This year’s annual conference is fast approaching and I’m pleased that this issue of the newsletter contains not only registration forms for Aberystwyth but also a provisional programme that should give you all some indication of what to expect over the weekend of April 11-14th. As usual, the line up of plenary speakers and panel papers highlights not only the diversity of work taking place in American Studies—you can choose between race resistance, cyberculture, popular music and native American literature in the first session alone—but also the ability of the conference to attract participants from a global American Studies community. This year there are speakers from Turkey, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, France, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hong Kong, Greece, New Zealand and the United States.
The international dimension to our annual conference is an important ingredient to its continued success and undoubtedly helps in that process of forging and developing the intellectual networks on which we all rely and which are an ever more important dimension to the study of American cultures and societies (however defined). This definition, and the entangled nature of US and non-US life, has been something that the Americanisation and the Teaching of American Studies Project (AMATAS) has drawn our attention to over the last couple of years. The one-day conference at Preston to mark the end of the project’s HEFCE funding was, by all accounts, a stimulating event. The full and frank report carried in this issue of the newsletter provides everyone involved with American Studies food for thought when they enter the classroom or embark upon their research projects. Even if no-one has, as yet, responded to my offer to explore some of these ‘discipline’ issues in future editions of the newsletter, the AMATAS event is proof that such important discussions are taking place elsewhere. Hopefully, the newsletter will be able to act as a forum for continued debate.
Just a final word on the Aberystwyth conference. In order to give you even more information about the content of panels, this year BAAS is hoping to offer you the chance to look at abstracts of the papers on the BAAS website (http://http://cc.webspaceworld.me/new-baas-site) in the weeks prior to the start of the conference. Keep checking the website for updates about this.
Department of English
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH
Aberystwyth Conference, April 11-14, 2003
Notice of BAAS AGM
1. Elections: Treasurer, 3 committee members, any other offices that fall vacant before the AGM
2. Treasurer’s report
3. Chair’s report
4. Amendments to the Constitution
5. Annual Conferences 2004-2006
6. Report of the Publications Sub-Committee
7. Report of the Development Sub-Committee
8. Report of the Libraries and Resources Sub-Committee
9. Report of the Representative to EAAS
10. Any other business
At the 2003 AGM, elections will be held for three positions on the Committee (three year terms), for the Treasurer of the Association (three year term) and for any offices that fall vacant before the AGM. Current incumbents of these positions may stand for re-election if not disbarred by the Constitution’s limits on length of continuous service in Committee posts.
The procedure for nominations is as follows: Nominations should reach the Secretary, Heidi Macpherson, by 12.00 noon on Sunday 13 April. Nominations should be in written form, signed by a proposer, seconder, and the candidate, who should state willingness to serve if elected. The institutional affiliations of the candidate, proposer and seconder should be included. A ready-made form can be found at the back of this newsletter. All candidates for office will be asked to provide a brief statement outlining their educational backgrounds, areas of teaching and/or research interests and vision of the role of BAAS in the upcoming years. These need to be to the Secretary at the time of nomination so they can be posted and available for the membership to read before the AGM.
The AGM will also be asked to consider proposing an amendment to the constitution in order to restrict Short Term Travel Awards to members of BAAS. If desired, an amendment would come before the 2004 AGM for ratification.
Dr. Heidi Macpherson
Department of Cultural Studies
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR1 2HE
Tel. (01772) 893039 or 893020
Costs and Registration
Details about this year’s annual conference in Aberystwyth are now in the process of being finalised. The costs are as follows:
Full BAAS Members: En-suite £170, Standard £145
Postgraduate and UK Teachers BAAS Members: En-suite £160, Standard £135
Non-BAAS Members: En-suite £190, Standard £165
Postgraduate Non-BAAS Members: En-suite £170, Standard £145
Extended Stay on April 10 or April 14:
En-suite Single Room Bed & Breakfast £28
Standard Single Room Bed & Breakfast £20
Banquet on Sunday night 13 April (to inc. wines) £27.50
A registration and booking form is available at the conference website:
You can also find a copy at the back of this newsletter.
Any queries about the conference can be addressed to:
Dr Tim Woods
BAAS Conference Secretary
Department of English
Hugh Owen Building
University of Wales, Aberystwyth
Ceredigion, SY 23 3DY
Tel: +44 1970 622534
Fax: +44 1970 622530
NOTE: Please note that this is a first draft of the conference programme and the schedule will no doubt be subject to alterations owing to unforeseen withdrawals or other problems which may cause the panels to change times, or the composition of panels to alter slightly. An amended and final draft of the conference schedule will of course be printed for the conference and included within the conference pack. You will note that the Transatlantic Studies Association will be holding panel sessions in parallel with those organised for BAAS.
Friday, April 11th
1.00 – 4.00pm Conference Registration at Penbryn Hall
5.00 – 6.00pm Plenary Lecture Theatre A12 Hugh Owen Building
6.00 – 7.00pm Reception hosted by Manchester Metropolitan University, hosts of BAAS Conference 2004 In UWA Arts Centre (top floor)
7.00 – 8.00pm Evening Meal (hot buffet, cafeteria style) Penbryn Hall
8.00pm till late Rosser Bar
Saturday, April 12th
7.45 – 8.45am Breakfast Penbryn Hall
9.00-10.30am PANEL SESSION I
1. Massive Resistance
George Lewis (University of Leicester) “Thoughtful Resistance: The Virginia Commission for Constitutional Government, and the Response to School Desegregation”
John A. Kirk (Royal Holloway and Bedford New College) “The Rise and Fall of School Desegregation in Little Rock Arkansas, 1954-1957”
John Drabble (Koc University, Turkey) “The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Mississippi, 1964-1971”
2. Cyborgs and Cyberculture
Alexandra Goody (Oxford Brookes University) “Dada, Cyborgs and the New Woman in New York”
Tatiana Rapatzikou (University of East Anglia) “Noir Crossovers: Urban Crime Narratives and Cyberpunk”
Caroline Bate (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) Cyberculture and Feminism
3. From America to (Every)Where? The Location and Relocation of Popular Music
Jude Davies (King Alfred’s College, Winchester) “‘I’m so bored with the USA – but what can I do?’ Affiliations and Disaffiliations with the American-ness of Popular Music”
Alex Seago (The American International University in London) “Where Hamburgers Sizzle on an Open Grill Night and Day (?) – The Declining Significance of the United States in Global Popular Music”
David Ingram (Brunel University) “‘My Dirty Stream’: 1960s folk music and environmental protest”
Chris Gair (University of Birmingham) “‘The Hardest Questions in Our Darkest Hours’: New Country and 9/11”
4. Encyclopaedic Novels Reconsidered
Luc Herman (University of Antwerp) “Gravity’s Encyclopedia Revisited”
Mike Crowley (University of Georgia) “A Cosmology of Singularities: Authenticity in Don DeLillo’s Underworld”
Gert Morrell (University of Antwerp) “The Ethics of Encyclopedism: Virtue and Knowledge in The Last Samurai”
5. Native American Literature
Chair: Martin Padget (University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Annie Kirby (University of Wales, Swansea) “Crossblood Tricksters, Dead Dogs and AlterNative Warriors: Native Humour and the Subversion of Academic Discourse”
Rebecca Tillet (University of Essex) “Resting in Peace Not in Pieces: The concerns of the Living Dead in Anna Lee Walters’ Ghost Singer”
David Stirrup (University of Leeds) “Artefact and Authenticity: Narrative Strategy in Contemporary Native American Fiction”
Transatlantic Studies Association
1. World War Two and the Building of an Anglo-American Alliance: The Institutional/Individual Nexus
Convenor: Priscilla Roberts (University of Hong Kong)
Chair: Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (University of Edinburgh) TBC
Priscilla Roberts (University of Hong-Kong) “Lord Lothian and the Atlantic World, 1910-1940”
Simon Rofe (University of Kent at Canterbury) “Lord Lothian and American Public Opinion: Catching the Mood and Getting London to Listen”
Inderjeet Parmar (University of Manchester) “A Transatlantic Ruling Class? The Impact of the Interconnections Between the Council of Foreign Relations and Chatham House in the Making of a New World Order, 1939-1945”
10.30 – 11.00am Coffee & Publishers’ Display Penbryn Hall
11.00-12.30am PANEL SESSION II
1. The Republican Party and Civil Rights
Simon Topping (University of Hull) “Wendell Wilkie: Republican Anathema”
Tim Thurber (SUNY – Oswego) “The Republican Party and the Voting Rights Act of 1965”
Robert Mason (University of Edinburgh) “The Republican Party, Citizens for Eisenhower, and African Americans, 1952-1961”
2. America and the Cold War
John Dumbrell (University of Keele) “President Lyndon Johnson and Soviet Communism”
Jerome Elie (Geneva) “Unravelling Myth: Was the End of the Cold War Really Not Foreseen?”
Mira Duric (University of Keele) “Reassessing SDI’s Role at the End of the Cold War: US Foreign Policy and the Soviet Union”
3. Senses of Possession: GB and US Poetry
Chair: Tim Woods (University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Nick Selby (University of Glasgow) “‘to be wholly in one place’: Lee Harwood’s The Long Black Veil”
Ian Copestake (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt) “Williams, Bunting and Poetic Tradition”
Antony Rowland (University of Salford) “Holocaust Camp and Ilse Koch in Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’”
Nerys Williams (Trinity College, Dublin) “Camouflage and Collage: Reading Michael Palmer through Robert Duncan”
4. Body Poppin’: Re-Presenting the Body in Contemporary African American Literature and Film
Rachel van Duyvenbode (University of Sheffield) “Black Biopoetics and Barbie: White Dolls and Bodies as Matter in Maya Angelou’s ‘Glass Rain’ and Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye”
Howard Cunnel (Institute of United States Studies, London) “Black Skin White Mask: The Prison Writings of Chester Himes”
Colin Howley (University of Sheffield) “Ball and Chain. a.k.a. Black Spatiality: The Dynamics of the Basketball Court and the Trope of the Yard in Contemporary African American Film and Fiction”
5. The Fiction of Cormac McCarthy
John Beck (University of Newcastle) “Blood Meridian and the New Right”
Sarah Maclachlan (Manchester Metropolitan University) “Transnationalism and Cultural Authority in Cormac McCarthy’s Cities of the Plain”
Luigi Fidanza (Manchester Metropolitan University) “Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses and Masculinity”
Transatlantic Studies Association
2. The Future of NATO: Transatlantic Perspectives
Convenor: Susan Isherwood (University of Dundee)
Chair: Susan Isherwood (University of Dundee)
Michaela Herkorn (Center for European Studies, NYU) “US-German Relations and their Impact on NATO Transformation”
Alrun Deutschmann (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) “The Reform of EU Foreign Policy and EU-NATO Relations”
12.30 – 1.30pm Lunch Cold Buffet Penbryn Hall
1.00-3.30pm PANEL SESSION III
1. American Nationalism in the Nineteenth Century
Hyman Rubin III (Columbia University) “Symbols of American Nationalism in Post-Reconstruction South Carolina”
Anne Sarah Rubin (University of Maryland) “‘The color blue is wholly ignored’: American Symbols and Confederate Nationalism”
Susan-Mary Grant (University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne) “Americans: Forging a New Nation; 1860-1914”
2. Democracy’s Discontent (American Politics Group)
Chair: John Dumbrell (University of Keele)
Andrew Wroe (University of Essex) “Distrust in Government: The Role of the Postmodern Economy”
Alex Wadden (University of Sunderland) “Health Care Exceptionalism: Examining the Explanations”
Edward Ashbee (Stafford University) “Civil Religion, the Political Process, and American Identity”
3. American Poetry and Place
Rob Stanton (University of Leeds) “Thought-, World- and Page-Space in the Work of Charles Olson and A.R. Ammons”
Rachel Back (Tel Aviv University) “The ‘Spirits of Place’ in Early Twentieth-Century American Poetry”
Ian Davidson (UW Aberystwyth) “Edward Dorn: Home on the Range”
4. Black Heroes
Chair: Helena Grice (University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
Celeste-Marie Bernier (University of Nottingham) “A Moral Hercules: The Haitian Revolution (1791) in Manuscripts by Frederick Douglass”
Duco van Oostrum (University of Sheffield) “‘I am not a role model’: Black Heroism and American Sports”
Maria Lauret (University of Sussex) “Hero and Heroine: Popular Representation of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks”
5. American Film
Harvey O’Brien (Fellow University College, Dublin) “The Ameromican Dream: Ancient Rome and American Democracy in Spartacus, Fall of the Roman Empire, and Gladiator”
Douglas Muzzio (Baruch College, CUNY) and Thomas Halper (Baruch College, CUNY) “Dead Ends and Menaces: Urban Poverty and Underclass Narratives in American Movies”
Ruth Doughty (Keele University) “From Minstrelsy to Mos Def and Chuck D: The Voyeuristic Representation of Black Culture in Spike Lee’s Bamboozled”
Transatlantic Studies Association
3. The Role of the Individual in the Transatlantic Relationship and a
Transatlantic Ruling Class
Convenor: Charles Whitham (University of Loughborough)
Chair: Charles Whitham (University of Loughborough)
Maria Luz Arroyo (Independent Scholar) “Frances Perkins: Secretary of State”
Jonathan Colman (Liverpool Hope University College) “The London Ambassadorship of David K.E. Bruce, 1964-1968”
Elizabeth Bukspan (French Finance Ministry) “A Transatlantic Ruling Class”
3.00 – 3.30pm Coffee & Publishers Display Penbryn Hall
3.30-5.00pm PANEL SESSION IV
1. Militia and the Right to Bear Arms and the Second Amendment
Chair: Mike McDonnell (University of Wales, Swansea)
William Merkel (University of Oxford) “Carl Bogus Reconsidered: Was the Second Amendment Designed to Protect the Slave Patrols Against the Abolitionists?”
Cassandra Pybus (Australia) “Liberty or Death: Black Loyalists in Revolutionary America”
2. American-European Relations in the Twentieth Century
Tim Lynch (Boston College, Dublin) “The Clinton Administration and Northern Ireland”
Robert McGeehan (Institute of United States Studies, London) “Anti-Americanism and United States-European Relations”
Roger Fagge (University of Warwick) “British Radicals and the Paradox of America: Some Reflections on the Twentieth Century”
3. The Fiction of Philip Roth
David Brauner (University of Reading) “American Anti-Pastoral: Illiteracy, Incontinence and Indignation in Philip Roth”
Margaret Smith (Manchester Metropolitan University) “A Novelist’s Autobiography? The Fiction of Philip Roth”
Aliki Varvogli (University of Dundee) “Exploding Fictions: Paul Auster, Philip Roth, and the Inscription of Terrorism”
4. Constructing American Literary History
Winifried Fluck (Freie Universitat Berlin) “American Culture and Modernity: A Twice-Told Tale”
Michael Boyden (University of Leuven) “American Literature Scholarship: From Consensus to Dissensus (and Back Again)?”
Peter Rawlings (University of the West of England) “Topography, War, and Theory in a the Nineteenth-Century American Construction of a Literary Identity”
5. Postmodern American Fiction
Chris Knight (University of Montana) “William Gaddis’ Parthian Shot: Social Criticism and Satire in the Posthumous Agape Agape and The Rush for Second Place”
Will Kaufman (University of Central Lancashire) “Auster, Camus and Don Quixote”
Christoph Lindner (UW Aberystwyth) “DeLillo’s Garbage and the Ecstasy of Waste”
6. Technologies of Vision
Liam Kennedy (University of Birmingham) Joel Meyerowitz’s Photography
JoAnne Mancini “(University of Sussex) “From the Christmas Card to the Avant-Garde: The Rise and Fall of Chromolithography in the Nineteenth-Century United States”
Caroline Reed (University of Cambridge) “What Would You Like to See?: Photography and the Stories of Raymond Carver”
Transatlantic Studies Association
4. The New American Security Agenda
Convenor: David Ryan (De Montfort University)
Chair: David Ryan (De Montfort University)
Mick Cox (London School of Economics)
Alan Dobson (University of Dundee)
Wyn Rees (University of Nottingham)
Steve Marsh (University of Cardiff)
5.00 – 6.00pm Plenary Hugh Owen Building – Lecture Theatre A12
6.15 – 7.30pm Welcome and Reception National Library of Wales
7.45 – 9.00pm Evening Meal (Hot buffet, cafeteria style) Penbryn Hall
Evening Entertainment Arts Centre – Cinema or Bar, Disco & Party or alternatively Rosser Bar
Sunday, 13th April
7.45 – 8.45am Breakfast Penbryn Hall
9.00-10.30am PANEL SESSION V
1. Towards a New Cultural Cartography: Nationality and American Nationalism in a Global Context
Patrick Miller (Northeastern Illinois University) “The Imperial Matrix: Race, Ethnicity, and American Nationalism at the Turn of the 20th Century”
Paul Spickard (University of California – Santa Barbara) “The Multicultural Fact in America and Europe”
Albena Bakratcheva (New Bulgarian University, Sofia) “Figuring Globalized America as Home”
2. September 11 and After
Rodri Jeffreys-Jones (University of Edinburgh) “September 11: The Lessons of Intelligence History”
Dave Bewley-Taylor (University of Wales, Swansea) “Watch this Space: Technologies of Fortification”
David Ryan (De Montfort University) “The Vietnam Syndrome After September 11”
3. The United States and Foreign Policy
Godfrey Hodgson (University of Oxford) “Wilson and House in Paris: Ideology and Pragmatism in American Foreign Policy”
Catherine Callard (University of Cambridge) “John F. Kennedy and the Laos Crisis”
Trevor McCrisken (University of Oxford) “‘This guy tried to kill my daddy once’: George W. Bush’s Policy towards Iraq”
4. Voices of Middle America: Auster, DeLillo, Updike
Nick Heffernan (University College, Northampton) “‘Never Too White to Sing the Blues’: Don DeLillo and the Death of Rock ‘n’ Roll”
Mark Brown (University College, Northampton) “‘Dis-alienating’ Paul Auster’s New York: Re-reading The New York Trilogy”
Catherine Morley (Oxford Brookes University) “Epic Aspirations for the Great American Novel: John Updike’s Song of America”
5. American Renaissance Literature
Alison Easton (University of Lancaster) “Hawthorne and the Question of Women”
Larry Reynolds (Texas A&M University) “Hawthorne and the Slavery Controversy”
Dawn Keetley (LeHigh University) “Poe’s Parturient Women”
6. American Drama
Heidi McPherson (University of Central Lancashire) “Staging the Scene: American Drama and the Law”
Amy Vodden (University of Exeter) “Belle Reprieve: Re-imagining A Streetcar Named Desire”
Radmila Nastic (Belgrade) “Humour and Irony in David Mamet’s Plays About Education”
Transatlantic Studies Association
5. Comparative Politics
Convenor: Mark Evans (University of Swansea)
Panel and Papers: TBA
10.30 – 11.00am Coffee & Publishers’ Display Penbryn Hall
11.00-12.30am PANEL SESSION VI
1. Histories of Black Resistance
Jonathan Watson (University of Sussex) “The Zoot Suit Riots and the Los Angeles NAACP”
Stephanie Lewthwaite (University of Warwick) “Landscapes of Reform: Casa de Castelar and ‘Sonoratown’, 1894-1906”
Malcolm McLaughlin (University of Essex) “Racial Violence and Black Resistance in the Progressive Era”
2. Business History and Culture
Erica Arthur (University of Nottingham) “The Organisation Strikes Back: Rhetorical Empowerment Strategies in 1950s Business Representations of White-Collar Manhood”
Dan Scroop (University of Wales, Bangor) The Texas Chain Store Massacre: Anti-Consumer Protest in a Consumer Republic”
Joy Cushman (University of Glasgow) “Democracy Contested: The Competing Rhetoric of American Retail Employers and Unions, 1940-1960”
3. African American Fiction
Rachel Farebrother (University of Leeds) “‘Ah take mah tex’ ‘tween de lids uh de Bible’: Reading Zora Neale Hurston’s Textual Synthesis in Jonah’s Gourd Vine (1934)”
Owen Robinson (Fellow University of Essex) “‘Who is Lionel Lane?’: The Invisible Hero of Richard Wright’s The Outsider”
Jennifer Terry (University of Warwick) “‘True and Ancient Properties’: The Seduction of Islands for the Black Imagination”
4. Contemporary American Literature
Sarah Graham (University of Leeds) “What’s Eating Dave Eggers?: The Disruptive Dialogue Between Fiction and Memoir”
Ken Luebbering (University of Bergen) “An Introduction to American Immigrant Experience Through E. Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes”
Helen Chupin (University of Paris IX-Dauphine) “From Bereavement and Mourning to the Anxiety of Separateness: From a Thematic to a Psychoanalytical Reading of Anne Tyler’s Fiction”
5. Fog on the Thames / Gloom on the Potomac: Intertexuality, African American Literary Theory, and Hannah Crafts’ The Bondwoman’s Narrative
Tim Lustig (Keele University)
Gill Ballinger (Keele University)
Dale Townshend (Keele University)
6. Manhood and Memory
Richard Lowry (The College of William and Mary) “To Be a Boy: Manhood and Nostalgia in the Gilded Age”
Tim Barnard (The College of William and Memory) “Bullfighting, Watching and Writing: Re-membering Lost Manhood in The Sun Also Rises”
Otto Heim (University of Hong Kong) “Melancholy Returns: Memory, Commodification, and Allegory in Charles Chesnutt”
12.30 – 1.30pm Lunch Cold Buffet Penbryn Hall or Various Committee Meetings with separate venues and lunches
1.30-3.00pm PANEL SESSION VII
1. African American Politics
Elizabeth Grant (University of Birmingham) “Welcome Black America!: Marketing Black Heritage in America’s First City”
Zoe Colley (University of Newcastle) “The Unseen Freedom Struggle: The Black Panther Party and the Politicisation of African American Prisoners, 1966-1975”
Nick Sharman (LaTrobe University) “‘A Knock at Midnight’ or Just a Late Supper?: The Later Rhetoric of Martin Luther King Jr”
2. The Atomic Bomb and US Culture
Jenel Virden (University of Hull) “Seeing the Light: Religion, the Bomb and the 1940s”
David Eldritch (University of Hull) “Nothing to Fear: Hollywood, the Bomb and the 1950s”
Tim Nelson (University of Hull) “Youthful Angst: Marvell Comics, the Bomb and the 1960s”
3. American Literary Modernism
Sarah Dauncey (University of Warwick) “Diasporic Rupturings: A Critique of Absalom! Absalom!’s Historicising Project”
Ron Roberts (University of Strathclyde) “Movie Modernism: Dos Passos’s The Big Money and After”
Jo Knowles (Liverpool) “Mommie Dearest: Homosociality, Maternity and Sexuality in Henry James’ Novels”
4. Representations of Gender in American Modernist Literature
Artemis Michailidou (Greece) “Performing Femininity, Disrupting Domesticity: Edna Millay’s Influence on Anne Sexton”
Piotr Zazula (University of Wroclaw) “Personal Icons: Women in the Poetry of Eliot, Williams, and Roethke”
Paula Mesquita (University of Coimbra) “Dressed to Kill: The Sex of the Wars in Cather and Faulkner”
5. Native American Translation and Transculturation
Kathryn Napier Gray (University of Glasgow) “Written and Spoken Wor(l)ds: John Eliot’s Algonquian Translations”
Denise Askin (St Anslem College, New Hampshire) “From an ‘Uncommon Quarter’: Literary and Rhetorical Devices in the Sermons of Samson Occam, Native American Preacher (1723-1792)”
Fabienne Quennet (Philipps-University of Marburg) “Transculturation at the western Frontier: Adopted Captives in Thomas Berger’s Little Big Man (1964), Lucia St. Clair Robson’s Ride With the Wind (1982), Michael Blake’s Dances With Wolves (1988)”
3.00 – 4.00pm Coffee & Publishers’ Display plus Introduction to Poster Session
3.00-4.00pm PANEL SESSION VIII
1. Sexuality in the USA
William Thompson (Kings College, London) “The American South’s Fascination with Sodomy: Examining the Gay Rights Movement Against the Backdrop of Rural America”
Steve Meyer (University of Wisconsin) “‘His pants were open and it was out’: Sexuality, Harassment, and US Autoworkers, 1930-1960”
2. The New Negro and the Harlem Renaissance
Mark Whalan (University of Exeter) “Cosmopolitanism, the Great War, and the New Negro”
Kate Dossett (University of Cambridge) “‘Black is beautiful (and economically independent)’: The Influence of Madam C. J. Walker on the New Negro Woman”
3. The United States and New Zealand
Dolores Janiewski (Wellington, NZ) “From the US to NZ: Moralities, Sexualities, and the New Right”
Paul Morris (Wellington, NZ) “The Ideological Flow Between the US and the UK: Markets, Moralities, and Neoliberalism”
4. American Collectors in Fiction and Film
Nick Yablon (University of Chicago) “Collecting Capital: The Art of Business and the Business of Art in Dreiser’s Trilogy of Desire”
Lisa Rull (University of Nottingham) “Is This ‘Tzedekah’ or Just a Woman Out of the House? Peggy Guggenheim’s American Jewish Spirit of Patronage”
5. American Involvement in the World
Priscilla Roberts (Hong Kong University) “Frank Altschul and US Foreign Policy, World War One to the 1970s”
David Milne (University of Cambridge) “Walt Rostow and the Vietnam War, 1961-1968”
6. IQ, Idiocy and American Culture
Susan Currell (University of Nottingham) “Rapid Improvements: The History of Speed Reading”
Martin Halliwell (University of Leicester) “Idiocy, The G Factor and American Film”
4.00 – 5.30pm AGM Hugh Owen Building – Lecture theatre A12
5.00 – 6.00pm Pre-Banquet Bar (cash bar)
6.00 – 8.30pm Banquet Dinner Penbryn Hall
8.30pm Choir Performance in Arts Centre
9.00pm till late Evening Entertainment Arts Centre – Bar (Jazz Band) or alternatively
Monday, 14th April
7.45 – 8.45am Breakfast Penbryn Hall
9.00-10.30am PANEL SESSION IX
1. “Possessing the Black Past: African Americans’ Construction and Use of Memory in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century”
Scott Hancock (Gettysburg College) “Forgetting for Belonging: African Americans’ Construction of Memory in the United States, 1775-1900”
Daryl Brown (University of North Alabama) “Historical Eruptions: How the Increasing Presence and Maleability of History has Transformed Contemporary African American Fiction”
Deborah Barnes (Gettysburg College) Commentator
2. Violence in the 1960s
James Murrell (University of Southampton) “Firearms Restrictions in the 1960s: Charting the Debate”
Karen Randall (Southampton Institute) “Moving Targets: Bells, Guns and Vietnam Vets”
Shona Johnston (University of Glasgow) “‘Those crazy guys who cover the war’: The Correspondent as a Participant in the Vietnam War”
3. The American West and the Border
Liz Jacobs (University of Wales, Aberystwyth) “Nationalism, Mestizaje and Interracial Mixing in Chicana/o Cultural Production”
Elizabeth Rosen (University College, London) “The American West Through an Apocalyptic Lens: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”
4. Writing in American Modernism
Caroline Masel (University of Manchester) “Robert Lowell’s Published Drafts: ‘Little Gidding’ in ‘The Quaker Graveyard’”
Rebecca Loncraine (University of Oxford) “Djuna Barnes’ New York Journalism: Stunt Journalism and the Production of the City”
Sarah Cain (Fellow University of Cambridge) “‘The inevitable flux of the seeing eye’: William Carlos Williams and the Science of Vision”
5. African American Folk Culture
Rebecca Griffin (University of Warwick) “Brer Rabbit Goes a Courtin’: Slave Folklore as an Illustration of how to git your gal”
Holly Farrington (Middlesex University) “‘Negroes, black as Cain/ May be refin’d, and join th’angelic train’: The African American Spiritual and Christianity”
John Moe (The Ohio State University) “African American Artistic Expression and the Images of Protest in Contemporary Black Folk Art”
6. Strange Adventures in Colonial Virginia
Chair: Ben Marsh (University of Oxford)
Peter Thompson (University of Oxford) “William Bullock’s ‘Strange Adventure’”
Al Zambane (University of Oxford) “Francis Nicholson’s ‘Inordinate Passion’”
Natalie Zacek (University of Manchester) “‘A most unfortunate divel’: The Truncated Virginia Career of Daniel Parke”
10.30 – 11.00am Coffee & Publishers’ Display Penbryn Hall
11.00-12.00am PANEL SESSION X
1. Contemporary American Women’s Fiction
Kathryn Nicol (University of Edinburgh) “Kathy Acker on the High Seas: Piracy, Territoriality and the American / Postcolonial Text”
Susana Araujo (University of Sussex) “Joyce Carol Oates’ Love Triangle: Jorge Luis Borges, Alfred Kazin and Charles Sanders Peirce”
2. Early Religious Culture in America
Keith Pacholl (California State University – Fullerton) “‘Useful knowledge now forms the soul’: The Transformation of Religious Culture in Early America”
Roland Marden (University of Sussex) “Eighteenth Century Religious Discourse and the Emergence of a Language of Rights”
3. American Television
Margaret Shaw (Bath Spa University College) “Sad in the City: The Myth of Post-Feminist Freedom”
Sherryl Wilson (Bournemouth) “The Grotesque Realism of HBO’s Six Feet Under”
4. Social and Domestic Politics
Jennifer Byrne (University of Arizona, Tucson) “Defining the Tenth and Eleventh Amendments: The Supreme Court’s Many Interpretations”
Dean Robinson (Fellow Harvard University) “Do Conservative Policies Make Black People Sick?”
5. Queer Bodies
Susan Billingham (University of Nottingham) “Bar Dykes and Butches: The Policing of Gender in Dorothy Allison and Leslie Feinberg”
Anna Wilson (University of Birmingham) “Narrative Workings of the Queer Body: The Heartland”
6. Freedom Rides North and South
Clive Webb (University of Sussex) “The Reverse Freedom Rides”
Raymond Arsenault (University of Southern Florida) “Freedom Riders”
7. Nineteenth Century Legalities
James Campbell (University of Nottingham) “‘The victim of prejudice and hasty consideration’: The African American Experience in Virginia Courts of Oyer and Terminer”
Lisa Merrill (Hofstra University) “‘The art of hanging’: Nineteenth Century Executions and the Construction of American values”
12.00 – 1.30pm Lunch Cold buffet Penbryn Hall
1.00 – 2.00pm End of Conference Depart Aberystwyth
The biannual EAAS conference will be held in Prague, Czech Republic from 2-5 April 2004. The theme of the conference is “America in the Course of Human Events: Presentations and Interpretations.” The committee is currently deciding on workshop themes and a call will go out for contributors shortly. A list of workshops and related information should appear in the EAAS spring 2003 newsletter or be accessible from the web page.
It is also worth noting that EAAS sponsors Travel Grants for study in the United States. The deadline for applications for 2003-2004 is March 2, 2003. These travel grants are for postgraduate students in the Humanities and Social Sciences who are registered for a higher research degree at any European university. The scholarships will be aimed at predominantly young scholars in Eastern and Central Europe. There are two types of grants:
Transatlantic Grants will permit the holder to conduct research which illuminates some aspect of the relationship between the United States and Europe (or a country or countries within Europe) at a designated university in the United States. The term of the grant is for from three to eight weeks. Successful applicants will receive a grant intended to cover return travel, living expenses, and a limited amount of travel within the US where appropriate. Health insurance will also be provided. Only students registered for a PhD are eligible to apply.
Intra-European Grants will allow the recipient to conduct research for a period of up to four weeks in an American Studies Centre or University Library in Europe. Postgraduate students registered for either a PhD or Master’s Degree by research are eligible. The Intra-European Grants are also available for institutional research projects involving up to three scholars based on cooperation between two American Studies institutes in Eastern and Western Europe. Although the EAAS grant program is especially meant to encourage American Studies research in Eastern Europe, applications from Western European scholars will be welcome if they are part of an institutional project as outlined above. Application forms are available to download from the EAAS home page at http://www.let.uu.nl/eaas/.
EAAS also promotes the American Studies Network Book Prize. At the EAAS Conference in Prague in 2004 the ASN will award its biennial prize (one thousand Euros) for a remarkable book (monograph) published in English in the field of American Studies. The monograph (not an edited volume) should have been published in 2002 or 2003; the author must be a European scholar who, through membership in his/her national American Studies organization, is a member of EAAS; three review copies of the book should be submitted before 15 December 2003 to Professor Saturnino Aguado, Institute for North American Studies, Universidad de Alcala, Colegio de Trinitarios, C/. Trinidad, 1, 28801 Alcala de Henares (Madrid), Spain.
And finally, EAAS has two web services for consultation. The EAAS home page can be located on: http://www.let.uu.nl/eaas/. It also sponsors a distribution list which you can join by sending a message “subscribe eaas-l” to email@example.com.
If any BAAS members have any comments or queries about EAAS please contact your representative: Dr Jenel Virden, American Studies, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX; J.Virden@hull.ac.uk.
Fiftieth Anniversary Celebrations
The fiftieth anniversary of the founding of BAAS is fast approaching in 2005. As such, the BAAS Executive, through the Development Sub-Committee, has recently put the fiftieth Anniversary Celebrations on its agenda at all meetings. Dr Jenel Virden (EAAS Representative and Development Sub-Committee member) has agreed to act as the contact point for the group. It has now been confirmed that the annual conference that year will take place at the University of Cambridge. The Sub-Committee is currently discussing a wide range of possible ideas for the celebration, ranging from invited speakers to special conferences. If anyone has any ideas that they would like to put forward to the committee, or if any BAAS member would like to volunteer to help co-ordinate activities as they are developed, could they please contact Jenel at the following address. Dr Jenel Virden, American Studies, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX or J.Virden@hull.ac.uk.
Americans Exhibition, National Portrait Gallery, October 10 2002 – January 12 2003
This exhibition was a celebration of Americans and American history through portraits from the painting and photographic collections of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC. Notable Americans such as George and Martha Washington, Benjamin Franklin, George Gershwin, Ingrid Bergman and Audrey Hepburn, represented the diverse range of individuals who have shaped American history. The exhibition was organised by the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. American Studies in Britain asked members of the American Studies community to give their opinions on the exhibition.
Anne-Marie Ford, Manchester Metropolitan University
All the usual suspects are here, of course, a wonderful portrait of Benjamin Franklin, the studied gloom of George and Martha Washington, the inspiring image of abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass, a photograph of Abraham Lincoln, with his world-weary smile. Americans, the exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, on loan from the Smithsonian, is a celebration of diversity, in its pictures and photographs of statesmen, poets, artists, musicians, actors, photographers, writers, abolitionists and soldiers. But there are enormous surprises, too. A photograph of a freckle-faced army cadet, circa 1859, turns out to be a young General Custer; there is a painting of frontiersman Davy Crockett, looking slightly ill at ease; and a photograph of The Wild Bunch, outlaws who included Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid among its members. Davy Crockett represents the frontier spirit, so much a part of the myth of building the American nation, whilst a painting of Native American, Sequoyah, reminds us simultaneously of a Cherokee nation broken up, and almost destroyed. Americans strives to address the positive and negative aspects of its history, and, in doing so, gives voice to the multi-ethnicity that is America’s life story.
The paintings and photographs of America’s artists, the men and women whose work so powerfully impacted upon the American nation, are a vibrant celebration of difference, complexity and harmony. Writers like Nathaniel Hawthorne, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Henry James, and Mark Twain, are identified as artists whose collective voice was a shaping influence upon the American spirit and the American mind. They hang alongside portraits and photographs of lesser-known, but equally fascinating, Americans. The painting of printer and publisher, Anne Green, who took over the Maryland Gazette upon the death of her husband, in 1767, is one of a mature, conservative matron, holding, slightly hidden by a table, a copy of the Gazette. In spite of her successful editorship of Maryland’s sole newspaper, when Anne Green died her obituary referred only to her mild and benevolent disposition, conjugal affection and parental tenderness. Detail in this portrait, by Charles Willson Peale, appears to agree that her work was peripheral to the conventional roles of womanhood, perhaps even subversive, but closer study argues otherwise. The newspaper that she holds has the legend ‘printed by’ clearly visible, and the positioning of her hands draw attention to the Gazette. A friend of the family, it is likely that Peale regarded the sitter with admiration and affection, and his painting subverts the language of her obituary, by indicating the importance of Green’s work.
In the early portraits, the men and women who contributed to the national identity stare sombrely back at us, or past us, or far away into the distance. But in the later photographic representations, Americans gaze challengingly into the camera, or provocatively, or throw back their heads and laugh joyously, in a confident and optimistic mood. Icons of the American film industry, Marilyn Monroe, Clark Gable, Audrey Hepburn, jostle for space with a cheerful, relaxed photographic portrait of Ansel Adams, and music-makers such as Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne and Michael Jackson. A variety of artistic styles are exhibited, from those of British eighteenth-century portraiture, impressionism, and the avant-garde, to pop culture and the work of Andy Warhol. What strikes one most forcibly, however, is the strong European connection, of sitters, of painters, of photographers. Tallulah Bankhead sits, swathed in a pink, diaphanous fabric, looking surprisingly pensive and child-like, in a painting by Augustus John. The eight-year-old Edith Wharton was painted in Paris by Englishman Edward Harrison May, and the artist, Mary Cassatt, broods reflectively in a portrait by her friend, the impressionist Edgar Degas. Henry James once commented that ‘It sounds like a paradox, but it is a very simple truth, that when today we look for “American art” we find it mainly in Paris. When we find it out of Paris, we at least find a good deal of Paris in it.’1 From canvas to camera the European influence can still be traced, although less profoundly, perhaps. There is a captivating photograph of the publisher James T. Fields, an expressive study of light and shade, taken by Julia Margaret Cameron. It vies for attention with the American Man Ray’s photograph of the art collector and patron, Peggy Guggenheim. It was she who arranged Jackson Pollack’s first one-man show, an artist whose innovative artistic style was startling and, perhaps, profoundly American in its directness. One of my favourite paintings, however, is a self-portrait by the artist Elaine de Kooning. She stares fiercely at the viewer, a woman assured of her artistic and intellectual capabilities, in a space that is clearly defined as her own. An American who, like the exhibition itself, is confident about who and what she is.
1. The Painter’s Eye: Notes and Essays on the Pictorial Arts by Henry James, ed. John L. Sweeney, Rupert Hart-Davis (London: 1956), p. 216.
Bryan Hawkins, Senior Lecturer in Art, Canterbury Christ Church University College
The exhibition literature for Americans begins with the sentence: ‘A portrait can tell many stories’. There are indeed many stories told in this enormously stimulating, challenging, eccentrically selective and yet gloriously complex journey through portraits of Americans.
In his essay Identity, Genealogy, History Rose speaks of the individual as: ‘the target of a multiplicity of types of works, more like a latitude or longitude at which different vectors of different speeds intersect’. In Americans there is precisely such a sense of identity and identities as at the intersection of particular vectors. These vectors intersect, in the paintings and photographs, as precise moments of American history, the ‘stories’ of individual lives and the representational, aesthetic and formal characteristics of artistic practice. These vectors through the images also intersect with our own lives as we look at the pictures before us.
Any visitor to this exhibition will be confronted, within this construction of experience, with images that affirm, question, challenge, confuse or subvert a sense of congruency and symmetry at the intersection of these ‘vectors’. The exhibition opens with the theme of ‘Freedom’, this extends into ‘The Gilded Age’ and is supplemented by ‘Performing Arts’. Photographs are exhibited in an adjacent part of the gallery. I found this to be an eccentric structure with a generally historical flow that was immediately subverted by my first visual encounter: Warhol’s portrait of Michael Jackson.
In this image the symmetry of the vectors seems perfect and unassailable . The portrait structured in the mechanical surface medium of photo screen printing evokes a sense of ‘image’ and ‘sign’ more than it does the human presence of either artist or subject. The image presents us with an identity as image hollowed out by post-modern culture. The image of Jackson marked a ‘Warhol’ by trademark style, rather than artist’s touch and exists at the moment of Jackson’s most perfect celebrity – a celebrity marked by Warhol’s portrait itself. ‘I was a veteran before I was a teenager’, a video monitor quotes Jackson as saying and thereby evokes the individual tragedy of Jackson and the seemingly universal post-modern, tragic, complex, identity anxiety of the twenty first century.
It seems, however, it was not always so. In a painting of 1849, George Catlin surveys the world beyond the painting with a fixed, measured and analytical gaze. But all is not as it first appears. There is much complexity here too. And a sense in which the vectors of the image are flying off in a confusion of mixed directions and energies. Its simple structure belies its secret insane life. In a web of reflections and meaningful looks the drama of George Catlin, the well–known, massively ambitious and yet failed and flawed painter of the ‘vanishing Indian’, is painted at a specific moment by the Englishman William Fisk. The painting is a portrait by Fisk that appears in its visual construction to be pretending to be a self-portrait by Catlin. The central evidence for this is the characteristic artist’s gaze out of the picture (towards the mirror or mirrors) accompanied by the painting of the back of the canvas on which the artist constructs his image (the image that is for us the painting). This image of an American in America thus reveals itself as fraudulent – a fake self-portrait and a painting by an Englishman painted in England.
After such complexity to find one’s own image reflected and implicated in the exquisite silver-mirrored surface of an 1846 daguerreotype of John Brown might be less of a surprise. It was, however, an extraordinary and uncanny experience. One had to stand in the right place to make it happen but in the case of this beautiful faded trace of a human being the image quite literally stepped out of time and intersected with the world of the viewer .
At this exhibition the viewer must be able to come to terms with good jokes as well as epiphanies and complexities. Harold Rosenberg, ‘proponent of Abstract Expressionism’, is pictured actually turning into an abstract expressionist painting. This occurs at the hand of Elaine De Kooning, wife of Willem de Kooning – an act we suppose of poetic justice or ironic malice. I can sympathise with and enter the artistic and aesthetic dynamic here but it still strikes me as a good joke.
Elsewhere a woman I observed at the exhibition laughed out loud as she turned from Augustus John’s outrageous ice-cream parlour confectionery painting of Tallulah Bankhead to read Tallulah quoted by the video monitor as saying: “Nobody can be exactly like me, even I have difficulty in doing it myself”.
This exhibition is not just a procession of photographed and painted heads. There is complexity everywhere. For me the complexity implied by Duplessis’s painting of Benjamin Franklin is the simplest and most mysteriously profound and moving of all of them. It is the mystery of the ordinary as extraordinary and the extraordinary as ordinary and, as such, it sums up the Americans exhibition as a whole.
Tony McCulloch, Head of American Studies, Canterbury Christ Church University College
‘Is there an American face?’, asks John Updike in the foreword to the Americans exhibition catalogue. Updike’s brief essay is a brave attempt to bring some kind of unity to the exhibition of portraits and photographs of famous – and not so famous – Americans held at the National Portrait Gallery between October 2002 and January 2003. Clearly one of the main challenges presented by an exhibition like this is to endow it with some kind of overall coherence.
Updike’s introduction is much more rewarding than the rather doubtful statement of the exhibition’s sponsors, JP Morgan Investment Bank, that: ‘These portraits provide a view of significant historical figures with one thing in common: the positive impact they have had on people and communities at both a national and an international level’. It is also more stimulating than the ‘official’ division of the paintings in the exhibition into three extremely loose sections entitled ‘Freedom’, ‘The Gilded Age’ and ‘Performing Arts’.
To his own question, ‘Is there an American face’, Updike replies: ‘If there is, it began to form when those stern-visaged English Puritans landed in New England and improvised arrangements with the rocky, forested land and the population of Native Americans’. Encountering the obstacles and hardships of the Frontier, ‘an Indian stoicism invaded their European faces’ and the American of the colonial period and early Republic was therefore typically serious-minded, determined and rather dour.
Thus, as Updike points out, Dickens, in his American Notes of 1842, wrote ‘I was quite oppressed by the prevailing seriousness and melancholy air of business: which was so general and unvarying, that at every new town I came to, I seemed to meet the very same people whom I had left behind me at the last’. Certainly most of the portraits in the first two sections of the exhibition are ‘serious’ and ‘melancholy’, both in terms of the expression of the sitter and the appearance of the portrait: Washington, Franklin, Calhoun, Sherman, Lodge, even Twain – united in little but their ‘prevailing seriousness’.
In the late nineteenth century, Updike argues, things began to change. ‘Expatriatism in Europe created a tribe of hyper-aesthetic Americans who lived pleasantly on their strong dollars and helped hatch modernism’. By the twentieth century ‘popular culture promoted the spread of images of elegance and sensuality. Movies out of Hollywood, on a new scale of art manufacture, flickered above the formerly dull and gloomy citizenry’. Hence the much more colourful portraits – in every sense of the word – of people like Thomas Hart Benson and his wife, George Washington Carver, Lena Horne, Alice Neal, Michael Jackson and John Updike himself. But the ‘native Puritanism’ lingers on in more serious-minded portraits, such as T.S. Eliot’s.
The separate collection of photographs is incorporated by Updike into his Turner-like thesis and this was the part of the exhibition that I personally most enjoyed. The subjects include figures such as Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth, Louis Armstrong and Cesar Chavez. But some of the most interesting faces to me are those revealed in the earliest photographs – the callotypes and daguerreotypes – taken between 1844 and the Civil War.
This section includes fascinating pictures of John Brown, Abraham Lincoln and George Custer. But the most poignant picture, to my mind, is that of Rose O’Neal Greenhow and her daughter ‘Little Rose’, taken in 1862. Mrs Greenhow was, we are told ‘a leading member of Washington society’ who sympathised with the secession of the Southern states and was convicted of spying for the Confederacy . The photograph shows her imprisoned in the Old Capitol Building in Washington with her daughter, ‘Little Rose’.
It is the face of ‘Little Rose’ – who looks about nine – that is most haunting, a picture of sadness as she leans against her mother in the bleak , whitewashed room that served as a cell . Mrs Greenhow was later released and exiled to the Confederacy. She travelled to Britain and France to support the Southern cause but on her way home, in 1864, her ship, a British blockade-runner, was pursued by a Union gunboat. She fled in a rowing boat but it capsized and she was drowned. What became of ‘Little Rose’ we are not told.
‘Is there an American face?’ If there is we cannot hope to locate it in any one time or place. This exhibition certainly makes a brave attempt thanks largely to the diversity of the photographs and the later portraits. Without them the Americans exhibition would consist almost entirely of Dead White European Males. However significant they were, they no longer – as Updike reminds us – constitute ‘the American face’.
J. M. Mancini, University of Sussex
In the early 1860s, a young lithographer named Milton Bradley, who like many of his Springfield, Massachusetts, neighbours was a Republican, began to print lithographs after a photograph of Abraham Lincoln. The images sold well: Lincoln’s portrait proved to be a popular subject, and lithographs (unlike photographs) could be produced and distributed cheaply enough to appeal to a wide and diverse audience. There was only one problem: Lincoln grew a beard. Once his customers came face to face with more recent portraits of the man, Bradley found himself stuck with his beardless Lincolns, and feared that the venture would ruin him.
Luckily for Bradley, he had already discovered another application for lithography: games and amusements. In the aftermath of the beardless Lincoln debacle, Bradley more or less gave up on portraiture, sticking instead to ventures like the ‘Checkered Game of Life,’ which he printed, cut and packaged himself, and the 1866 Myriopticon, whose backlit, scrolled colour lithographs of scenes illustrating events like the Battle of Bull Run could be unfurled to the accompaniment of a rousing historical commentary. Bradley sold 40,000 copies of the ‘Checkered Game of Life’ in the winter of 1860-1861 alone, and while Americans lost one source of portraits, they gained a new kind of consumer good to add to an already expansive visual and material culture.1
Luckily for the consumers of cheap portraiture, Bradley was surrounded by competitors who were eager to produce images not only of Lincoln but other American ‘heroes’ like George and Martha Washington. Louis Prang’s chromolithographs after Gilbert Stuart’s portraits of George and Martha Washington (the originals of which are in the exhibition), for example, circulated widely alongside images like Winslow Homer’s Campaign Sketches, a series of chromolithographs (published by Prang) which depicted the everyday lives of unnamed soldiers, and Anthony Berger’s 1864 photographic portrait of Lincoln and his son Tad, which appeared in the form of an engraving after a sketch after the photograph in Harper’s Weekly in 1865. From the presses of lithographers and publishing houses, these images then made it into American libraries, scrapbooks and interiors.2 Thus, while a certain number of Americans learned the faces of ‘great Americans’ through direct viewings of paintings or photographs in places like the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. (from which the images in the current exhibition have been loaned), or Mathews Brady’s nineteenth-century photographic studio in that same city (for which Berger produced his image), most did not. Rather, it is likely that all but the tip of the iceberg of American portraiture has been consumed through reproductions.
Unluckily for viewers of the current exhibition, Americans tells us virtually nothing of this, or of the cultural history of American portraiture more generally. It gives us the faces of American history, but little of the context for their production or consumption as images or as historical artefacts. In other words, although Stuart’s portraits of the Washingtons and a photograph of Lincoln are in the exhibit, we get no real understanding of how these and other portraits were seen and used: how they circulated (as originals or copies), who consumed them, and how they fit into the larger trajectory of American image production. Similarly, the exhibition also offers little sense of the historical significance of portraiture in the United States. Although it does occasionally tell us who commissioned a specific image, it offers little sense of why and for whom portraits were made, and of how portraiture (its production and consumption) fits into the larger development of American historical consciousness or identity.
This is reflected in the organisation of the exhibition, which can most charitably be described as random: in Americans, the orator and Constitutional Convention delegate Rufus King sits next to the Mexican War officer Samuel Ringgold, who is joined on the other side by the Cherokee leader Sequoyah. While a historical chain could probably be forged to join these figures (beyond the fact that they were all famous Americans), it is very hard to imagine an American audience, let alone an audience of viewers who cannot be expected to know the first thing about the history of the United States, making much sense of the arrangement. Stylistically, the exhibition presents the same problem—while the introductory text tells us that American portraits ‘vary in style and technique from the most sophisticated—such as those by painters Gilbert Stuart and John Singer Sargent—to those by self-taught artists, including Thomas Badger and William Elwell’, the exhibition itself places Badger’s portrait of African American clergyman Thomas Paul (1825) next to Stuart’s Rufus King (1819-1820) without telling us what the relationship was between ‘sophisticated’ and ‘self-taught’ portraits and their makers in early America.
This is disappointing, for two reasons. First, American art scholarship is highly attuned to social, economic and cultural history, to the relationships between painting and print culture, and to the art world as a series of social and economic constellations. There is no reason to expect anything less of exhibitions produced for public consumption.
Second, many of the clues to these broader historical relationships are present in the exhibition, and could have been made visible to viewers with a bit of effort. To cite three examples: the text alongside Emanuel Leutze’s piercing, brilliant likeness of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1862) mentions that the artist also painted Westward the Course of Empire Takes its Way for the United States Capitol. If it had also noted that the German-American Leutze was the author of one of the most famous historical images painted in nineteenth-century America, Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851),3 that he devoted virtually his entire career to realising in visual terms the historical and historiographical conundrum posed by the conquest and settlement of the American continents, and that this career blending of portraiture and history painting was quite common in the United States, then it might have been more helpful.4 Similarly, the exhibition includes a number of portraits of publishers and editors, such as Julia Margaret Cameron’s James T. Fields (1869), Cecilia Beaux’s Richard Watson Gilder (1902-1903), Thomas Eakins’ Talcott Williams (1889) and Stanton MacDonald-Wright’s Willard Huntington Wright (1913-1914). And yet, while these individual portraits speak to an important and ongoing relationship between portraiture (and painting generally) and the American print media, the exhibition fails to make this link visible to viewers either by grouping the images together or by noting its persistence in the text panels. And finally, the exhibition offers us the astonishingly self-confident Thomas Hart Benton with his Wife Rita (1922) with the note that Benton ‘joined the American Synchromists, a group of artists concerned with the explication of form through colour.’ What it should also have told us is that Benton was a long-time friend of one of the co-founders of that movement, Stanton MacDonald-Wright, whose portrait of his critic brother sits three paintings down from Benton’s own work.
This is unlucky for viewers, who undoubtedly came to this exhibition to learn. It was certainly true of the patron who followed me about the show, pestering me with questions about the chronology of the Civil War and the Revolution. One wonders, however, whether satisfying this urge was the purpose of this exhibition, or whether it was put on simply because the works had to go somewhere while the National Portrait Gallery is closed for renovation, and because J. P. Morgan put up the cash.
1. Information on Bradley can be found in James J. Shea, It’s All in the Game (New York, 1960), 47-57.
2. See, for example, Thomas Eakins’ The Dancing Lesson of 1878, which depicts an African American boy learning to dance in a room decorated solely by this very image of Lincoln. Thomas Eakins, The Dancing Lesson (Negro Boy Dancing), 1878. Watercolour on off-white wove paper, 18 1/16 x 22 9/16 inches. Metropolitan Museum of Art: Fletcher Fund, 1925. It can be seen at http://www.metmuseum.org/special/Thomas_Eakins/5.r.htm>. The image of Lincoln is in the upper left-hand corner. Homer and Prang’s civil war images are pasted into the scrapbook made by Bostonian Henry I. Bowditch after the death of his son, Nathaniel, in “A Memorial of Lieut. Nathaniel Bowditch A. A. G., 1st Cavalry Brigade 2nd Division, Army of the Potomac” (1864). Bowditch Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.
3. Oil on canvas; 12 2/5 x 21 1/4 in. (378.5 x 647.7 cm). The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Gift of John S. Kennedy, 1897 (97.34).
4. For an excellent account of Leutze’s career in the light of historiography see Jochen Wierich, “Struggling through History: Emanuel Leutze, Hegel, and Empire,” American Art 15:2 (Spring 2001), 52-71.
J. M. Mancini is lecturer in American Studies at the University of Sussex. She is the author of essays in Critical Inquiry and American Quarterly and a forthcoming book on the emergence of visual modernism in the United States.
Carol Smith, King Alfred’s, Winchester
‘See what you can discover about Americans that you didn’t know before.’
Introductory video to the Americans exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (London) by the Biography Channel
Thus the video introducing this exhibition of a selection of painted and photographic portraits from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington invites the viewer on a voyage of discovery of the history of American portraiture and of the formation of American identity. Due to the temporary closure of the NPG in Washington for extensive renovation (housed in the Old Patent Office Building), this intriguing and inclusive exhibition of American identity titled Americans has been on tour within America and to Japan from January 2001 and ended in London this January. It included a representative range of icons of America ranging from the colonial period to the present day including Frederick Douglass, Lena Horne, Edith Wharton, Martha and George Washington, and Michael Jackson.
The exhibition of painted portraits was arranged around three chronological themes; Freedom, The Gilded Age and The Performing Arts. A selection of photographs was hung in another room. These themes offered a linear and progressive narrative of American history which was paralleled in both the exhibition notes and two catalogues (from the NPGs Washington and London) by an art history narrative. The latter narrative detailed the complex relationship between the European and American history of portraiture. It stressed a shared history of sitters, patrons and painters in the colonial period and the nineteenth century and the more specifically ‘American’ nature of the modern portrait. The way in which the exhibition particularised the history of reciprocal nature of the relationship between American and British portrait painting and construction of identity was particularly illuminating in this post 9/11 era. The dynamics and importance of cultural exchange and shared heritage is emphasised. Thus the image of the Irish-born George Berkley by the Scottish-born painter John Simibert sat beside the young Edith Wharton, a long term resident of France, painted by the British-born Edward Harrison May, and the portrait of T.S. Eliot (a British citizen from 1927) by the English artist Sir Edward Kelly. What the London viewer discovered here about Americans was that we have and continue to be very alike – a powerful cultural statement in these times.
The symbiotic and transatlantic relationship between sitter, artist, nationality and institution focussed on by the exhibition is apt given the history of the founding of the NPG gallery in Washington as detailed by that museum’s research historian Margaret C.S. Chisum in an essay in the American exhibition catalogue. There she outlines the foundation of the NPG in Washington and its opening in 1968 as directly influenced by the cultural and ideological nation-building mission of the existing NPGs in London and Edinburgh. The Americans exhibition included several paintings from that opening exhibition This New Man: A Discourse in Portraits such as John Singleton Copley’s self -portrait and Augustus John’s painting of Tallulah Bankhead; unfortunately an image of Pocahontas by an unidentified English artist originally bought in England was unable to travel due to conservation problems.
Sitting alongside this art-historical transatlantic narrative of cultural exchange and the creation of an American painting style is a more complex narrative of the representation of historical and contemporary American identity. This latter narrative stresses and constructs America as a unique nation; as the introductory video asks ‘Where else but in America could you find Franklin, Crockett and Douglass’? The exhibition both acknowledges and contains the more problematic aspects of the formations of America, such as slavery, by linking these icons of revolution, westward expansion and abolition. The suggestion is that all three are integral to the formation of American identity, as is emphasised by the sub-titling of the first section of the exhibition, Freedom, by a quotation from Douglass ‘If there is no struggle, there is no progress’. The choice of these portraits and their linkage can be read to suggest that such problematic struggles over slavery are inherent to the formation of America and further as a welcome corrective to the exclusive WASP founding fathers history of America. Carolyn Kinder Carr emphasises this narrative of inclusive diversity in explaining the process of selection she and fellow curator Ellen Miles employed in an essay in the London catalogue. She states that selection was determined by ‘issues of chronology, occupation, gender and ethnicity’ and that ‘a conscious effort was made to include a cross section of the lively people whose diverse occupations and accomplishments are so fundamental to the vitality of the American nation’.
The result of this selection process is certainly representative and the combinations offer a positivist and vital history of the nation. In the middle section, The Gilded Age, the celebration of struggle as central to the formation of the nation continues with the bombastically heroic portrait of the Union General Sheridan by Thomas Buchanan Read. Sheridan is represented atop a rather startled looking Rienzi (his favourite horse) with saber drawn ready to rally his troops at Cedar Creek. Opposite, in contrast, was hung the stunningly beautiful portrait of Juliette Gordon Low by Edward Hughes. Gordon Low, one of the many Whartonesque American heiresses who married into the transatlantic Low family and spent the period of her marriage in England, is represented as the epitome of American passive femininity. Yet as the exhibition notes reveal this image belies the actuality of her life as she overcame great personal adversity to found the Girl Scouts of America – ‘an operation in the vanguard of the suffrage movement’. Thus her portrait might be read as representing an alternative to the male heroics of such as Sheridan and offer a gender-suitable (for the nineteenth century) method for women to take part in the struggle to form the larger American identity.
The last section, entitled The Performing Arts contained the most innovative portraits both in terms of technique and choice of sitters. Here the range of sitters is the most representative in terms of gender and ethnicity, with a rather disturbing portrait of Marianne Moore, an astonishingly intimate (for the time) image of Tallulah Bankhead in a negligee and a regal portrait of Lena Horne hanging alongside the ‘greats’ of Carl Sandberg, Lincoln Kirstein and John Updike.
Thus this fascinating exhibition offered a positive narrative of the long and continued transatlantic cultural exchange between Americans and Britons at the same time showing how this relationship is continually reinterpreted in the service of the building of the nation in America.
News from AMATAS
AMATAS Conference on Americanisation and the Teaching of the Humanities January 17, 2003 University Of Central Lancashire, Preston
Anyone in the least bit familiar with the British press will recognise that ‘Americanisation’ remains a modern preoccupation, whether for good or ill. Few stop to address the many and varied, indeed multifarious and often incompatible ways, in which the seemingly self-defining term is used. Is it merely a term to describe a creeping modernisation rooted in the American experience? Is it a way of describing the overt exporting of American agendas, whether geo-political or cultural? Or is it the way people outside the USA ape America? Perhaps Americanisation is but a synonym for an imperialism that treats the rest of the world as little more than a market and a resource for American products? But on a day that the Yale historian-pundit Paul Kennedy writes in The Guardian about the inevitability of anti-Americanism so long as the USA is the only empire in town and as The New York Times continues to debate what redevelopment might be appropriate to replace the World Trade Center the relationship between globalisation and Americanisation remains a current, vital and immediate issue, long after such diverse British writers as Hoggart and Hoskins reacted to changes in the post-war British landscape as we too were occupied by a foreign power. In a world still preoccupied with a seemingly US led celebration of globalisation it seems doubly appropriate that such topics be discussed by those BAAS members keen to engage with American and local debates given the current British preoccupation with courses relevant to the real world that are then deemed ‘mickey mouse’.
Whatever such populist criticism of higher education may mean, it is reassuring that American Studies colleagues from around the UK and beyond have been part of the University of Central Lancashire-based project on Americanisation, which has been taken not as a given, but as something inherently problematic. But this very problematic dimension has been recognised as an essential strength throughout this project, no less in this final conference. Sponsored by HEFCE the project has been concerned to direct its eventual outcomes towards students’ learning experiences, initially through the provision of workshops, but latterly by their publication on the web of examples of best practice teaching.
Patrick MaGhee , the Pro-Vice Chancellor opened the conference by recognising that American Studies enjoyed possibly a unique ability to make use of students’ existing knowledge of things American from which critical reflection could flow. Philip Davies (De Montford University and the Eccles Library, Chairperson BAAS) reminded participants that the AMATAS project had been the only successful FTTL bid to emerge from within American Studies. The project provided a useful opportunity to counter the pervasive and corrosive belief that America could be fully appreciated by the British merely by listening to Radio 4 and reading the broadsheets. The Lancashire – USA links (first Mormon bishopric/ Butch Cassidy the son of Lancashire Mormon pioneers/King Cotton) clearly illustrated how links between the USA and the UK were deeply set and often as much local and national.
The guest lecture “Americanisation and Globalisation” was given by the man who gave us the term “McDonaldization”, George Ritzer (College Park, Maryland) who was over just for this occasion. He chose to focus his remarks around a concern for the “globalisation of nothing”, perhaps the ultimate post-modern experience, which recognises the need to appreciate that with US markets saturated US corporations need to grow overseas – hence ‘Grobalisation’ is already a more appropriate term than globalisation. Widely seen as a form of expansionist imperialism, ‘grobalisation runs counter to what many commentators prefer myopically perhaps to see, ‘glocalisation’. Certainly the interaction between grobalisation and glocalisation needs serious investigation. But where once it was American productive capacity that threatened to undermine foreign industry (as British cotton manufacturers had done in the nineteenth century in places such as India) today Americans are more concerned to export their culture of consumption, with its assumptions of high rates of mobility, excess as the norm, cathedrals of consumption, high rates of affluence and the democratisation of excess. Nevertheless it remains unwise to equate McDonaldization with Americanisation, for the roots of the former clearly lie in the kinds of bureaucratic predictability associated with Weber, and increasingly it is foreign firms (Body Shop and IKEA) that now promote the next stage of McDonaldisation within the USA. Indeed McDonaldisation increasingly has its centre of gravity beyond the USA, whereas other supposedly international rather than US organisations such as the IMF seem increasingly to promote an essentially American agenda over such things as free trade. So George Ritzer is now going beyond his initial model to consider how McDonalisation impacts upon local-global tensions. He suggested that such local flourishes within say McDonalds restaurants (such as beer in Germany) were essentially cosmetic and no way challenged the basic features of McDonaldisation. Nevertheless he is attempting to develop new theoretical insights into the tensions between global and local processes, with particular interest in the significance of a shift from place specific to place neutral production and, increasingly consumption, the contrast between a craft centre (US “craft barn”) where craftspeople work and sell their products and souvenir shops (as in the Magic Kingdom) where American flags probably come from South Korea, Mickey Mouse T-shirts from Morocco. Emphasising that place/non-place produces and services are linked by an often wide continuum he fended questions that tended to centre around his model’s seemingly lack of interest in the role of the state, whether the USA or rivals such as the EU. Some present were a little worried that McDonaldisation was somewhat of a theoretical steamroller, applicable in so many circumstances it, despite the author’s personal stance, encouraged an essentially pessimistic attitudes towards globalisation – it’s inevitable, so go with it, reminiscent of the nineteenth century cry “You can’t fight city hall”.
In the second keynote address, Deborah Madsen (soon to take up the Chair of American Literature at the University of Geneva) spoke on “Americanisation and Exceptionalism”, a talk stimulated by a recognition that globalisation is not limited to economic forces in general or even capitalism in particular, and some fear its impact as they see it upon the USA itself. Fundamentalist Christian web sites already see globalisation as a multicultural threat to American exceptionalist values. The exceptionalist tradition provides many Americans with a useful set of expectations as regards their relationships past and present with the outside world that can be expressed through a developed rhetorical vocabulary which continues to allow many Americans to consider themselves standing outside history. Such reactions address real cultural needs even while escaping into a mythical American dream experience that lies beyond everyday realities. While people of necessity live within real historical circumstances, exceptionalism provides a symbolic language that treats a dream as the true reality. Of course most people do not directly relate with the world beyond their locality never mind beyond the USA. So it is locally, within their own lives that Americans of necessity work through their concerns. Modern Chinese-American writers such as Gish Jen in her books Mona in the Promised Land and Typical American are exploring ways in which the various generations explore the potentials and unexpected constraints and limitations offered them by identifying with the exceptionalist model of expectations, whether choosing to identify with mainstream or with other ethnic identities, initially negotiating their own version of the longstanding national preoccupation with E Pluribus Unum. When such choice, however, produces identities at odds with democratic values, confusion results, echoing perhaps Americans’ wider confusion within the wider world. Talk contrasted Mrs Peeke’s infamous 1882 doggerel rejection of multiculturalism, where it is the pluribus that is rejected in favour of the unum, with Mayor Gulianno’s September 21st 2002 speech praising American pluribus without which the unum is impossible. Chinese-American writers’ exploration of identity suggests that ethnicity is now far more than merely deconstructing the dead white male canon. The WASP narrative may have been displaced by various ethnic strands – but there remains a need to appreciate what multi-cultural narratives, cultural or merely literary, have had to struggle against, without which their preoccupations may seem merely personal or idiosyncratic.
Two workshops followed: “Approaches to Teaching American Popular Culture in Britain” chaired by Neil Campbell (University of Derby) with Jude Davies (King Alfred’s College), Simon Philo (University of Derby) and Alistair Keane (University of Derby) who sought to provide flavours of the various AMATAS workshops that would highlight the teaching implications of the project. Neil Campbell kicked off with how students are encouraged to look at their surroundings in ways they may never have previously considered, to see which elements are local, national and from overseas, with a concern not for America as a distant place but as somewhere possibly influencing their local experience of their everyday surroundings. Seminal texts, British and American, are then introduced to encourage debate over the landscape as a repository of cultural forms and signs. The workshop has now not only been published both on the AMATAS website but as a free-standing volume (and both are well worth seeing).
Alasdair Keane based his workshop on students’ existing interest in popular music, with modern concerns placed in historical context, with popular music seen as having subversive qualities, challenging British conventions, at least with the arrival of rock ‘n roll. One useful by-product of these workshops has been the students’ recognition that there are many different forms of American music, with some forms, such as race records only being fed back into the US mainstream via the Beetles, the Stones and Clapton, illustrating how music is dynamic, recycling sounds and attitudes not merely handing on a canon. Musical styles are now so recycled it may be impossible to discern a peculiarly American influence. Is the term Americanisation appropriate in an age of world music anyway?
Simon Philo continued along similar veins illustrating strategies based on discussing pop art that encourage students to engage with notions of degenerate art, dumbing down, with collages being a useful way to get people talking about whether their responses would be similar to those of the original audiences. Meaning changes become apparent as priorities and particularly as political agendas change, as with the ending of the cold war.
Jude Davie talked about the possibilities and limitations of net group discussions between British, American and Dutch students following a showing of Three Kings. Once the necessary software was in place the staff kept well away, possible in an experiment lasting only a couple of weeks. Colleagues who have tried longer periods found interest waned as exams approached, and sometimes month long discussions did need the occasional staff intervention to fire things up again. Students doing this for credit were also far more willing to devote time to it than were volunteers doing it over and above course work. Net etiquette has to be clearly set out, and even then contributors often found themselves hurt by the unthinking use of national stereotypes by others in the group. But having three groups successfully avoided a more obvious US non-US dichotomy of responses, also helped by the initial questions being designed to open out from the common experience of having seen the same film. Final discussions on who was the most American character soon revealed the complex nature of such a question, with the US-educated Iraqi rebel finally being emerging as the unanticipated popular choice.
Despite the whistle-stop nature of this session it usefully brought various teaching issues to the fore, with practical suggestions from the final discussion from the floor.
The alternative workshop “Teaching Imperial America: Ways Forward” was led by David Ryan (De Montfort University) and Scott Lucas (University of Birmingham). A critical and historically embedded understanding of America’s concept of its own national security is essential to any useful analysis, argued David Ryan. The relatively benign narrative of the USA’s international role in much mainstream literature can be interrogated faithfully by reference to a variety of sources, including US government documents, and statements by major players in US diplomatic circles. Ryan identified America’s shifting sense of its own national security needs, from simple territorial integrity, through definitions including European and Asian aims, to the target of securing the American Way of Life, and on to the Clinton administration’s goal of a National Security of Engagement and Enlargement. The pragmatic narratives emerging from some American sources provide a clear ideological foundation for US policy sometimes connected to the protection of America’s ‘right’ to consume a large share of the world’s resources, while the public statements defined aims as a more generalised commitment to intangible ideals and an opposition to enemies whose shape shifts according to the perception of the viewer.
Working from an essay, and numerous links maintained by himself with the help of James Boys and Andrew Day (www.ajday.demon.co.uk/49thparallel) Scott Lucas took the audience to view NSC 68 and numerous other documents to illustrate the ideological and cultural conceptualisation built into the US ideas of national security. Defined and re-defined over time, there recurs an underlying definition of international difference, and of American moral superiority in terms of underlying conflict in the realm of ideas and values. The country, seeing itself once as ‘mortally challenged by the Soviet System’ has moved on to define other ‘others’, but has maintained a mantra that requires participants to be ‘with us, or against us’, and does not easily accommodate other ways of negotiating the policy space. Culture, ideology and geopolitics are intricately connected and provide opportunities for intellectually incisive learning.
George Ritzer, Deborah Madsen, Scott Lucas and George McKay, with moderator Steve Mills (Keele University) finally took the platform for the final plenary session: “New Directions for American Studies: Teaching Global America Without Frontiers”. If HEFCE funded events must have feedback forms, then teaching conferences have to end with a plenary session. Responding to the day’s presentations it was soon clear that not only was Americanisation still highly problematic, but so was its relationship to UK-based American Studies. Nevertheless, certain overarching themes did emerge. Scott Lucas was afraid that discussion of culture, even when dealing with corporate activities, still found it difficult to engage sufficiently with political power. Despite a rhetoric of privatisation and free enterprise the role of the state has been enhanced over the last decade and American Studies, not just discussions of Americanisation, need to take that on board more fully. Looking at the debate from the other end of the telescope George Ritzer commented upon how paradoxically he felt intellectually more at home overseas than at home where American Studies was too narrowly concerned with race, class and gender to engage adequately with political and corporate power without which the real cultural wars made little sense. George McKay was worried that we were too willing to accept the USA’s own exceptionalist rhetoric. Indeed, as Liam Kennedy from the floor forcefully pointed out, American Studies tended by its very existence to give credence to the exceptional nature of the US experience, a position held equally by those who considered themselves pro or anti-American. Scott Lucas forcefully rejected the utility of such simplistic dichotomies, and several speakers from the floor commented upon the way people chose a bundle of attributes that together comprised their own particular acceptable USA. Hence left-wing Europeans traditionally enthuse about American folk culture, particularly music, while rejecting much of US foreign policy. Of particular interest to the moderator was Deborah Madsen’s call to encourage students to engage with the traditional canon if for no other reason than to enable students to appreciate the difficulties facing those who came to reject the canon in favour of a more inclusive range of concerns. This cry from someone based within a literary tradition seemed very similar to Scott Lucas’s initial plea that in our concern for resistance and liminal groups we do not forget that these groups have to operate within power structures, corporate and governmental. If we fail to recognise the role of power, whether cultural or political, we are not doing our students justice, at risk of merely exposing them to surface noise rather than deep structures. And this debate did highlight one of the strengths of the AMATAS project. By focusing upon the undergraduate teaching implications of these discussions, workshops and websites, it has reminded us all that postgraduate, faculty concerns with obscure people, places and things, while no doubt justifiable within a research culture, are not necessarily immediately appropriate for undergraduate consumption. This does not mean that undergraduate teaching must involve dumbing down: far from it. Rather it means that students with very little analytical exposure to the United States need to be introduced to certain basics that long-time professional academics may come to take for granted, particularly the main elements of the historically dominant society. To teach students about the political process, about the development of a cultural canon, or about mainstream values, is not to validate these structures and processes, but enables students to appreciate how difficult it is to change the inertia within any society, not least the USA. We may even then more fully appreciate the actions of those who have challenged and changed mainstream society. If the project has helped us re-evaluate how our students come to experience both the USA and our debates about the USA it will have succeeded in no small way.
This was an excellent finale to a most worthwhile project. For more details please see the project website (www.amatas.org).
Steve Mills, University of Keele
Professor Peter J. Parish, 1929-2002
The untimely death of Peter Parish in May 2002 robbed the community of British Americanists of one of its most distinguished, active and well-loved senior members. Without question, his contribution to the evolution of American studies in Britain was immense: a gifted teacher and admired scholar, he also played a significant role in the development of BAAS, and latterly in founding and shaping BrANCH (British American Nineteenth Century Historians). In each of these various capacities, throughout a career of over forty years, he endeared himself to colleagues and students alike for his humanity, good sense, honest judgment, approachability, generosity of spirit, modesty, and – not least – his kindly wit. Less immediately evident was the Catholicism that informed all these. His story is an essential part of the larger process that since 1945 has seen the study of America and its history travelling from the relative margins of British academic life to the more favoured place it occupies today.
The bright son of an Essex schoolmaster, Peter took a First in History at University College London in 1950. After graduation, he did his two years of obligatory National Service in the RAF, and returned to London to take up a postgraduate studentship under the supervision of Hale Bellott. A year as a visiting research fellow at Bowdoin College was followed by three years as a librarian at Manchester University. Then, in 1958, having recently married a fellow librarian, Norma Telfer, he was appointed Lecturer in American History at the University of Glasgow. His growing reputation on both sides of the Atlantic, confirmed by his magisterial study of the American Civil War, elicited an invitation to take up the Bonar Chair of Modern History at Dundee University, which he held until 1983. In that year he returned to London, to become Director of the Institute of United States Studies. Retirement in 1993 prompted no easing up in teaching or scholarship. As Visiting Professor of American Studies at Middlesex University and then, from 1996, as Mellon Senior Research Fellow in American History at Cambridge, he continued to supervise research students and to lecture with his customary clarity, erudition, balance and wit.
BAAS members will need little reminding of Peter’s chief publications. The American Civil War (1975) is his masterpiece. A work of remarkable lucidity, balance and shrewd judgments, it is rightly esteemed as one of the great single-volume studies of the conflict. As the thirtieth anniversary of its appearance approaches, it remains essential reading. The same fair-minded and balanced analysis is evident in Slavery: History and Historians (1989), a book which takes the uninitiated by the hand and leads them with great assurance through the minefield of slavery’s historiography. Few BAAS historians will not have contributed entries for the Reader’s Guide to American History (1997), an indispensable work of reference in which Peter’s editorial skills fused with his keen historiographical judgment to impressive effect; there will be fewer still who have not at some time or another turned to it as a way out of a tight bibliographical corner. Peter’s articles and essays are too numerous to list here, but those on religion during the Civil War, and his reflective essays on American nationalism, deserve special mention.
During Peter’s happy three-year term as Chairman of BAAS(1977-1980), he was notably successful in broadening the range of the Association’s activities and enhancing its profile at a time of increasing retrenchment in higher education. At his prompting a short-term travel fund for postgraduates was established, to support research visits to the United States. He also inspired the excellent series of BAAS Pamphlets and gave the project the best possible launch by producing the first and best-selling of these, on slavery. This publication project was but one expression of Peter’s concern to make fresh scholarship on American themes accessible to the widest possible readership. Another was his book, co-authored with Peter Batty, The Divided Union: The Story of the Civil War (1987), based on the television series for which he acted as the historical consultant. Indeed, all his writings – strikingly free from jargon and grandiloquence – bear the distinctive marks of an author who thought of himself above all else as a teacher.
Peter served the community of British Americanists in other important ways. To his involvement with the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission, the English-Speaking Union, the Fulbright Commission and other public bodies he brought to bear his particular brand of good sense and personal diplomacy. As a frequent visitor to the United States, where he had many friends and was held in high regard, especially amongst historians of slavery and the Civil War, he acted as the perfect ambassador for British Americanists. He not only recognised earlier than most the benefits that would accrue from establishing a forum for British historians of nineteenth-century America, but helped to found one: as the first Chair of BrANCH, from 1992 to 1997, he fostered an organisation over whose lively and collegial annual gatherings he presided with his customary erudition and good humour. The launch of the journal American Nineteenth Century History, under BrANCH’s auspices, owes much to his vision.
Peter Parish’s death deprives us of several promised works, including a book on the historical reputation of Abraham Lincoln, whom he much admired. While we quite properly regret that particular loss, just as we shall sorely miss his company and wise counsel, we may also take pleasure in celebrating the many ways in which he so effectively promoted a better understanding of America on this side of the Atlantic.
Dennis Welland 1919-2002
The death of Dennis Welland on 1 September 2002 has deprived the British Association for American Studies of a founding father and gifted literary critic.
Army service during the greater part of World War II both delayed an entry into academic life and influenced his approach to both institutions and literature: he would remark that he knew the circumstances of every man under his command and did not allow a day to pass without writing to Joan, his wife to be. His service experience after graduation from, and returning to, University College, Nottingham, as it then was, must have served to inform a thesis on Wilfred Owen which was published in 1960.
Before that, however, he had also become interested in American Literature and received a Rockefeller award to spend a year at the University of Minnesota, attracted there by the presence of Henry Nash Smith. This interlude generated a permanent shift of attention to American Studies.
Where there was an institution to join and nurture, Dennis would be found, playing his part. He was justifiably proud of having been treasurer, secretary, and Chair of the Association, and a constant attendant at conferences, but his most lasting contribution to the establishment of American Studies in this country must be reckoned to be his leadership in the creation of the Journal of American Studies.
This was by no means an overnight development. Copies of the New Series of the British Association for American Studies Bulletin are, I would guess, now pretty thin on the ground, but Number 4, in August 1962, welcomed Dennis as its new editor in succession to George Shepperson. Since production had already been undertaken at the Photographic Unit of the University of Nottingham, there was obviously an advantage to be gained – but for one difficulty: the announcement was coupled with the advice that, after 1 October, the editor’s address would be the Department of American Studies at the University of Manchester. The persuasive powers of Marcus Cunliffe had succeeded in detaching Dennis from an institution to which he had been committed for over twenty years and to which he continued for the rest of his life to owe loyalty.
The Sixties was a period when American Studies became recognized as a discipline and not as a field that, in Britain at least, only commanded the attention of maverick individuals. These were conditions made for Dennis to exploit, as new Universities and new academic demands opened fresh possibilities. Manchester, despite its institutional conservatism, took a lead in recognizing the new subject and Dennis, particularly after the departure of Marcus for Sussex, became steadily more prominent in University affairs. In April 1967, however, there appeared under his editorship the first issue of the Journal of American Studies then, as now, published by Cambridge University Press for the Association, and which would become internationally known as an outlet for British research. Dennis retired from office at the end of 1976, having, in the words of his successors, established a journal ‘for whose foundation and character he is largely responsible.’
By this time University administration demanded an ever increasing amount of his attention. He had become Dean of the Arts Faculty, and an almost inevitable appointee to major University committees. Duty called and his public manner made him a popular choice in many venues: it was not surprising that he should so greatly have enjoyed being – and to be enjoyed as – presenter of honorary Graduands. In the academic year 1980-1981 he was fully occupied as acting Vice-Chancellor. These commitments and attractions took him a distance from teaching and research in American Literature.
As a critic, Dennis was at ease in the company of classical texts: as a rule, he preferred the period from Benjamin Franklin to Upton Sinclair. There were, of course, exceptions, most notably Arthur Miller, for whom he provided in 1961 one of the earliest academic appreciations. Once again an institutional connection can be discerned, with a longstanding involvement in the often chequered fortunes of the University Contact Theatre, to which he devoted during twenty years much time.
One can only speculate as to Dennis’s personal preferences in his academic writings, but it seems likely that he would have looked benevolently on his work on Mark Twain, especially Mark Twain in England (1978). There might appear a synergy of researcher and subject: Dennis relished the retailing of anecdotes, often with himself in a central role, which displayed his gift of language and humorous self-deprecation to the best advantage. He enjoyed a display of himself as a figure of some note, for example, re-reading, with a wry pleasure, decades later, correspondence with Edmund Blunden which had made its way to the Library of the University of Texas.
His death, as a young 82 year-old, is cause for sadness but also an occasion for recognition of his contributions to American Studies. Above all, he demonstrated that there was no contradiction between a maintenance of established literary values and their application to a field previously shunned by British scholarship. It was a task and a service well done.
Funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB)
The Arts and Humanities Research Board began holding structured annual consultative meetings with subject groups and learned societies this past autumn. BAAS has sent representatives both to the History and Related Subjects as well as the Languages and Literature Meetings. In these meetings the AHRB emphasised that they generally operated in a “responsive” mode, and try not to be prescriptive. However, the number of “managed” programmes is growing, and the AHRB is keen to get feedback from the scholarly community about what areas to encourage, and particularly what areas are “cutting edge” at the moment. They seem particularly keen to foster more interdisciplinary research. In the spring, they will be consulting with BAAS and other learned societies about the possibilities of ring-fencing funds for specific projects, either from “threatened” or “emerging” fields.
Currently, postgraduates receive a much larger proportion of funding than from other Research Councils, or about 40% of available funds. About 12% of undergraduates go on to do Master’s degrees, and of these about 12% obtain funding from the AHRB. About 25% of Master’s students go on to do the PhD, and the AHRB funds about 25% of these. The proportions vary in different subject areas. There has been a rise in applications from postgraduates of about 15-20% in the last few years. More generally, across the eight schemes in History and Related Subject areas, there have been, in the 2001 competition, 600 awards from 1,650 applications; the numbers are roughly the same for English Literature and Language (618 awards from 1,654 applications). The percentage of successful applications is remarkably high, but as the number of applications rises quickly as they have been doing, this success rate will inevitably fall. The AHRB also emphasised that they were striving to achieve some semblance of “balance” across the Humanities, but the way to do this was not so clear. Again, at present the AHRB simply responds to the number of applications received, but would like to try and foster a more proportional system, particularly based on the size of different constituencies. The AHRB was keen to emphasise that though there were no subject panels specifically devoted to Area Studies or interdisciplinary applications, the AHRB never turned down applications on the basis that they ‘could’ be presented to another Council. Moreover, these have usually been dealt with in the past by several different panels within the AHRB, and the success rate of interdisciplinary proposals seen by more than one panel has actually been marginally higher than normal.
In light of these meetings, and the encouraging response BAAS has had from the AHRB about Area Studies, including American Studies, we are keen to push our members to apply to the AHRB, as well as the ESRC. The AHRB provides funding for Research, Research Leave, Research Exchanges, Research Centres, and Resource Enhancement, as well as giving awards for Innovation, Fellowships in the Creative and Performing Arts, and Small Grants in the Creative and Performing Arts. Though the vast majority of funding for, and applications from, academics to the AHRB is for individual research leave, the AHRB is also keen to get the academic community to think of ways of developing research based less on a model of lone scholarship, and that requires larger grant funding. For more information about AHRB and its work, see www.ahrb.ac.uk
For more information about the Subject consultations with the AHRB, please contact Phil Davies (Philip.Davies@bl.uk ), Mike McDonnell (firstname.lastname@example.org), Heidi Macpherson (email@example.com) or Nick Selby (N.Selby@englit.arts.gla.ac.uk).
Travel Award Reports
The Malcolm Bradbury Award Kathryn Napier Gray, University of Glasgow
When I discovered in January 2002 that I was the winner of the very first Malcolm Bradbury Award, nobody was more surprised and pleased than me. So, several months later, on an unusually sunny day in Glasgow, I set out on Iceland Air to the American Antiquarian Society, Massachusetts, where it was raining, heavily. Thankfully, the next day, this changed and Massachusetts looked very beautiful in the fall sunshine.
Apart from these meteorological considerations, for Early American Studies, especially studies of New England, AAS is a real treasure trove. In my current research, I am interested in the emergence of Indian and colonial identities as they evolve in the texts of seventeenth century New England. Many of the holdings I was interested in are not unavailable anywhere else, so it was essential that I made this trip. Armed with several pencils (no pens allowed in the reading room) and many notepads, I made my way to the stacks. My PhD research is on the work of John Eliot, “Apostle to the Indians”, but for this project, I was interested in the writings of his contemporaries. Specifically, I was able to compare Eliot’s work with: Daniel Gookin’s “An Historical Account of the doings and sufferings of the Christian Indians in New England”, 1677, the manuscripts of minister, Thomas Shepard, John Cotton’s “A Discourse about Civil Government” 1663, and the collected papers of Roger Williams. All proved useful, although, seventeenth century manuscripts are particularly difficult to decipher, sometimes the nineteenth century bound copy is worth keeping in view! Probably the most fascinating and well-penned manuscript was that of England’s man in the colony, Edward Randolph, who, after “King Philip’s War” of 1675, writes back to England, presenting a very different picture from the one the above-mentioned colonists would have preferred. Alarmingly modern in its political manipulation, Randolph’s letter, which would have been read by the Privy Council and the committee for Trade and Plantations, seeks to decimate the reputation of the colonial government, and Eliot’s ongoing missionary project with Algonquian Indians. Given my focus on the transatlantic relationship, this letter really helped crystallise the tensions between New and Old England, and helps determine the framework for the emergence of a New English identity in this period.
Of course, secondary sources, including George Parker Winship’s The Eliot Indian Tracts, 1925, Wilberforce Eames’s work on Eliot’s Algonquian translation of the Bible and on the Bay Psalm Book, and William Wallace Tooker’s work on Eliot’s Indian interpreters, are all crucial to my research and are rarely available in Britain. Equally fascinating were the gems which I accidentally came across in general searches, for instance: a copy of a woodcut print of the bureau Eliot wrote from and an account of its history through various owners, accounts of centenary memorials, of bi-centenary and tri-centenary memorials in Massachusetts, stories about Eliot included in nineteenth century Sunday School story books, for example, “The Good Indian Missionary,” 1857, and finally, copies of some wonderful portraits of the Massachusetts missionary himself.
I would especially like to thank the librarians at the American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, for all their help and suggestions. Also, I would like to thank Glasgow University’s Arts Faculty for the research support award, which helped with a rather large photocopying bill. A final thank-you must go to BAAS for the travel award, and I hope next year’s winner has an equally successful and enjoyable trip.
Marcus Cunliffe Travel Award H Dosanjh Kaur, University of Hull
I used my £500 travel award to travel to the US in July and August 2002 and conduct research at Johns Hopkins University, The National Library of Medicine, The Colonial Williamsburg Library and the Schomberg Centre in Harlem. The purpose of the research visit was to collect data on the place of slaves and former slaves in the development of American Medicine, particularly gynaecology, obstetrics and psychiatry.
I spent a week searching the archives of the Department of Art as Applied to Medicine at Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore. I am indebted to Professor Ranice Crosby for spending so much of her time exploring the material with me. I am also grateful to Cory Sandone and other members of the department for their suggestions of articles and their willingness to discuss the research area with me.
In addition I spent a substantial amount of time researching in the National Library of Medicine, Washington. This was hindered by the fact that much of the library’s collection is in closed stacks and a significant proportion of the material requested appeared to be missing. However, I made contact with members of the National Library of Medicine, History of Medicine group and found some useful material which I followed up at the Colonial Williamsburg library in Virginia. Finally I spent time searching the collection of the Schomberg Institute in Harlem.
Following the trip my research has developed in depth and scope. Several new possibilities have emerged and I am currently in the process of submitting an article for publication. I had the opportunity to search several collections in detail and to gain detailed information from faculty and librarians about my research area. I am very grateful for the award which enabled me to conduct the trip and collect essential research material for my thesis.
David Milne, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge
Last January I was the fortunate recipient of a short-term travel grant from the British Association for American Studies. This grant covered my transatlantic flight, while the Lyndon Baines Johnson and John. F. Kennedy libraries kindly awarded me additional funds to cover my living expenses. I spent two weeks in both Austin, Texas and Boston, Massachusetts pursuing research toward my doctorate, entitled “Walt Rostow and the Shaping of American Foreign Policy, 1961-1968.”
John F. Kennedy appointed Walt Rostow to be his Deputy Assistant for National Security Affairs in January 1961. Exasperated by Rostow’s bellicosity on the issue of military escalation in Vietnam, Kennedy moved him to serve as Chairman of the Policy Planning Council at the State Department in December 1961. Rostow worked in the Policy Planning Council up until April 1966, when Lyndon Johnson appointed Rostow to replace McGeorge Bundy as his National Security Adviser.
Rostow’s mantra throughout his academic career was that of Third World modernization: that is, U.S. largesse and advice should be dispensed across the developing world to combat the “disease of the transition” that is communism. During the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, Rostow was the pre-eminent civilian hawk on the issue of military escalation in Vietnam. His current position – formulated in response to former Secretary of Defence Robert McNamara’s admission In Retrospect that U.S. policy toward the Vietnamese Civil War was “wrong, terribly wrong” – is that fending off North Vietnam until 1975 gave the remaining western-inclined nations of Southeast Asia the space and time to facilitate the rapid economic growth that led to their designation as Pacific “tiger” economies. In other words, America’s Vietnam War was in no way futile.
While in Austin I was fortunate enough to interview Professor Rostow in his office at the library (as well as trawl through eighteen boxes of his national security files). At eighty-six years old, Rostow continues to lecture on economic history at the University of Texas at Austin, and remains in remarkable intellectual and physical shape. Rostow began his interview by stating (self-deprecatingly, I hope) that I had chosen a lousy topic, but was very generous with his time. While his responses on Vietnam were expectedly bellicose and unrepentant, he was also keen to emphasise the positive successes enjoyed by the Alliance for Progress for Latin America under Lyndon Johnson – a policy that most commentators take to have died with Kennedy in November 1963. Professor Rostow was most forthcoming in his responses and talked openly for over an hour. When finally he enquired as to the crux of my thesis – particularly with regard to Vietnam – I chose not to sour the convivial atmosphere, parrying: “I admire your consistency.”
The remaining two weeks in Boston were less eventful but highly productive. My thanks must go to the archival staff at both the Kennedy and Johnson libraries, who were unfailingly helpful and generous. Spending four weeks in U.S. presidential archives affords one the time to photocopy a mass of documents. A significant part of the second year of my PhD will be spent analysing those memoranda and cables. So my thanks must go to BAAS for contributing so generously to this research trip. It has provided me with much of the raw material on which my dissertation will be based.
Elizabeth Jacobs, University of Wales, Aberystwyth
First of all I would like to thank BAAS for their support and for the travel grant that enabled me to use the Chicano Research Collection at Arizona State University. The purpose of the trip was to strengthen sections of my doctoral thesis, Chicana/o Literature and the Politics of Identity, with archival material not available in the UK. The thesis focuses on issues of identity associated with the Chicano Civil Rights Movement (el movimiento) and subsequent revisions in Chicana women’s writing of the post Movement decades.
Housed in the Department of Archives and Manuscripts at the Hayden Library, the collection supplied relevant material for the thesis in several ways. Firstly it has particular strengths in Chicano literature, history, immigration, civil rights, and Chicana feminist expression in the twentieth century, and therefore contributed to a more general understanding of the Chicana/o experience in the United States. Secondly and more specifically it began as a circulating collection of books that directly represented the thought and philosophy of el movimiento. Originally established in 1970, over the years it has expanded to become a unique collection in all formats including manuscripts and personal papers, a book collection, oral histories, videos and photographic prints. Given this wealth of material, it was fortunate that Chris Marín the curator and archivist of the collection was willing to offer her expert reference assistance throughout my stay. Her invaluable guidance and information regarding both the collection and all things Chicana/o meant that I achieved a good deal of relevant research in a relatively short amount of time. Among the manuscript collections I found most interesting were the Rose Marie and Joe Eddie Lopez papers. These are an important record of their civic and political efforts and include correspondence, news clippings, political memorabilia, as well as campaign materials. In relation to the thesis, the papers provided unique insights into the nature of local socio-political activism during the protest decades, and threw light on the couple’s joint involvement in the establishment of the little documented Chicanos por la Causa Organisation in the Phoenix area.
My research also benefited from personal discussions and interviews with many of the staff based in several departments at ASU, these included the Department of Literatures and Languages, the Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies and the Hispanic Research Center. In particular the Chicana writers Professor Cordelia Candelaria and Professor Margarita Cota Cardenas offered important and personal perspectives on Chicana political writing and activism, self-publishing and issues of Chicana identity. At ASU since 1981 Margarita Cota Cardenas has principally taught in the Department of Literatures and Languages, but kindly allowed me to interview her at home. During the nineteen seventies she acted as co-founder and editor of Scorpion Press, one of the major outlets for the work of Mexican American and other Latina women poets writing at that time. Based on firsthand experience she was able to clarify the difficulties Chicana women writers experienced with funding, distribution and promotion of their literature during its early period of growth and development following the Chicano Movement’s decline. On a more contemporary note her colleague and fellow writer, Professor Cordelia Candelaria, currently head of a busy and flourishing Department of Chicana and Chicano Studies, introduced me to the research team there, many of whom are presently developing a multi-volume Encyclopaedia of Latino Culture for the Greenwood Publishing Group. Other Departmental activities included a summer academy for middle and secondary school teachers titled ‘Teaching Arizona’s Hispanic Heritage,’ a project that incorporated some very interesting ideas for a pedagogical approach to multicultural education. Towards the end of my stay the Chicano historian Ed Escobar and ethnomusicologist Peter Garcia both of the Chicano Studies Department took me on a tour of Phoenix where we visited an exhibition of film posters from the Golden Age of Mexican Cinema at the Chicano Museum before meeting other members of the Department at an award ceremony for the first honorary scholar in Hispanic Business, courtesy of the Wells Fargo Bank.
The research visit proved to be successful on all counts, but would not have been possible without the generosity of BAAS, who I would like to thank again for their support. I would also like to extend my thanks to Gary Keller and Gema Ledesma of the Hispanic Research Centre for helping to iron out the technicalities of the trip, Chris Marín, Margarita Cota Cardenas, and Cordelia Candelaria for their hospitality, expertise and sound advice, and the Department of English UWA and my supervisor Dr. Martin Padget for their encouragement and backing.
G.H. Bennett, University of Plymouth
The travel award paid for an airfare to the United States which began a four week visit to the United States in July-August 2002. Material was gathered from the National Archives in Washington for the project the GI in the West Country 1942-45 to supplement that already gathered from the Public Record Office Kew, from oral history accounts, and from other record repositories, including local studies libraries throughout the South West of England. Material gathered from United States Navy records about the training in the South West of Naval Combat Demolition Units in the South West was particularly interesting.
During the course of my visit I also had the opportunity to work in a private archive held by Professor Gil Guinn of Lander University. South Carolina. He amassed a considerable archive of correspondence with British pilots who trained in the United States from 1941 to 1945 before he was struck by long term illness. Professor Guinn made his archive available to me over the summer and together we embarked on the writing of a book on The Training of British Airmen in the United States under the Towers Scheme. Approximately 20% of the book was completed before I had to return home in time for clearing. The book is particularly interesting because of the parallels with the training of Americans in the West Country. It was instructive to discover that the same kind of cultural tensions generated during the war by the presence of Americans in Britain were mirrored by the tensions generated by the training of British airmen in the United States. Application has been made to the British Academy to support this project with a small grant. The Guinn archive will eventually join his book collection in the library of the University of South Carolina at Columbia.
Also during my stay in the United States I gathered material for a documentary collection on the Roosevelt peacetime administration. The final manuscript of this is due to be handed to the Manchester University Press in August 2003. The Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute have generously agreed to support the book by awarding me a Lubin-Winant Fellowship. Lastly, a visit to the Carter Library in Atlanta was fitted in to enable me to complete an article on Presidential libraries in the United States. That article is now complete and is under consideration. I hope to present an aspect of that research at the next BAAS conference.
Jonathan Watson, University of Sussex
I would like to thank BAAS and UCLA for their generous support in financing a research trip to Los Angeles over August and September of 2002. The trip gave me the opportunity to conduct a large part of the primary research required to complete my D.Phil. My thesis examines the structures, aims and agenda of the Los Angeles branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) between 1930 and 1950.
My work seeks to contribute to the understanding of the development and activism of NAACP branches in urban centres during the Depression, the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. Many historians have viewed this period as containing the beginnings of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Yet analysis of cities in the West, and of the NAACP branches during the period remains incomplete. In turn, analysis of African American Los Angeles has been focussed largely on events since 1965, paying little attention to the dynamics of community politics in the years before Watts. My research seeks to broaden understanding both of the NAACP, its branches in the West, and of the black community in a city that has become a model of urban expansion in the United States.
Having previously examined the correspondence of the Los Angeles NAACP with its New York head office, I was left with an incomplete understanding of the branch’s policy, activism and internal politicking — one letter to Walter White, Executive Secretary of the NAACP during the 1930s and 1940s, from branch president H. Claude Hudson indicated he felt branch affairs should not be the concern of the Association’s head office. His successor, Thomas L. Griffith Jr., shared this attitude. Previous attempts to find the branch’s own files have also proved fruitless. The purpose of the trip, therefore, was to find any other evidence of activity by either the branch, its members, or the broader African American community in Los Angeles. I was aided in this task before I left by consulting the superb Online Archive of California. This web resource catalogues the majority of collections held in all of California’s academic and research libraries, allowing scholars to depart for research with as much knowledge as is possible of what collections are available across the state of California.
My research was centred at two libraries within Los Angeles. The majority was undertaken at the Young Research Library at the UCLA campus in Westwood. Here, I was able to consult the files of the Los Angeles Urban League from the same period (including the organisation’ s extremely informative responses to a questionnaire for the Myrdal study.) I was also able to examine the papers of the Southern California ACLU, and the papers of the state’s leading black insurance group, both of which shed light on the status of African Americans in the city during the period.
The most rewarding work at UCLA came from two sources; the city’s weekly African American newspaper, the California Eagle, and Forty Years, the privately published autobiography of its editor Charlotta Bass. Whilst the Eagle gave me information regarding the branch’s activities on a weekly basis (Bass was on the branch board), Forty Years offered me invaluable information on the history and construction of Los Angeles’ black elite. According to Bass, a number of key families dominated black Los Angeles’ business and social institutions. I was also able to examine the Library’s collection of oral histories, which provided me with further insights into the city’s black leadership.
My second period of research was conducted at the Southern California Library for Social Studies and Research in Inglewood. In terms of scale, there could not have been more difference between this library and the one on Campus. Housed in a converted tyre store on Vermont Avenue, this small library nonetheless holds a vital series of collections for scholars interested in the California left. The library was one of very few buildings in the area saved from destruction in the violence following the Rodney King verdict in 1992 and continues to tie its research objectives to broader goals of community education. Its staff were able to offer me a great deal of help, whilst also letting me examine both Charlotta Bass’ personal papers, and several other collections detailing the development of black Los Angeles.
With work at these two libraries provided me with new insights into subjects that I was already aware of and pointed the way toward other areas whose importance I had underestimated. With this research completed, I now have the majority of the primary sources I need to complete my D.Phil at Sussex. I again express my thanks to BAAS for their generous support.
Fulbright American Studies Institutes 2003
The world-wide Fulbright Commission is proud to announce details of The Fulbright American Studies Summer Institutes. These Institutes are designed as rigorous 6-week academic seminars with the purpose of providing participants with a deeper understanding of American life and institutions in order to strengthen curricula and to improve the quality of teaching about the US in universities abroad. The Institutes may strengthen an already well-established American Studies faculty at an UK university, or boost a young American Studies program in the UK.
Each program includes two components: an intensive, four-week academic seminar and a study tour of up to two weeks designed to reinforce the academic content of the seminar. 18-30 foreign educators participate in each Institute
Most Institutes will run from late June to early August 2003 and are designed for faculty members of American Studies and other relevant university departments (i.e., Social Sciences, Politics, English Literature), and include:
Managing Diversity: The American Experience
American Political Development: Ideas and Institutions
Religion in the United States
University of California, Santa Barbara
Contemporary American Literature
Northern Illinois University (DeKalb, IL)
US Foreign Policy: Foundation & Formulation
University of South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina
The Civilization of the United States – An Introduction
New York University
The US Constitution: Origins, Evolution and Contemporary Issues
Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania
Religion in Contemporary America: Church, State and Society
Boisi Center, Boston College, Boston, Massachusetts
For further information on the individual programs (e.g. subject material, suitable applicant background), please consult the following website (do not apply through this website): http://exchanges.state.gov/education/amstudy/apply.htm
Must be an EU citizen.
Be able to demonstrate an outstanding academic record.
Be able to demonstrate evidence of initiative and active involvement in extra-curricular activities.
Is a younger or mid-career member of faculty.
Is an individual whose UK University is seeking to:
Introduce US Studies into its curriculum or,
Develop new US Studies courses or,
Enhance and update existing courses on the US.
While the individual’s scholarly and professional credentials are important, how participation in the Institute will enhance American Studies at the individual’s home university is equally important.
Round-trip international travel (and domestic travel if the course requires trips).
Maintenance costs, inclusive of university lodging and meals.
Where applicable, extra money provided for books and materials.
For more information and an application form, please send a 41p SAE to the address below, specifically quoting which institute you are interested in. Applications must be received by Friday 21 February 2003.
British Programme Manager
US-UK Fulbright Commission
62 Doughty Street
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, John D. Rockefeller Jr. Library
Short-Term Residential Fellowships
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, in cooperation with the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture, is pleased to invite applications for short-term residential fellowships at the John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Library. A principal component of the Foundation’s Research Division, the Library supports research on British America, the Revolutionary era, and the early Republic, and has particular strengths in areas relating to eighteenth-century Williamsburg and Virginia, the colonial Chesapeake, African American studies, the decorative arts and material culture through 1830, archaeology, architectural history, and historical preservation.
Fellowships are available for between one and three months and carry a stipend of $1,500 per month. An additional housing subsidy of $300 per month will be provided for pre-doctoral candidates. The fellowships are open to American and foreign nationals who are engaged in pre- or post-doctoral, or independent research. Fellows are expected to be in continuous residence at the Rockefeller Library and to participate in the intellectual life of the Foundation’s research and education campus. Fellows are also invited to attend colloquia, seminars, and lectures at the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and at the College of William and Mary.
Applications are welcome from scholars working in a variety of fields—African American studies, archaeology, architectural history, cultural studies, decorative arts, history, material culture, and related subjects. Applicants should submit six copies of the following materials: a succinct description of the project (1,000 words) and a résumé. In addition, three letters of reference should be sent directly to the address below. Deadlines for applications are April 1 and November 1.
Further information about the Foundation and Rockefeller Library is available at www.colonialwilliamsburg.org.
Address all materials to:
Fellowship Committee, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., Library
The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Post Office Box 1776
Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-1776 USA
Coast to Coast: An Interdisciplinary American Studies Conference. The BAAS 2002 Annual Postgraduate Conference, The University of Sheffield, Saturday 23 November 2002
Sponsored by the University of Sheffield, BAAS and Comparative American Studies, 2002’s postgraduate conference attracted over fifty delegates from all over the country and a higher number than ever before from overseas; from the University of Edinburgh to the University of West England and from North Carolina Central University to Baskent University, Turkey. Twenty-three postgraduates gave papers over the course of the day, creating a forum for debate and research dissemination.
The broad scope of presentations testified to the interdisciplinary focus of this year’s conference. Ranging from the seventeenth century (Catherine Armstrong, “The Seas Thus Enraged: Henry Norwood’s Voyage to Virginia”, Warwick University) to the contemporary (Elissa Rospigliosi, “Like a Dream That Won’t Let Go: David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive and the Myth of the West”, Mansfield College, Oxford) expertise crossed between the fields of drama, film, literature, poetry, legal studies, history and media studies. This conference also brought together scholars within the field of African American history with a special panel devoted to histories of the American South. In addition, there were numerous papers which engaged in intersectional readings including Kuldip Kuwahara, “Exploring Asian Contexts in American Women’s Writing”, North Carolina Central University and Rebecca Loncraine, “Djuna Barnes’ New York Journalism: Stunt Journalism and the Production of the City”, Rothmere American Institute.
“Coast to Coast” embarked on a series of intellectual journeys and returns, re-mapping disciplinary borders within American Studies. Six papers were selected for publication in a forthcoming special edition of US Studies OnLine: James Campbell, “African American Responses to Crime in Antebellum Richmond Virginia”, University of Nottingham; Ben Williamson, “The Unutterable Entertainments of Paradise: The American Landscape and Waste in the Fiction of David Foster Wallace”, University of West England; Elizabeth Rosen, “The American West Through an Apocalyptic Lens: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian”, University College London; Catherine Morley, “Epic Aspirations for the Great American Novel: John Updike’s Song of America”, Oxford Brookes University; Sara Upstone, “Toni Morrison and the Magical Re-Visioning of Space”, Birkbeck College; Scott Duguid, A “Hollywood Ending? Totalitarianism and Mass Culture in The Naked and the Dead”, University of Edinburgh.
The conference was hugely enjoyable and the evening’s entertainment sponsored by The University of Sheffield provided an excellent opportunity to continue discussion well into the night! Thanks are due to The University of Sheffield and BAAS for their financial assistance and to staff of the American Studies programme at Sheffield as well as Professor Dick Ellis of The Nottingham Trent University. In particular we would like to extend our gratitude to Professor John Haffenden, Dr Hugh Wilford, Dr Matthew Bevis and Dr Duco van Oostrum for their support.
Rachel van Duyvenbode and Colin Howley
Conference and Seminar Announcements
Fourth Symbiosis Conference:” Across the Great Divide”, Edinburgh, 18-21 July 2003
CALL FOR PAPERS
The STAR Project is collaborating with Symbiosis, a journal of Anglo-American literary relations, to hold the Fourth Symbiosis Conference, “Across the Great Divide,” in Edinburgh from July 18-21, 2003. The conference invites papers on all aspects of literary, theoretical, and material transatlantic cultural exchange between the British Isles and the Americas; panel proposals are also welcomed. This meeting will coincide with a major exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland that will investigate the impact of Scottish emigration to North America on both the emigrants and the indigenous people they encountered. The conference events will take place in conjunction with both the Museum of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland.
Proposals of approximately 300 words and a brief CV should be submitted by February 28, 2003 to:
Centre of Canadian Studies
21 George Square
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9LD
Conference information can be accessed online at www.star.ac.uk
About the STAR Project
Scotland’s Transatlantic Relations Project is made possible by funding from the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland and convened by Susan Manning (University of Edinburgh). STAR is an interdisciplinary collaborative venture involving colleagues across the Scottish universities, research libraries and museums, in association with partners in North America and the Caribbean. Its goals are to facilitate links with existing groups in transatlantic studies, to enable connections between researchers and resources, and to engage in active identification of research projects and publishing ventures. In addition to running the 2003 Symbiosis conference, STAR is actively pursuing joint activities with other institutions. The STAR Postgraduate Seminar in American Studies is currently running in Edinburgh at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and the National Library of Scotland.
The STAR website (www.star.ac.uk) will contain a unique archive of original resources for transatlantic studies, including online papers, digitized texts, and a gallery of images. The site will serve as a forum for information exchange and discussion of transatlantic topics, with features such as a message board, suggested reading list, and a directory of STAR members. In addition, it will provide updated information on upcoming conferences, transatlantic exchange programs and funding opportunities. Finally, the site’s extensive ‘links’ section will serve as a portal to other relevant websites.
Suggestions for the STAR Project, such as desirable web content and useful links, are strongly encouraged. Please direct any correspondence to Elisabeth Dodds at the above address, or to Susan Manning at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Commonwealth Fund Conference on American History
A Commonwealth Fund Conference on American History on the theme of “American Cinema and Everyday Life” will be held at University College London on 26th-28th June 2003. Approximately 60 papers will be presented on the social experience of movie-going. For further details, please see the conference web-site: www.ucl.ac.uk/history/cf2003 or contact Melvyn Stokes at M.Stokes@ucl.ac.uk
New Challenges for the American Presidency
The Institute of United States Studies and The Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library
Two day conference: 12-13 May 2003
British Library Conference Centre, Euston Road, London
Keynote address by Professor Richard Neustadt, Professor Emeritus, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
With panel discussions on “The State of the Presidency”, “Legislative Leadership in Polarized Politics”, “The President as Chief Executive: Implementing the War
on Terror”, and “The Commander-in-Chief in the Permanent War”.
Registration fee applies. To receive a registration pack contact:
Institute of United States Studies
Tel: 020 7862 8693
Marbury v. Madison: A Bicentennial Reconsideration
The Institute of United States Studies, School of Advanced Study, University of London
Two day conference in association with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies: 29-30 May 2003
Lincoln’s Inn, London
Keynote address by Professor Charles Hobson, Editor, The Papers of John Marshall, The College of William & Mary
With presentations by:
Sotirios Barber, Robert Clinton, Robert Faulkner, Matthew Franck, Herbert Johnson, Sanford Levinson, Robert McKeever, William Nelson, Kent Newmeyer, HW Perry,
Jack Pole, Shlomo Slonim, James Stoner and Christopher Wolfe
This conference qualifies for Law Society and General Council of the Bar CPD hours
Registration fee applies. To receive a registration pack, contact:
Institute of United States Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Tel: 020 7862 8693
University of Oxford, Rothermere American Institute Seminar Series
Americanisation & Anti-Americanism: Global Views Of The U.S.A.
The Rothermere American Institute is pleased to announce a series of seminars addressing global perceptions of the United States of America. America’s global presence in the twentieth century has elicited a vast array of reaction – from sympathetic emulation to caustic denunciation. Europeans have long wrestled with the ambivalence of their American vision. Around the world, peoples of various nations have admired America for its democracy, egalitarianism and social dynamism while others have loathed its lack of refinement and its “cultural imperialism”. Most recently, attitudes toward America from within the Islamic world have been the subject of much speculation. This seminar series approaches the topic of American image(s) abroad from within a number of disciplines and with a variety of perspectives.
All seminars will take place in the large seminar room at the Rothermere American Institute, University of Oxford, 1A South Parks Road, Oxford.
All are Welcome.
Tuesday 25th February 2:30-4pm
Sergio Fabbrini, University Professor of Political
Science, University of Trento, Italy, “Reacting to America: Globalization and American Hyper-Power in a European Perspective”
Thursday 13 March 5pm – 6:30pm
James Epstein, Professor of History, Vanderbilt University, “Britain’s ‘America’: Notes from the 19th Century.”
Tuesday 29 April 2:30pm – 4pm
David Ryan, Principal Lecturer, Department of Historical and Institutional Studies, De Montfort University. “Americanisation and Anti-Americanism at the Periphery: From Central America to 9/11”
Tuesday 13 May 5pm – 6:30pm
Richard Crockatt, Reader in American History, University of East Anglia. “No Common Ground?: Islam, America and Anti-Americanism”
Tuesday 27 May 2:30pm – 4pm
Richard Pells, Professor of History, University of Texas at Austin.“From Modernism to the Movies: The Globalization of American Culture in the 20th Century”
Thursday 12 June 5pm – 6:30pm
Heinz Ickstadt, Professor of American Literature, Kennedy Institute for North-American Studies at Free University, Berlin. “The Presence of America and Postwar-Germany’s Cultural Responses”
For more information please see the RAI’s website at www.rai.ox.ac.uk
or contact Cheryl Hudson at email@example.com or (01865) 282711
Edward Burton is an American gradute student currently finishing his doctoral thesis on “The Swedish-American Immigrant Press and the Vietnam War.” He teaches at the University of Göteborg in Sweden.
Owen Butler is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham studying the American or Know Nothing party in the south.
Darren Carlaw is currently doing a PhD at the University of Newcastle, researching the role of the flaneur in New York literature.
Allen Cline is a PhD student at Queen Mary College. His research interests include public administration and public management policy in the US and the UK. He is comparing the Clinton/Blair reforms and working on an analysis of the Bush management agenda.
Richard Crockatt has taught American History at UEA for 24 years. His interests are in US foreign policy/international history with special focus on the cold war and recent events, including September 11. Publication include The Fifty Year War: the United States and the Soviet Union in World Politics, 1914-1991 (Routledge, 1995) and America Embattled: September 11, Anti-Americanism and the Global Order (Routledge, December 2002).
Paul Edwards is a research postgraduate at the University of Nottingham working on an analysis of the architect Victor Gruen, founder of the shopping mall.
Luigi Fidanza is a PhD student at Manchester Metropolitan University researching western American literature, particularly Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurty in relation to gender studies.
Graeme Finnie is a postgraduate student at the University of Dundee researching Chicano/a and Native American literature of the US/Mexico border.
Graham Frater is an Open University tutor and independent education consultant with a longstanding interest in American literature and a PhD on Sarah Orne Jewett
Robert Freedman is currently undertaking a Historical Studies MPhil at the University of Cambridge and writing a dissertation on the religious right in the 1970s.
Joanne Hall is a postgraduate at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests are the representation of the female hobo in literature, history and film, twentieth century American fiction, the 1930s and the graphic novel.
Marybeth Hamilton is the author of When I’m Bad, I’m Better: Mae West, Sex, and American Entertainment. She is currently writing a book called In Search of the Blues about the blues and its audiences.
Adrian Hunter teaches at the University of Stirling. His research interests include the American short story, Stephen Crane and civil war literature.
Joel Isaac has research interests in the history of American social science.
Kirsty Jardine is a postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow and is interested in American-Jewish literature, gothic literature and romanticism.
Christoph Lindner is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. His research interests are nineteenth and twentieth century American literature, film and popular culture.
Emma Long is a postgraduate student at the University of Kent, Canterbury researching the relationship between schools and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Conor McGrath is a lecturer in Political Communication and Public Affairs at the University of Ulster, having previously worked as a lobbyist in Westminster. He is currently writing a book on lobbying in Washington, London and Brussels and researching the representation of American and British politics in fiction and autobiography.
Roland Marden is a lecturer in American Social Studies at the University of Sussex. His research interests are eighteenth century American political thought, the American founding and modern constitutionalism.
James Miller is a PhD student at King’s College, London writing about William Burroughs, James Baldwin and alterity in cold war literature.
Amy Morris is a fellow and university assistant lecturer at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and in interested in early American literature, particularly New England Puritan poetry.
Champa Patel is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her research interests include comparative twentieth century American and postcolonial history, and especially political pan-African movements.
Tom Rogers is completing a PhD at the University of Sheffield on John Berryman.
Elizabeth Rosen is currently working on PhD at University College, London. Her area of interest is contemporary apocalyptic fiction and twentieth century American fiction.
Gillian Stern is a commissioning editor at Sage Publications where she is working on establishing the journal Comparative American Studies and commissioning a Handbook of American Studies. She is also a reader of unpublished novels for Curtis Brown
Carole Sweeney is a lecturer in French Studies at the University of Southampton.
Diane Wallace is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. Her research interest is the influence of African American music in African American literature and art.
Kevin Watson is a postgraduate student at the University of Sheffield. His research brings together nineteenth century religious, immigration and labour history. He is also interested in primitive Methodism in the US and twentieth century evangelical religion.
Yan Ying is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham. His research interests are Asian American culture and representation, particularly Chinese American literature.
Mark Newman, Getting Right with God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995 (Tuscaloosa and London: University of Alabama Press, 2001, ISBN 0-8173-1060-6), has won the 2002 Lillian Smith Book Award for non-fiction from the Southern Regional Council.
The History Subject Centre, Learning and Teaching Support Network have made Andrew Dawson’s web December “site of the month”: http://hca.ltsn.ac.uk/ict/Site_of_the_Month/
The pages, dealing with teaching a variety of courses in American History and research are at: http://www.gre.ac.uk/~da07/
John A. Kirk (History, Royal Holloway, University of London), Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940-1970 (University Press of Florida, 2002)
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