Welcome to the 87th edition of the BAAS newsletter and my first as editor. This newsletter hopefully continues the fine work done by my predecessors and follows the format they have established. There is a large—although not complete—collection of reports on papers delivered at the annual conference in Oxford. If anyone who has not sent in a report would like to do so, then I’m sure I can find space to include them in the next issue. Under the new publishing schedule of a late summer issue in September and a spring issue in February, then you will need to get the reports to me by the end of the year. An e-mail attachment is fine. I would also just like to thank Dick Ellis for helping me out with the logistics of producing the newsletter, as well as assiduously passing on all those e-mails!
What of the future for the newsletter? As well as carrying on all the services it currently provides, I think there is room in American Studies in Britain for more discussion of just what American Studies in Britain is all about as we leave the exuberances of millennial discourses behind us and face the realities—sometimes harsh, sometimes exciting—of teaching, studying and researching within the field at all levels. Members might want to cast their attention back to issue 81, the Autumn/Winter 1999 edition of the newsletter—and available on the BAAS website (http://http://cc.webspaceworld.me/new-baas-site) if you don’t have a hard copy—where BAAS committee members were asked for their thoughts about American Studies as it stood on the verge of the new millennium. Opinions were divided, often vociferous, but always committed. How have these visions of the future of American Studies been played out in the last three years and how do you see them developing in the future? Do we have control over how the discipline develops or are our hands tied by the demands of institutions and government? What do changes mean to schoolteachers, undergraduates, postgraduates, lecturers and professors alike? Are you happy with the transnational turn in American Studies? These are some of the questions that I hope might be explored in future issues. So if you have ideas and opinions that you would like to put to other BAAS members then please get in touch with me.
Department of English
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH
BAAS Annual Conference: Aberystwyth 2003, Call for Papers
We are now calling for papers for the 2003 BAAS Conference. Papers can be presented on any subject relating to the study of the United States of America. Poster sessions will also be held and proposals for these are positively encouraged and welcomed.
Proposals for 20 minute papers should be a maximum of 250 words with a provisions title. These will be arranged into panel groups. Panel proposals by two or more people, sharing a common theme, are also invited. Postgraduates, as well as senior researchers, are encouraged to apply. Proposals should be submitted by 31st October 2002 to:
Dr Tim Woods
BAAS Conference Secretary
Department of English
Hugh Owen Building
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Ceredigion, SY 23 3DY
Any other comments or suggestions are also welcome.
Conference Secretary: Dr Tim Woods
Tel: +44 1970 622534
Fax: +44 1970 622530
BAAS Annual Conference: Oxford 2002
Even before this year’s BAAS conference one of the major American Studies events of the past year took place in Oxford, when the former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, formally opened the Rothermere American Institute in May 2001. The event was delightful, and, while President Clinton may now be somewhat divorced from party politics, it is always possible that his very positive mood was at least in part a response to the defection on the previous day of Senator Jim Jeffords from the Republicans, giving the Democrats control of that chamber, and re-establishing the divided government that has been typical of the past generation of US politics. The Rothermere Institute is a most welcome addition to the American Studies resource base in the UK, and its influence is already being felt. It was a brave and generous act to issue an invitation even before the foundations were finished, to host the BAAS conference. Andrea Beighton and Alan Ryan have done a remarkable job in facilitating this conference.
The Association continued to communicate American Studies interests at every possible opportunity. We responded to consultations from the AHRB, Hefce, the British Library, and ESRC. The BBC and other media outlets have approached the Association requesting expert advice and commentary in their current affairs and other programming. The Times printed a letter commenting on the fact that the methodology of its subject tabulations understated the availability of American Studies in UK HEIs. The Guardian also recognised in print that its subject listing failed to do full justice to American Studies, and, after very wide consultation with American Studies programmes, BAAS provided data which was used by The Guardian to replace on its website its own, flawed, tabulation. We are not always successful. A letter to the THES responding to comments made about area studies subjects in the RAE was not picked up, and an offer to The Guardian to update the American Studies table in the light of the recent RAE results met with no response.
In concert with BUTEX, the Association approached a number of figures in the UK and the US regarding the proposed imposition of ‘tracking charges’ on exchange students to the USA. Barry Sheerman MP was vigorous in his support, and engaged US Ambassador William Farish in this discussion. Barry Sheerman also helped us follow up our concerns about American Studies students wishing to move on to PGCE courses, passing on our report on PGCE transition, and corresponding on our behalf with the Minister of Education, the Rt Hon Estelle Morris, and with Mike Tomlinson of OFSTED.
The QAA benchmarking process continued, and, after much very useful consultation, the Area Studies benchmarking group sent its final draft to QAA in January 2002. The American Studies RAE team also put in a great deal of work, before issuing its results. All those teams of researchers who entered under American Studies deserve the thanks and congratulations of the American Studies community. They have done their best, they have invested heavily and energetically into the subject, and it is painful that they should suffer from damaging decisions regarding government funding for research. Many Americanists are entered in the RAE in Units of Assessment, and go through QAA visits in subject provider groups other than American Studies, and our colleagues have contributed to highly respected research and teaching groups throughout the UK’s higher education community. It is not yet clear whether the QAA, or the RAE will have much of a shelf-life. Regardless, the American Studies community will continue to be engaged in exciting teaching, and stimulating research.
As well as ongoing activities—such as support for conferences, the paperbacks series, and the Journal, the Association continues to look for initiatives through which it can promote the subject, and support its members. The second issue of US Studies Online appeared, providing a legitimate, refereed opportunity for postgraduate publication. The website did suffer some problems early in 2002. Nottingham Trent University has provided an excellent location as the site has been developed, and we are very grateful for this support, but it became clear that we could not rely on volunteer effort to maintain the site at all times. The site has now been relocated. The address remains http://http://cc.webspaceworld.me/new-baas-site.
The website will be central to another initiative—the creation of a gateway to teaching resources in American Studies. Aimed primarily at supporting school teachers who need materials for Americanist GCSE and AS/A2 level teaching, it is certain that this gateway will point to many resources also suitable for university teaching support. The new BAAS Graduate Assistantships programme was carefully shepherded by Peter Boyle, and the first two students are progressing through the application process for the Universities of Virginia and New Hampshire.
This year the maximum Short Term Award was increased to £500. With the help of a grant from the US Embassy we were able to give a total of 14 awards. We are very grateful for the support that we receive from the Embassy, and that on this occasion has boosted the direct aid that we can give to young British scholars of American Studies. The Embassy’s Minister Counsellor for Public Affairs, Pamela Smith, and the Cultural Attaché, Carol Lynn MacCurdy, both good friends to the British American Studies community, moved on to new posts. The new Minister, Dan Sreebny, and the Acting Cultural Attaché, have continued to be very supportive, and we are pleased to welcome the new Cultural Attaché, Dennis Wolf. Sue Wedlake continues to be a great help to BAAS.
As well as last year’s very successful conference at Keele, the Association also mounted the annual autumn colloquium with the American Politics Group. At the APG conference in January Professor John Dumbrell of Keele was elected chair, and Dr. Esther Jubb of Liverpool John Moores became vice chair. The Chair of BAAS represented the Association at the Omohundro conference, held in Glasgow, and at the re-launch conference of the Bulgarian Association for American Studies, held in Blagoevgrad.
During the year Professorships have been conferred on Margaret Walsh and David Murray. Promotions have also been achieved by Douglas Tallack, to Pro Vice Chancellor, and Stephen Burman, to Dean of Humanities. Richard King was made Vaughn Research Fellow at the Robert Penn Warren Centre of Vanderbilt University, and Celeste Marie Bernier was a Gilder Lehrman Fellow at Yale University. Chris Bailey took on the Directorship of the Bruce Centre at Keele, and Philip Davies became Director of the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library.
The Journal of American Studies changed editors this year. I am pleased, on behalf of the Association, to thank Richard Gray for all his diligent work on the Journal, and to welcome Jay Kleinberg and Susan Castillo, the new editorial team. I also wish to thank all of my committee colleagues, but especially those whose terms come to an end at this AGM—Celeste Marie Bernier, Dick Ellis, Paul Giles, Simon Newman—and to the Association’s representative to EAAS, Mick Gidley.
Most of all, 2001 will be remembered for the September attacks in New York City and Washington. The letter that I wrote on behalf of the Association to Ambassador Farish on September 11th was just one of many thousands received at the Embassy, but still the Embassy found time to respond. BAAS members are intimately connected to the USA. They have studied and taught in American, they have relatives and friends in America, they have colleagues, and former teachers and students, in America. I fall into all of these categories, as do so many of you. My former student, Angela Houtz, was still in her mid 20s when she was killed last September. She had come to Britain to learn about us and our country, and, as so many of us have found in our turn, she also learned much about herself and her home. She allowed this transatlantic intelligence to inform and enrich her life. On both sides of the Atlantic we will continue to learn, teach, research, seek to understand—warts and all—and to take this intelligence into our lives.
Philip John Davies
Short-Term Travel Award Raffle
As members know, the Short Term Travel Awards provide vital support to postgraduate students and younger scholars seeking to complete research or present their findings at conferences in the United States. This year BAAS increased the number and the value of these awards, and we held a raffle during the annual conference in Oxford to help raise money in order to augment the Short Term Travel Fund. I am very grateful to all who bought and sold tickets, and to our generous sponsors who provided the prizes. The prizes, the donors and the winners are as follows:
The case of Corona Beer (donated by Corona Brewing Company) was won by Lindsey Traub (Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge)
A bottle of scotch whisky (donated by Allied Distillers Limited) was won by Tatiana Rapatzikou (University of East Anglia)
A bottle of single malt scotch whisky (donated by Morrison Bowmore Distillers Limited) was won by Jeffrey Weinberg (Executive Office of the President of the United States, and George Washington University)
An American Civil War style quilt (made and donated by Mrs. Maureen Newman) was won by Alison Easton (Lancaster University)
Two round-trip airline tickets to the United States (donated by American Airlines) were won by Jay Kleinberg (Brunel University).
Thanks to the generosity of our sponsors and the members of BAAS we raised £760.
Simon Newman (University of Glasgow)
Exchange Programme Talk
The topic for discussion at the lunch-time meeting on Saturday, April 5, at the BAAS Conference in Oxford, was the impact of a period of study at an American university on students’ written work on their return, especially on a Final Year dissertation. The topic was briefly introduced by Peter Boyle (University of Nottingham) and then opened up for discussion.
All participants at the session agreed that the beneficial effects of a period of study in America on students’ general educational development and their general understanding of American culture and society were immense and incontrovertible. The precise measurement of the impact on written work was, however, more open to debate.
Frank Lennon (Liverpool Hope University) suggested that if students spent a year at an American university, they were a year older and more mature, which might account for their intellectual growth as much as their time in America. Martin Padget (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) pointed out, however, that their students went to America for a semester in a three-year degree rather than adding an additional year, so that their students were not a year older, yet they seemed, after their time in America, to demonstrate in their written work a more secure sense of what they were writing about as a culture. Steve Mills (University of Keele) suggested that there were quantifiable points which should satisfy a QAA auditor seeking a demonstration of Value Added as a result of a period of study in America, such as appreciation of the sheer size of America and a consequent appreciation of such matters as that all political issues were local issues, whether in Kansas or California.
With regard to the dissertation in particular, it was felt that there were practical difficulties in students devoting much time to their Final Year dissertation while they were in America. Students took a full load of courses and needed time to participate in general cultural activities, which made it impractical to expect them to research a topic which they would then write up in their Final Year. It was felt, however, that the stimulus of study and travel in the United States, along with ideas developed in courses taken at an American university, had very beneficial impact on the quality of dissertations, though this was liable to vary from one student to another.
It was felt that the Exchange Programme Talk Shop, which has become an established tradition at the BAAS conference in recent years, had the value of providing an opportunity for exchanging ideas on the academic impact of exchange programmes as well as the practical value of enabling exchange tutors to come to know one another and to compare notes on nuts and bolts matters.
Peter Boyle (University of Nottingham)
BAAS Teaching Assistantships
Victoria Bizzell (University of Central Lancashire) and Stephan Brennan (University of Birmingham) have been awarded the first BAAS Teaching Assistantships. The awards were presented at the Conference Banquet at the BAAS Conference at Oxford. Victoria will be a Teaching Assistant in the Department of English at the University of Virginia, while Stephen will be a Teaching Assistant in the Department of History at the University of New Hampshire. The awards are for two years, during which time Victoria and Stephen will study for an M.A.
The origins of the BAAS Teaching Assistantships lie in a scheme which has operated for more than twenty years between the University of Nottingham and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM). In 1977-78 Peter Boyle spent the year on an exchange at UWM. David Healy from UWM, who spent the year at the University of Nottingham, suggested that a contact between the two universities should be maintained by the award by the UWM History Department of a Teaching Assistantship to a student in History or American Studies at the University of Nottingham. The award, which is named the David Healy Award, has been made every second year, with the successful applicant going to UWM for two years and taking an M.A. in History, financed by the Teaching Assistantship. The scheme has been very successful, with all candidates completing their M.A. and going on to successful careers. Some have gone on to take a Ph.D. and pursue an academic career, such as Simon Newman, Director of the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies at the University of Glasgow, and Mark White, who lectures in American History at Queen Mary & Westfield College, University of London. The scheme has benefits for all parties, at no cost. UWM adds to its international profile by the appointment of a British Teaching Assistantship, who has been screened and selected in a competitive process by experienced British American Studies specialists. The University of Nottingham benefits by being able to offer such an attractive award.
Peter Boyle therefore suggested to Phil Davies, chair of BAAS, that a similar scheme might operate at the national level through BAAS. Approaches were made to a number of American universities and favourable responses were received from the University of Virginia and the University of New Hampshire. The awards were advertised last autumn and a Selection Panel established, consisting of Peter Boyle, Jenel Virden and
Heidi McPherson, which chose Victoria Bizzell and Stephen Brennan as the successful applicants. We wish Vicky and Steve every success. We hope that they will serve as good ambassadors and help to ensure that the scheme becomes firmly established. In the course of time, we would hope not only to maintain the BAAS Teaching Assistantship in the Department of English at the University of Virginia and in the Department of History at the University of New Hampshire but also to add other universities and other disciplines, such as Politics.
Peter Boyle (University of Nottingham)
Oxford 2002: Individual Conference Paper Reports
Edward A. Abramson (University of Hull)
Fitzgerald, the Jews, and Hollywood
In this paper I analysed Fitzgerald’s changing attitude toward the Jews as expressed in his fiction, culminating in his reaction to Jewish-created Hollywood. In his earlier writings (This Side of Paradise, The Beautiful and the Damned, and The Great Gatsby) he presented an image of the Jew as an alien who posed a threat to his mid western and Princeton-based sense of what comprised American society. This view changed with his creation of a romantic ideal in the portrayal of the Jewish film producer Monroe Stahr in The Last Tycoon (unfinished, posthumous, 1941). Stahr was based upon Irving Thalberg, whom he first met at Universal Pictures in 1931, and one can see in his characterization a greater change in attitude toward the Jew in America than is reflected in that of most of his literary contemporaries. Fitzgerald was again in Hollywood from 1937 until his death in 1940 and, with Thalberg having died in 1936, seems to have felt that the possibility of Hollywood becoming a vessel for art, as opposed to a mere money making machine, had also died.
Fitzgerald, and other American authors of the period, reacted defensively to the increasing number of Jews entering American society. However, Fitzgerald was not an anti-Semite, although his characterization of Meyer Wolfsheim, in The Great Gatsby, does possess anti-Semitic overtones. His reaction to this new, vibrant, presence in America was more complex than simple hatred, and one can see in his fiction a subtext in which he works through his attitude toward the Jews.
Anne-Marie Angelo (Uppingham School)
White Space, Black Value: African Americans in Civil Rights Era Advertising
This cultural history paper analysed the role of mainstream advertising in race relations during and immediately following the civil rights movement. Whites used the space of advertising, as in Life magazine, to appear integrationist by portraying black models for the first time. However, this integration was merely ‘representational’. Blacks and whites did not interact in ads. Ads also used colour-blind imagery and language, and they avoided connecting blacks with products, continuing to exclude them from the mass market and mainstream society.
During the civil rights period, whiteness dared not speak its name, could not speak on its own behalf, but continued to advance through a colour-blind language radically at odds with the distinctly racialized distribution of resources and life chances in society.
Since there were so few depictions of blacks in advertising, these images inked themselves on the American consciousness. They influenced both white understanding of blackness and black self-perception. At the height of a complicated period in American history, advertisements presented an image of blacks that whites found appropriate and thus mirrored underlying social prejudices.
Furthermore, advertising during the civil rights movement allowed a space for the racially-motivated attitudes of whiteness to continue. Whites could see integrated advertisements without having to realize true integration in their own lives. Through assimilating blacks into a white-dominant medium, advertisers created artificial life situations and perpetuated a segregationist attitude into the integrated period of American history.
Edward Ashbee (Denstone College)
‘Being American’: Representations of National Identity
Representations of American national identity take three broad forms. Some have talked of the US as a political construct. ‘Being American’ depends upon allegiance to particular principles. This minimalist—and exceptionalist—approach was shaped by the Cold War but can coexist with multiculturalist understandings of the contemporary US. There are also cultural representations of American identity. These suggest that the US is—like other nations—constructed around networks of interlocking folkways. From this perspective, American identity has a more restrictive character. The process of Americanisation requires formal and structured programmes of assimilation and may, in practice, take a number of generations. Lastly, there are ethno-racial depictions of American identity. These assert that—for reasons derived either from racial or quasi-racial constructs—only some individuals can be assimilated into American cultural formations.
Although these representations underpin political discourse, there have been few attempts to consider and assess popular perceptions of American identity. However, in 1995-96, the General Social Survey (GSS) sought to gauge the character of public opinion as part of a study of 24 countries conducted by the International Social Survey Program (ISSP). Respondents were asked about the factors that allowed an individual to belong to a particular nation. What, for example, made someone ‘truly’ American or British? The exact wording of each question was adjusted so as to correspond with national circumstances.
The findings suggest that significant majorities have restrictive attitudes towards American identity. In particular, African-Americans are disproportionately likely to define national identity in terms that exclude relative newcomers.
Dr. Graham Barnfield (Surrey Institute of Art & Design)
‘Oh Logo!’ Left-Literary Modernism takes on Advertising, 1926-1941
The paper discussed the 1930s critique of advertising developed by James Rorty, among others, and now cited by ‘anti-capitalists’ like Naomi Klein. Previously the New Left avoided Rorty, who drifted sharply to the right in the post-war world, but today he is warmly embraced. My paper set out to problematise this new emphasis, whilst differentiating Rorty from his contemporaries.
In Our Master’s Voice (1934), Rorty claimed that advertising created false needs, spread misinformation, transformed civilisation into ‘pseudoculture’ and prompted scientists to prostitute themselves in support of commerce. His stinging rebuke to the ad industry as parasitic and possibly fascistic, based on his own advertising career, was part of his own rejection of the market, itself closely linked to the intellectual left of the Depression era.
In summarising this approach, my paper also pointed to its key weakness: an elitism that repeatedly characterised the public as infantile morons and passive consumers, undermining the social democratic aspects of Rorty’s critique. Panellists and other colleagues pointed out that Rorty was not unique in this respect, and good comparative use was made of the recent BBC Century of the Self documentaries and their discussion of the commercial use of Freudian ideas.
Mirza Asmer Beg (Aligarh Muslim University)
The United States, Nuclear Weapons and South Asia
The nuclear tests conducted by India and Pakistan shook the global strategic community, bilateral relations worsened and tensions over Kashmir increased. India claimed that its tests were in response to China’s continued intransigence on its borders, its assistance to Pakistan and in particular its missile and nuclear programmes. Pakistan’s response was inevitable. this dramatically altered the scenario from a purely bilateral situation to one that intrudes indirectly on the wider strategic environment. There were two immediate
anxieties, one a possible nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir which may escalate to a nuclear war. The other that a nuclear arms race may result with its adverse fall-outs. This paper is an attempt to examine the contradictory interpretations of the concept of deterrence by India and Pakistan and test their validity. The Indian doctrine in abjuring the first use of nuclear weapons rests on the assumption that possession of nuclear weapons deters their use. Pakistan’s doctrine seems to be entirely opaque, except that its objective is to neutralise India’s advantage. Secure in the knowledge that no Indian government is likely to resort to such dangerous brinkmanship, the Pakistan intelligence agencies have played havoc. As a result of Pakistan’s continued unwillingness to stop abetting terror in Kashmir the Indian Government is under Great pressure to take the battle to the enemy. So far India has desisted from doing so but how far it would be able to do so in the face of great internal pressures and increasing Pakistani belligerence, is difficult to tell. It is in this context that a clear and definite articulation of policy on the part of the US could tilt the balance between war and peace in South Asia.
Mark Brown, (University College Northampton)
Telling the Dodgers’ Story: the Community of Baseball in Paul Auster’s Films
The focus of Paul Auster’s films Smoke and Blue in the Face (1995) is on the neighbourhood of Park Slope, the Brooklyn Cigar Company store, the Brooklyn Dodgers, and friendship. My paper examined how Auster constructs the central space of the store as an interstitial urban space, beyond the surveillance of New York’s dominant money relations. In Park Slope and in the store, the characters use time to tell stories and discuss Brooklyn’s baseball past. From beyond the boundaries of the Brooklyn neighbourhood it is possible to detect the influence of social processes that extend far beyond the place-bound experience of the individual. The films represent these discourses through the global finance of Manhattan and the racism experienced by the Dodgers’ Jackie Robinson. Baseball is also a metaphor for metropolitan life and artistic production for Auster. Ultimately, Auster identifies a mode of metropolitan living, subject to chance and contingency, and dependant upon an understanding of how contemporary social relations operate both locally and beyond the local.
My paper considered Auster’s understanding of community against Raymond Williams’ terms of ‘militant particularisms’ and ‘structures of feeling’, and Doreen Massey’s sense of community in a global environment. I also examined Auster’s sense of community for signs of reactionary and nostalgic view of neighbourhood that would render community a negative, exclusionary rather than an affirmative, inclusive experience.
Christopher Clark (University of Warwick)
Women’s Lives in Utopia: A Mother and her Daughters at the Northampton Community (1843-45)
In her 1990 book Women in Utopia: The Ideology of Gender in the American Owenite Communities, Carol A. Kolmerten laid out a compelling framework for interpreting the experience of middle-class women in 19th century American intentional communities. Often reluctantly following husbands to new communities, obliged by the principle of equality to live without servants or domestic help, married women frequently found community life the very opposite of ‘utopian’. Sharing membership with men who spoke of equality and women’s rights, but who made no attempt to share the true burden of women’s responsibilities, community women were often obliged to carry a double load of communal or professional and of domestic labors. Kolmerten suggested that this undermined the success of communities that were organized around nuclear families. Single women in communities, on the other hand, and communities (such as those of the Shakers) that rejected conventional family life did not face these problems, and were more contented and successful as a result. My own book, The Communitarian Moment (1995) about the Northampton Association in Massachusetts, modified Kolmerten’s argument while supporting most of her conclusions. But my evidence was then culled from a variety of fragmentary sources on women’s experiences in the community.
The present paper offers a more thorough assessment, made possible by the recent discovery of about 70 letters from a Northampton Association woman and her daughters. These letters, written by women members of the Stetson family, simultaneously provide the perspectives of married and unmarried women on community life. Linked to an array of other evidence about Northampton, and to comparisons with Hopedale and contemporary Fourierist and Owenite communities, they address many dimensions of women’s experiences: the circumstances, motivations, and aspirations for joining a community; practical aspects of community life and work; women’s participation in decision-making; and the connections and boundaries between what the Stetsons called the ‘community’ and the ‘domestic’ aspects of their lives. Like many abolitionist women from middling and poorer families, the Stetson women combined household and industrial work with a commitment to social reform. To these they added a (fluctuating) set of expectations about the benefits of communal living.
Mother and daughters traced a subtle path between relative autonomy and being subjected to the attitudes and decisions both of their own husband and father, and of other men in the community—they not only often worked a ‘double day’, but also faced a ‘double patriarchy’. Yet gender, its assumptions and ideologies, formed only part of a more complex web of social relationships and disagreements. The Stetson letters throw important fresh light on the economics of community life and on the tensions over what one of them called ‘religious belief, diet, and amusements’, which caused divisions among community members, often without regard to gender or marital status. Above all, the evidence points to conflicts within families over issues of community policy, suggesting that it was not the position of married women as such, but the conflicting ideologies of ‘family’ and ‘community’ that undermined utopian aspirations.
Jude Davies (King Alfred’s, Winchester)
Gender and Power in the Visualizing of Dreiser’s An American Tragedy
This paper examined Hubert Davis’s Symbolic Drawings for Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy (1930) in the context of debates over the significance of Dreiser’s prolixity, massiveness, and inarticulateness.
It was argued that adaptations and illustrations of all sorts exist in an ambivalent relationship to their original, aiming to condense it into a series of images or scenes, yet at the same time by their very existence adding further layers of thematic material. In this ambivalence, the illustrations and film versions of An American Tragedy paralleled critical writing, which also works according to a combination of condensation and proliferation. The paper’s main concern was with the ways that Davis’s illustrations recast relations of gender, power and visibility.
In terms of its narrative, An American Tragedy risks a particularly extreme androcentrism by placing the pregnancy and death of a woman as determining incidents in the life of its male protagonist. As point-of-view becomes crucial for a properly proportioned understanding of this narrative, the perspectives and gazes depicted by Davis were seen to render anew the intertwined narratives of Clyde and Roberta, and ultimately to fold back into the questions of definitive explanation that Dreiser’s novel continues to pose.
Anna Dreda (University of Birmingham)
The Poetics of Protest: June Jordan—Lyrical Catalyst for Change
The complexity of black life in America creates a multiplicity of oppressions which poets have addressed in dazzlingly powerful ways from Phyllis Wheatley in the sixteenth century to the present day. Twentieth century poets like Jordan, Audre Lorde and Sapphire confront issues of black on black hatred, violence against women and children, and the ways in which fear and abuse can corrode beauty and vitality. Writing poetry becomes for them a way of defining truth so that they can create truth; a way of telling what they see that they may change what they see. ‘Poetry is not a luxury’, it is a ‘litany for survival’. As Audre Lorde says, ‘…when we are silent we are still afraid, so it is better to speak…’
One of the pivotal elements of Jordan’s poetry is her willingness to expose and politicise that which would seem to be most intensely personal and private. The ‘conscious family’ of black women poets to which Jordan belongs takes as its motto bell hooks’s admonition to ‘talk back’. As hooks exemplifies, ‘talking back’ implies not only disagreement and dissent, but also a willingness to talk about things that ‘should’ be kept silent. Jordan considers the particular silences of women, and in breaking those silences identifies ways in which poetry can affirm courage.
Rachel van Duyvenbode (University of Sheffield)
Ghostly Goddesses: Nella Larsen’s Passing and Apparitions of the White Woman
This paper analysed the performances through which the passing protagonist becomes a spectrally and textually white woman in Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel Passing. Using the figure of the ghost as an exemplar of bodily transformation and binary subversion (absent/present, black/white) this paper argued that the white woman functions as a spectre of cultural haunting in the text. In contrast to Richard Dyer’s suggestion that the privilege of whiteness prevents subjection to ‘stereotyping in relation to one’s whiteness’ (White, 1997, p. 11), I demonstrated that Larsen’s presentation of the white woman necessarily invokes typecasts of disowned, white forms of female deviancy.
Principally through an analysis of the motifs of the ghost, vampire and sexual transgressor this paper argued that the imagery aligned to the white woman explores contemporary anxieties surrounding the stability of colour, class and sexual identities. I suggested that the surfacing of the white woman within images of the ghost and vampire specifically approach fears of interracial sex and the deadly sexuality of white women. Acknowledging the persistence of cultural and literary stereotypes of African American women’s ‘excessive’ sexuality, I argued that Larsen’s displacement of aberrant sexuality upon the white woman manifests a politicised, textual strategy. Finally, this paper discussed how the motifs of white woman as vampire, ghost and sexual transgressor contest social ideologies of the Cult of True Womanhood. Filtered through the phobic fantasies of the bourgeois black narrator, I suggested that typecasts of white women’s ghastly whiteness facilitates the dialogic (re)construction of presentations of black womanhood.
Lucy Frank (Warwick University)
‘Being only out of Sight’: Sarah Piatt, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps and the Problem of Mourning in Postbellum America
Lucy Frank’s paper discussed mourning after the American Civil War, exploring the way in which tropes of haunting and the uncanny were used as a means of figuring the effects of the war on American society. The paper compared Elizabeth Stuart Phelps’s best-selling novel The Gates Ajar (1868) with the poetry of the Kentucky writer Sarah Piatt (1836-1919).
Phelps turns to a beneficent spirit world in order to offer consolation to her readers, reminding them that even though the absent dead are temporarily ‘out of sight’ they are nonetheless an invisible, consoling presence. In Piatt’s poetry, however, the war dead return to haunt rather than to console. Through close readings of some of Piatt’s poems, Frank discussed the way in which Piatt uses multiple voices, fractured time frames and lack of closure to stage the impossibility of representing death and loss in terms of a single framework of meaning.
Frank concluded that in refusing traditional forms of sentimental consolation Piatt does not create a poetics of despair, but, through the breakdown of stable identity, temporality and rhetorical certainty in her writing, she mobilises loss and fragmentation to disclose poetically the politics traditionally foreclosed by sentimental writing. Ultimately, Piatt’s ambivalent rejection of religious consolation in exploring the effects of death opens up new ways of critiquing dominant cultural values and narratives of history and identity.
Paul Grainge (University of Nottingham)
Global Media and the Ambiguities of Resonant Americanization
In a panel that explored questions of Americanization and the transatlantic, Paul Grainge examined the subject in terms of contemporary news discourse. Establishing the premise that Time magazine played an important post-war role in the dissemination of American values and liberal ideologies, his paper asked what effect the increasingly global organization and operation of parent company, AOL/Time-Warner, has had on Time Atlantic’s news identity, the international edition of the magazine serving Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Combining economic and cultural analysis, Grainge argued that Time Atlantic, once framed by Henry Luce as a missionary agent of America’s ‘towering uniqueness of power’, is no longer defined in any simple sense by the sponsorship of American values. Instead, the magazine figures a discourse of America, but in relation to postnational configurations that have seen the increasing emergence of transnational elites, agendas and commercial imperatives. Drawn from research conducted for the AMATAS project, Grainge’s paper argued that if the ambiguity of resonant Americanization describes a conjuncture where the ubiquity of U.S. forms and cultural products in the world is matched with the need to renew or reconfigure the hegemonic basis of American power, Time Atlantic suggests particular transitions in the mode and marketing of U.S. media/discourse abroad.
Steve Hewlett (Director of Programmes, Carlton TV)
History on the Box
Steve’s talk began with a discussion of the TV marketplace, pointing out that it is the reverse of the publishing marketplace. To make money, television depends on attracting a vast number of people who pay nothing. Material that works on the printed page and attracts buyers often doesn’t work on TV. In the case of factual programming, history provides ideal material. Good TV is good stories, and narrative history is just that. And unlike some other types of factual programming, history documentaries provide a story with an ending.
Originally, however, historical programming caught on because it allowed more scope for controversy. In Britain, it has been taboo for ‘current events’ television shows to be controversial—this is viewed as ‘bias’. But history TV programmes are frequently revisionist, thereby provoking their audience to re-think contemporary issues. Starting with early revisionist historical programming, such as A.J.P. Taylor’s famous lectures, producers began to see that history programming allowed for television with a political purpose.
In the past few years, history programming has escalated rapidly as the TV audience has recognized that history provides an inexhaustible source of ‘ripping yarns’. History programmes fulfil every criterion for ideal viewing: they are informative, giving the viewer a feeling that his time is well spent; they have a good story line with a conclusion; and they have credibility. Although historical scholars sometimes see television history as light-weight, the audience is sensitive to its credibility; if history on TV dumbs down, it will flop.
Steve believes that the current popularity of history is also a reflection of our times. In the context of an increasingly un-ideological world, people look to the past to locate themselves. And in Britain, where the future is uncertain, this has especial resonance, as people seek to redefine themselves and their nation by reflecting on where they have come from.
Keith Hughes (University of Edinburgh)
Frederick Douglass & Thomas Carlyle: The Romantic Rhetoric of Heroism
The paper is a contribution to the ongoing project to recognise the importance of Black American writing in a Transatlantic context. The focus was Frederick Douglass’s The Heroic Slave (1853), his speech known as ‘The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro’ (1852), and Thomas Carlyle’s ‘Occasional Discourse on the Nigger Question’ (1849).
Douglass deploys Romanticist discourse as Abolitionist cultural ammunition, appropriating the rhetorical and moral authority of the Declaration of Independence and the American Revolution, interpreting them ‘from the slave’s point of view’. An exemplary Transatlantic rhetorical move occurs in ‘The Meaning of July Fourth’, where slavery is seen as doomed’: ‘nations now do not stand in the same relation to each other…. Space is comparatively annihilated.—Thoughts expressed on one side of the Atlantic are distinctly heard on the other’.
Read alongside the Douglass texts, Carlyle’s ‘Nigger Question’ disarticulates its own rationale, deploying the very Romanticist discourse which Douglass invoked. Claiming to speak for ‘Fact and Nature’, Carlyle argues that ‘niggers’ are inferior to whites, so must work for whites, deploying Romantic universalism to propose economic policies solely in the interests of white landowners. Abolitionist language is turned against against blacks needing ‘emancipation’ from their ‘indolence’. Carlyle’s text reincarnates Bromion, the enslaver in Blake’s Visions of the Daughters of Albion: ‘Stampt with my signet are the swarthy children of the sun;/They are obedient, they resist not’.
Douglass deploys Romanticism as a tool towards an Abolitionist future; Carlyle’s pamphlet, however, represents the dead-end of a discourse blind to its own assumptions.
Esther C. Jubb, (Liverpool John Moores University)
The Multiple Presidency? George W. Bush and presidential management
It was suggested in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th that the nature of political life in the US would be changed forever. This paper examines the nature and effectiveness of George W. Bush’s leadership, at home and abroad, prior to September 11th and in the months following the attacks. It initially focuses on the development of the Bush administration and the nature of his presidency during the early months of the term of office, examining the process of establishing an administration after the unprecedented events of election 2000. Then follows an assessment of the operational and management style of the administration as it followed its domestic and foreign policy agenda. The paper then goes on to contrast this established modus operandi with the leadership style we have witnessed during the war against terror. In assessing the nature and extent to which the Bush presidency has changed and developed in response to these challenges observations are made that the President has adopted a variety of strategies for meeting the exigencies of the new political environment.
Ian Margeson (University of Gloucestershire)
Reverend Jacob Duché and The Atlantic Vine
I begin my paper by relating how in October 1777 the Anglican cleric and former chaplain to the Continental Congress, Jacob Duché, wrote to George Washington, seeking to persuade him that the Declaration of Independence should be rescinded. Two years earlier Duché had preached sermons to the Continental Congress and Continental army promoting Anglo-American reconciliation. These sermons were published and circulated in Philadelphia. They interpret the empire as an Atlantic ‘ vine ‘ spreading British liberties, institutions, and cultural influences to the American continent. Making a political parable of the biblical parable of the vine, Duché argues that American ’branches’ would cease to thrive if severed from British ‘roots’.
The principles underpinning Duché’s commitment to preserving and strengthening the Atlantic vine were nurtured during his time as a student at the College of Philadelphia in the 1750s. Under the leadership of Provost William Smith the college’s primary aim was to follow the example of Scottish educators in Aberdeen and nurture useful citizens capable of contributing to the province’s political, social, and economic life. This philosophy was absorbed by Duché, and articulated in his Caspipina letters, published in the Pennsylvania Packet during 1771 and 1772. In these letters Duché reasserts Smith’s Anglo-Scottish educational blueprint, emphasizing its role in sustaining Pennsylvania’s commercial success, cultural advancement, and polite society. Philadelphia’s philanthropic projects such as the hospital, employment house, and charity schools are cited as examples of English Enlightenment humanitarianism spreading to the American continent through the Atlantic vine.
In his letter to Washington, Duché asserted that the vine must be protected from destructive ‘husbandmen’, most notably the New England radicals in Congress. This would be Duché’s rationale for remaining opposed to American Independence.
Robert Mason (University of Edinburgh)
Television, politics, and the public interest: the origins and impact of the Gore commission
The development of digital television provided the Clinton administration with an opportunity to examine officially the nature of the public-interest commitments of broadcasters. In 1997 the administration convened the Advisory Committee on Public Interest Obligations of Digital Television Broadcasters (the Gore commission) to consider this question; it hoped that one of the commission’s key recommendations would be the gift by broadcasters of free air time to politicians during election campaigns. Free time had secured wide support during the 1990s among a growing school of media critics as a way to improve the quality of political discourse in the United States. It appealed to the administration as a measure of campaign finance reform by reducing the need of politicians to raise large sums of money for paid television time.
This effort to redefine the nature of the public interest in broadcasting achieved little success, illustrating the obstacles to any such reform. In many cases both broadcasters and incumbent politicians opposed the free-time proposal. Their influence contributed to the commission’s decision to recommend only a voluntary scheme of free time, suggesting that television stations should schedule five minutes of ‘candidate-centered discourse’ each evening during the last month of a campaign. Despite the cautious character of the proposal, its impact was limited in 2000. Relatively few stations aimed to meet this target, and the initiative failed either to lift the quality of campaign debate or to alleviate the problem of money in politics.
Tony Morris (Commissioning Director and Co-founder of Hambledon and London)
Trade Book Publishing
Tony began with an overview of the history marketplace today. Challenging the notion that the history book market is experiencing a new ‘golden age’, he pointed out that history books still aren’t really big sellers. For example, according to sales figures only a handful made more than £100,000 last year. And looking at the best seller list, the range of popular history topics is much more limited than the range of topics researched by academics. The public, despite its newfound appetite for reading about the past, is inclined to favour only a rather narrow and predictable list of subjects—wars, Nazis, kings and queens (especially the Tudors), ‘big sweep history’ (e.g. Simon Schama), revolutions, and the lifestyles of the aristocracy. This poses the question of whether the popular reader of history is really seeking knowledge, or has merely discovered that history can be good entertainment.
But the number of history book titles published in the UK each year has grown considerably since the 1960s. This is partly because books have become cheaper to publish. Nevertheless, the resulting increased competition means that publishers are looking for titles that will really sell. At precisely the time when scholars are under more pressure than ever to publish their PhDs and research monographs, publishers are becoming less interested in handling them. In the long run, it may be that either the form of the PhD will have to change, or specialized research monographs will have to find new outlets. This process, in Tony’s view, has already begun. And it may be that producing history books with a more popular appeal—‘trade’ history books—will become the norm for historical scholars.
Stephanie Munro (Lancaster University)
Past Present: Lydia Maria Child, Toni Morrison, and Slavery Revisited.
In this paper I sought to trace the different ways in which the nineteenth century white abolitionist and novelist Lydia Maria Child, and the twentieth century African American novelist Toni Morrison, relate to the slave’s narrative as a form of testimony. Both women, I argued, play a vital role in representing the experience of slavery to their respective audiences, though they do so in ways that reflect the very different text milieus out of which they each write. Child, as editor of Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl (1861) was compelled, like the author herself, to negotiate between nineteenth century sensibilities, and the realities of slavery as they were experienced and witnessed by a young woman born into this condition. Both author and editor give indications, in their respective writings, of the ways in which they feel circumscribed by the conflicts inherent in the project they have undertaken, a circumscription that is, I argued, underwritten by the ideological context created by the cult of true womanhood. Looking at Child’s introduction to Incidents, and one of her letters to Jacobs (thankyou to Rachel van Duyvenbode for being ‘The Voice of Lydia Maria Child’), I considered how her understanding of her relation to the slave’s narrative compares to that of Morrison’s, as represented in her 1987 novel Beloved. I concluded by considering the implications of the preceding argument for conceptualising slavery as a past event that continues to impact upon present consciousness.
Greg Neale (Editor, BBC History Magazine)
Popular History Magazines
BBC History Magazine was launched in May 2000 in response to a remarkable
growth in public interest, and has quickly become Britain’s best-selling popular
history monthly, with an average sale of some 53,000. The BBC hopes to start marketing BBC History Magazine in North America in the coming year: at the moment, its US and Canadian sales are relatively limited.
Based on his experiences as Editor of BBC History, Greg talked about how a
popular history magazine is launched. The market research behind the creation of BBC History was extensive, and identified six categories of popular history readers: the ‘history fanatics’, who are deeply passionate about history; the ‘academics’, who enjoy a professional relationship with the subject, whether as students, teachers or other; ‘history and heritage workers’ (eg museum and gallery staff); the ‘social historians’, who are interested both in historical personalities and in understanding how people lived in the past; the ‘modernists’, who believe that history, especially that of the 20th century, has a contemporary relevance; the ‘blood and guts’ enthusiasts, who enjoy military history (and other forms of conflict — possibly including sport!); and the ‘local neighbourhooders’, whose interest in history is mostly confined to genealogy or the history of their immediate area, and otherwise can find much history slightly dull.
While considering all these categories of potential reader important, the magazine has sought, editorially, to aim mostly at those groups which, aggregated, are classified as the ‘history buffs’ (‘fanatics’ and ‘academics’), and the ‘contemporary historians’ (the ‘social historians’ plus the ‘modernists’), though a smaller part of the content covers military, local or family history topics.
Although its readership is predictably interested in popular history (as depicted in television, radio and best-selling books), the magazine has also sought to cater for those interested in such academic history topics as feature in Britain’s National Curriculum, and bases much of its feature articles on new research emerging in the more scholarly press.
Two extensive reader surveys conducted since the magazine was launched have also found that while its readers are interested in military history, and other ‘popular’ topics, there is an even stronger enthusiasm for such topics as the remote past, archaeology, and the Middle Ages. Successful articles, Greg said, are those which present material with a strong narrative and a compelling story line, together with a sense of historical context and authorial analytical expertise.
‘If we had to describe the editorial balance we seek to strike, I’d say it would be a mixture of journalistically-literate history and historically-literate journalism’, Greg said.
Mark Newman (University of Derby)
The Delta Ministry in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, 1964-1967
The National Council of Churches’ Delta Ministry (DM) operated a project in Hattiesburg, south central Mississippi, between 1964 and 1967. It conducted programmes in health, relief and literacy, liaised with the white community, and assisted the local civil rights movement. Elderly and young African Americans proved most receptive to movement activity and involvement, while black middle-class and professional people, including many ministers, often remained aloof. Elements of the white middle class privately expressed disquiet about the worst excesses of racial discrimination but, fearing likely white reprisals, they would not act publicly. Local white ministers generally shunned approaches from the DM’s ministers, who, in consequence, acted mostly as aides to civil rights workers. The African-American population was riven by class differences. The DM increasingly sided with the more activist elements. Territorial and wary of competition, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People became hostile to the DM and its association with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Despite such problems, the Ministry helped facilitate voter registration, county participation in a federal surplus commodities programme, food and clothing distribution, community centres, and Head Start programmes for deprived preschool children. The DM began withdrawing from Hattiesburg in 1966, confident that local people could sustain the city’s civil rights movement without outside assistance.
John Osborne (University of Hull)
‘We’re all born naked—and all the rest is drag’: The Photography of Diane Arbus 30 Years after her Death
Diane Arbus (1923-71) is certainly the most famous, and possibly the most notorious, American photographer of the second half of the twentieth century. However, like the poet Sylvia Plath, her controversial subject-matter and death by suicide have misled critics into interpreting her works biographically, as subjective, even narcissistic, a visual diary from the wrong side of despair.
In this paper I wish to overturn or at least go beyond this critical orthodoxy, presenting Arbus as a profoundly analytical photographer whose oeuvre is predicated on the view that art is a discourse for deconstructing other discourses. For example, different of her images subvert or profane the sacred discourses of nation (she is particularly good at excavating the latent militarism that undergirds patriotic feeling), family (her work presents the family not as our refuge from the ills of the world but as the place where we are first exposed to them), gender (no other photographer has done as much to unmoor society’s sexual certitudes), normalcy (in her art normality is not an edenic given but an ideological aspiration that visibly warps its adherents), nature (for Arbus, human beings are by nature unnatural, our natural habitat the city), physical conformity (in a famous image Arbus depicts a giant in such a way that the viewer cannot decide if he is unusually large or the other people present are midgets) and childhood (for her the young are not innocent, and assuredly not angelic, but are small adults already inscribed with their elders’ confusions and anxieties).
In the process of anatomizing these and other of conventional society’s cherished myths and ideals, Arbus systematically opposes all essentializing discourses—especially those that proffer the illusion of an holistic selfhood. In her pictures identity is always socially constructed and, therefore, relativistic, provisional and performative. That is to say, identity is a product of those social discourses that art exists to liberate us from. The photographic image is her means of exposing the bogus identity we are invested with by the dominant social imageries. Arbus is not proposing that we can dispense with the concept of the self, but rather that we should stop trying to invest it with a permanency and authenticity it cannot sustain. From this perspective, the bank manager who does not acknowledge that his three-piece suit, intimidating desk and sceptical demeanour are performative is more deceived than the transvestite, since both are employing forms of drag but only the latter is conscious of it. What makes Arbus’s posture so radical, to the point where it anticipates by thirty years such contemporary cultural gurus as Judith Butler and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, is her refusal to designate a ‘core’ identity behind and anterior to the social mask. Identity is that which is performed through masquerade:
the triumph of the transvestite is not that he is more authentic than the bank manager but that he accepts (indeed, dramatizes) the inherent inauthenticity of selfhood; the tragedy of the bank manager is precisely that he has embraced the mask in the false belief that it is a face.
In order to keep her art radical, so that it does not simply assimilate other discourses into a kind of metalanguage, Arbus has photography deconstruct itself, laying bare the elements that make up its own discourse. One way she does this is by taking the camera into the nudist colony, the freak show, the drag ball, the lunatic asylum, the ‘Mister Universe’ contest, the brothel, thereby rendering explicit the voyeuristic base upon which all photography rests. That is to say, she makes the viewer uncomfortably conscious of the politics of the gaze. Again, by declining the technical perfectionism of fellow American photographers like Ansel Adams and Robert Mapplethorpe, Arbus avoids their tendency to so aestheticize their subjects that they efface not only the political content of the pictures but also the politics of the picturing process. Her utterly compelling, technically imperfect photos seem to say that if art has the power to deconstruct all other discourses it is not because it is more beautiful or more true than they are, but because it more readily acknowledges its own rhetorical status. As Picasso said, art is a lie that helps one see the truth more clearly. Or, to put it another way, the image that knows its own fictiveness is the better able to reveal the fictive nature of identity.
Inderjeet Parmar (University of Manchester)
American Foundations and International Knowledge Networks: The Role of
the Carnegie, Ford, and Rockefeller Foundations during the Cold War
The paper argued that the American foundations constructed knowledge networks around the world as part of America’s cold war initiatives. In particular, the paper focused on how the foundations promoted US hegemony in 3 cases: Indonesian economics/politics, Latin American social science and development studies, and on African Higher education
development. In each case, the foundations’ role was to establish and build up relevant Area Studies programmes in the USA, found a journal, set up fellowships and scholarships, and build connections between American and third world scholars and
research institutions. The ideology promoted by such efforts may be called ‘developmentalism’ or modernisation: a particular view of economic development that it would mirror western industrialisation and be based on a transfer of cultural and material resources from the west to the developing world. The net effect of such initiatives,
the paper concluded, was to consolidate US hegemony and to marginalise alternative development strategies. The theoretical conclusion of the paper was that neo-Gramscian hegemony theory best explained the evidence and that there was no evidence for the
contrary ideas of Barry Karl and Stanley Katz, who had suggested that the foundations were objective, disinterested, non-political and non-ideological.
Christopher Saunders (University of Cape Town)
The United States and Namibian Independence, 1975-1989: an interpretation
I argued in this paper that it has always been important—and post-September 11 it may seem the more so—to study the motives for, and the consequences of, American foreign policy from the vantage-point of the country or region concerned as well as from Washington D.C. In this particular case the country concerned was never of great interest to the U.S. in itself. Though there is a considerable literature on U.S. policy to southern Africa in the 1970s and 1980s, there is no substantial scholarly work on American policy specifically in regard to Namibia. But the U.S. devoted enormous energy in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s to achieving Namibian independence. I argued that U.S. interest derived from Cold War considerations as well as the idea that a Namibian settlement was important for change in southern Africa as a whole. The U.S. was as much concerned with the form of Namibian independence as with independence as such. In his recently-published memoirs, Sam Nujoma, the leading figure in the Namibian liberation struggle, repeats the accusation that the Reagan administration worked to delay Namibian independence, but the evidence suggests that nothing short of full sanctions against South Africa might have produced independence sooner, and such sanctions might have proved counterproductive.
William Schultz (The University of Athens)
The Hidden Logic of the American Dream in the Landscapes of Ballard’s Hello America: The Reality Made through Simulacra
In the science fiction novel Hello America (1994) J.G. Ballard presents a vision of America in 2130 to warn readers about undesirable tendencies in the national character (excessive self-interest, desire for power, and insufficient regard for the environment) and to encourage the development of more desirable tendencies (optimism, inventiveness, and regard for others and for the environment). The cover shows the great mixture of cultural images woven together. Ballard creates an alternative, abandoned, powerless America through three landscapes: the empty, dead cities; the areas outside them where gigantic images of John Wayne or other cultural figures appear in the sky; and the electrographic dream of a science fiction Las Vegas. In the Introduction he claims his purpose is to reveal the hidden logic in the American dream of today so that the novel’s nightmare will not occur. Like the social philosopher Baudrillard, he believes American reality is created by its cultural images and not the other way around; this simulation by which the social form is reproduced through relationships makes everything into a simulacrum. It is the process of the Coca-colonization of Europe and the world feared by the French communists in 1949. Not just a drink, it and other cultural icons reproduce some of the social form which created it: cultural simulation and assimilation.
Viviane Serfaty (Université Robert Schuman—Strasbourg)
The American Quest for Self : Some Aspects of Women’s Self-Representational Writing on the Internet
This paper examines diaries posted on the Internet by anonymous American women. A brief history of online diaries and of the web log phenomenon is provided, showing that posting one’s diary online is now within anyone’s reach as it no longer requires any web designing skills.
In a second stage, the four structural features of online diaries are identified and analyzed.
1. Accumulation refers to the coexistence of text, images and sometimes sound in most diaries. Media accumulation functions to create and enhance the density of the fiction of self constructed through diary writing. Thus the basic purpose of traditional autobiographical writing—self-construction and reconstruction through the writing process itself—is maintained online.
2. Open-endedness : the daily entries and the archives covering several years provide a space for stability, while the very fact of using the first-person singular enables the writer to work out a definition of self which is the very first step towards self-transformation, open-ended and potentially infinite.
3. Self-reflexivity, i.e. thinking through the very process of diary writing, serves both as a means of distanciation and as a way of deliberately highlighting its kinship with fiction writing.
4. Co-production points to the fact that online diaries have devoted audiences which interact with the writer and thus turn the process of identity construction into a collaborative project.
The final section of the paper is a case study of an American woman’s use of her diary as self-justification for her own unconventional life choices.
David Seed (University of Liverpool)
Mapping the Postnuclear Ruins of America
This paper presented a preliminary survey of selected works read through the perspective of cultural geography with the notion of space being divided between larger location, locale, and the psychological perception of space. The examples considered were taken mostly from the 1950s and early 1960s, and the analysis focused on the repeated loss of location with the attendant concentration on more local regions. A theme of the paper was the contradictions and disparities which prevented these narratives from drawing their details into coherent unity. Thus Philip Wylie’s Tomorrow! (1954) included a map of his bombed cities which gave a vertical clarity unavailable to the more horizontal confusion of his survivors. Alfred Coppel’s Dark December (1960) was discussed as an example of a protagonist’s gradual loss of orientation as be travels across war-blasted California; and the re-appropriation of the landscape through exploration was considered in works by Leigh Brackett and Edgar Pangborn. The landscapes in these works were examined as palimpsests containing the cryptic traces of pre-war culture which had to be deciphered. A key texts here was Walter M.Miller’s A Canticle for Leibowitz (1959) which recapitulates western history in a fated cycle of events. Finally, the discussion turned to Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka’s Warday (1984) which describes a tour round a post-war USA which has fragmented into separate regions dependent on foreign aid.
Bénédicte Sisto (University Blaise Pascal, France)
Coral Gables, Florida: America’s ‘Finest Suburb’ in the Roaring Twenties
George Merrick founded the city of Coral Gables in Southern Florida in the early 20th century with the idea—as well as the ideal—to lay out and build the most beautiful suburb ever attempted. This presentation traces the evolution of America’s ‘finest suburb’ from 1899—when Merrick’s father, a Congregational minister, decided to move from Massachusetts to the village of Miami—to the Roaring Twenties when Merrick put Coral Gables in the national spotlight. It explains how Merrick used the tropical surroundings to exoticize the place and make it not only a residential suburb inspired by Mediterranean Rivival architecture but a place to live and work, an entire city with business and commercial areas and even a school system ranging from elementary to university level. Finally, this presentation examines the crucial role Coral Gables played in the incredible real estate boom that swept over Florida during the Twenties, and takes into consideration the carefully orchestrated marketing campaign used by Merrick to attract national publicity.
Sources for the paper include documents from the Archives and Special Collections at the Historical Association of Southern Florida, the University of Miami (Otto G. Richter Library), The Miami-Dade Public Library (Florida Special Collection) and the Coral Gables City Hall (Historic Preservation Department). Picture postcards from Coral Gables in the 1920s illustrate this presentation.
Rebecca Starr (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education)
Recruitment Tactics of the Oneida Community and Women: Evidence from the Letters of Sophia Bledsoe Herrick
The Oneida Community was the longest lived (1843-1879) and the most experimental in gender and family structure and roles, of all the 19C American utopian communities. A spate of books and articles in the 1980s and 1990s ( for example, Louis Kern, An Ordered Love ) suggested that women of the Oneida Community enjoyed a greater ideological and practical equality with their menfolk than their middle class sisters confined by the domestic ideal. These publications generated a debate that is still developing. Robert Fogarty’s recent edition of the diary of Tirzah Miller Herrick (Desire and Duty: The Intimate Diary of Tirzah Miller) has given us insight into the mixed character of this ‘freedom’ in the life of a woman born into the Community’s values. Miller’s unhappy account is all the more poignant for its nearly unexamined acceptance of the Community’s (and that of its leader John Humphrey Noyes) control over her life. We have some fragments from women who left the Community, but we have not thus far had an account from a woman who rejected the community after prolonged and intense pressure to join. The private letters of Sophia Bledsoe Herrick, gives us a first hand account of this ‘other side’ of a woman’s experience of male proselytes from the Community. Dovetailed with evidence from the OC archive at Syracuse University Library, the letters also shed light on such important Oneida practices as ‘mutual criticism’ and on Oneidian’s theological views of women. Lastly, the letters suggest the existence of a heretofore unknown ‘branch’ of the Oneida Community in New York City.
Herrick’s husband James Burton Herrick, a clergyman in a poor working-class New York City parish, was personally converted by Noyes about1865, a few years after their marriage in 1860. There followed an intense two year campaign by Herrick and a ‘prayergroup’ of radical (possibly Chartist) workingmen disciples of Noyes to bring Herrick’s wife into the fold. Unable to accept the Community’s sexual beliefs, feeling at times physically threatened, she ultimately sought a legal separation. Sophie (who would later become a scientific writer, literary editor and social commentator for The Century Magazine) describes these conversion tactics as well as her reflections upon the Community’s sexual, social and economic systems in letters written in the 1870s. James Herrick would move into the community in the 1870s, becoming the stirpicultural partner and finally the husband of Tirzah Miller, the ‘Dear Jamie’ of her intimate diary. These letters offer unique insights from the perspective of a reflective, analytical, and unsentimental woman with unusual literary gifts, and adds a new dimension to our knowledge of this strongly, self-consciously intellectual 19C community.
Joe Street (University of Sheffield)
‘Art is to politics as content is to form’: a case study of two cultural organisations in the 1960s civil rights movement
My paper explored the history and development of two organisations that grew out of the 1960s civil rights movement. Both organisations attempted to unite the freedom struggle with African American culture in order to broaden the parameters of the movement. The Free Southern Theater, established in 1964, was initially an integrated group. During SNCC’s 1964 Summer Project, the FST toured Mississippi, performing Martin Duberman’s In White America, a drama-documentary about the history of African Americans. Following the success of this tour, the FST settled in New Orleans and developed its own concept of black nationalist community theatre. The Southern Folk Cultural Revival Project emerged from the student movement two years later and attempted to establish the centrality of a biracial folk culture to the South. In an atmosphere of polarised racial opinion, the SFCRP failed in its quest to unite the races. Its tale of failure was explored in the paper alongside the relative success of the FST. I used the examples of these organisations to draw conclusions about the development of civil rights historiography, suggesting the historians should be challenging their own conceptions of the movement and its legacy.
Despite the small audience, a lively debate followed. Its highlight was a comment from Anne Romaine’s former tutor at Vanderbilt University. His thoughts on the SFCRP founder’s personality and academic prowess were uncannily similar to my conclusions about her historical significance. Thanks to an adept chair, the debate gave all three panellists opportunity to broaden the debate and discuss a number of different issues.
Jenny Terry (University of Warwick)
‘When all the wars are over’: the post war fiction of Toni Morrison
Forming a part of the session ‘Looking Backward, Looking Forward: Writing American Memory’, this paper proposed that war and its after effects are central to the conception of Toni Morrison’s seventh and most recent novel, Paradise. Exploring aspects of the text that its original title, War, would have drawn explicit attention to, the paper attempted to interrogate the complexities of what military service might mean to African Americans in terms of belonging, the definitions of home that emerge from experiences of combat overseas and Morrison’s depiction of the justifications and repercussions of violence through the embattled stance taken by the all black town of Ruby.
Departure to, and return from, war is one of the chief forces shaping the town’s story and the paper suggested that participation in various Twentieth Century conflicts contributes much to the increasingly isolationist and patriarchal stance taken by the leaders of Ruby. It is military service which crystallises the particular ideas of community held so dear by the veterans and it is later the rhetoric of ‘defence’ which enables their attack on the outsiders at the Convent.
In conclusion, it was argued that, although Paradise fails to present an explicit critique of American militarism and imperialism, despite a focus on the era of Vietnam, attempts to explore concomitant dynamics such as nationalism, ‘Othering’ and the escalation of aggression can be identified in Morrison’s narrative.
Wendy Toon (Keele University)
From Hitler to Herbie: The Forgotten Relationship between Nazis and Hollywood’s Loveable Bug of the 1960s
The process of denazification during the American Occupation of Germany inevitably involved the removal of overtly Nazi symbols, practices and associations. Therefore it seems surprising that such a potent symbol as the Volkswagen (People’s Car) should not only have survived this process but have gone on to be an American icon of the 1960s. It is this forgotten relationship between a Nazi pet project and Hollywood’s portrayal of the ‘Bug’ that this paper addressed.
The Volkswagen was commissioned by Adolf Hitler and championed by the Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) organization. It served an ideological and sociological function and simultaneously assisted the financial liquidity of the government, with weekly instalment payments from prospective owners. It featured heavily in domestic propaganda and had both civilian and military connotations. A brief history of the beginnings of the Volkswagen pointed to its significance as a symbol during the Nazi period. Thus, if the symbol of the Swastika is dangerous, militaristic and subverting the cause of democracy, then why not the Beetle?
After the fall of the Third Reich, however, it was not destroyed or made taboo. In fact the Volkswagen became one of the world’s most popular automobiles. The series of Herbie films fuelled this popularity. Hollywood’s portrayal of the Beetle could not be further from the one that might have been expected. In fact, the image of a magical, friendly, humanized car with personality, that attains celebrity status, remained almost completely unchanged from the representation devised by the Third Reich.
Dr Hugh Wilford (University of Sheffield)
CIA plot, socialist conspiracy or New World Order? The Origins of the Bilderberg Group, 1952-55
The main aim of this paper was to draw on newly available archival evidence to document the origins of the Bilderberg Group, a secretive council of Atlantic elites which derives its name from the Dutch hotel in which it first met in 1954. After narrating Bilderberg’s early history from 1952, when the idea was hatched, to 1955, when its continuation was assured by the granting of American foundation support, the paper considered the various conspiracy theories which have attached themselves to the Group. Some on the European left have interpreted it as a CIA plot to undermine socialism; others on the American right as a socialist conspiracy to destroy the US’s capitalist, democratic institutions; most recently, extremist groups in both America and Europe have
accused it of being the seat of a hidden global government, the ‘New World Order’. The paper concluded that, despite its obvious idiocies, it was this last theory which came closest to the truth, in that the new documentary evidence tends to support Dutch
political economist Kees van der Pijl’s claims of the existence of a ‘trans-Atlantic ruling class’. Examination of David Icke’s claims that the Group is in fact composed of twelve-foot, shape-shifting lizard aliens was left for a future conference.
Robert Williams and Stephen Welch (University of Durham)
Political Scandals in the United States: Towards a Theory
Political scandals have become a serious focus of academic attention in the past decade or so. But if political scandals are no longer regarded as mere epiphenomena, the froth on the political cappuccino, there are still only a small number of studies which go beyond the case study. Thus we know a lot about particular scandals in terms of their genesis and development but few attempts have been made to draw general lessons from their occurrence.
This paper offers a more theoretical treatment of political scandals in the United States. Our interest is not in comparative political scandals and nor is it in scandal as such. We suggest that viewing American political scandal historically provides a perspective on long-term scandal dynamics. We then suggest that placing this view into a framework of political and media development makes it possible to account not only for the forces which generate political scandals in the United States but also for the role political scandals have played in political change. We argue that political scandals in the United States need to be understood in terms of a process of political contestation and this demands a close examination of the nature of political participation and of the prevailing political issues and political environment.
Andrew Wroe (University of Essex)
Post 9/11: An Analysis of Political Trust
Before 9/11, only 4 in 10 Americans said they trusted government all or most of the time. After the destruction of the Twin Towers, it increased to 6 in 10. This paper examines why 9/11 has changed positively the way Americans feel about their government. It also examines whether the increase in trust will prove permanent or transient. It is argued that the headline level of trust post 9/11 is over-inflated, and does not reflect underlying (negative) sentiments about government. Thus, while the government’s response to the domestic attacks and its prosecution of the war abroad should have a moderately positive effect on citizens’ evaluations, trust will nonetheless decline as the US returns to normality.
Travel Award Reports
John D. Lees Award Report
Aaron Winter, University of Sussex
Report on research trip to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in Montgomery, Alabama and the University of Georgia in Athens (17-28 March 2002).
The focus of my DPhil research is the politics, discourses and strategies of the U.S. extreme right (white supremacy, Christian Identity and patriotism) and how they have transformed, becoming increasingly unified, radicalised and antagonistic to the mainstream political system, in the post-civil rights or ‘Fifth’ era (1970-present). In terms of both subject matter and historical focus, the SPLC’s Intelligence Project is an invaluable resource. It is not only the premier monitoring organisation in the field, but was established in 1981 (as Kianwatch) in response to the resurgence and paramilitarisation of the extreme right in the late 1970s and early-l980s.
Upon arriving in Montgomery on 18 March, Laurie Wood, Research Director of the Intelligence Project, graciously took me out to dinner where we had the opportunity to discuss the work of the Intelligence Project and the objectives of my trip. After dinner Laurie was kind enough to give me a tour of Montgomery including such sites as the Civil Rights Memorial and the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church. The following day I arrived at the SPLC, where I met the research team and was given access to a wealth of reference material, back issues of the Intelligence Report and primary literature including Posse Comitatus, Aryan Nations’ Calling Our Nation and The National Alliance’s National Vanguard My first two days were spent reading this material and examining each group’s history, political manifesto and theories about contemporary race, religion and politics.
Along with meeting the research team for lunch each day to discuss the material, on the third day the team of Laurie, Joe Roy, Michelle Bramblett and Tafeni English convened to answer questions that I had prepared. We discussed the SPLC and Intelligence Project, its political and legal work, and epistemological approach to defining and classifying extremist groups. More specifically we discussed the historical and political development of the contemporary extreme right, with particular reference to the influence of anti-government patriotism on traditional white supremacist and Christian Identity movements. Moreover, we discussed the influence of events such as the farm crisis, Ruby Ridge, Waco, Oklahoma and September 11 and predictions for the future. The meeting concluded with a power-point presentation highlighting specific groups, their profiles, websites and most recent developments.
After completing my research at the SPLC, on 22 March I travelled to Newnan, Georgia where my brother had arranged a meeting with an associate who’s grandfather had been a KKK member at the height of the civil rights era. I was given a tour and history of Newnan focusing on the murder trial of John Wallace, KKK history and lynchings, as well as discussing the effects of desegregation and civil rights on local politics and race relations.
On 26 March I travelled to the University of Georgia in Athens, where I visited the Hargrett and Russell Collections. At the Hargrett, I consulted their ‘Right Wing Political Collection (1950-1971)’, examining issues of the KKK’s American Klansman, while at the Russell, I consulted the archives of mainstream segregationists such as Roy V. Harris, Georgia State legislator and president of the Citizens Councils of America. This material allowed me to compare the politics and strategies of both the extreme and mainstream right in opposition to desegregation and civil rights, to the more radical version that followed in the ‘Fifth Era’.
Unfortunately, after two days in Athens I had to return to Atlanta to catch my return flight to the UK. While far too short, this trip was an extremely interesting, productive and enjoyable experience, and I know that my research will benefit from it immensely. I would like to take this opportunity to thank BAAS for the John D. Lees Short Term Travel Award, which made this research trip possible. I would also like to thank Laurie Wood, Michelle Bramblett Tafeni English, Joe Roy, Richard Cohen, Founder Morris Dees and all the SPLC staff for their time, expertise and hospitality. Finally, I would like to thank Mike Winter and his associate, as well as my supervisors Dr. Clive Webb and Professor William Outhwaite for their support, and Dr. Webb for his help in arranging this trip.
Other Travel Award Reports
A.R. Flint, Anglia Polytechnic University
I thank BAAS for its kind and very generous support, which allowed me to visit the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta, Georgia. The essential close primary archival research around which my thesis is predominantly based was only made possible by this award.
The purpose of my trip to Atlanta was to continue research for my doctoral thesis, The Carter Presidency and the New Christian Right. My work focuses on foreign and domestic policy issues deemed by Christian conservatives in the 1970s to be emblematic of the increasingly secular, liberal humanist nature of American public and political discourse. Specifically, I am examining the Congressional ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment; the ban on prayer in public schools; access to federally funded abortions and the tax-exempt status of Christian academies. It will explore the clash between the Carter administration and the Christian Right over the diffusion of American military and economic global influence with detailed reference to two case studies: the Panama Canal and SALT II treaty negotiations. The purpose of this study is to broaden existing revisionist scholarship on Carter through analysis of this unexamined theme and to reposition Carter within the historiography of the Christian Right.
Jimmy Carter was the most avowedly pious American president of the twentieth century. My research argues that he was the first president to bring spiritual concerns to the centre of American political discourse. His devout evangelical faith was a catalyst for Christian political activism during the late 1970s and laid the basis for their ascent to a key role in American political life thereafter. Paradoxically however, Carter abjectly failed to retain the support of the Christian Right, and the movement played a key role in removing him from office in favour of Ronald Reagan, a candidate whose lack of religious credentials made him a far less obvious champion for Christian conservatism.
Managed by the National Archives and Records Administration, the Carter library is a repository of approximately 27 million pages of Jimmy Carter’s White House material, papers of administration associates, including documents, memoranda, correspondence, interview transcripts etc. There are also hundreds of hours of audio and visual tape. Of particular interest were the transcripts of the Oral History Project on the Carter White House carried out by the White Burkett Miller Centre of the University of Virginia. The library holds many difficult to attain secondary sources pertaining to the Carter administration. On first arrival the amount of archival material available made research rather daunting but fortunately the archival staff at the library were extremely helpful in helping me focus my energies in the most rewarding areas. I can say that the support of BAAS was absolutely vital in helping to allay the cost of my photocopying bill!
All of my research objectives of my visit to the Carter library were successfully achieved. The range of resources available was extremely impressive, and the research that I carried out in Atlanta is of vital importance in completing my thesis. Serious archival work on the Carter Presidency has only just got seriously under way and my research is now in a position to make a valuable and innovative contribution to the developing historiography on the Carter White House.
David Stirrup, University of Leeds
I must begin by expressing my gratitude to BAAS for their generous support of my research into representations of death in contemporary Native American fiction. As sombre as it may sound, my focus is ultimately on aspects of ritualization and the formation of community.
My trip, conducted over the first three weeks in April, began in Chicago where I spent a few days exploring the Ayer collection of Native American Ethnography. This research, principally a search for band-specific historical context, was aided by Robert Galler, interim director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for Native American Studies.
From Chicago I travelled to Milwaukee, to the University of Wisconsin campus, to meet with Kimberly Blaeser, author of several collections of poetry, a critical text on Gerald Vizenor, and editor of Stories Migrating Home. Kim was extremely generous with both her time and advice; she put me in email contact with Heid Erdrich and made several useful suggestions regarding both my interpretation of fictitious communities and also the predominant non-Native view of Native communities in the U.S.
Leaving Milwaukee, I headed for Minneapolis to meet with David Treuer. David is a lecturer at the University of Minnesota and author of the novels Little and The Hiawatha. Like Kim, David was welcoming and generous with his time. His responses to my questions regarding his own work were open and enlightening, and our lengthy discussion of Native American Literature in general offered many interesting insights on the representations of Ojibwa ceremonies and use of the Anishinabe language by many of his contemporaries.
After a short stay in Minneapolis—the Library of the Minnesota Historical Society threw up several fascinating local studies—I hired a car and headed north. On Heid Erdrich’s advice I drove up through Minnesota via Little Falls (where Louise Erdrich grew up) making stops in Leech Lake and White Earth reservations in an attempt to garner some appreciation of the landscape and geographical situations of the types of communities that writers such as Erdrich and Treuer draw from. My ultimate destination was the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota where a visit to the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Heritage Center and a conversation with one of the volunteers there also lent new perspectives as to the nature of commitment to community held by the people here.
I have returned with information and experience that I could not possibly have gained without this first hand experience. I have kept contact with Kim Blaeser and David Treuer and feel that I have established some firm foundations for future research. Once again, thank you to BAAS for helping to make this possible.
Jennifer Robinson, University of Derby
The Travel Award generously supplied by BAAS helped to finance a research trip to New Mexico in February 2002. I am a PhD student specialising in issues of identity, gender and spatial imagery as represented in some nineteenth century American women’s writing for girls and my research trip had a two-fold purpose. The first was to attend the American Popular Culture Association’s Conference and present a paper on the Gothic aspects of my selected texts ; there has been little critical writing on the Gothicism of such writing for girls, so I particularly wished to discuss this with an American academic audience. In the event my paper was well received and was followed by stimulating and rewarding discussion ; the papers of my co-panellists, which were respectively concerned with the literary imaginations of Victorian heroines and power and surveillance in writing for girls, were also illuminating with regard to my research. In addition, other panels, including those on literature and eco-criticism, African-American women’s romance writings and gender, race and writing in the context of the Civil War, were both relevant to my research and also stimulating in connection with other interests in various areas of American culture. Generally, the conference offered excellent opportunities for networking with academics with related research interests.
I also wished to make use of the resources of the University of New Mexico. I was able to access much useful material there; for example, I located articles produced by the local press in the mid-nineteenth century relating to the education, upbringing and dress of young girls in the area at that time. The University also has an extensive collection of chicana writing which, since it frequently centres on issues of gender and identity and the representation of these in the spatial imagery of texts, is an area which I research in connection with my PhD. I was able not only to access many such texts but also to attend a lecture by Dr Carl Mora on chicano/a film and the screening of a film from the ‘Aztlan Cinema Series’.
My research trip, then, successfully fulfilled both of its purposes: both my attendance as a participator at the conference and my research at the University of New Mexico were of immense benefit to me. Although the primary benefits I derived from this visit relate to the development of my PhD, as my comments here indicate many aspects of my trip were also of more wide-ranging benefit in furthering my knowledge and understanding of related aspects of American culture. In addition, my paper is to gain publication as part of the conference proceedings, with due acknowledgement to BAAS. I should like to reiterate my thanks to BAAS here, for supplying the partial funding which made this stimulating and immensely worthwhile trip possible.
Sam Luton, University of Warwick
I would like to take this opportunity to extend my warmest thanks to the British Association of American Studies and the University of Warwick Graduate History Department for their generous support in funding my recent research trip to the United States. My MA dissertation has focused on inter-racial encounters in taverns in antebellum New Orleans, and having access to the city’s many archives provided vital primary resources that have formed the basis of my work.
Whilst in New Orleans, I visited three different archives and libraries, each of which provided a different selection of useful resources. I spent the majority of my time working in the Louisiana Collection branch of the Special Collections Department at Tulane University. Their range of early New Orleans Directories, dating from 1822, allowed me to lay the quantitative foundations for my work on taverns, and to gain a better understanding of their geographical distribution. I also found their range of City Ordinance Digests to be invaluable in the creation of a legislative framework (concerning slaves, free-blacks, and coffee-houses) for my study. Moreover, I was able to consult a number of published secondary sources relating to the city that had proved impossible to find in England. The helpful staff and friendly atmosphere made it a very pleasant place to work, and the sheer size of the collection meant I could happily have stayed there for ten months, not just ten days!
The second location I found useful was the Williams Research Center, located in the city’s French Quarter. Much of the qualitative evidence in this work has been drawn from contemporary newspaper reports, and the Williams Research Center had an extensive range of this kind of source. Time, yet again, proved to be a frustrating limiting factor, but I was still able to consult a number of different papers, from a number of years. I concentrated on the New Orleans Bee and the New Orleans Daily Delta, the largest newspapers in the First and Second Municipalities respectively, although I also consulted a selection of issues from the Louisiana Gazette, the Louisiana Advertiser, and The True American. The Bee’s ‘City Intelligence’ column, in particular, was a bountiful source of information.
Finally, I visited the City Archives section of the New Orleans Public Library. This houses a significant selection of early nineteenth century government documents. Again, I found the staff helpful in guiding me through the archival maze to appropriate sections of the extensive holdings, and it was instructive to view a range of the tavern licenses issued in the antebellum period. There was, however, simply not enough time to delve properly through the full range of materials relating to taverns and coffee-houses held in the archives, and I certainly hope to be able to revisit them again in the future to extend my study.
Beyond the strictly academic, this grant has enabled me to visit the city (and its taverns), to walk around it, and to get some kind of feel for it. This, too, was invaluable for the writing of this dissertation. Once again, many thanks for this opportunity.
Making Sense of 9/11: Teaching American Studies After the Attack on the Twin Towers
This one-day conference was held at King Alfred’s Winchester on 25 May 2002 under the auspices of the HEFCE funded project AMATAS (American Studies and the Teaching of American Studies). The event was designed to provide a focus for mature reflection on 9/11 and its legacy by considering their implications for what happens in the Higher Education classroom.
Hence the morning session, ‘Thinking 9/11 and America’ was composed of two papers devoted to serious consideration of the language and concepts through which 9/11 has been or could be understood. In the probing and elegant ‘Living in a time of crisis: Thinking 9/11’ Victor Seidler, Professor of Social Theory at Goldsmith’s College, London, made a forensic analysis of the key terms underlying policy-making post-9/11 demonstrating the limitation of notions of ‘crisis’, and narrow definitions of ‘civilisation’. Taking his cue from the patriotic advertising that emerged immediately after 9/11 Professor Andrew Wernick, of Trent University in Canada followed up by mapping the synergies between US political ideology and the patterns of consumption celebrated in advertising, in ‘Let freedom ring, or re-branding America’.
The second session focused directly on 9/11 in the classroom. In ‘A constructive anti-Americanism? Crossing the boundaries of 9/11’ Professor Scott Lucas of the University of Birmingham emphasised the importance of contextualising 9/11 according to multiple disciplines and histories, from longstanding dynamics in US foreign policy to the relations between institutions, nation states, economics, national ideologies and myths of the nation. Alasdair Spark of King Alfred’s Winchester brought the session to an end with a presentation ‘9-11@24/7: Opportunities for teaching in American Studies’ that was itself interactive, demonstrating perfectly how students’ own experiences of the US as a global cultural power, demonstrated by CNN coverage of the war in Afghanistan, can be utilised to open up historical, political, and cultural understanding.
The event concluded with a plenary whose clarity and focus owed much to a telling summing-up by Shamoon Zamir (King’s, London). Most of the papers will shortly be available in print and at the AMATAS website (http://www.amatas.org), from which can also be ordered a selection of student workshops on Americanisation, including a version of Alasdair Spark’s paper. It is perhaps appropriate here then to rehearse some of the themes that attracted conspicuous discussion or agreement. In this sense the event could be seen as a snapshot of responses from a cross section of Americanists of various stripes and other scholars from ten institutions, (and in no sense would claim to represent the American Studies community as a whole). If there was general agreement among those present, it was that 9/11 and its aftermath had demonstrated the limitations of narrowly culturalist conceptions of Americanisation as a positive, two-way process. There was a general tendency also to question notions of 9/11 as an epochal, qualitatively unique and specifically American event, whether by pointing to the problems attendant on notions of 9/11 as ‘crisis’, or by ‘thinking beyond and before 9/11’ in Scott Lucas’s phrase, or by reference to the necessity of coming to terms, as Shamoon Zamir rightly insisted, with other, less media-friendly victims of state and terrorist violence.
What remained unresolved, maybe productively, were the disciplinary orientations necessary to be able to properly teach 9/11. A recurring issue on the day was the extent and nature of the dialogues possible with cultures marginalised by American dominance, including rational Eastern traditions. There is also the paradox that 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan have simultaneously demonstrated the crucial importance of national political and military history, while showing up the limits of nation-based perspectives. As an attack on America, prompting a military response by American and its allies, at one level 9/11 reasserted the importance of the nation as the object of analysis. Yet at the same time the non-national source of the attack, its global political fallout, as well as the filtering of many responses through binaries of East/West, Christian/Muslim, and Modernity/Tradition, can only intensify the already existing trajectory of interest in comparative, transatlantic, and post-national ‘American Studies’. One feels that this debate will run and run, but if so the warmth and good humour evident at Winchester were exemplary, and one hopes they will be replicated at the closing AMATAS conference at University of Central Lancashire in January.
Jude Davies, King Alfred’s, Winchester
News from AMATAS
1) BAAS, Oxford 2002
Thanks to all those who stayed until the Monday morning and contributed to a lively session on Americanisation run by the project. It showcased the research work that has gone into the workshops and included papers by Dr. Paul Grainge from University of Nottingham, Professor John Walton from the University of Central Lancashire and Ms. Carol Smith from King Alfred’s College Winchester. Professor Scott Lucas from the University of Birmingham summarised the arguments around Americanisation coming from the project in an improvised extempore performance that spoke eloquently to the project’s desire to make a difference to the teaching of American Studies in Britain.
2) Workshops Still Available
Many institutions have benefited from our excellent workshops on Americanisation which are FREE OF CHARGE. They encompass a wide range of topics from the Cultural Cold War (Professor Scott Lucas) through Jim Crow in Europe (Dr Alasdair Pettinger) and Pop Art in Britain (Simon Philo) to Landscapes of Americanisation (Dr Neil Campbell). The project can continue to fund the visiting of these workshops to institutions until January 31. Do please avail yourself of this opportunity before it is too late as wherever we have given workshops they have been greatly appreciated as an excellent and provocative learning experience for the students. The full list of workshops and an on-line booking form are on the website www.amatas.org or you can order the latest edition of our booklet of workshops from email@example.com
3) Website Update
There are many useful resources on the website including Syllabi on Americanisation, essays by scholars in the project, papers from our May conference on ‘Making Sense of 9/11’ (see article by Jude Davies elsewhere in this issue) and materials linked to the workshop topics. For instance text and images to Neil Campbell’s Landscapes of Americanisation Project are now all available on line on our website www.amatas.org If you have any relevant text or image-based material you would like to donate to the website we would be most grateful. Please contact the project manager at the address below.
4) George Ritzer to Address AMATAS Final Conference
The AMATAS Project is pleased to announce that the illustrious academic Professor George Ritzer, author of The Macdonaldization of Society (1993), from College Park, Maryland will be the keynote speaker at the AMATAS day-conference, ‘Americanisation and the Teaching of the Humanities’ on January 17th 2003 . His international contribution to the understanding of America’s global power and of consumerism makes him an especially noteworthy keynote. The conference will address issues of American economic, cultural, political and military power and the relation of globalisation to Americanisation. Academics from all disciplines are welcome including Cultural Studies, Politics, History, Geography, Visual Arts and Popular Culture Studies, Sociology and Literary Studies. The conference will be interdisciplinary and will include workshops on pedagogic approaches to teaching Americanisation as well as keynote lectures including that by Professor Ritzer. Professor Deborah Madsen, author of American Exceptionalism (Edinburgh 1999), has agreed to give a keynote on aspects of American influence not necessarily imposed through global capitalism. We are still developing the full programme. It will be posted on our website at www.amatas.org in the autumn.
If you want to contribute please contact the project manager and conference organiser Dr. Alan Rice at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to attend please contact the administrator Fiona Bayntun-Roberts email@example.com
Dr. Alan J. Rice
Principal Lecturer in American Studies and Cultural Theory
Project Manager for the Americanisation Project (AMATAS)
Dept. of Cultural Studies
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR1 2HE
Tel: 01772 893125
Fax: 01772 892924
AMATAS website http://www.amatas.org
The American Politics Group/British Association for American Studies Annual Colloquium
The American Politics Group/British Association for American Studies Annual Colloquium will be held at the US Embassy, London, on 15 November 2002.
The theme will be ‘Presidential Power Today’ and the keynote speaker will be Professor Richard Neustadt.
Anyone interested should contact:
School of American Studies
Staffs, ST5 5BG.
American Politics Group: University of Reading, January 3-5, 2003
Papers are invited on any aspect of American politics.
Please reply to the conference organiser if you wish to offer a paper, are willing to act as a panel chair or discussant, or intend to attend the conference withut giving a paper.
Dr Ross M. English
Department of Politics
University of Reading
Reading RG6 6AA
Tel: (+44) (0)118 931 8504
Fax: (+44) (0)118 975 3833
For information on how to join the American politics group, please contact:
Dr Dean McSweeney
School of Politics
University of the West of England
Bristol BS16 1QV
The Spectacle of the Real: From Hollywood to ‘Reality’ TV and Beyond: Brunel University, London, January 25-26, 2003
Hollywood special effects offer spectacular creations or re-creations that make claims to our attention on the grounds of their ‘incredible-seeming reality’. They can appear both ‘incredible’ and ‘real’, their appeal based on their ability to ‘convince’—to appear real in terms such as detail and texture—and on their status as fabricated spectacle, to be admired as such. At a seemingly very different end of the audio-visual media spectrum, ‘reality’ television offers the spectacle of, supposedly, the ‘real’ itself, a ‘reality’ that ranges from the banality of the quotidian to intense interpersonal engagements (two extremes experienced in Big Brother, for example).The two also overlap, however, nowhere more clearly and jarringly than in the ultimate ‘spectacle of the real’, the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, live television coverage of which evoked constant comparison with big-screen fictional images.
Impressions of the ‘real’ or the ‘authentic’ (or the authentic-seeming) are valued as forms of media spectacle in a number of other contemporary media forms. Other examples include the ‘uncanny’ verisimilitude of the latest developments in computer-generated animation displayed in films such as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) and Shrek (2001), and the recent tendency to include scenes of real sexual intercourse in more ‘legitimate’ forms of cinema (even if this has been confined to the ‘continental art film’ sector).
The aim of this conference is to explore some of the issues emerging from this fascination with both the impression of ‘reality’ and the fact that it is often presented and experienced as a form of spectacle; or, alternatively, the fascination with the spectacular and the fact that it is often considered in terms of its apparent ‘realism’. Broad questions we wish to explore through the examination of a wide range of textual material concern the nature and different forms of both ‘spectacle’ and of ‘the real’ (along with ‘reality’, ‘realism’ and ‘authenticity’); and, especially, the points of conjuncture between the two. If the term ‘spectacle’ tends to orient us towards the big-budget Hollywood productions, for example, we also wish to consider its wider resonances.
How, for instance, are heightened moments of spectacle, such as those found in overtly visible special effects sequences, marked off differently from the spectacle of audio-visual production more generally? Other potential questions to be addressed include issues of consumption: how do different forms of spectacle mobilize (or seek to mobilize) different kinds of spectatorship and what kinds of pleasures or other engagements do they entail? What are the similarities and differences between Hollywood spectacle and that produced in other geo-cultural contexts. And if ‘spectacle’ ranges across forms as diverse as the Hollywood blockbuster, videogames and ‘reality’ TV, what about more overtly political interventions that seek to question or reject the practices of the commercial mainstream. In this context, the term ‘spectacle’ evokes the broader social critiques of consumer capitalism associated with figures such as Guy Debord or Walter Benjamin and the ‘anti-spectacular’ strategies pursued by elements of the political avant-garde.
Proposals for papers are invited across this range of issues, in film, television and new media. Please send proposals of 350-400 words by 30th June, 2002 to:
Film and TV Studies
Uxbridge UB8 3PH
New York, Chicago, Los Angeles—Cultures and Representations II: University of Nottingham, April 4-5, 2003
Following the success of the first ‘New York, Chicago, Los Angeles Cultures and Representations’ Conference (Birmingham UK, Sept. 1999) which saw the participation of over 65 academics from 10 counties, the Three Cities project team is pleased to announce its final international conference, to be held April 4-5, 2003, at the University of Nottingham, UK. We invite papers from scholars working on New York, Chicago or Los Angeles in any period and from any disciplinary orientation.
The project members and many of our associates work on representations of urban space in literature, photography, fine art, visual culture, maps, architecture, popular art, advertising, television and film and many draw on contemporary work in urban and visual theory, cultural studies and cultural geography. We would be pleased to see papers reflecting these emphases. The project has developed the use of multimedia for the study of visual, literary and cultural representations of urban space and we would particularly welcome papers that seek to utilise or address the use of new technologies for the study of city spaces CitySites an electronic book was published in December 2000 and is currently available at http://www.citysites.org.uk.
Although the primary foci of the conference will be the cities of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles we welcome comparative papers that set these cities in a wider national or international context.
Papers should be 25-30 minutes in length. We are open to papers that think creatively about the paper presentation— whether this is through the use of video, computer or visual presentation. We also welcome proposals for whole panels, short roundtable discussion panels, or presentation and response sessions.
The deadline for proposals is October 31st 2002, and proposers will be informed of their acceptance by December 15th. Proposals should be submitted on paper and disc and should be no more than 300 words in length. The proposal should be accompanied by a covering letter detailing institutional affiliation (where appropriate), contact address and email address. Please sent to:
Dr Anna Notaro
School of American & Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
Proposals can also be submitted electronically to Anna.Notaro@nottingham.ac.uk
In Our Time: America Since 1945: University of East Anglia, Norwich: April 24-26, 2003
An international conference organized by the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies.
This international conference is inspired by the work of Godfrey Hodgson, the distinguished print and television journalist, political commentator, and historian of the United States. Taking its title from Hodgson’s ambitious and sweeping survey, America In Our Time, published in 1976, the conference seeks to reassess the political and social history of the United States since World War II. Papers on any aspect of American history since 1945 will be considered. We are particularly interested in papers that address some of the major themes of Godfrey Hodgson’s journalism and historical scholarship, and which offer fresh perspectives on such topics as the presidency, Congress and foreign policy, liberalism, conservatism, the South, race relations, and the news media. We also encourage papers that, in the spirit of Hodgson’s work, attempt broad, ambitious interpretations that range across the period in question.
The University of East Anglia is one of the longest-established centres for American Studies in the United Kingdom. Strongly associated in the public mind with the late Malcolm Bradbury, it is home of the Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies, and is located in Norwich, one of Britain’s finest cities.
Invited speakers include:
William H. Chafe
Anthony J. Badger
Michael J. Heale
Please send a 200-word abstract by July 31, 2002 (by post, fax, e-mail, or e-mail attachment) to:
Professor Adam Fairclough
School of EAS
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ
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International American Studies Association—How Far is America From Here?: Leiden, The Netherlands, May 22-24, 2003
Founded in 2000, the International American Studies Association, the only internationally chartered association of/for Americanists from all parts of the world, defines its mission as furthering the international exchange of ideas and information among scholars from all nations and various disciplines who study and teach America regionally, hemispherically, nationally, transnationally and as a global phenomenon. For more information, please see the IASA’s website at http://iasa.la.psu.edu
The first World Congress of the Association will be held at the University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 22-24 May 2003. Calls for seminar, panel and roundtable proposals follow. All presenters and participants in the Congress proceedings must be paid-up members of IASA at the time the Congress takes place. (See membership link on the IASA website for details; membership registration will also be available at the Congress.)
University of Leiden, The Netherlands, 22-24 May 2003
Plenary Speakers: Edouard Glissant, Werner Sollors
The Program Committee hopes that the topic of the Congress, ‘How Far is America From Here?’, will allow for a considerable range of comparative, interdisciplinary and other theoretical approaches to American nations and cultures. It is very much at the heart of this comparative agenda that ‘America’ be considered as a hemispheric and global matter. We welcome proposals that seek to rethink the question of American identities relationally, whether the relations under discussion operate within the borders of the United States, throughout the Americas, and/or worldwide.
To this end, we will welcome proposals for seminar sessions, panels, roundtables or individual papers that seek to interrogate the topic of the Congress itself:
(1) Which, whose America, when, why now, how?
(2) What is meant by ‘far’-distance, discursive formations, ideals and ideologies, foundational narratives, political conformities, aberrations, inconsistencies?
(3) Policy formations and deformations (rhetorical and otherwise);
(4) Where is here-positionality, geographies, spatial compressions, hegemonic and subaltern locii, disciplinary formations, reflexes and reflexivities?
It is hoped that participants will address such questions, and others, in the multiple Americas within the USA and the bi-continental western hemisphere, as part of and beyond interamerican cultural relations, ethnicities across the national and cultural plurality of America, mutual constructions of North and South, borderlands, issues of migration and diaspora. The larger contexts of globalization and America’s role within this process will be addressed within the Congress, alongside issues of geographical exploration, capital expansion, integration, transculturalism, transnationalism and global flows, pre-Columbian and contemporary Native American cultures, the Atlantic slave trade, the environmental crisis, the political and cultural implications of free trade, relationships between America and the Caribbean, varieties of language, U.S. literature in relation to Canadian or Latin American literature, religious conflict both within the Americas and between the Americas and the rest of the world, with such issues as American Zionism, exceptionalism, and the discourse of/on terror and terrorism.
Proposals are welcome from scholars working in diverse fields, including history, anthropology, and the social sciences, as well as literature, media, and culture. The Program Committee actively seeks proposals that reflect the diversity of scholarly interests and range of methodological approaches within the social sciences; we are especially interested in how the humanities and the social sciences in American studies might inform one another on common themes or subjects, and we therefore encourage proposals that bring the humanities and social sciences into juxtaposition. The Committee welcomes explorations of ‘America’ according to such topics as: society, demography, immigration, race, ethnicity, gender, class, culture, space, landscape, the natural and the built environment, economy, technology, infrastructure, architecture, political economy, politics, policy, and planning. Participants may also like to consider the significance of the Internet and other new technologies, both as a topic in itself and as a way of presenting material. (Multimedia facilities will be available at the Congress.) In this way, the program will be constructed to allow participants to speak to each other across disciplines as well as across nationalities.
Proposals can be either for individual papers (normally 20 minutes) or for complete panels (normally 90 minutes). The Program Committee also welcomes different formats and invites proposals for roundtables on specific topics, where each speaker would offer an initial position paper (5-10 minutes) before the session is opened up to wider discussion and participation.
The Program Committee also invites proposals from those wishing to lead seminars. Such proposals should include a description of the topic and a current curriculum vitae for the seminar leader. Seminar topics should be clearly defined so as to provide the maximum benefit to participants. The IASA will advertise the seminar and register participants, with short papers being exchanged in advance to allow more time for discussion. Seminars will normally be limited to fifteen people.
Proposals for individual papers should be up to 250 words. Proposals for complete panels, roundtables or seminars should be up to 500 words, and should include the names and institutional affiliations of all participants. Please send material by 15 September 2002 to either of the Co-Chairs of the Program Committee:
Lois Parkinson Zamora
Department of English
University of Houston
Houston, TX 77204
Cambridge, CB3 0DG
E-Mail submissions are welcome.
Allan Ali is a retired consulting actuary interested in US history 1760-1800.
Peter Ashdown teaches history and law at Brighton Independent Girls’ School and is particularly interested in civil rights and the south since 1900.
Susanne Auflitsch is a postgraduate student at Brasenose College, Oxford. Her research interests are twentieth-century drama and contemporary feminist theatre.
Chris Bailey is a professor of American politics at Keele University and director of the David Bruce Centre for American Studies. His research interest include the US congress, environmental politics and social regulation.
Dr Mihai Balanescu teaches at UEA, Norwich whose specialism is in African American studies, with particular emphasis on the Harlem renaissance and balck music.
Stephanie Bateson is a PhD student at the University of Sheffield where she is researching gender in Students for a Democractic Society.
Dr G H Bennett is a senior lecturer at the University of Plymouth. His research interests are American politics since 1945 and the American military since 1939.
Hanne Borchmeyer is a student at the University of Munich.
Natalie Bormann is a PhD student at the University of Newcastle. Her research interests are US foreign policy and identity, US strategies of security since the end of the Cold War and National Missile Defense.
Mark Brown is a PhD student at University College Northampton where he completing his study on the relationship between NewYork city and identity in the works of Paul Auster.
Owen Butler is a postgraduate student at the University of Nottingham.
Catherine Callard is a PhD student at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge. Her research is on JFK and the Laotian crisis.
Sarah Dauncey is a PhD student at the University of Warwick. Her research interests are twentieth century literature, particularly modernism.
Kate Dossett is a PhD student at St. John’s College, Cambridge studying the role of African American women in the Harlem Renaissance.
Don Doyle teaches at Vanderbilt University. His research interests are southern history and nineteenth century urban history.
Dr Mira Duric has completed a PhD at Keele University on US foreign policy.
Sarah Emsley is a doctoral student at Dalhousie University in Canada. Her dissertation is on Jane Austen.
Paul Fairclough teaches ‘A’ level government and politics in Leicester.
Jane Ferentzi-Sheppard is a part-time MA student at Bath Spa University College where she is working on a dissertation titled ‘Migration from West Dorset to Jefferson Co. New York 1830-1900’.
Nathalie Gegout is a postgraduate student at the University of Birmingham and is interested in African American literature and Caribbean literature.
Jessica Gibbs is a postgraduate student at University of Cambridge. Her research interest are US policy towards Cuba in the post-Cold War period.
Clodagh Harrington is a PhD student at London Guildhall University working on the role of the special prosecutor in late twentieth-century American politics.
Arlene Hui is a postgraduate student at UCL whose dissertation analyses the representation of miscegenation in American film and how those representations are affected by American contemporary culture as well as by Hollywood trends.
Cheryl Hudson is a graduate student in history at Vanderbilt University, Nashville. Her research explores the meanings attached to citizenship and community belonging in modern urban political culture.
Simon James is a postgraduate student at the Institute of United States Studies.
Alexander Leicht is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham with research interests in contemporary philosophy and democratic theory, Pragmatism and Neo-Pragmatism, twentieth-century art and nineteenth-century landscape painting.
Maggie Mackay is a PhD student at the University of London. She is studying the works of playwright/director Maria Irene Fornés.
Christopher McKenna is a lecturer at the Said Business School, Oxford. His interests include Americanisation and the culture of consumption.
Alan Mendoza is a PhD student at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge. His research interests are Anglo-American relations, British and US politics and NATO enlargement.
William Merkel is a D. Phil student at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford writing a dissertation titled ‘Universal Liberty and African American Slavery: A Re-evaluation of Thomas Jefferson’. He is the co-author of The Militia and the Right to Arms, or How the Second Amendment Fell Silent (Duke UP, 2002).
David Milne is a PhD student at University of Cambridge writing on ‘Walt Rostow’s Non-communist Manifesto for US Foreign Policy, 1961-68’.
Catherine Morley is a PhD student at Oxford Brookes University. Her interests include Jewish American literature, postmodern American fiction, science fiction and native American literature. She is currently researching the American preoccupation with the epic/Great American Novel in the work of Don DeLillo, John Updike and Philip Roth.
Derrick Murphy is vice principal of St. Dominic’s Sixth Form College, Harrow and series editor of the Collins Flagship History series.
Thomas Mulhall is a part-time D.Phil student at the University of Ulster. His areas of interest is leaders in the black civil rights movement.
Ann Parker is currently education officer for ACUK/NATO in the East Midlands and is principal examiner for AQA in American history.
Dr Anat Pick has research interests in Henry James, nineteenth and twentieth century American literature, film studies and philosophical approaches to literature.
Julia Pollok is a student at the Amerik-Institut of the Ludwig-Maximilans-Universtät, München, Germany. Her interests are American politics, especially foreign policy, and religion and politics.
Siân Price is an assistant producer at BBC Wales. She is interested in the US war of independence and US culture in the 1950s.
Gönül Pultar is assistant professor at Bilkent University, Turkey and is the founding editor of the Journal of American Studies of Turkey.
Paulo Jorge Batista Ramos is a postgraduate student at the University of Manchester where he is researching the Yale Institute of International Studies.
Lee Sartain is a research student at Edge Hill University College working on women in the NAACP.
Sandra Scanlon is a postgraduate student at University of Cambridge. Her research interests are twentieth-century diplomatic history, particularly US foreign policy and he Vietnam War and alliance diplomacy during the Second World War.
Dr Axel Schaefer is a lecturer at Keele University whose main research interests are nineteenth and twentieth-century US social thought and social policy, intellectual history, and the politics of evangelicalism and fundamentalism.
Sarah Silkey is PhD student at UEA, Norwich currently examining American representations of lynching to the British public, transatlantic reform movements, and the exploitation of British interest in American race relations by American civil rights activists.
Gary Smith is a student at Dundee University whose research interests are slavery and the Civil War.
Dr Jennifer Smith is a part-time lecturer at Leicester University. Her research interests are religions and politics in colonial America, especially Roger Williams and toleration,1960s reform and radicalism, and the development of American identities.
John Soutter is a postgraduate student at the University of Liverpool where he has finished his thesis entitled ‘William Gaddis: Systems Novelist’.
Marc Stears is a lecturer at University of Cambridge and author of Progressives, Pluralist and the Problems of the State.
Kim Sturgess is a doctoral candidate at UEA, Norwich. Her dissertation comprises an interdisciplinary cultural study of nineteenth-century America with a focus on American ethnogenesis.
Sandra Summers is a mature student doing a PhD part-time at Keele University on The Use of Presidential Power in US Foreign Policy.
Fionnghuala Sweeney is lecturer in comparative American studies at the University of Liverpool. Her research interests include African American literature, the black Atlantic, Anglo and Hispanophone Caribbean literature and culture and southern US literature.
Peter N. Ubertaccio is assistant professor of political science and pre law advisor at Stonehill College with specialties in the American presidency, American political history, politics and law, and political parties.
Aaron Winter is a postgraduate at the University of Sussex whose research focus is political discourse and rhetoric and he is currently working on discourses and rhetoric of the contemporary US extreme-right.
Dr Shamoon Zamir is Director of American Studies at King’s College London. His research interests are African American and native American literatures, literature and anthropology, photography and twentieth century poetry.
Fiona Le Brun has recently been awarded a Chair at the Savannah College of Art and Design (Department of Liberal Arts) in the USA.
Mark Newman’s book, Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995 (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 2001) ISBN 0817310606 has won the American Studies Network Book Prize 2002 from the European Association of American Studies.
Woodrow Wilson by John A. Thompson in the ‘Profiles in Power’ series, published by Longman, an imprint of Pearson Education. ISBN 0582-24737-3. £15.99
BAAS Membership of Committees
Executive Committee Elected:
Professor Philip Davies (Chair, first elected 1998, term ends 2004)
School of Humanities and Social Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr Heidi Macpherson (Secretary, first elected 2002, term ends 2005)
Department of Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE E-Mail: email@example.com
Dr Nick Selby (Treasurer, first elected 2000, term ends 2003)
Professor Janet Beer
Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, Geoffrey Marton Building, Roasamond St. West, Manchester M15 6LL
Ms Celeste-Marie Bernier
Department of American and Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD
Professor Susan Castillo (first elected 2001, term ends 2004)
Department of English Literature, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ
Dr Jude Davies (first elected 2002, term ends 2005)
Department of American Studies, King Alfred’s College of Higher Education, Winchester, SO22 4NR
Dr Michael McDonnell (first elected 2000, term ends 2003)
Department of American Studies University of Wales, Swansea Singleton Park, Swansea SA2 8PP
Ms Catherine Morley (Postgraduate Representative, first elected 2002, term ends 2004)
School of Humanities, Oxford Brookes University, Gipsy Lane Campus, Headington, OX3 OBP
Dr Simon Newman (first elected 1999, term ends 2005)*
Director, American Studies, Modern History, 2 University Gardens, Glasgow University, Glasgow G12
Dr Carol Smith (first elected 2001, term ends 2004)
School of Cultural Studies, King Alfred’s College, Winchester SO22 4NR E-Mail: Carol.Smith@wkac.ac.uk
Dr Graham Thompson (first elected 2001, term ends 2004)
Department of English, De Montfort University, Leicester LE1 9BH
Dr Peter Thompson (first elected 2002, term ends 2005)
St. Cross College, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LZ
Miss Andrea Beighton Co-opted, Conference SubCommittee
Deputy Director, Rothermere American Institute, 1A South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3TG
Ms Kathryn Cooper Co-opted, Development Subcommittee
Loreto 6th Form College, Chicester Road, Manchester M15 5PB
Dr Kevin Halliwell Ex-officio, Library Subcommittee
National Library of Scotland
Dr Jay Kleinberg Ex-officio, Editor, Journal of American Studies American Studies, Brunel University, 300 St Margarets Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1PT
Dr Iain Wallace Ex-Officio, Library Subcommittee
John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 150 Deansgate, Manchester M3 9EH
Dr Simon Newman (Chair)
Professor Philip Davies
Ms Celeste-Marie Bernier
Ms. Catherine Morley (post-grad)
Dr. Peter Thompson
Dr. Jenel Virden (EAAS rep)
Dr Iain Wallace (ex-officio)
Professor Janet Beer (Chair)
Dr Heidi Macpherson
Dr. Carol Smith (Paperbacks)
Dr Graham Thompson (ASIB and webster)
Professor Jay Kleinberg (Editor of Journal of American Studies)
Prof. Ken Morgan (Editor of BRRAM)
Ms Kathryn Cooper (co-opted)
Dr Michael McDonnell (Chair)
Dr Nick Selby
Professor Susan Castillo
Dr Jude Davies
Dr Tim Woods (Aberystwyth, Conference Secretary 2003)
Dr. Sarah MacLachlan
Ms Andrea Beighton (co-opted)
Libraries and Resources
Dr Iain Wallace
Dr Kevin Halliwell
BAAS representative to EAAS
Dr. Jenel Virden (terms ends 2007)*
Department of American Studies, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX
[* indicates this person not eligible for re-election to this position. All co-optations must be reviewed annually]Archive