirably fulfilled his intention ‘to provide for non-American readers a sort of ‘Beowulf to Virginia Woolf’ of American Literature’ – at a time when American texts were either not readily available or inordinately expensive.

Following his retirement from Hull in 1982, Geoffrey Moore continued to preach his fundamentalist gospel of the essential ‘American-ness’ of American Literature to the converted and the unconverted. He edited the Penguin edition of the works of Henry James, and reviewed frequently for the Financial Times.

Never an ‘academic’ in the conventional sense of the word, Geoffrey Moore was a great populariser and promulgator of American Studies. He assiduously cultivated the friendships of successive Cultural Attaches at the American Embassy, soliciting funds for visiting lecturers and books for the library. He also (successfully) proposed James Baldwin, Mary McCarthy and Robert Lowell as recipients of honorary degrees from the University of Hull.

Frequently absent from Hull on lecture tours – he never established a permanent residence in the city – Geoffrey Moore unashamedly relished the ‘good life’: high-powered cars, the company of authors, playwrights and poets, the bright lights of London and other capital cities, the comforts of American faculty clubs, and the Spartan regimes of the ‘health farms’ to which he periodically retired after his return (suspiciously tanned) from international engagements. Geoffrey Moore’s character and behaviour displayed – in Michael Woolf’s apt phrase – a ‘nonconformism and a persistent Bohemianism’ which delighted his admirers and annoyed his detractors. His passing has deprived the community of British Americanists of one of its more idosyncratic and colourful figures.

John White, University of Hull


Memorial Service: Professor Geoffrey Moore

A memorial service for Professor Geoffrey Moore will be held in London in June. If you would like to receive an invitation, please contact Mike Woolf at: or on fax: 0181 441 0108.

Michael Woolf Director Syracuse University London Centre 24 Kensington Park Gardens London W11 2QU. Tel: 0171 229 0005 Fax: 0171 792 0791

Folksinger, David Rovics, Tours Europe

David Rovics, a Boston, Massachusetts-based folksinger and songwriter, is planning a tour of performances around Europe soon. For history clubs (or other interested clubs and academic departments), he offers a presentation on the role of music and song in the social movements of twentieth-century American history. This presentation can focus specifically on a time period or movement with which a particular program might be involved, or it can cover broad historical ground, from the Wobblies and the rest of the labor movement of the early twentieth century, to the student, anti-war, and civil rights movements of the 1960’s and beyond.

On and off campus, he also plays frequently for activist groups and music clubs, singing original songs and songs of other contemporary songwriters about contemporary social realities. The songs are those of and about modern-day struggles, from saving the last of the redwoods to living in a downsized economy to lifting sanctions against Iraq.

As a performer, groups with which Rovics has been involved include the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC), School of the Americas Watch, Earth First!, Concerned Friends and Family of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the Green Party, the Labor Party, the New Party, many different labor union locals, and many others. Campuses on which he has performed include Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Penn State, University of Georgia, University of Oregon, Washington State University, Earlham College, Loras College, Calvin College, Oberlin College, and many others.

For more information, please contact:


Tel: (617) 747-4460

P.O. Box 995 Jamaica Plain, MA 02130 USA

Forum: ‘Difficult as I Can Make it’: The Fiction of William Gaddis (1922-1998)

William Gaddis, who died of prostate cancer in December of 1998 aged 75, was one of the most admired but least read of innovative post-war American novelists. Because of the demanding nature of his fiction, Gaddis never had a large readership. When a character in J R (1975) is told his work in progress ‘sounds a little difficult’, he responds, ‘Difficult as I can make it’. Because of the sheer bulk of his best work, he remains largely absent from university curricula. In view of this, I would like to offer an outline of his fiction and suggest some of its qualities.

A writer of sometimes forbidding difficulty, his monumental first novel of 1955, The Recognitions is an ambitious and deeply allusive work of nearly one thousand pages which takes the theme of art forgery, counterfeiting and fraud as a grim metaphor for contemporary social and political relations. By turns comic and demonic, this fathomlessly bizarre novel abounds in strange incidents, not least the sacrifice of an ape, self-castration and post-crematorial cannibalism. It met with mostly bewildered reviews and sank without trace. Over the years however, it gained a following and a number of critics came to see it as possibly the greatest American novel of the century, a Janus-faced text that looks back in its complexity to the great modernists such as Joyce and Faulkner and forward to the postmodern American writers on whom Gaddis was a shaping influence, Thomas Pynchon and Don De Lillo.

Gaddis was born in Manhattan, New York City in 1922. In the early 1940s, he attended Harvard but left without a degree. After working as a fact-checker at The New Yorker in the mid-1940s, he travelled to Europe, North Africa and South America and wrote his first novel. Published when he was thirty-three, The Recognitions is at the very heart of his enviable literary reputation. In a carefully wrought and densely-woven series of plots involving upwards of fifty characters across three continents, we follow the adventures of Wyatt Gwyon, son of a clergyman who rejects the ministry in favour of the call of the artist. His quest is to find significance and some form of order in the world. His initial ‘failure’ as an artist leads him not to copy but to paint in the style of the past masters, who had found the kind of order and beauty for which Wyatt searches. His talent for forgery is exploited by a group of unscrupulous critics and businessmen who hope to profit by passing his works off as original old masters. As the novel develops, these art forgeries become a profound metaphor for all kinds of other frauds, counterfeits and fakery: the aesthetic, scientific, religious, sexual and personal. Towards the end, Wyatt seems to wrench something authentic from the simulacra he has produced. The nature of his revelation, however is highly ambiguous and is hedged about by images of madness and hallucination, which disturb simple distinctions between real and authentic, between faith and fakes.

Recently married and with a young family, Gaddis needed to find work and began a twenty-year career in business, writing speeches for corporate executives and scripts for government films. By 1975, and with two failed marriages, Gaddis’s glacial rate of production yielded his second and most demanding novel, the bitterly comic J R. The intervening years had seen The Recognitions gaining influential admirers and the publication of his second novel marked the beginning of a reassessment of his work. J R consists of a huge Babel of unattributed dialogue. It is a satire on corporate America and tells the story of the eleven-year-old schoolboy JR Vansant who builds an enormous economic empire from his school’s public phone booth, an empire that touches everyone in the novel, just as money – the getting of it, worry about the the lack of it, the desire for it – shapes a great deal of the characters’ waking and dreaming lives The novel lays before us in immense detail, in the very grain of the human voice, the alienation that is part and parcel of a world in which our innermost feelings have been commodified.

J R met with critical acclaim and won the National Book Award in 1976. From this point on Gaddis found it increasingly easy to win major grants, endowments and awards that allowed him to write virtually full-time. The 1980s saw the first full-length study of Gaddis to appear and a flurry of articles addressing the complexities of the recent J R. Gaddis’s third novel in thirty years, Carpenter’s Gothic (1985) was greeted with even warmer praise and at a manageable two-hundred odd pages, marked Gaddis’s entry into the book-buying public’s consciousness. Concerned with the media and religious fundamentalism, it is a profoundly bleak novel, deeply pessimistic about the possibilities of human happiness or creative fulfilment, but is energised by its withering satire and Gaddis’s fine ear for speech. While Carpenter’s Gothic picks up and develops themes from Gaddis’s earlier fiction, this much shorter and relatively accessible novel proved the most commercially and critically successful work of the three he had thus far published. It is, however, his least characteristic and his least artistically successful, and it is a shame that because of its relative brevity, it is the first of his novels to which curious readers turn.

The 1990s saw the publication of a number of specialist studies of Gaddis’s work. His fiction was read in the light of influential Continental and postmodern literary theory and it became obligatory to deal with his novels in any survey of innovative post-war American fiction. So, while 1994 brought only his fourth novel in four decades, A Frolic of His Own, his oeuvre stood at a substantial two and a half thousand pages. Gaddis’s last novel is about the culture of litigation in America. It won the 1995 National Book Award, was widely and generously reviewed and Gaddis, who until then had protected his privacy as staunchly as a Salinger or a Pynchon, agreed to be interviewed by the press both in America and abroad. A Frolic of His Own follows a series of litigations through the courts and it is the discrepancy between the ideal of justice and the reality of the law that is Gaddis’s subject. For Gaddis, the theory of justice is a beautiful, ordered system we have constructed to ward off or minimise the chaos and contingency of existence. The practice of law however, is for him ‘a carnival of disorder’, a self-sustaining system of legalese and a conspiracy against the people run for the benefit of a self-serving legal profession.

The novel tells the farcical but horribly believable story of Oscar Crease, a college instructor who is suing both a film company and himself. Firstly, he is convinced that a Hollywood mogul has plagiarised an unpublished play of his about the American Civil War and turned it into a blood-and-guts blockbuster. Secondly, he has managed to get himself run over by his own car while hotwiring it and through the insurance company, he is claiming damages against himself. In a virtuoso piece of structural parallelism, Oscar’s Civil War play revolves around the idea that a soldier who sends out substitutes during the war to fight on his behalf for both sides becomes convinced that the substitutes met and killed one another in battle; a ghostly form of suicide. Finally,the law is about the validity of certain forms of interpretation and about who possesses the power to enforce them. This is at the core of this remarkable novel.

Gaddis’s novels are basically satires; they are about money and are relentless in their criticism of the way contemporary capitalism corrupts and distorts human creativity and personal relationships. Gaddis’s novels amount to something much more than this though, for his bitter satires are woven into immensely elaborate and carefully wrought texts that work at a variety of levels. Gaddis has been called ‘the presiding genius of post-war fiction’. His concern with the detrimental effects of the desire for money links him to Twain, Henry James, Dreiser and Fitzgerald, while many of the most important American novelists writing today, Don De Lillo for example, have acknowledged the influence of Gaddis’s fiction on their own work. In Carpenter’s Gothic, a character speaks of ‘books that erode absolute values by asking questions to which they offer no answers’. This is very close to what Gaddis’s fiction attempts, and close too to the work of two of the greatest American novelists, Hawthorne and Melville. In rejecting the easy affirmations by which most of us live, Gaddis knew he would be writing (as one of his characters says) ‘for a very small audience’.

Peter Dempsey, University of Sunderland

Gaddis’s novels are published by Penguin in Britain. Carpenter’s Gothic is out of print here but is available from Penguin in the US.

Peter Dempsey is at present working on a study of William Gaddis.

Robin Berrington: A Farewell

The following farewell speech was given by Robin Berrington, retiring Cultural Attache at the US Embassy.

’32 years. What a career — from that first assignment in a remote provincial capital in northeast Thailand to London — with stops in Tokyo, Dublin and Washington in between. And what memories. In Thailand in the late-sixties I worked with a counter-insurgency radio station in an effort to prevent another Vietnam from breaking out; I visited remote villages that had never seen foreigners before, usually by jeep, but sometimes by boat and on footÑespecially in the rainy season when the roads simply disappeared. Once we had to sneak out of a village under the cover of darkness when we learned anti-government terrorists were on their way to ambush us. It was dangerous, exciting, and looking back, I wonder how I found the nerve to do it. In Ireland in the late 70’s, as press attaché, I traveled more back roads and by-ways, but the only hostile natives I observed there was when the pubs closed. I drank more Guinness than I can remember, met American politicians with questionable Irish ancestry, enjoyed the fabled Irish hospitality, and wrote a controversial Christmas letter that led to my leaving the country in 48 hours with the tabloid media in hot pursuit. Probably the Thai terrorists would have been gentler.

But, most of my time overseas was spent in Japan — 16 years in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s — a country I had first come to know as a student in Tokyo in the early 60’s. After a few years, it became almost a second home. Doing a variety of press and cultural jobs, I did not hesitate to take advantage of all the opportunities that came my way. When visiting opera or ballet companies needed Western faces to fill costumes on stage, I ‘made my debut’ with the Vienna State Opera, Royal Ballet, Metropolitan Opera and La Scala, among others. I can even reveal that a special part was especially created for me by the all-male Ballet Trockadero de Monte Carlo in their new production of ‘The Pharaoh’s Daughter!’ After a reception I hosted for them, they invited me to go on stage. I said I could never get away with wearing a tutu. They replied it would be no problem. But, when I learned I was to be a eunuch with a costume consisting only of a skull cap, a small towel with a velcro fastener, and lots of body make up, I should have gone for the tutu. I also came in 2nd place in a nationwide sake tasting competition, hosted the visits of Big Bird and Mickey Mouse to the embassy, played a clandestine role in the defection of a Soviet opera singer to the U.S., (eat your heart out, Les Patterson), dressed up as Daffy Duck at an embassy July 4th party, took part in a sword fight in a charity performance of Kabuki drama, ran a contemporary music festival featuring over the years the Kronos Quartet, Michael Torke, Lou Harrison, and other well known Japanese and American musicians, attended the investiture ceremony of a sumo grand champion wrestler, was best man at a Japanese wedding, and endured numerous earthquakes, typhoons, and hangovers — thanks again to all that sake.

Obviously I have not suffered from boredom over the past three years here in the UK either. With all the cultural and educational comings and goings it would be impossible to list all the highlights. But how could I forget the Encaenia ceremonies at Oxford where the dons in academic robes looked like tropical birds in full plumage, or the flight back from the Duxford American Air Museum when on approach to London we could see the spectacle of the scarlet and gold of the setting sun reflected off the Thames and Houses of Parliament…or the thrill of the opening night of Sadler’s Wells, the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham and the magnificent new British Library, and the premiere of the new Elgar 3rd symphony. I danced in white tie and tails at the queen’s diplomatic dinner at Buckingham Palace (Fred Astaire look out), and took many glorious weekend walks in the Chilterns or along the Thames. I was honored to read out presidential greetings at a wonderful dinner for Arthur Miller’s 80th birthday at the University of East Anglia. There were memorable evenings like the Trinity College concert in the chapel at the Royal Naval College in Greenwich, the many exciting eveings at the BBC Proms or those delightful ‘lost American musicals’ at the Barbican every summer. Or emotional gatherings like the reconciliation service at Coventry Cathedral. Of course, there was the odd event to remind me life in London is like other placesÑI was mugged in Deptford, my house in Little Venice was burglarized, and I was witness to a stabbing on the Bakerloo line. But they serve to give what I like to call a certain texture to life. More important were the happy memories — like the delightful John Cage MusicCircus at the Barbican, the idyllic atmosphere of the Dartington music festival, meeting my heroes, Wallace and Gromit, in Bristol, welcoming the new batch of Fulbright scholars to Britain or the embassy’s July 4th party when we all dressed up in cowboy outfits. Indeed, there is probably a wonderful story associated with each one of you. That is why you are here. I just wish I had the time to repeat them all.

In summing up, the foreign service has enabled me to meet presidents and prime ministers, radical students and Communist terrorists, orchestra conductors and movie stars, emperors and queens (some of the latter in places other than palaces). I have participated in ancient rituals and festivals, judged beauty pageants, travelled to remote areas, eaten exotic foods (like spotted dick or bubble and squeak), battled fellow and foreign bureaucrats, and crossed the oceans of the world more times than I can remember. Dull it never was. But soon it will be over and I must turn in my black diplomatic passport. With feelings that are a mix of relief and regret — not unlike seeing your new car go over a cliff with your mother-in-law inside — I will sleep in, be free of the diplomatic implications of what I say or do, decide my own schedule, read some books, visit some friends, and undertake activities I have long put aside due to other, more pressing, official duties. In a life where change has been the one constant, this will be the biggest change of all.

I thank all of you for helping to make my stay in London as enjoyable as it has been. Whatever the politics or economics of a place, it is the people that make the experience, and you have succeeded marvelously in giving me quite an experience. Several years back when I saw Hillary Clinton here in London only a few months after I had escorted her about Tokyo, she exclaimed, ‘Robin, you must feel like you died and went to heaven.’ She was right. This heavenly place is now a part of my life, and I hope I am the better for it.

But now it is time to go. In closing, let me quote George du Maurier:

‘A little work, a little play, to keep us going — and so good day A little warmth, a little light, of love’s bestowing — and so good night A little fun to match the sorrow of each day’s growing — and so good morrow A little trust that when we die we reap our sowing, and so goodbye.'”

Book Reviews

Gender, Ethnicity and Sexuality in Contemporary American Film by Jude Davies and Carol R. Smith

Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 1987, pp156,£12.95, ISBN 1 85331 174 X Pb.

In this book Jude Davies and Carol Smith contend that the period since the late 1980s ‘has seen considerable penetration of non-white, non-straight,and non-male filmmakers into the Hollywood mainstream.'(pp1-2) The authors argue that both contemporary Hollywood and independent films have explicitly engaged with ‘the discourses of identity politics’ operating elsewhere in American society (p3), and, more precisely, that ‘(t)he interest in fragmentary and unstable identity that developed outside mainstream representations in the late 1980s and early 1990s is now discernible in Hollywood productions.’ (p9) Each of the three chapters deals with the intersection of discourses on gender, ethnicity and sexuality in a small group of films, demonstrating both the fragmentation and instability of ‘the centre’ (inhabited by the white heterosexual middle class male) and the process by which ‘othering’, that is the foregrounding and neutralization or rejection of alternative constructions of identity, works to re-establish asense of the centre, albeit a tenuous and illusory one. Chapter 1 examines several Michael Douglas films and the reassertion of a crisis-ridden white masculinity in terms of family and paternity. Chapter 2 discusses a number of films which deal with the construction of African American identities and histories, ranging from the black independent production Daughters of the Dust to the ‘new racism’ of Grand Canyon. Chapter 3 deals with homosexuality in films ranging from independent documentaries to Hollywood hits such as Philadelphia.

While the authors make an effort to contextualize many of the chosen films in terms of the intentions of filmmakers and of developments in American society at large, the chapters mostly consist of outlines of various critical and theoretical positions and of film interpretations, which are both intriguing and revealing. Without any sustained consideration of production and reception contexts, however, the authors’ revelations about the hidden meanings of the chosen films appear to be somewhat arbitrary, as is the selection of films to be interpreted. One can’t help thinking that yet another intricate interpretive move might well reveal an even deeper subtext, and a different selection of films could easily represent a very different ideological trend in contemporary American film.

While Davies and Smith’s work represents a particular school of thought within Film Studies, it is perhaps unfortunate that this book is offered to undergraduate students in American Studies as an introduction to the study of Hollywood films. According to the cover blurb, the ‘BAAS Paperbacks’, of which this books is one, are meant to be ‘clearly written introductions designed to offer students definitive short surveys of key topics in thefield.’ Yet, already the book’s first two sentences would appear to lack the required clarity: ‘This book is not about the representation of various groups of Americans, defined in terms of gender, ethnicity and sexuality. Instead, we are concerned with the uses of cinematic images of identity.'(p1) What is the difference between ‘representation’ and ‘use’? What exactly is a ‘cinematic image of identity’? How can it be used? And by whom? Underwhat circumstances and to what end? The authors seem to assume that the readers already know the answers to these questions.

In conclusion, the book’s narrow focus on cultural theory and textual interpretation and on what may only be a minor trend in contemporary American cinema as well as the author’s tendency to jump right into the middle of complex critical and theoretical debates as well as their dense, jargon-ridden prose, make this a difficult read for students, which may well frustrate their efforts to work on Hollywood cinema and/or give them a narrow view of what the study of Hollywood cinema might entail.

Peter Kramer, University of East Anglia

The United States and European Reconstruction: 1945-1960 by John Killick

Edinburgh: Keele University Press, 1997, ISBN 1 85331 178 2.

In the 1990s, the extent of the physical and economic devastation experienced by the continent due to the Second World War is often forgotten. Recovery required the restoration of severely damaged but essentially skilled economies. The American hand in this post-war reconstruction was clearly important, but its exact impact remains contested. The spectrum of the debate ranges from a belief that ‘American dollars saved the world’ to one which holds that Europe’s recovery was well underway and American aid was marginal. Killick’s very readable book surveys this debate over the impact of the US Marshall Plan in Western Europe’s astonishingly robust recovery after 1945. He gives equal attention to both sides of the debate and comes to the conclusion that although ‘American policy was very important in European reform and development’ the ‘potential for rapid growth was already present, but it had to be activated and directed into viable channels’ (pp180-181). Killick is also careful in tying in American interest in the aid program. Pax Americana in Europe was not established out of American altruism but enlightened self-interest. The Marshall Plan established ‘a liberal policy aimed at restoring European viability, American trade and international peace’ (p185).

Killick supports his arguments well by analyzing the origins of the aid, its implementation and its impact on the various countries. Furthermore, he devotes two chapters to the influence of the US in the process of European integration – from the creation of the Organization for European Economic Cooperation (OEEC), the establishment of the European Payments Union (EPU) and the inception of the European Coal and Steel Community (ESCE).

It is in these two chapters that Killick falters. Albeit ‘American interest and influence can be found at all stages’ of European integration, one must be wary of overemphasis. The creation of the ESCE was not merely achieved by US prodding but also by the founding states’ pursuit of their own interests. These interests did not stem purely from economic concerns but were equally motivated by geostrategic and political interests. The Federal Republic of Germany saw it as a means to slowly free itself from Allied occupation and semi-sovereignty. France saw it as a means to bind Germany closer to it in order to pursue la politique du grandeur. Additionally, as recognized by Paul-Henry Spaak, a forgotten father of the ESCE was Stalin. At the end of the war, there was a strong perception of a common threat of communism, both ideologically and militarily. This concern made a considerable contribution towards Franco-German reconciliation.

On the whole, Killick’s treatment of the subject is admirable. He presents statistical information in manner understandable to the most numerically challenged. The analysis is careful and the answers accessible. This work will no doubt be a ubiquitous feature in the reading lists for courses on economics as well as European history.

Norman Vasu, London School of Economics

Spectacular Allegories: Postmodern American Writing and the Politics of Seeing by Josh Cohen

London: Pluto Press, 1998. $40.00/£12.99. pp. 174 ISBN 0 7453 12071 / 0 7453 12128.

This book is a significant and fascinating intervention into current debates about postmodernity in its relationship to contemporary American culture. Focusing on the work of six recent American writers – Norman Mailer, Jerzy Kosinski, Robert Coover, Stephen Dixon, Joan Didion and James Ellroy – the book examines the politics of seeing that animates the mass spectable of postmodern culture. By stressing that acts of seeing are crucially and critically engaged in these writers’ works, the book argues for a rethinking of the operation of political and cultural agency within contemporary society. Rather than reinforcing arguments about the operation of domination through a (male) gaze, the book seeks, instead, to establish ways of reading that discover a ‘porosity’ in subject-object relations wherin the seer and the seen are felt to be in productive dialogue. This innovative and far-reaching approach to reading postmodern American fiction is welcome not least because of the weight it gives to two of the most agile and interesting early theorists of the postmodern condition, Walter Benjamin and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. The book convincingly demonstrates the importance of these two thinkers to a critique of postmodern America’s culture of late-capitalism. It is, therefore, refreshingly different from so many recent studies in which Jean Baudrillard and Fredric Jameson seem to be the only intellectual capital available to theories of postmodern America. Indeed, some of the most interesting and important sections of the book are the ‘theoretical interludes’ (as Cohen terms them) with which the main chapters are introduced.

The book is at times, however, rather undermined by its own neatness of argument and structure. There is a sense that its theoretical perspectives have been applied to, as opposed to worked through, its readings of American fiction. So carefully argued and delicately wrought are the book’s ‘Introduction’ and its theoretical justifications that there is little space for a developing thesis throughout the book, It is, as it were, all visible from the outset, and the examples that are given, its textual analyses, often serve merely to reiterate rather than further a point made previously. This is most apparent in the way in which the book returns repeatedly to Benjamin’s definition of (postmodern) allegory as that in which ‘any person, any object, any relationship can mean absolutely anything’. The textual indeterminacy and visual opacity that this statement seems to endorse is thus only ever reiterated and never really tested by the book. It should be: Benjamin’s definition of allegory is, to say the least, questionable. There is a world of difference – a crucially important political and ethical difference – between the operations of allegory and indeterminate free-play in a text.

Such an unloosening of the notion of allegory within postmodern theory points to, I think, a wider difficulty in this book: namely its own unloosening from a literary and historical tradition in American writing that has privileged the spectacular nature of its culture. Whilst this by no means invalidates the book’s central thesis, it does isolate it somewhat from its cultural history by failing to locate – or even point to – a similar engagement with a problematised politics of seeing in texts from before the twentieth century. It is a little surprising in a book about America’s relationship to the intense visuality of its culture not to find any examination of (and only one fleeting reference to) the sort of romanticisation of the act of seeing that is endemic in writers such as Emerson, Fuller, Whitman and Thoreau, and which is deeply rooted in earlier Calvinist modes of reading the world for visible signs of redemption. This is, though, understandable in a book whose focus is postmodern culture.

Another surprise, however, is that very little attention is given to visual media themselves. Though Chapter Three examines ‘cinematographic fiction’, and has an excellent discussion of film theory, it does not actually discuss film in itself. This strikes me as an opportunity missed. This is equally true of the book’s failure to mention (let alone discuss) postmodern painting. Film theory and art theory would both equally benefit from this book’s acute and sensitive readings in the politics of perception. These are points of contention, though, and not serious criticism of a book which genuinely opens up new ways of reading postmodernity, ones that are expecially apparent in its brilliant close reading of James Ellroy’s LA Quartet. All in all this is a lively and engaging book that really does offer a stimulating new approach to the ways in which we see America, and its fiction, in the light of postmodern culture.

Nick Selby, University of Wales, Swansea

New Readings of the American Novel: Narrative Theory and its Application by Peter Messent

Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 1998, £14.95 pp. 328 ISBN 1-85331-234-7.

New Readings of the American Novel, first published in 1990, arises from the two decades or so of thick theory that reached its peak towards the middle of the 1980’s. Its applications of Genette, Barthes, Rimmon-Kenan, Iser and Bakhtin are characteristically English in that they are tried in the court of empirism and weighed in the scales of social responsibility. To cavil a little, it has to be said that despite the banner ‘New Edition’, this is no more than a reprint. The ‘Preface’ to this version restricts itself to repeating elements of the agenda charted in the ‘Introduction’ and to suggesting that were there, in effect, to be a new edition, New Historicism would be a candidate for inclusion and ‘black’ would be replaced by ‘African American’. ‘New Historicism’, never a monolithic or coherent enterprise, has itself been superseded by critical approaches which have assimilated many of the positions surveyed by Messent and, in the process, have also largely recuperated the author, history, culture, society (in a fiercely problematic way, of course), and the whole question of value. For readers of a certain age, there is nostalgia in a book where the work ‘postmodern’ fails to appear once.

Whereas this book might have been required reading as part of a core module on classic American fiction in 1990, it would sit more awkwardly in such, more thinly scattered places now. The Great Gatsby, The Sound and the Fury, and The Sun Also Rises are analysed in terms of focalization and narration, time and narrative, and character, respectively. Messent is keen to identify what he regards as the ultimately sterile framework of structuralism – with its commitment to autotelic, heterocosmic texts – within which the first three chapters operate. His analysis certainly reveals, however unwittingly, the extent to which so much of this is a scientific refitting of New Criticism. Messent, incidentally, seems to deprive America of theory; there was scope for a survey of American-European continental intersections on that front. In particular, what about the work of Dorrit Cohn? More broadly, work subsequent ot Genette, which cannot be taken into account here, has tended to concentrate on the incipient, insidious, naturalisations of ‘voice’ and ‘focalization’ and the need for a decentred approach (as in Andrew Gibson).

The fourth chapter, on A Lost Lady, is identified as pivotal in that here, the reader is presented as breaking down the wall of the text as Iser, modified by Uspensky and Mailloux (Fish) enters the scene. Steven Mailloux’s appropriation of Fish’s ‘interpretive communities’ is used to stress the degree to which reader-response theories had hitherto neglected the reading environment and its political determinants. Messent rejects Iser, in part, because his reading practice ignores the ‘historical community’ and, furthermore, assumes that texts are stable entities. Fish’s ‘interpretive communities’ represent, though, the substitution of one form of pernicious stability for another. Beyond that, there is a uncanny sense of a paradise regained as the social relevance of classic American fiction, the locating of which has never depended on all this ‘theory’ anyway, is reasserted. On offer, then, is Peter Messent the reluctant (now belated) structuralist and the Damascus of theoretical pluralism underpinned by a liberal critique of injustice.

Messent’s mechanical approach of Barthes’s codes to The Portrait of a Lady and The House of Mirth serves as a reminder of how tiresome, even costive, all this is when not performed by Barthes himself. The distinction between classic-realist and writerly texts has never seemed so vacuous. If the reader writes the text, after chapter four, she can certainly refuse to be pushed around by these dinosaur categories. For Messent, after Barthes, the title of The Portriat of a Lady is a classic example of classic realism: it flaunts the novel’s lack of ambiguity and apparent investment in framing and containment. It is simply baffling to see James in this light. The Portrait of a Lady revels in a title whose over-determination is everywhere explicit in the text: there is endless equivocation over whether Osmond is Isabel’s portrait or she, his. In Osmond, for example, Isabel sees ‘the most striking of portraits’ (1881 edition).

The best chapter in the book is on Bakhtin and Huckleberry Finn. It is one of the most convincing applications of ‘dialogization’ and the ‘socio-ideological’ imperatives of novelistic polyphony around. I still think, nevertheless, that to attack Genette with Bakhtin is to miss Genette’s point. Genette was more interested in taxonomy than in interpretation (although there’s plenty of interpretation in Narrative Discourse) but he did not see it as his task to prevent such a process. On the contrary. The final chapter, with Their Eyes Were Watching God, is a token attempt, given the space available, to tackle the issue of ‘widening’ the canon. Canons will be, well, always canons; and the bigger they are, the more dangerous they become. Since this book’s first appearance, in any event, they have become big indeed on the American front. Messent’s new Preface regrets the exclusion of Derrida, Jameson, and Foucault. Yes, a book that discusses power without Foucault, not to mention Macherey and Althusser, is something of a curiosity.

Peter Rawlings, Kyushu University, Japan

Designs of Blackness by A. Robert Lee

Pluto Press, 1998, ISBN 0 7453 0643 8; pp. 259.

A. Robert Lee’s latest work, Designs of Blackness: Mappings in the Literature and Culture of Afro-America, is an ambitious oveview of the field of African American literature, often with intertextual referencing of the cultural and political background pertinent to each era under discussion. His citation of works is impressive, so much so that the guiding theses of the first chapters get lost in the shuffle – a bad case of ‘you can’t see the forest for the trees’. At first I found myself wondering just what the usefulness of such a listing could be. If the objective was bibliographical, why didn’t the author simply give a ‘Works Cited’ bibliography at the end of the book rather than weighing down the text with so many footnotes?

This attempt to include so many works sometimes leads Lee into difficulties. The very valid illustration of African American autobiography (Chapter 2) as the ‘inscription of the self’ is undercut by the inclusion of both James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man and, even more incredibly, Ernest Gaines’ The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pitman, with no acknowledgement of the peculiar relationship of the African American ‘autobiography’ to the novel (not to mention the importance of white mediation in the slave narrative, nor how this specifically African American genre differs from the Western concept of autobiography). Harriet E Wilson’s Our Nig, on the other hand, is mentioned first as a novel (p15) and then examined in a little more detail in the chapter entitled ‘Womanisms’, in which the author finally posits this dilemma: ‘Is Our Nig, accordingly, novel or autobiography, even a Northern ‘slave narrative’?’ (p78).

This brings me to yet another reservation, that of grouping together the majority of women writers into one chapter under one rather vacuous heading – as if ‘womanism’ summed up and unified the vast variety of works by these authors. If we are to understand the term as defined by Alice Walker, included in the epigraph at the beginning of Chapter 4, Morrison’s Sethe of Beloved, for example, simply does not qualify, and this outstanding contribution to literatue is reduced to its lowest possible denominator, a disservice to this author and her work. And inevitable an attempt at inclusiveness means that there will be some ‘favorites’ left out. For this reader anyway, the one sentence devoted to Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day dramatically shortchanges a woman who is probably the best writer of the generation after Morrison. Not that the women are totally left out of other chapters, but the focus thereafter is definitely male-oriented. In Chapter 3 which takes Harlem as its focus, Morrison’s Jazz is treated with a curt gloss of the ‘plot’ while the force of ‘The City’ as main protagonist in this novel goes unremarked; all the more amazing since it is a prime example of Lee’s contention that Harlem is the black city par excellence.

Lee is best when he abandons the pretense of linking every work there is to be linked by simply mentioning or at best glossing the novels, and settles down to more in-depth analyses of a certain number or representative texts. Chapters 5 through 9 are well-written and provocative, and they bring much to bear on the critical era of black life, literature and culture from the 1940s to the 1960s (obviously Lee’s specialty, as the strength of his expertise shines through brilliantly), as does his excellent study of Leon Forrest’s oeuvre. I was particularly delighted with Chapter 8, ‘Acting Out: The Black Drama of the 1960s, the 1960s of Black Drama’, in which his extension of ‘drama’ to the culture and politics of the age capture the excitement and sheer energy of an era crucial to black life. With the exception of his occasional return to peppering the essays with uncritical name-dropping, these central chapters make Designs of Blackness a welcome addition to the critical work on this literature. (Certain minor errors cause a bit of confusion: Richard, Elizabeth’s lover and father to her son John in Go Tell It On the Mountain, was not murdered, but committed suicide; it is Bobo, not Big Boy, who is burned to death in Richard Wright’s ‘Big Boy Leaves Home’; and at one point Hansberry is written ‘Lansberry’ (p169).

Chapter 10 should have been two chapters: the discussion of ‘hybridity’ and the ‘multicultural’ push at the end of this century is a timely and appropriate comment on ‘where we are’ on questions of ‘race’ and ‘canon’, and it reviews the debates exhaustively and intelligently superficially resolved in a concluding paragraph recognizing that ‘race’ as category says very little about the self. But we knew that.

The fact that there is no concluding chapter perhaps points to the central weakness in constructing some otherwise excellent essays into a book. The pitfalls of trying to include too much unfortunately detract from some excellent scholarship and a notable command of a growing field. For the scope of Designs of Blackness is indeed impressive. Perhaps the difficulty inherent in trying to categorize and label such a vast display of intellectual power and literary achievement is tribute enough to the diversity and vitality of African American literature. Nevertheless, Lee’s new book is a valiant attempt and well worth a close reading.

Justine Tally, University of La Laguna, Tenerife

Careers – American Studies Graduates

Career Paths for American Studies Graduates

An American Studies degree allows graduates to pursue a career in widely diverse fields. The following analysis draws on reports from 365 graduates from nine departments over a number of years. The career paths have been grouped into nine broad categories, and the proportion of graduates following each one is listed below. Within each of these categories, however, many different careers are possible. A sample of these indicates how various the options are for American Studies graduates.

Arts, Media and Media Related (8.2%) This includes working for regional and national radio and television, film production, gallery work, acting and theatre management.

Publishing and Journalism (6.3%) This includes freelance writers and researchers as well as journalist for regional and national newspapers and magazines. Many graduates also go into publishing, in fields ranging from production to editorial to management.

Public Relations and Advertising (2.2%) Graduates have secured PR and personnel jobs in many different firms, and have found work in both the creative and management aspects of advertising.

Business, Law and Accountancy (41.9%) Graduates pursue the full range of careers in these fields: in banking, in large accountancy firms, in estate agency and in other financial services, in management, marketing and retail for small and large firms. Others take the CPE and go on to work as lawyers.

Administration and Civil Service (10.9%) This includes charity organisers, immigration and other Civil Service officers, as well as local authority and health service administrators.

Postgraduate Study (13.2%) While some graduates take MAs and PhDs in American (or Latin American) Studies, others go on to postgraduate courses in such varied areas as Cultural Studies, Social Work, Creative Writing, Development Studies, or even take an MBA. American Studies graduates are more likely than their peers to undertake further study abroad – often, but not exclusively, in the United States.

Teaching (All Levels – UK) (9.9%) This category includes teaching at all levels from primary school to universities and colleges.

Teaching and Other Work Abroad (3.3%) Careers abroad range from TEFL teaching in, amongst other places, Poland, Spain, Japan and China, to working for the EU in Brussels, to internship programmes in the US Congress, to administrative posts in various multinational companies.

Other (4.4%) There are of course many other career paths not covered by the preceding categories. These include nursing, the Armed Services, speech therapy, the police and leading expeditions as well as more temporary bar or hotel work.

Kasia Boddy, University College London

Career Advantages of an American Studies Degree

An American Studies degree gives its graduates an edge in the job market for two main reasons:

  • First, unlike most undergraduate courses in England (although not in Scotland), it is often a four- rather than a three-year degree, and includes a period ranging from a semester to a year spent studying abroad. Graduates are therefore seen by employers as more mature and independent-minded, as well as more flexible in new situations, than their peers.
  • The multidisciplinary nature of the American Studies degree also increasingly appeals to employers. American Studies graduates are regarded as more versatile and more able than single discipline graduates to adapt quickly to new information and new approaches.

BAAS would welcome any further information about the future careers of American Studies graduates. Please send to Dr. Jenel Virden, BAAS Secretary.


Anthony Badger, Paul Mellon Professor of American History at Cambridge, has been awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters at the University of Hull.

Mark Jancovich (University of Nottingham) has been awarded a £61,000 grant by the AHRB for year one of a three-year project on Consumption and the Cinema.

Peter Messent (University of Nottingham) has been promoted to a personal Chair in Modern American Literature.

John White (Department of American Studies, University of Hull) was appointed as the 1998-1999 Emmy Parrish Lecturer in American Studies at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. In November 1998 he delivered The Emmy Parrish Lectures on the theme: ‘American Studies and All That Interracial Jazz’: ‘The Other Great Migration: Louis Armstrong and Chicago Style in the 1920s,’ and ‘The Other New Deal: Kansas City, Boss Pendergast and Count Basie.’

Susan Castillo has been appointed Reader in English and American Literatrure at Glasgow University.

In Print: Members’ Publications

Brian Docherty has published Armchair Theatre, Hearing Eye Press, ISBN 1 870 841 59 X £6.00. Armchair Theatre is Brian Docherty’s first full-length collection, featuring poems which draw on the legacy of Auden, William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg, and the political culture in which he grew up. Childhood memories, contemporary Irish politics, personal relations and the Thatcher era all feature here. Brian Docherty was born in Glasgow in 1953 and now lives in north London.

Derek Edgell, who lectures in US history at the University of Southampton New College, has just published The Movement for Community Control of New York City’s Schools, 1966-1970 (Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press, 1998), 532 pp., ISBN 0 7734-8262-8.

Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (Edinburgh), Peace Now! American Society and the Ending of the Vietnam War. Yale, 1999. ISBN 0-300-07811-0, $32.50.

Nick Selby (ed) The Icon Critical Guide to T. S. Eliot: ‘The Waste Land’ (Icon, 1999), £6.99, ISBN 1-84046-039-3.

John White (Department of American Studies, University of Hull), has published Artie Shaw: Non-Stop Flight (University of Hull Press: EastNote Studies in Jazz,1998, paperback, £9.99, ISBN 0-85958-666-9), and has co-edited (with Brian Holden Reid) Americana: Essays in Memory of Marcus Cunliffe, Foreword by Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. (University of Hull Press, 1998, paperback, £14.99, ISBN 0-85958-670-7)- a revised edition of American Studies: Essays in Honour of Marcus Cunliffe (Macmillan,1991). His article ‘Civil Rights in Conflct: The ‘Birmingham Plan’ and the Freedom Train, 1947,’ will appear in The Alabama Review, Vol.52, No. 2 (April, 1999), pp121-41.

Short-term Travel Report

Report: Sam Maddra, University of Glasgow

I travelled to the US for a month this summer to carry out research at various archives across America, for my Research M. Phil. Cultures in Collision: The 1891/92 Tour of Britain by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show, and its Continuing Legacy. The dissertation will explore the history of the show’s sojourn in Britain; the significance and meaning of William Cody’s use of 23 Indian prisoners, who were members of his entourage; the importance of the interpreter George Crager’s role, as a cultural mediator between Indian and white society; and the consequence of his sale and donation to Glasgow Museums of 28 Native American artefacts in 1892. Four of the artefacts have Wounded Knee provenance, the most significant being a Ghost Dance shirt reportedly removed from a body after the massacre. In November 1998 the shirt was the subject of a historic agreement, when Glasgow City Council decided to repatriate the garment to the Wounded Knee Survivors Association.

My trip started in Washington DC with some very profitable research atthe National Archives, sandwiched between work at the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. At the National Archives I was particularly interested to look at the correspondence of the Bureau of IndianAffairs concerning the use of Indian performers in Wild West shows, and opposition to such employment. I was also here to view the correspondence of the Adjutant General’s Office, which dealt withWilliam Cody’s employment of twenty-three Indian prisoners. These men and women were originally incarcerated at Fort Sheridan, Illinois, in the aftermath of the military suppression of the 1890 Ghost Dance religion.

My next stop was the Federal Archives Regional Center in Kansas City, MO. Despite notifying the archive of my visit, forwarding lists of items I wanted to see, and receiving confirmation of my trip, it was not until my arrival that I was informed that the majority of the material I wanted to view had been sent to Washington to be digitised and put onto the Net. This was fortunately found not to be the case. I went to see specific letters in the Agency Correspondence files, but was pleasantly surprised to find a wealth of information there.

The next stage of my research involved a number of archives dotted about South Dakota and Wyoming. I visited Wounded Knee, the site of the infamous massacre, and was fortunate enough to spend an evening at the Oglala Lakota Nation Pow-wow at Pine Ridge, before going on to the South Dakota State Historical Society in Pierre. This archive holds the family papers of Mary Collins, a missionary of the Congregational Church. Collins was at the forefront of the opposition to Cody’s use of the Ghost Dance prisoners in his Wild West show. The archive is housed at the Cultural Heritage Center, which is where Glasgow’s Ghost Dance shirt will be held initially. I therefore talked to a member of the museum staff about their agreement with the Survivors Association,and their Wounded Knee display. Heading west towards Cody in Wyoming,I stopped to view other Wounded Knee objects, including a Ghost Dance shirt, at the Journey Museum in Rapid City, SD.

At Cody, I worked in the McCracken Library, at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, going through their William. F. Cody archives. They have a number of items pertinent to my research including correspondence, clipping books, and photographs, but it was an unexpected discovery in their Plains Indian Museum that was perhaps my most significant find here: a Ghost Dance shirt which bore a striking resemblance to the Glasgow shirt. The similarity between the shirts was interesting, given the individuality of designs on Ghost Dance shirts. Their similitude suggests a connection in manufacture, which could have significant consequences for the given provenance of the Glasgow shirt.

I ended my trip in Denver, in the Western History section of the Denver Public Library. I was here to view the Nate Salsbury photographic collection, which includes 175 photographs taken in 1892 by A.R. Dresser. These images were photographed over a three month period and illustrate all aspects of the Wild West show during itsstay in Earls Court, London.

Overall the trip was extremely productive and the material I was able to gather is invaluable to my research. At the 1999 BAAS Conference I will be presenting a paper based on sources collated in the American archives I visited. I would like to take this opportunity to thank BAAS for awarding me the short-term travel award that helped to make this trip possible.

Research Support

BAAS Short Term Travel Awards

Winners of the BAAS Short-Term Travel Awards are:

Peter Ingram (Keele) John Lees Award for work on Congress and Eastern Europe.

Anne-Marie Trudgill (Manchester Metropolitan) Marcus Cunliffe Award for research into the work of Elizabeth Stoddard.

Gail Danvers (Sussex) for work on Iroquois-British relations in colonial New York.

Joanna Gill (Cheltenham and Gloucester College) for research on the work of Anne Sexton

Emma Lambert (Birmingham) for work on the Luce media and the Cold War

Richard Ings (Nottingham) for work on the photographic images of Harlem, 1917-1955

Cathy Hoult (Leicester) for work on the influence of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.


New deadline for short term awards

Please note: the deadline for submission of applications for short term travel awards has been extended to 1 December 1999.

J.Virden, Hull

BAAS Mini-Conference Support: guidelines

The BAAS executive committee receives a number of requests every year to provide financial assistance for mini-conferences in American Studies. BAAS support for American Studies conferences is a vote of confidence in the conference itself and a recommendation of quality to scholars, teachers and delegates in all disciplines. The following guidelines are intended to help future applicants.

BAAS wishes to support access to American Studies throughout the UK, and at all levels of education, but the money available for this purpose from the Association’s general funds is limited. When support can be provided, it will usually be around £100, and will not normally exceed £200.

The BAAS Education fund exists in part to help conferences aimed at supporting the teaching of American Studies in schools. The Association welcomes applications falling into this category.

Among the factors that may be considered are the regional impact of the conference, and the target audience of scholars, and/or postgraduates.

Applications are welcome from any body or institution wishing to host an American Studies event. Applications from BAAS branches will be given preference.

Applications should be made to the Secretary of BAAS, normally in time for the June meeting of the Executive Committee. It is suggested that conferences be planned at least a year in advance, allowing time for a first call for papers six months before the conference.

Applications should state the purpose of the money sought from BAAS, and should provide an outline of the conference programme including the dates, the target audience, and full costings.

It is expected that usually the host will also be providing costed support. Conferences will not receive grants if their dates clash with the BAAS Annual Conference.

Financial support will be confirmed by letter from the Chair of the Development Subcommittee.

Grant recipients will undertake to acknowledge BAAS support and to distribute BAAS recruitment leaflets in their conference mailings and at the conference. These materials should be obtained by the conference convenor from the Secretary of BAAS.

Address labels for the BAAS membership may be obtained from the Treasurer of BAAS.

BAAS strongly suggests that conferences aimed at teachers and/or Access and School students should include provision for a Resources session and/or Resources room to be included in the meeting, and that American Studies programmes be circulated and invited to provide admissions publicity for display.

The conference convenor should nominate a deputy who will assume responsibility if necessary. Where appropriate BAAS encourages the use of postgraduates to assist with conference organisation.

Within two months of the conference, a report, with accounts, should be submitted to the Chair of the Development Subcommittee. Any unused part of the grant must be returned to BAAS, to be used for other American Studies projects.

Jefferson Fellowships

The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, which owns and operates Thomas Jefferson’s historic home at Monticello, is pleased to announce a program of short-term residential fellowships and travel grants at its International Center for Jefferson Studies open to all scholars working on Jefferson projects. Foreign nationals are particularly encouraged to apply.

Short-Term Fellowships are awarded for periods of one to three months to doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars from any country. Awards carry a stipend of $1,500 for U.S. and Canadian fellows plus pre-approved round-trip airfare, and $2,000 for overseas fellows plus airfare. Accommodation is available on a limited basis. Fellows are expected to be in residence at the Center during the course of the fellowship, and no awards are made for work carried on elsewhere. Fellows have access to Monticello’s expert staff and research holdings as well as to the extensive resources of the Alderman Library at the University of Virginia. Occasional visits may be made to the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society in nearby Richmond, and to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Applicants should submit four copies of (i) a succinct description of the research project (500-words), and (ii) a curriculum vitae, including names and addresses of three referees. Deadline for application: 1 April 1999

Travel Grants are available on a limited basis for scholars and teachers wishing to make short-term visits to Monticello to pursue research or educational projects. The application procedure and deadline are the same as for fellowships.

Applications should be addressed to the Fellowship Committee, International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, P.O. Box 316, Charlottesville, Virginia 22902, USA. Announcement of awards will be made by 1 June 1999.

The fellowship and grants program is underwritten by endowments established for this purpose by the Batten Foundation and First Union National Band of Virginia, and by a grant from the Coca-Cola Foundation.

James Horn, Saunders Director, International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello.

New Members

The British Association for American Studies is pleased to welcome the following new members:

Barry Atkins lectures in English at Manchester Metropolitan University. His research interests include US writing of the Great War, immigration and Nativism in literature, and American science fiction.

Frances Barry is preparing her D. Phil at the University of Sussex. Her research interests include the relationship between performance and performative utterance, particularly in the work of Susan Howe, Bob Perelman, and Carla Harriman, among others.

Birgit Behrendt is a Ph. D. student at Philipps-Universitate in Marburg, Germany, researching the treatment of Romantic motifs, themes and topoi in nineteenth-century writers of Spain and America, focusing on Washington Irving and Gustavo Adolfo Becquer.

Rachel Elisabeth Bell’s MA dissertation was on African traditions in the arts and craft of African- American slaves. She is currently preparing an MA.

Gary Blohm is preparing his Ph. D. at Exeter on individualism in recent American fiction.

Martyn Bone is a Ph. D. student at Nottingham, working on the postmodern ‘sense of place’ in contemporary Southern literature, with emphasis on Walker Percy, Richard Ford, Barry Hannah and Tom Wolfe.

Siobhan Davis is currently in her second year of doctoral research at Keele, examining the changing representation of white, urban, middle class women in the United States 1930-1945.

Andrew Dlaska, who holds an M. A and Ph. D. from the University of Innsbruck, lectures in German at Warwick. Her book on Bharati Mukherjee, Ways of Belonging: Appropriating Spaces, Fashioning Identities, is now in press.

Robert Dykstra is Professor of History and Public Policity at the State University of New York at Albany. His areas of expertise include Western history and the Gilded Age.

Ikram Elsherif, with a B. A from Kuwait University and an M. A. in English Literature from South Valley University in Egypt, has carried out research on Iris Murdoch’s novels.

Susan J Forsyth will soon defend her PhD dissertation at Christ Church College, Canterbury, on representations of the Wounded Knee Massacre. she is currently researching the US reservation system.

Dave Foster is an M. Phil student at Newcastle, working on the work of radical Southern white journalist Stetson Kennedy.

Ruth Frendo has just begun a Ph. D. at Essex, researching issues of representation, identity, and female sexuality in the works of selected Southern women writers in the period 1920-1960.

Zoe Greer is a PhD student in History at Newcastle, researching the African-Smerican prison experience between 1945 and 1970.

Helena Grice is Research Fellow in American Literature at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. She is co-editor, with Tim Woods, of ‘I’m Telling You Stories: Jeanette Winterson and the Politics of Reading’ (1997); co-author, with Maria Lauret, Candida Hepworth and Martin Padget, of ‘Beginning New American Fictions’ (MUP, 1999), and editor of ‘Asian American Feminist Thought’ (Cornell UP, 2000). She wrote her PhD on the work of Asian American women writers.

Bornali Halder is preparing a D. Phil in social anthopology at the University of Oxford. She recently returned from the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota, where she was researching the political and social geographies of the Lakota Sioux.

Simon Hall is currently preparing a Ph. D. at Cambridge on the Civil Rights movement and the New Left.

Ann Heilman lectures in English at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her subject interests include 19th and 20th-century women’s writing and contemporary feminist fiction.

Bill Issel is Professor of History at San Francisco State University, and lists geography and media studies among his interests.

Rossitza Ivanova is based at Warwick. Her research interests include women writers from diaspora, and she hopes to register in a PhD program in the UK, the US, or in her native Bulgaria.

Donna Jackson has recently begun her Ph. D. dissertation on the foreign policy of Jimmy Carter at Wolfson College, Cambridge.

Elizabeth Jacobs is a postgraduate student at Aberystwyth, researching Chicana/o literature and culture.

Cynthia Jesner is studying for an MPhil in American Studies at Glasgow. Originally from the American Northwest, her BA is from the University of Washington in Seattle.

Kris Jozajtis is engaged in research for his Ph.D at Stirling. The provisional title of his dissertation is ‘Hollywood and American Civil Religion’.

Desmond King is Professor of Politics at Oxford University. His publications include Separate and Unequal (1995) and In the Name of Liberalism (1998).

William Lazenblatt lectures in American Studies at the University of Ulster, Jordantown.

Frederic Lee is Reader in Economics at DeMontfort University. His primary focus is on American economic history.

J. Loftus is Head of Department at St. Francis Xavier, London.

Sam Maddra is a postgraduate at Glasgow, working on her dissertation ‘Cultures in Collision: The 1891/92 Tour of Britain by Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and its Continuing Legacy.’ She has written several articles on this subject.

Jo Ann Manfra is Professor of US History at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Robert Mason lectures in History at the University of Edinburgh.

Maureen McDermott is preparing an annotated edition of a selection of the unpublished diaries of Edith Wharton. She has taught in Adult Education since 1992.

Alison McDowall is a graduate student at Liverpool John Moores University. She is currently working on the influence of jazz music on African-American writers of the 1950s.

Christopher MacGowan is Professor of English at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. His publications include William Carlos Williams’ Early Poetry: The Visual Arts Background (1984), as well as editions of the poems and letters of Williams.

Philip McGowan lectures in the Department of English at Goldsmith’s College, with interests in the areas of Cultural Studies, History, and Literature.

Suzanne McGruther (Glasgow) is researching contemporary Native American art. She is currently writing her first book, which she describes as ‘creative fiction concerning American and Scottish social distinctions.’

Tiffany McKirdy is currently a Ph. D. student at Glasgow University, where she is preparing her dissertation on the work of Cormac McCarthy.

Josephine Metcalf is a student living in Kent.

Nathaniel Millett is beginning his doctoral studies at St. Catherine’s College, Cambridge. His special interests include slavery and Native American culture.

Gillian Mitchell is an M. Phil student in American Studies at the University of Glasgow. Her research interests include popular music in North America in the period 1960-1980 and folk music of the Depression era.

Jonathan Mitchell is a Ph. D. student in Swansea, researching the literature and culture of the American 1960s.

Ann Mumford holds a Ph. D. from the University of Cardiff in Law. She has published articles on tax law, tax evasion, and the American Bill of Rights, among other topics.

Carol Nahra is Campus Relations Coordinator of the Council on International Educational Exchange. She has an MA in Anglo-American Studies from Sussex.

Robert Orr is a postgraduate student at Newcastle, researching foreign influences on the Black Panther party.

Andrew Preston is currently a Ph. D. candidate at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. His dissertation is on the role of National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy in decision-making on Vietnam, 1963-1965.

Dominic Sandbrook is a Ph. D. student at Cambridge, working on the life and political career of Senator Eugene McCarthy.

Margaret Mary Smith is a postgraduate student at Manchester Metropolitan University, with interests in cultural studies, history and literature.

Rebecca Starr is Senior Lecturer in History at the Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. She specialises in Colonial and Revolutionary American History. She has published a monograph titled A School for Politics: Commercial Lobbying and Political Culture in Early South Carolina (Johns Hopkins UP, 1998), as well as articles on related topics.

Carrie Swan has recently begun her MA in American Literature and Culture at Keele. Her current research interests include African-American women’s writing and film.

Sophia Taylor is a Ph. D. candidate at Nottingham, working on the religious aspects of Ellen Glasgow’s writing. Her article ‘Ellen Glasgow and the Culture of Suffering’ was recently published in the Ellen Glasgow Newsletter in its Spring 1998 issue.

Zoltan Vajda lectures in American Studies and Cultural Studies at Jozsef Attila University in Szeged, Hungary. Among his interests are antebellum Southern history, media and cultural studies.

William Van Vugt is Professor of History at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His book Britain to America: The Mid-Nineteenth Century Immigrants to the USA will be published this year. He is also interested in folk music and performs locally as a guitarist.

Maria Varsamopoulou is preparing a Ph. D. in American Studies at the University of Nottingham. Her special interests include the writings of Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison.

Mark Whalan has recently enrolled on a PhD course at Exeter University on the development of the short-story cycle in American Modernism, with a selected focus on Sherwood Anderson, Jean Toomer and William Faulkner. He has already published an article on detective fiction in postmodernity in Paradoxa.

John White (Department of American Studies, University of Hull) was appointed as the 1998-1999 Emmy Parrish Lecturer in American Studies at Baylor University, Waco, Texas.

Elizabeth Williamson was appointed Director of the UK Office of the Council on International Educational Exchange in May 1998.

Jayne Wood is preparing an MA at Leeds in American Literature and Culture with European Study at the John F. Kennedy Institute of Berlin’s Free University.

Sarah Wood, who holds a BA and MPhil in American Literature from Cambridge, is currently preparing a PhD at University College London on Washington Irving.

Anne Woodward lectures in American Studies at the University of Derby.