I write this editorial just a few days after the publication of this year’s A-Level results and with UCAS reporting 602 joint or single honours American Studies courses with vacancies. Figures published earlier this year by UCAS showed as much as an overall drop of 15% in American Studies applications compared with the same point in 2002. Both of these facts would seem to indicate that American Studies—either in the wake of the war against Iraq or as a result of a cyclical downturn—is this year facing a recruitment deficit. While it is too early to suggest this amounts to a permanent reversal, it is not always the case that university administrators have the same intellectual commitment as academics to distinguishing between long-term trends and rogue statistics. During the last year, American Studies at both Keele University and University College Northampton has come under threat, although in both cases objections and lobbying helped thwart any immediate danger. The example of Keele, a 5-rated department in both the 1996 and 2001 RAE, shows that few universities are exempt from such pressures. But while an overall drop in applications might register across all universities with potentially serious consequences, such recruitment problems clearly impact most severely on post-1992 universities who are not insulated by the kudos and status more venerable institutions retain and which are exaggerated as fee-paying students are drawn into a culture of ‘distinction’ by the government’s determination to get 50% of 18-year-olds into higher education. At the very time when less well-resourced and lower-rated departments are being squeezed after the 2001 RAE, now they face the threat of falling recruitment and internal cost-cutting measures from university administrators. The Roberts report, published in May, would seem to offer little consolation to departments and programmes in this situation. If research funding is going to be concentrated in ‘research intensive institutions’ rather than ‘the less competitive departments in the remainder of institutions’—that is, pre-1992 and post-1992 institutions respectively—what happens when the bread and butter teaching funding is threatened by potentially declining numbers of students? All this leaves American Studies in post-1992 institutions horribly exposed, despite the excellent research and teaching that goes on there and the invaluable contribution and commitment to the American Studies community that these institutions make.
School of American & Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
Tel: +44 (0) 115 9514269
Fax: +44 (0) 115 9514270
BAAS Annual Conference: Manchester Metropolitan University 2004, Call for Papers
We are now calling for papers for the 2004 BAAS Conference. Papers can be presented on any subject relating to the study of the United States of America. Poster sessions will also be held and proposals for these are positively encouraged and welcomed.
Proposals for 20 minute papers should be a maximum of 250 words with a provisional title. These will be arranged into panel groups. Panel proposals by two or more people, sharing a common theme, are also invited. Postgraduates, as well as senior researchers, are encouraged to apply. Proposals should be submitted by October 31, 2003 to:
Dr Sarah MacLachlan
BAAS Conference Secretary
Department of English
Manchester Metropolitan University
Geoffrey Manton Building
Rosamond Street West
Manchester M15 6LL
Tel: +44 (0)161 247 1755
Fax: +44 (0)161 247 6345
BAAS Annual Conference: Aberystwyth, April 11-14, 2003
As Chair of BAAS I receive a steady, and perhaps increasing, range of enquiries on American Studies matters from media outlets. I always try to pass these on to relevant authorities within BAAS, using the committee members, colleagues within BAAS, and the BAAS email list to search for expertise. Among the media consultations coming through this route in the past year, BAAS members advised BBC Radio Four regarding programming on the ‘special relationship’, on George Washington, and on its prospective coverage of the 2004 presidential election. BBC World TV enquired about the mid term elections, the Discovery Channel, about a programme to be fronted by Eddie Izzard on ‘Americanisation’, and independent production companies wanted advice on the US Civil War, and the impact of American literature.
Other BBC TV and radio requests were for advice on Brooklyn Bridge, and on Time magazine. BBC Radio Two wanted visiting American students as guests, while BBC4’s relaunch of ‘After Dark’, and BBC7’s ‘Manhattan’ were both looking for expert and opinionated participants. International tensions prompted some requests, including those from the BBC Asian Network, BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales, and around twenty BBC local radio stations. The majority of these requests are funnelled through to BAAS colleagues with the appropriate expertise, but I have to admit taking occasional advantage of these fleeting minutes of media connectivity.
The mid term elections resulted in interviews for BBC Online, and The Malay Straits Times. BBC Online came back for more for their review of the year. BBC Radio Five wanted comments on the State of the Union address, and on another occasion got me to join Scott Lucas and others in a conversation vaguely related to the opening salvoes of the 2004 election. Perhaps most interesting inquiry was about the viability of a potential campaign for the presidency by rapper and pop music entrepreneur P. Diddy. I responded to the readers of J17 that the hopeful needed party political support, and/or the willingness to spend his fortune freely, and at least one issue to run on. But that even with all these in place, I could imagine some voters being less than enthusiastic about a candidate who had been arrested on gun charges, and had managed to lose the favour and company of Jennifer Lopez.
American Studies events achieved substantial positive coverage in the THES several times over the past year, first in an account of the November colloquium, sponsored jointly with the American Politics Group, and later in the form of an informative piece in advance of the final AMATAS conference. Sue Currell reported on her initiatives in teaching American Studies using an internet and IT-based pedagogy. More light-heartedly, a trip by a group of BAAS members to form a panel at the conference of the Rhetoric Society of America, held in Las Vegas, made an entry in ‘Don’s Diary’.
Less happy was the report that the respected and long-established American Studies Department at Keele University was threatened with substantial cuts under a plan promoted by that university’s Vice Chancellor, Janet Finch. Many colleagues joined BAAS in protesting this attack, which the university authorities insisted was justified by its funding formula. It is impossible to know whether the vigour of the response, and the demonstration by an international body of colleagues of their respect for American Studies at Keele, had any effect, but I presume it did no harm. American Studies will continue at Keele without compulsory redundancies, and changes will include positive initiatives aimed at maintaining and expanding the subject’s presence.
Elsewhere in the press, we were reminded of the roots of American Studies by the warm obituaries to some of those who have been so important to establishing and supporting the subject. Three former chairs of BAAS died in the past year. These three were truly founders and builders of American Studies and of the Association. Frank Thistlethwaite was the Association’s first ever Chair. Dennis Welland was the founding editor of the Journal of American Studies. Peter Parish, when chair, launched the BAAS Short Term Awards and the BAAS Pamphlets series.
All three remained in close touch with the subject and the Association. Peter was delivering a plenary seemingly only yesterday, or at least only as long ago as the Glasgow conference. It was not long ago, either, that Dennis Welland, always deeply proud of his connections with the great American Studies programmes at Nottingham and Manchester, had been in touch to help on some element of BAAS history. And Frank Thistlethwaite’s hand written notes were a real pleasure for this BAAS chair – he must have scoured the newspapers, and he regularly found the opportunity to write to congratulate BAAS for its vigorous promotion of American Studies.
As we are meeting in Aberystwyth, I should also mention the death, just a few days ago, of Alan Conway, a former lecturer here, who went on to a chair in Canterbury, New Zealand, and became central in the development of American Studies in that country through to his retirement in 1985. I also report the death of Duncan MacLeod another retired BAAS member and former conference organiser.
Through the year BAAS responded to consultations by the Commission on the Social Sciences, the Arts and Humanities Research Board, the Higher Education Funding Council, the British Academy, the Economic and Social Science Research Council, and the Standing Conference on Arts and Social Sciences. BAAS also took part in an initiative to launch a new Area Studies Network, first discussed at a meeting organised by the Learning and Teaching Support Centre in Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. The Area Studies Benchmark – initiated by American Studies lobbying – was published by the Quality Assurance Agency early in 2002.
Members of BAAS and their programmes have been active in many ways. The FTTL funded co-operation initiated by King Alfred’s College, Derby University and the University of Central Lancashire culminated in a fine conference in Preston. The European Association for American Studies conference attracted a large and valuable contribution from BAAS members. The BAAS postgraduate conference, hosted by Sheffield University, was more successful than ever. The BAAS email list maintained a steady information flow to members, and American Studies programmes consulted together and shared information on student exchange, student recruitment, and graduate destinations.
This year the Association awarded ten Short Term Awards. Joanne Hall of Nottingham University took the Marcus Cunliffe Award; Joy Cushman of Glasgow, received the newly established Peter Parish Award in History; the Malcolm Bradbury Award went to Jonathan Sanders of Cambridge; and Sandra Scanlon of Cambridge was the winner of the John Lees Award. Other Awards went to Lincoln Geraghty of Nottingham; Clodagh Harrington (London Metropolitan); Bradley Jones (Glasgow); Catherine Martin (Sussex); Catherine Morley (Oxford Brookes); and Sarah Silkey (UEA). Two postgraduate essay prizes were awarded: to John Fagg of Nottingham, and to Jennifer Terry of Warwick. And the winner of this year’s Arthur Miller Prize, donated by the Arthur Miller Centre at the University of East Anglia, is Robert Cook, of Sheffield University.
Other member successes in the past year include Professor Tony Badger, becoming Master of Clare College, Cambridge; Professor Janet Beer, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, and Pro-Vice Chancellor of Manchester Metropolitan University; Professor Douglas Tallack, Chair of the international Universitas 21 steering group; Richard Carwardine, Rhodes Professor of American History, Oxford; Desmond King, Mellon Professor of American Politics, Oxford; Simon Newman, Dennis Brogan Professor American Studies, Glasgow; Mark Jancovich, Professor of Film Studies, Nottingham; John Owens, Professor of American Politics, Westminster; Neil Wynn, Professor of American History, Gloucestershire; Jon Roper, Reader in American Studies, Swansea; Sharon Montieth, Reader in American Studies, Nottingham; Peter Ling, Reader in American Studies, Nottingham. Professor Janet Beer is a member of the QAA advisory group on subject benchmarking; Dr. Jenel Virden, became of member of the Board of examiners for ESRC training; Dr. Jude Davies and Dr Sarah MacLachlan were Fellows at the Salzburg Seminar. Jude Davies was also nominated by BAAS to the Board of the Learning and Teaching Support Centre in Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies. Professor Philip Davies was elected to the Committee of Academicians of the Academy of the Social Sciences. Mark Newman won both the Lillian Smith Book Award of the Southern Regional Council, and the American Studies Network Book Award. The Cambridge Donner Book Prize was awarded to Professor John Dumbrell.
The landscape of journals relevant to American Studies seemed to be re-shaping over the past twelve months. You may have taken the opportunity to examine the re-designed look of the Journal of American Studies in the publishers’ exhibit – do remember that BAAS members’ subscription rates to the Journal of American Studies are very heavily discounted, and very good value. The new journals Comparative American Studies, and the Journal of Transatlantic Studies have been prominent at this conference. Another new journal Atlantic Studies: Literary, Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Europe, Africa and the Americas will start publication in mid-2004. Directed by an international team, it is centred on our American Studies colleagues at the University of Sussex, where they are looking forward to the associated establishment of a Centre, and an MA programme, in Atlantic Studies. The European Journal of American Culture is being relaunched, and all fully-paid up members of BAAS will receive the first year of the remodelled journal free of charge. Also supplied as a free service to the whole American Studies community by BAAS, US Studies Online has now published its third issue, and helps in large part to account for the doubled rate of visits to the excellent BAAS website that Graham Thompson has built.
The work of BAAS is undertaken by a team of your colleagues. The Development subcommittee, led by Simon Newman, manages the Short Term Awards, the postgraduate essay prize, support for the postgraduate conference and other projects, and the management of any professional development matters that come to the Association. The Publications subcommittee, chaired by Janet Beer, links together the wealth of expertise that the Association is now fortunate to have on board, editing the Journal of American Studies, American Studies in Britain, the website, US Studies Online, the e-list, the Microform series, and the BAAS Paperbacks. The Libraries and Resources Subcommittee has added resource materials to the BAAS website, and produces the Libraries and Resources Newsletter. All of this work is done by volunteers, and I take this opportunity to thank them for their commitment and effort, in particular Janet Beer, Mike McDonnell, Celeste-Marie Bernier, and Nick Selby whose current terms of office are completed at this time.
The Treasurer and the Secretary of BAAS give time and effort unstintingly to make sure that the Association is run as effectively and efficiently as possible. All of those members who respond promptly to requests for updated subscriptions, gift aid declarations, and such, also deserve thanks. I would ask those who have been more dilatory, and received more reminders, to give a little more help to the volunteers who manage the Association on their behalf.
We are pleased that at this meeting we are joined by the Transatlantic Studies Association, whose inaugural meeting last year was such a success. The interests of Transatlantic Studies and American Studies clearly complement each other, and provide increasing stimuli and contexts for study that includes the contemplation of America.
The draft programme for this conference listed over 170 titles, with presenters coming from all over the UK, and from a dozen other countries. We are grateful to our friends at the US Embassy for their support for this year’s conference – supporting postgraduate attendance, the BAAS Short Term Awards Scheme – and for their willingness to consider the Association’s proposals. Many people have worked towards mounting this splendid conference – making a visit to Aberystwyth worthwhile for even more than its well-recognised aesthetic attractions. The annual conference is the showcase of the Association, the visible presence of the subject and the profession. It is a huge task to take on for the sake of one’s colleagues, and its rewards are probably very end-loaded. On behalf of the Association I would like to thank the conference subcommittee chair, Mike McDonnell, and, especially this year’s conference convenor, Tim Woods, his colleagues on the faculty at Aberystwyth, and Moira Shearer and the Aberystwyth conference office.
The Association was founded in 1955 after a series of meetings during the previous year or so. I trust that BAAS members savour the approaching half-century, and I look forward to seeing you all next year in Manchester to launch the Association towards its celebrations.
Exchange Programmes Talk Shop
For the fifth year in succession, a lunchtime session was held at the BAAS conference for Exchange Programme tutors and anyone else interested in exchange programmes with American universities. These sessions have proved to be very useful as a meeting point and exchange of ideas and views for those involved in exchange programmes. At previous BAAS conferences the topics of these meetings have been: exchange of marks and grades; strategies for establishing contact with suitable potential exchange partners; the impact of study at an American university on the quality of students’ work on their return in final year. This year’s topic at the conference in Aberystwyth was the pros and cons of an exchange for a year or for a semester. Many illuminating points were made. Perhaps the overall most significant point was that, although very interesting arguments can be advanced on the academic merits on one side or the other, in many universities the deciding factor is not academic considerations but non-academic reasons, such as finance or ways of attracting more applicants.
On the academic arguments, a good case can be made for the greater benefit derived from a year rather than a semester, since this allows students to absorb American culture and society to a deeper extent and to take a wider variety of courses. A reasonable case can also be made, however, for the view that a semester is quite a long time and that students have gained most of the benefits of Study Abroad after a semester and that a second semester provides only marginal additional value. Interesting views on this issue were expressed by Jenel Virden (University of Hull), Steve Mills (Keele University), Tim Ward (Aberystwyth) and others. A crucial point, however, seemed to be non-academic considerations. Even if it were to be concluded that in an ideal world a year is preferable to a semester, the harsh financial reality is that a year is much more expensive, and it is therefore not surprising that most newer universities who are just beginning an exchange programme have opted for a semester rather than a year. On the other hand, some university administrations calculate that a year’s exchange adds to the prestige and attractiveness of their programme and therefore support a year’s exchange. Fortunately, for students, whether they go for a semester of for a year, the vast majority benefit immensely from it and thoroughly enjoy it.
University of Nottingham
Aberystwyth 2003: Individual Conference Paper Reports
Denise Askin (St Anslem College, New Hampshire)
From an “Uncommon Quarter”: Literary and Rhetorical Devices in the Sermons of Samson Occom, Native American Preacher (1723-1792)
Increasingly recognized as a “cultural broker” of significance, whose evangelization efforts extended both to his fellow Native Americans and to the white population in colonial and early federal America, Samson Occom is best known for his 1772 “Execution Sermon” preached for a fellow Native American, Moses Paul. This sermon, the first publication by a Native American, enjoyed wide popularity on both sides of the Atlantic, undergoing nineteen editions, one of which was a translation into Welsh. In his preface to the publication, Occom modestly claims that his words are simple enough to be understood by children, Indians, and Negroes, but that they may also be of interest to the more learned because they come from an “uncommon quarter.”
While most of the critical effort on Occom to date has had to do with the execution sermon and with an autobiographical piece, “A Short Narrative of My Life,” Occom’s unpublished materials have been less examined. In his book, The New England Soul: Preaching and Religious Culture in Colonial New England, Harry S. Stout claims that the New England sermon of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries constituted a medium of communication whose “topical range and social influence were so powerful in shaping cultural values, meanings, and a sense of corporate purpose that even television pales in comparison” (3). He goes on to state that a disproportionate amount of critical effort has been placed on the published occasional sermons, rather than the unpublished “regular” sermons. “Only from the vantage point of unpublished sermons, however, can the full range of colonial preaching be understood (4)”. Stout does not, however, address Samson Occom’s sermons in his book.
This paper addresses Samson Occom’s use of literary and rhetorical devices in his unpublished sermons held by Dartmouth College and the Connecticut Historical Society. It concentrates on four aspects of Occom’s style: 1. the range of his levels of discourse; 2) his use of the rhetorical device of ethos; 3) his adaptation of the jeremiad form; and his use of the Genesis narrative of the creation and fall.
Susana Araujo (University of Sussex)
Joyce Carol Oates’s Love Triangle: Jorge Luis Borges, Alfred Kazin and Charles Sanders Peirce
In her criticism of the seventies, Joyce Carol Oates characterises the current trends of American fiction as an assemblage of “fragments…that ricochet off one another more often than they do off reality.” Oates criticises the anti-realistic and radically self-conscious fiction promoted by authors such John Barth, Donald Barthelme but her main antagonism is towards the prevailing tendency of Anglo-American criticism to equate the writings of those committed to explore social realities with aesthetic conservatism and orthodox realism. In Marriages and Infidelities (1972), Oates rewrites stories by “established” names of the western literary tradition such Chekhov, Flaubert, Kafka, Thoreau, Joyce and John Barth(!).Although self-reflexive and experimental Oates’s rewritings disclose a wide generic amplitude, embracing realism’s engagement with collective experience and the emotional promise of the romance.
The “Sacred Marriage,” the first story of the collection, explores the differences between the ‘inward-looking fabulation’ and other more open forms of metafiction. Some critics have identified two important literary allusions in this story -James’s “Aspern Papers” and James G. Frazer’s The Golden Bough. But other intertextual elements left unnoticed: the critic Alfred Kazin (to whom Oates dedicates her story), the writer Jorge Luis Borges (the most emblematic reference of the metafictional movement) and Charles Sanders Peirce (whose philosophical theories regained influence in the seventies) are three other “figures in the carpet” of Oates’s text. In “The Sacred Marriage” Oates traces the encounter of these three figures, in order to explore the power relations in the “love triangle”, which links the author, the interpreter and the text, problematising the different potentials of metafictional writing.
Erica Arthur (University of Nottingham)
The Organisation Strikes Back: Rhetorical Empowerment Strategies in 1950s Business Representations of White-Collar Manhood
This paper focused on a range of business publications that participate in the wider cultural debate, taking place in 1950s America, surrounding business culture and conformity. My objective was to examine the rhetorical devices employed to refute ‘the organization man problem’ as defined by William H. Whyte. Rather than being read as straight empirical evidence of the bureaucratised workplace, the primary documents were appraised as authored texts written from institutional perspectives in language open to cultural influences. Focusing primarily on selling advice manuals, I investigated the ways in which prescriptive employee literature relates to sociological representations of business culture and considered how their linguistic and social constructions resonate across distinct discourses. In so doing the latent gendered dimensions of texts in which the white male focus exists as the generic norm were uncovered.
The publications use a language of masculine physicality to characterise the inactive work of the white-collar employee. An attempt to challenge stereotypical markers of conformity is registered in the invocation of American individualism, discernible through metaphorical figurations and literal descriptions of work attributes. Yet, simultaneously, the paper demonstrated that the tendency in prescriptive employee literature to evince an image of white-collar work that is variously independent, physical and heroic inadvertently calls attention to the negative stereotypes it seeks to overcome.
To illustrate my argument I showed a number of images taken from the publications that the audience seemed to really appreciate. My paper generated some interesting comments and responses and complemented Dan Scroop’s stimulating paper on anti-consumer protest. The Business Culture session was well attended and I found the experience very rewarding.
Helen Chupin (University of Paris IX-Dauphine)
From Bereavement and Mourning to the Anxiety of Separation: From a Thematic to a Psychoanalytical Reading of Anne Tyler’s fiction
This paper aims first to show the thematic importance of bereavement and mourning in Tyler’s texts, from her first short stories to her latest novels. It explores how the narrative event of the loss of a loved one is relayed throughout the work by other stratagems û metaphor, analogy, displacement of the theme to other contexts and other losses. References to popular culture (song lyrics, fairy-tales) are seen to contribute to the mourning theme. There are frequent occurrences of what one might call misplaced mourning (comparisons between mourning and marriage, courtship beginning with a letter of condolence instead of a love letter, an obituary appearing in a newspaper for a person who is still alive).
Finally, a psychoanalytical reading will establish a parallel between mourning and separation anxiety. Certain novels appear to present the mourning theme as a prologue only to evacuate it from the rest of the text but in these cases it can be argued that separation anxiety takes its place, leading logically to images of disintegration or cleavage of the self when the anxiety is presented at its highest level of intensity. Mourning and separation anxiety, both implying the necessity to accept simultaneously loss and autonomy, can be considered as reflecting two aspects of a recurrent obsession in Tyler’s fiction.
This reading of Tyler’s work leads us to consider it as an interrogation on the individual’s fundamental reactions to death, separation and to object loss.
Ian Copestake (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Williams, Bunting and Poetic Tradition’
This paper discussed the respective attitudes of William Carlos Williams and Basil Bunting towards British and American traditions of poetry, in order to examine how this defined both their public personas and the type of modernisms they aligned themselves with.
It suggested that Basil Bunting’s Williamsesque and Whitman-inspired resistance to the hegemonic iambic foot of English prosody saw him position himself, with regards to his modernist aspirations, in what could be termed a mid-Atlantic position. Bunting’s views on Williams’s poetry, the paper argued, see his admiration tempered only by his criticism of Williams’s intransigent stance as an American alone, who had allowed a legitimate sense of the importance of locality to ossify into a crude nationalism in the face of Eliot’s impact abroad. Bunting marks out differences between himself and Williams in terms of their existence as poets of the eye and the ear respectively, of image and of music, which he feels is a fundamental cause of Williams’s failure to rise above rhetorically entrenched positions in defence of America’s native traditions of writing.
Sue Currell (University of Nottingham)
The History of Speed Reading in America from 1879 to 1940
This paper looked at the relationship between the development of accelerated learning techniques, self-improvement and modernity. Industrial expansion and technological invention after the Civil War in the US created two new circumstances, which profoundly affected reading – a huge proliferation of printed materials and a massive expansion and change in public readership. Unprecedented immigration created a new working class, many of whom were not native English speakers, while developments in industrial technology appeared to “speed up” the pace of everyday life. Studies in language, perception, and mental functioning took on an urgency that paralleled the imperialistic drive towards a unitary national identity that characterised American foreign and domestic policy at this time. The paper looked at how experimental psychologists attempted to understand the reading process, and eventually control reading speeds. The centrality of self-improvement to the wider goals of social harmony and progress was thereby embedded in the goal of rapid reading. The need to understand how the mind could cope with the influx and confusion of perceptions that characterised modernity led to new ways of understanding and, later, training the modern mind in order to avoid becoming lost in the welter of possible mental fragmentation.
John Drabble (Koc University, Turkey)
The FBI, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE and the Decline of Ku Klux Klan Organizations in Mississippi, 1964-1971
The extralegal covert action program sought to “expose, disrupt and otherwise neutralize” Ku Klux Klan groups. Drabble’s paper assessed COINTELPRO’s effect on Klan groups in Mississippi, adding an entirely new dimension to the question of how and why an important change in race relations came to one Southern State during the 1960s. His research is based on FBI files and white supremacist publications acquired from a number of archival collections. Drabble argued that COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE exposed and disrupted Klan activities, causing disillusionment, and creating factional splits within Klan organizations. They increased animosity among Klansmen, causing expulsions and defections. They discredited high-ranking Klan officers, many of whom were purged or quit. They brought about resignation, frustration and fear among rank and file Klan members, resulting in drastic reductions in Klan membership and the disbanding of most local Klan units Mississippi. In combination with criminal prosecutions, COINTELPRO-WHITE HATE vitiated all of the KKK organizations that operated in the state. Remaining hard core Klansmen, Drabble argued, came to see
the Federal Bureau of Investigation as one of their primary enemies. Some infused Klan ideology with the revolutionary discourses of vociferous anti-Semitism, embracing neo-Nazism, Christian Identity, paramilitarization and anti-Federal government rhetoric. They made alliances with racists of different ideological stripes, forging a revolutionary, “white power” movement.
Dr Mira Duric (Keele University)
Reassessing SDI’s Role in the End of the Cold War: US Foreign Policy and the Soviet Union
The paper which I gave at the BAAS Conference 2003 was a precis of several conclusions from my forthcoming book The Strategic Defence Initiative: US Policy and the Soviet Union, which is being published by Ashgate Publishing Limited. My book contains important disclosures by the dozen former politicians who used to work for President Ronald Reagan, whom I interviewed, including Secretary of Defence Caspar Weinberger.
My BAAS paper examined the role of the Strategic Defence Initiative (SDI) in US-Soviet relations during the Ronald Reagan Presidency. It examined the role of the SDI in the end of the Cold War and analysed the reaction to the SDI from the Soviet Union, including the reaction to the SDI from the new General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev.
My paper examined the role of the SDI at the Reagan-Gorbachev summit meetings (with particular reference to Reykjavik, 1986; Washington, 1987; Moscow, 1988). It analysed the relationship between the SDI and the legal wording of the 1972 ABM Treaty. Very significant disclosures concerning Soviet anti missile weapons tests were revealed.
My paper concluded by answering the question why the SDI was significant. It provided conclusions to the examination of the role of the SDI in US-Soviet relations and, furthermore, the consequent role of the SDI in the end of the Cold War.
Alexandra Ganser, Julia Pühringer, Markus Rheindorf (University of Vienna, Austria)
Chronotopes of the Road Movie
A web-version can be found at: http://angam.ang.univie.ac.at/roads02/chronotope/index.htm
While the notion of genre has been ubiquitous in film studies from the start, it remains notoriously vague and conveniently or perhaps intentionally ambiguous in its application. Our paper will approach the notion of genre as such – as well as the Road Movie as perhaps the most American of film genres – employing Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of the chronotope. This approach entails a theoretical and methodological focus on the construction of space and time in as well as through texts as never unmediated or “natural”, as always already ideological, historically specific and constitutive of genres. Although Bahktin’s theoretical framework has frequently been applied to literary forms, in particular the novel, and even though an affinity between chronotopicity and film has occasionally been recognized, the constitutive features of various chronotopes have never been systematically applied to film genres or theorized at the level of film as a medium. Our intention was to bring back space on the agenda of cultural theory in general and a Cultural Studies approach in particular. While the first beginnings of a “spatial turn” have been noticeable since the 1980s (especially through the works of Edward Soja and Cultural Geography), space still remains an often underprivileged concept in contemporary analyses of cultural phenomena. Our paper grew out of a larger on-going project at the University of Vienna, which is informed by the same concerns. As a multimedia collaboration between teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, it was inaugurated by the late Prof. Kurt A. Mayer in 1999 and has evolved into a related web anthology (to be found at http://www.univie.ac.at/Anglistik/easyrider/welcome.htm).
Quite unexpectedly, many points of contact to the preceding paper, Ian Davidson’s “Edward Dorn: Home on the Range” emerged. On a personal and final note, our journey to Aberystwyth provided us with some real-life road experience, as we drove through the Cambrian Mountains on the winding concrete that seemed to grow ever narrower, especially for someone driving on what felt like the wrong side of the road.
Dr. John A. Kirk (Royal Holloway, University of London)
The Rise and Fall of School Desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1954-1957
Kirk’s paper, based on research for his recently published award-winning book Redefining the Color Line: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940-1970 (University Press of Florida, 2002), looked at responses to the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision in Little Rock, Arkansas. The city drew national and international attention in September 1957 when Governor Orval E. Faubus called out the National Guard to prevent the implementation of a court-ordered desegregation plan at Central High School. The constitutional crisis this created only abated when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent in federal troops to secure the safe passage of nine black students into Central High. Although the crisis at Little Rock has often been attributed to “massive resistance” Kirk’s paper provided a new perspective on events by exploring the role of “minimum compliance” in events. In line with similar tactics used in other upper South cities, minimum compliance was a stance that sought to employ gradualism and tokenism to delay and limit the implementation of school desegregation for as long as legally possible. Although often presented as a “moderate” stance, in fact minimum compliance only proved to be an insidious and sophisticated form of resistance to school desegregation. Kirk demonstrated how the stance of minimum compliance unravelled in Little Rock and asserted that it was this stance—and not the overwhelming forces of massive resistance—that lay at the heart of the problem of desegregating schools in the city.
Kenneth Luebbering (University of Bergen)
The Immigrant Experience in American Fiction: E. Annie Proulx’s Accordion Crimes
E. Annie Proulx’s novel, Accordion Crimes, provides an excellent introduction to immigrant studies in the United States. The life of the accordion that is protagonist of the novel illustrates the complex issues facing immigrants. It is not a part of the dominant Anglo culture, and thus required to become American, to make the accommodations necessary to survive in a foreign culture. The instrument is very much a member of the lower classes, who comprise the bulk of American immigrants. The novel takes the accordion from a Sicilian village to New Orleans and up the Mississippi River, following the path taken by thousands of immigrants. It passes through the hands of many ethnic groups, each changing it, forcing music from it that it was never intended to produce. In turn, it plays a role in the lives of the immigrants in a typical process of cultural persistence in conflict with assimilation. The novel illustrates key issues in immigrant studies: the context of time and place of settlement; the processes of immigration, including individual and group immigration, chain migration and density of population; immigrant culture, particularly language; and strategies of adaptation. The novel’s structure, with its multiple narrative frames, points of view and embedded historical detail, provides a qualitatively different experience for readers than a study of primary sources and can prepare students for a more fruitful engagement with such sources.
Tim Nelson (University of Hull)
Youthful Angst: Marvel Comics, the Bomb and the 1960s
A survey of the various comic-book treatments of atomic themes reveals a surprisingly high degree of commercial failure. The various publishers’ inability to sell atomic power is reflective of the audience’s ambivalence towards the new power, particularly with regard to the superhero genre. Marvel’s reinvention of that genre at the beginning of the 1960s centred upon the re-appropriation of atomic themes, capturing a new generation’s ambivalence towards the country’s very real ‘superpowers.’ Marvel’s pseudo-scientific origins, of such popular characters as the Hulk, Spider-man and Daredevil (all centring
on radioactivity), points to the audience’s belief that the existence of such powerful weaponry had changed society irrevocably. This troubled attitude might be best summed up in the famous phrase ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. Marvel’s success lay in harnessing generational ambivalence to patriotic, New Frontier ends. Using slides as a counterpoint, the discussion moves from the original superheroes of the 1940s, considering Superman and Captain Marvel, among others, to look briefly at 1950s horror and war titles, before more closely analysing Marvel’s material from the 1960s. The paper exemplifies how juvenile comic-book material can actually illuminate key aspects of the contemporary Cold-War society.
Inderjeet Parmar (University of Manchester)
A Transatlantic Ruling Class? The Impact of the Interconnections between the Council on Foreign Relations and Chatham House in the making of a New World Order, 1939-1945
The proposed paper will examine historical evidence of personal, ideological, political and organisational interconnections between the leaders of the CFR and Chatham House during the Second World War. The aim is to examine their roles in assisting the making of an Anglo-American alliance and the construction of a new world order. In the main this involved a series of joint study groups, conferences, study and publicity visits between the think tanks, within a framework of consultations and liaisons with the State Department and the Foreign Office. The paper examines the dense sets of organisational interconnections stretching from the Great War, the founding of the two organisations and through the turbulent interwar years. The paper then subjects the historical evidence to a series of theoretical tests, attempting to determine whether the CFR-Chatham House interconnection constituted a transatlantic ruling class, a liberal Atlantic community, or a neo-Gramscian “Anglo-American establishment”.
Tatiani Rapatzikou (University of East Anglia)
Noir Crossovers: Urban Crime Narratives and Cyberpunk
The convergence of science fiction and crime fiction is felt in the amount of motifs the writers in both genres share. The emphasis placed on social order and disorder as well as on the cartography of urban spaces underlines some of the points these genres have in common.
William Gibson’s writings share a fascination with the mysterious and the terrifying communicated to the reader through a combination of
practices: the use of past visual clichés appear hand in hand with the fears of an anti-human future technology.
The re-emergence of film noir in the hybrid narrative forms of cyberpunk fiction has accentuated the way contemporary social concerns are described, popularised by Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982).
I will attempt to discuss the noir imagery found in some of Gibson’s short stories, with special reference to ‘Johnny Mnemonic’, contained in his short story collection Burning Chrome and Other Stories (1986). Special attention will be paid to the actual transition from the fixed spatiality of crime writing to the multilayered spatiality of cyberspace as reflected in the visual imagery employed and the identity formation of its characters. The extent to which Gibson’s female characters comply with the femme fatale tradition of the noir narratives will also be examined.
My paper will comment on the intertwining in Gibson’s short story writing of hard-boiled detective formulas with cyberpunk aesthetics. A way of reading the noir images and characters is suggested: their urban visibility is mapped onto the invisible but experientially real spaces of electronic culture.
Caroline Reed (Cambridge University)
“What Would You Like To See?”: Photography and the Stories of Raymond Carver
My paper proposed that the stories of Raymond Carver should be understood within the context of what I termed the writer’s photographic sensibility – the specific formal resemblances between his mode of representation and the particular ontology of the photograph.
I demonstrated that photography is a dominant subject matter for Carver’s stories, and – as his several collaborative projects with photographers attest – is a medium the writer is obviously especially responsive to. I argued also that the writer’s chosen form – that of the short story – is particularly close to the photographic medium; the radical selection of detail that both forms demand occasions their shared practice of decontextualisation. Furthermore, I maintained a more culturally specific connection between Carver’s stories and this medium, a form which has as its essence rendering observation self-conscious. For Carver’s fiction reveals a persistent attention to questions of visuality and perception, as well as a particular relation to the real. This attention informs the thorough but subtle manipulation of photographic seeing at every level of his writing. Drawing upon examples from photographic practice in the 60s and 70s, from artists such as Diane Arbus and Lee Friedlander, I demonstrated that photography’s ways of seeing and representing the world, not only its choices of technique, but equally its conceptual principles, were a critical – but as yet neglected – influence on Carver’s writing.
Elizabeth Rosen (UCL)
The American West Through an Apocalyptic Lens: Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian
The Book of Revelation has long been inspiration for fiction writers, but Apocalypse is a theological story in which God is the main character and in which judgment and a New Jerusalem are crucial elements. Its inherently religious elements make the story a challenge to translate into secular fiction.
This paper explored one such successful translation by Cormac McCarthy. In the novel Blood Meridian, the role of deity is occupied by the eerie judge Holden. His judgment is against mankind, and particularly against those who have illusions of permanence. McCarthy’s version of New Jerusalem is especially radical; it is no longer a place, but is instead a new state of mind. This new weltanschauung, along with the translation of New Jerusalem from an outer to an inner state, signals a postmodern rendition of the apocalyptic story.
The paper also explored the implications of overlaying the Western genre with the apocalyptic one. One of the allures of Apocalypse is its duality. Westerns traditionally have the same pattern of confrontation. Yet McCarthy has based his novel on historical events, and his characters do not fall into such clear cut descriptions as Good or Evil. Instead, Blood Meridian’s world is an ambiguous one where morality of the traditional kind is tested to its limits and often found wanting. In the world of McCarthy’s novel, then, the black-or-white opposition of apocalypse seems too simplistic, and consequently McCarthy makes a comment about trying to reduce real history to such simplified moral terms, as well.
Antony Rowland (University of Salford)
Holocaust Camp and Ilse Koch in Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’
This paper argued that many of the remarkable poems that Sylvia Plath wrote in October 1962 have never been appraised with an adjective they deserve: camp. Parading their artifice, these texts display the campy stylistics of exaggeration, theatricality, insistent repetition and iteration, outrageous surrealism, overstatement, mock-amazement, melodramatic keening, vamping, bitchiness and sarcasm, interjections, incongruity, black comedy and queer poetics. Famously, this productive month for Plath also heralded two post-Holocaust monologues, ‘Lady Lazarus’ and ‘Daddy’: both are examples of Holocaust camp, melding self-referentiality with side-swipes at history. In 1982, critical concern within Holocaust Studies about the danger of aesthetic larceny in relation to the increasing interplay between historical representation and spectacle culminated in Saul Friedlander’s Reflections of Nazism: An Essay on Kitsch and Death. Rowland argued that the exposition of the Holocaust as spectacle in ‘Lady Lazarus’ can be regarded as an uncanny precursor of Friedlander’s thesis. Unlike Friedlander, camp poetics allow for a self-conscious critique of the poem’s ‘new discourse’: ‘Lady Lazarus,’ Rowland maintained, is paradoxically both a symptom, and vilification, of Holocaust camp.
Lisa Rull (University of Nottingham)
Is this “tzedakah” or just a Woman out of the House? Peggy Guggenheim’s American-Jewish Spirit of Patronage
This paper focused on two statements from Guggenheim to analyse her actions as collector/cultural patron. The longest passage, from her autobiography, outlined her “seven tragedies as an art collector.” These included her missed opportunities for purchases due to financial constraints, disappointments over the increased value of objects she sold or donated to public galleries, and frustration that her rivals ultimately acquired such works. The second statement – that “Somehow, the only pleasure I get while I give is when I withhold for a while to give them pain” – was discussed in connection with revealing anecdotal material and letters on the relationship between Djuna Barnes and Guggenheim. This material analysed Guggenheim’s donation of darned underwear to Barnes as an act of aggressive gift-exchange: one of series of acts where Guggenheim’s complex motivations for supporting cultural producers came to the fore. Through examining such material, the paper considered the (gendered) power relationships embedded in specific acts of patronage. It outlined how Guggenheim challenged philanthropic models in her collecting and financial support of avant-garde creativity, and concluded by proposing that her own contradictory conceptions of Judaic traditions of “tzedakah” (righteousness, charity) were part of the complex influences informing her motivations / actions.
Nick Selby (University of Glasgow)
‘“to be wholly in one place”: Lee Harwood’s The Long Black Veil’
This paper examined the transatlantic relationship that is played out in British poet Lee Harwood’s poem ‘The Long Black Veil’ (1972). It discussed the ways in which Harwood’s detailing of an adulterous affair in this poem also becomes the grounds of an investigation of forbidden, or at least veiled, relationships between European and American poetry. Selby argued that while the poem describes travelling in, and through, America, and its experimental poetics explicitly recall Pound’s Cantos, its lyric intensity stems from its broken attempts to reconcile geographical distance and sexual desire. But, such lyricism also provides a means of deconstructing the colonial desires that haunt the texts that intercut the poem, and the ancient Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris that gives it structure. The paper suggested that to investigate transatlantic poetic relationships is, necessarily, to lift the veil on the politics of cultural power.
Dr. Heidi Slettedahl Macpherson (University of Central Lancashire)
Staging the Scene: American Drama and the Law
This paper explored the way that American drama has evoked “unruly” or outlaw women and overtly staged their guilt or innocence within the space of a courtroom setting. It examined how, in dramatic texts, women as subjects of courtroom dialogue and debate become translated into objects on display, and how their voices become contained or controlled by narratives to which they have only limited access. Particular attention was paid to what Jennifer Wood describes as “usurpatory ventriloquism”—the authority to speak and act for others—that is inscribed in the asymmetrical power relations of the court. Examples ranged from the musical Chicago, to Sophie Treadwell’s expressionist drama Machinal. Passing reference was made to Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, and the paper finished with an exploration of Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour. In each of these dramatic texts, women as the accused—or indeed as accusers—clearly had scripts provided for them, or wrestled away from them. From female murder suspects to women charged—though not openly—with the “crime” of lesbianism, the women on trial provided clear examples of the gendered reception of the law.
The paper made clear the fact that the courtroom normalizes the separation of the good woman and the bad woman, but that the language of the court more often than not blurs the distinctions and makes the search for “truth” a complicated and unstable affair. Thus, drama itself was shown to work as a complicated arena for the exploration of women and the law.
Nerys Williams (Trinity College, Dublin)
Camouflage and Collage: Reading Michael Palmer through Robert Duncan
Customarily Michael Palmer’s poetry is read within the context of a European lyric tradition. The multiple references in his work gesture to poets as diverse as Friedrich Hölderlin, Paul Celan, Charles Baudelaire and Andrea Zanzotto. While this European context is a valid one, this paper considered how Robert Duncan’s poetry – with its strategies of collage and serial forms – may also help us to approach Palmer’s densely referential poetry. Palmer’s At Passages (1995) makes a direct homage to Duncan’s own series ‘Passages’ (Bending the Bow, 1968) and includes an elegy to Duncan – ‘Six Hermetic Songs.’ Although their approach to the role of citation in poetry is decidedly different, Palmer’s work acknowledges a debt to Duncan’s strategies of composition. Williams’ paper suggested that Duncan’s ‘Passages’ offers Palmer a way of addressing the more dogmatic claims of a specific vein of Anglo-American modernist practice. Most provocatively, this reading of Palmer through Duncan gave a new insight to the poet’s affiliation both to the poetics of language writing and an overlooked hermetic tradition in American poetry.
BAAS Teaching Assistantships
Applications are invited for the BAAS Teaching Assistantship in American History at the University of New Hampshire and the BAAS Teaching Assistantship in American Literature at the University of Virginia. Candidates will normally be final year undergraduates, but applications will also be accepted from recent graduates.
A BAAS Teaching Assistantship consists of the award for two years of a Teaching Assistantship, which provides an income sufficient to cover living expenses, plus remission of tuition fees, while the recipient of the Teaching Assistantship pursues graduate study for an M.A. Teaching duties take up approximately half of the working time of a Teaching Assistant, consisting of taking about four tutorial groups for discussion sessions each week and marking essays and exams.
Applications will be received by a BAAS panel, which will draw up a short list for an interview in early December. The recommendation of the panel needs to be ratified by the University of New Hampshire and the University of Virginia. The successful candidates will then be accepted, without the necessity of the very elaborate and expensive process which is involved in applying directly to an American university for a Teaching Assistantship.
Applicants should send the following by Monday, December 1, to Dr. Peter Boyle, School of American & Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2RD: (1) a curriculum vitae, (2) transcript of undergraduate work, (3) reason for applying (no more than 250 words), (4) two letters of recommendation (in sealed envelopes).
The winner of the first BAAS Teaching Assistantships in 2002 were Vicky Bizzell from Central Lancashire University, who is currently beginning her second year at the University of Virginia, and Steve Brennan, who is currently beginning his second year at the University of New Hampshire. Steve writes: ‘The History Department was most welcoming, with a staff-student barbeque which allowed me to wander around awkwardly introducing myself as “Steve, from Preston, near Liverpool.” As an M.A. student, the only class which all must take is a graduate research seminar. It is most definitely a case of being thrown in at the deep end, with a voluminous reading list and a level of discussion, which, to be honest, I felt was a little beyond me. Nevertheless, I persevered and wrote an extensive research paper, which the course instructor found very interesting. The most rewarding part of this first year was the teaching. Early nerves about standing in front of a group of young people, who differ little in age to myself, were quashed as week by week I grew tremendously in confidence, building a very healthy rapport with my students’ Vicky writes: ‘The BAAS Teaching Assistantship at the University of Virginia has given me unique opportunities and experiences almost too numerous to recount. The English Department, renowned for its scholarly contributions and the many expert professors who make up its numbers, offers both a broad and in-depth programme, which allows M.A. students to cater to their own interests and academic pursuits. Departmental relations between students and professors are encouraged and nurtured by the many wine and cheese evenings which the Department orchestrates. Both students and professors are encouraged to present their work to their colleagues, thereby gaining an important opportunity for feedback, criticism and suggestions. Students invaluably gain a unique opportunity to discuss and raise questions about the forthcoming work of their professors – a policy which is vigorously encouraged and the value of which has proved itself again and again. The BAAS student is given the chance to teach and to receive a pedagogical training. I have developed a passion for teaching, which I hope will stay with me for all of my academic days. The University of Virginia is set in Charlottesville, which is steeped in colonial history and Southern pride and is a wonderful place in which to study. I am thoroughly grateful for the chance to be the first BAAS Teaching Assistantship at the University of Virginia. It has been a thrilling and life-changing experience, which will stay with me forever.’
BAAS members are invited to encourage applications for the BAAS Teaching Assistantships from suitably qualified students.
University of Nottingham
Travel Award Reports
John D. Lees Award Report
The primary focus of my PhD research is what I have termed the ‘pro-war movement’ during the Nixon administration. It is a title that is at times inaccurate, and one that was, and is, certainly rejected by those individuals who supported the policy of the Nixon administration regarding the Vietnam War. In many instances such individuals, either publicly or privately, pushed the administration to make greater use of the United States technological, and in their opinion, moral, superiority, yet were loathe to accept the description ‘pro-war.’ In large measure, I am examining the effort by groups such as Young Americans for Freedom, American Friends of Vietnam, Voices in Vital America, the leading Prisoner of War groups, and leaders of the conservative movement to influence government policy and public opinion regarding the importance of victory in Vietnam. Much of my work also considers the internal and inter-organisation debates on this issue, and the reasons why this movement failed to meet its immediate objective.
Considering the breath of material on conservative figures and organisations held at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University, a visit to California was fundamentally important to the successful completion of my thesis. Having been considerably aided by the expertise and helpfulness of the Hoover Institution staff, I was fully prepared for a period of intense research in order to complete the list of collections at which I wished to look, and to carry a mountain of photocopying back to England. Fortunately for my research, but not for my photocopying budget, I discovered additional collections, which promised and proved to be most useful, upon my arrival at the Hoover Institution. This included rare video footage of the largest parade ever held in New York City, the ‘We Support Our Boys in Vietnam’ parade of May 1967, a parade that was only nominally neutral on policy issues regarding Vietnam. I soon discovered a wealth of material on a large grass-roots effort, mainly in the New York area, to promote support for Nixon’s policies in Vietnam and to tie patriotism to support for the war. Surprisingly, the New Left Collection provided an abundance of material on the young conservative movement, in particular the effort of students to promote victory in Vietnam and to highlight the righteousness of the American role there.
As much of my research thus far has concentrated on the efforts by figures within the Nixon administration, in particular Charles Colson, to establish and support pro-war groups, the collections at the Hoover Institution provided the first opportunity for me to examine the grass-roots movement, and to fully consider the administration’s efforts in light of, and in response to, this movement. My subsequent visit to the Arizona Historical Foundation at Arizona State University (ASU), in order to consult the papers of Senator Barry Goldwater, allowed me to examine this movement in a different context: how leading conservatives viewed the grass-roots pro-Vietnam effort, and the policies of the conservative movement’s unrivalled leader regarding Nixon’s Vietnam policies. As I had discovered in earlier research, Goldwater publicly maintained support for Nixon’s policies despite private doubts about the efficacy of Vietnamization, and despite the public break of other leading conservative with the administration in July 1971. Goldwater’s papers, which included copies of a political diary that he kept, provided rare glimpses into the factors that influenced the policy decisions of a man torn by the Vietnam issue, not due to a lack of faith in the righteousness of American involvement, but because of the debilitating effect that the war had on the American government and the unity of the conservative movement. I look forward to examining Goldwater’s reports on his meetings with the president and leading White House staff members, reports that have already provided an interesting contrast to those that I found in the files of the Nixon administration.
The success of this trip was based largely on the generosity of time and energy, not to mention expertise, of the staffs of the Hoover Institution archives and the Arizona Historical Foundation. Without the generosity and support of the British Association for American Studies, along with the Gates Cambridge Trust, Peterhouse, Cambridge and the Sara Norton Fund, Cambridge, I would have been unable to spend over two months in the United States. The experience was also rewarding as an opportunity for me to experience student life at Stanford, particularly at a time of student unrest relative to the impending war in Iraq. The parallels to my own research need hardly be stated. My sincere thanks go to those who funded this trip, and to those who made efforts above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that my experiences at Stanford and ASU were profitable and enjoyable.
Peter Parish Award
I would like to express my deep gratitude to the British Association for American Studies for awarding me the Peter Parish award to pursue completion of the American portion of my doctoral research. This award helped fund my visit to Chicago, Illinois and Madison, Wisconsin in April 2003. My thesis is a comparative study of competing loyalties in the lives of British and American department and variety store workers from 1939 through 1970. I am particularly interested in loyalties to employer, union, nation, family and class, and the ways such loyalties were solicited, negotiated and constructed over time.
I visited America twice before this spring, in order to work with various retail archives, research libraries and publications from shopworkers’ unions. However, when I returned from the USA at the end of last summer, three goals remained: to complete work with the Retail Clerks International Association (RCIA) and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Employees Union (RWDSU) records at the Wisconsin Historical Society; to work with the Montgomery Ward’s collection at the Chicago Historical Society; and to record oral history interviews with individuals who worked in department or variety stores in the mid-West.
I passed the first half of my recent visit to America in Madison, working with RCIA and RWDSU publications and records. Unfortunately, I fell ill with the flu the day after arriving in Madison and spent most of my time there focusing on the microform machine through a decongestant fog. Nevertheless, having since reviewed my findings with a clear mind, I am quite happy with the results. Having surveyed the Retail Clerks Advocate from 1938 through 1960 during my last visit to the Wisconsin Historical Society, I was keen to continue my survey of the Advocate through the 1960s and early 1970s. In addition, thanks to Lori Bessler of the Microforms Department, many previously inaccessible RCIA and RWDSU records and publications from urban and rural locals were made available to me on microform during this visit.
Working with union publications can be quite informative, but very difficult as well. The challenge is that none of these publications simply reported the activities, goals or conflicts of locals or members without a good deal of editorial gloss. It can be quite difficult then, to understand the complexities of union politics when any sense of conflict within the union has been deliberately minimised and conflicts between the union and employers have been carefully dramatised. The advantage for my study, however, is that these publications were, by their own admission, propaganda tools for maintaining loyal membership and recruiting new members. In effect, critical examination of the publications has allowed me better insight into the ways local and international unions wished to be viewed by their members, as well as a closer understanding of the practical and rhetorical means unions used to recruit and maintain new membership. In particular, my study of international and local union publications and records helped to explain the failures of shopworkers’ unions in the field of department and variety store employment; political and cultural differences between union locals which defined themselves as blue collar and those which defined themselves as white collar; and the ways in which unions tried to foster members’ loyalties to broader ideals such as labour ‘fraternalism’ and American democracy.
I spent the second half of my visit to America working at the Chicago Historical Society. The Society holds the records of Montgomery Ward’s, a large nation-wide dry goods chain store that has since gone out of business. I was eager to work with the collection, because during World War II, the main Montgomery Ward’s store in Chicago experienced a crucial industrial relations stalemate that was never completely resolved, even with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s direct intervention. The dispute, which lasted from 1942 through 1945, was a crucible of conflicted loyalties for employees, who were exhorted to be loyal to union, employer and nation simultaneously. Unfortunately, the collection’s records relevant to this event were limited to contemporary news clippings from newspapers around the country. While these were helpful, there were no records of direct communication with Ward’s employees on the part of the unions, managers, the National War Labor Board, or President Roosevelt. However, the collection included a run of the company’s house organ Forward, from 1957-1971, annual reports, and a good collection of employee training materials which together provided a very helpful overview of employee relations at Ward’s during the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s.
The final purpose for my visit was to interview people who worked in department or variety stores in the mid-West between 1939 and 1970. Earlier in the spring, I had sent oral history recruitment posters to public libraries, union locals, and the Historical Societies in Chicago and Madison. The posters emphasised my interest in finding union members and former Ward’s employees to interview. Even with the generous assistance of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local in Chicago (the RCIA’s successor), I had little luck on that front. However, the posters did generate responses from four former retail employees in the Chicago area who worked in the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s, so I interviewed these individuals. The interviewees, who worked from one to five years in retail, in stores ranging from Marshall Field’s department store to local five-and-dime stores, described a wide range of experiences and offered great insight into business competition and conditions of retail employment in Chicago at a time when the city was arguably still the retail capital of America.
Overall, my recent research trip to America was productive and left me with the sense that while research could go on forever, the main bases for my thesis have been covered. I am extremely grateful to the BAAS for their generosity, and for the opportunity to pursue this final leg of the American portion of my doctoral research. I hope that next year’s recipient will meet with the same good fortune in his or her research travels.
Other Travel Award Reports
Clodagh Harrington, London Metropolitan University
BAAS kindly awarded me a short-term travel grant which contributed to my recent two-week trip to Washington DC. The purpose of my trip was to collect data for my thesis on the Special Prosecutor in late Twentieth Century American Politics and my two ports of call were the National Archives and the Library of Congress. Having made contact with both institutions in advance speeded up the process of information gathering as time was precious. My thesis covers some but not all of the Special Prosecutors, and I had previously found that information on the lesser-known cases was sometimes hard to come by and I felt that I only had a rather dry and distant interpretation of the events and attitudes of the time.
The National Archives houses the papers of the majority of Special Prosecutors and with the help of NARA’s David Paynter, the in-house expert on the topic, I selected the records of two of the lower profile Prosecutors, Arthur H Christy and Gerald J Gallinghouse. Accessing primary sources certainly allowed me a far better insight into the actual goings-on of the cases than the books and journals that I had previously been relying on for information. Time constraints did not allow me the luxury of trawling through the papers of the other Prosecutors so I opted instead for referring to the Final Reports of Christy, Gallinghouse, Iran Contra and the numerous volumes of the Whitewater/Lewinsky affair.
At the Library of Congress, the main focus of my attention was videos, none of which were available in the UK. Because the crux of my thesis is the evolution of perception of the Special Prosecutor, I was conscious of not getting too bogged down in piles of papers relating to the specifics of the cases, which, although interesting, were not directly relevant to my work. Therefore, watching documentaries and news reports on the scandals, particularly Watergate, Iran Contra and Whitewater/Lewinsky provided invaluable insight into the national mood of the time, and a taste of how the country reacted to each situation. With regard to the presidential scandals mentioned, I was surprised and impressed at the objectivity of some of the programmes and found some of the reporting refreshingly impartial.
I am most grateful to BAAS for making this trip possible. I feel that it will be of benefit in a number of ways, not just on an academic level but also in terms of being able to spend time in the city where all of what I am writing about took place. Being able to visit the various landmarks including the White House, Congress and the Watergate building gave me a visual sense of perspective and a better feel for what I was writing about. Overall, I feel that it was an extremely fruitful trip and I look forward to absorbing all of the acquired information into my thesis.
Lincoln Geraghty, University of Nottingham
The primary purpose of my research trip was to spend one week visiting the Gene Roddenberry Star Trek Television Series Collection held at the Arts Library Special Collections, Young Research Library, University of California, Los Angeles. The collection holds original and unpublished material relating to the production and reception of Star Trek’s original series, including over 330 fan letters and many responses to these letters, sent to Gene Roddenberry and the cast between 1966 and 1969. In addition to the visit to UCLA I planned to attend the annual Pasadena Grand Slam Star Trek Convention, March 28-30, taking advantage of its proximity to the library.
Previous scholarly studies of Star Trek audiences have focused on more marginal and extreme fans rather than the more ‘ordinary’ fans who only write letters to express their interest and pleasure. My thesis is in two parts: the first takes an American Studies approach to the historical, socio-political, and narrative contexts of Star Trek; the second part is a Film Studies reception based investigation of the ways in which average fans engage with the series as revealed in letters sent to official fan publications and the studio. The letters housed in the Young Research Library provide a vital source of primary material enabling me to analyse fan responses to Star Trek, focusing on their emotional and affective relationship with the show. Given the long-running nature of the series, I have found it necessary to address the historically shifting contexts of audience reception. I wanted to examine themes and issues such as divorce and bereavement in the letters found in the collection which I will then compare to more recent letters I have already obtained from the University of Liverpool. Attending the convention after viewing the collection gave me further scope for comparison between extreme and average fans and their varying reasons for watching Star Trek.
Upon viewing the documents housed in the collection I was struck by a real sense of ‘history’. I realise that sounds rather obvious but as both an academic and a fan of Star Trek I have not previously been receptive to how the original series differed from its contemporary television competition in the late sixties. Many fans were eager to write to the production staff telling them how their viewing habits had changed since the series first aired in 1966. Many described other science fiction series such as Lost in Space and The Twilight Zone as inferior to Star Trek’s more fantastic and dramatic stories. These responses have given me plenty to take into account when I come to analyse my findings. One aspect of particular interest will be how Star Trek fitted in as a product of the Hollywood studio system; how much its prominent liberal ethos was governed by studio executives who wanted to sell as many episodes as possible for the highest price. Since viewing the collection I have realised that many fans, as well as responding to the series as they do now with affection and reverence, also wanted to contribute to the success of the series (including starting a letter campaign to save it from being axed). I was aware of the tremendous efforts fans had made in 1967 saving the show for another year but I was unaware just how much Star Trek was part of Hollywood’s inexhaustible creative output – if it had failed it would have been easily replaced with another series at the request of the studio.
Attending the convention helped me to comprehend the level of affection younger fans have for the series but also highlighted the enormous amount of support older fans, those who had watched in 1966, still give to the show and its aging stars. The dynamics of the convention were such that fans could interact with other fans as the day progressed, talk about the show on an intimate level, and also communicate with the objects of their affection, the stars. It was this part of the convention that stood out most as I attempted to understand what Star Trek means to its fans and American society in general. Much of the language used by fans and the stars on stage was centred on the idea of progress and human achievement, especially at a time of conflict (the war on Iraq had just started before the convention weekend). The liberal humanitarianism that characterised Gene Roddenberry’s work was regarded by the fans and celebrities – particularly Nichelle Nichols (Uhura) – as the appropriate response to the problems faced by America. The atmosphere of the audience sharing its thoughts with Nichols on stage and vice versa resembled the feel-good programming of the US talk-show Oprah. Only, in this case everybody was united in the belief that Star Trek had and has an important part to play in the current and future ‘wellbeing’ of the nation.
The Roddenberry Collection forms a unique and original part of my overall thesis. Having published a bibliography of academic Star Trek literature it is clear to me that to date the Roddenberry collection has not been used as a research tool for a published audience study. This research trip enabled me to be the first to address the issue of original fan letters sent to Star Trek during its seminal first series. I now plan to disseminate these original findings in a scholarly article as well as in my doctoral thesis.
I would like to thank BAAS for the financial support provided by the travel grant that enabled me to travel to California. The library staff at UCLA, including Lauren Buisson and Julie Graham, deserves praise for its informed and ever-present help with the collection. I would also like to thank my supervisor, Eithne Quinn, who first made me aware of the award competition and then encouraged me to put forward an application.
Timothy Stevens, Keele University
I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the BAAS for their generous support which allowed me to visit the world’s largest collection of chess literature at the Cleveland Public Library. The reason for my trip was to continue research for my doctoral thesis, which focuses on international chess competition between the U.S and the U.S.S.R during the cold war era. Covering the span 1945-1975, my research explores the changing nature of competitive international chess during the period.
Initially employed as a cultural tool to strengthen post-war relations between the superpowers, the nature of international chess competition quickly changed. As chess was widely regarded as evidence of a powerful intellect, chess matches between players from the United States and the Soviet Union came to have important ramifications. The game became a cerebral battlefield where the victor often claimed considerable intellectual kudos on the international stage.
My thesis explores the effect chess had during the Cold War years. It explores the changing context of the game, from a means of attempting to foster friendly relations to an expression of cold war rivalry. It discusses whether, and to what extent, chess was a means by which the superpowers gained an opinion of each other’s cultural, ideological and intellectual capabilities and attributes. It explores the propaganda value of chess and the ways in which the superpowers perceived defeat and victory in chess competitions. It explores the nature of the personal relationships between the players who represented the different cultures and discusses how they actually perceived each other in the face of intense propaganda. The thesis also discusses whether chess competition affected the political climate or whether it merely reflected the political tensions of the era.
The John G. White Collection at the Cleveland Public Library was founded in 1928 when White bequeathed his collection to the Library. Due to a generous trust fund also bequeathed by White, the collection has grown considerably over the years and now consists of over 35,000 volumes. It also subscribes to 180 periodicals.
Working at the Cleveland Public Library was an absolute pleasure. Partly due to the architecture of the building, and partly due to the extremely knowledgeable and helpful staff, it was a wonderful environment to work in. Faced with such an abundance of research material, the fortnight quickly passed, but the time spent in Cleveland significantly helped my research. The complete runs of numerous historical chess periodicals were extremely useful and these are virtually impossible to find in one collection. The White Collection also contains numerous primary sources and the collections of letters and correspondence were particularly interesting and useful. The enormous array of books and newspaper articles were also extremely valuable.
Although I obviously spent the majority of my time in the library, I did have time for some enjoyable recreation, most notably watching Cleveland’s football and baseball teams, the Browns and the Indians. As my thesis relates to the notion that sport often has important broader implications, perhaps most interesting was the Major League Baseball match I attended on the first anniversary of the September 11 attacks. The moving expressions of remembrance before the match were augmented by a recorded address from President Bush that put forward the idea that in uniting the nation through sport, baseball was playing an important role in the healing process after 9/11.
Although the two weeks I spent in Cleveland passed extremely quickly, the trip was extremely productive. The trip was a wonderful experience and one that greatly aided my research. Once again, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to BAAS for their generous financial support.
American Studies Centre Annual Report 2002-2003
This report begins with an apology to all members of the US and UK Advisory Panels and colleagues in BAAS, for the failure on our behalf to produce an annual report for last academic year (2001-2). This was due to an on-going issue regarding extended support for the ASRC that we hoped would be resolved and that would then be reported. However, by the end of last year a resolution of the issue had not been achieved. This years report will update colleagues in its final section on the continuing problems faced by the ASRC.
ASRC Conferences and Lectures
This year’s school conference (again held in the Conference Centre of the Merseyside Maritime Museum) looked at the American Presidency. As with future such events, the topic was agreed on following consultation with teachers of American Politics and History. An audience of 200 students and teachers attended. Lectures were presented by Dr.Eddie Ashbee (Denstone College) on the Myths and Realities of Presidential Power, Frank Lennon (Liverpool Hope University College) on Franklin D.Roosevelt, Dr.Niall Palmer (Brunel University) on Lyndon B.Johnson and Professor John Dumbrell (Keele University) on Rating the Presidents. Feedback received from teachers who attended was again highly positive, recognising the ASRC’s efforts to support and advance the work of promoting the study of the US in schools and colleges of FE. Our thanks go to not only all the speakers but also to the Maritime Museum, BAAS and the Eccles Centre for their continued support of the conference programme.
The ASRC also hosted the second visit in four years from Professor Johnella Butler and Dr. John C. Walter of the University of Washington (Seattle). Lectures by both Prof. Butler and Dr. Walter were presented at Liverpool John Moores University and Manchester Metropolitan University on the topics of Muhammad Ali and the World he made (Walter) and From Color Line to Borderlands: American Ethnic Studies as Matrix (Butler.) Our thanks go not only to our two quests but also to Sue Wedlake and Dennis Wolfe at the US Embassy for their support.
CL Henson, former Head of Special Education at the Bureau of Indian Affairs, also visited the ASRC. CL has become a regular visitor over the last few years and this time advised and supported JMU students engaged in research on Native American issues. An article by CL on the generation of finance by Native Americans through Casinos will appear in this years issue of American Studies Today and in the near future on the ASRC web site. It had been hoped that the ASRC would also host a lecture by the award-winning writer Annie Proulx; However, this was postponed until a possible future date.
ASRC Web site (ARNet)
David Forster has continued his work on the development of the ASRC web site. As well as numerous new book reviews and original articles, the ASRC AV Catalogue has been placed on line for subscribers. The hard copy catalogue will no longer be produced. The latest statistical returns show that the web site has now received in excess of 3 million hits since its re-launch in March 1998. In March 2003 the site received at total of 42,426 hits, the highest monthly figure so far achieved.
Requests and Student Visits to the ASRC
As noted in previous annual reports, the number of ‘mailed’ requests to the ASRC has decreased substantially. However, this has been off set by a dramatic increase in emailed requests, not just from the UK but also worldwide. Contacts have also been established with a number of American Universities and Reference Centres and plans are under discussion for visits, during summer vacations, by US students and lecturers. JMU and LCC (Liverpool Community College) students also continue to make an extensive use of all the ASRC’s facilities.
The number of UK schools and colleges visiting the ASRC for study days has also increased. It is hoped that these visits and the school conference programme will reinforce the profile of American Studies in secondary and further education.
The ASRC has also dealt with an increased number of requests from the media, particularly the BBC and the Discovery Channel.
News of Advisory Panel Members
Our congratulations go to two of our UK Panel members. Dr.Eddie Ashbee has secured a position as Associate Professor in American Studies at the University of Copenhagen Business School in Denmark and Steve Kenny (now living in Memphis, Tennessee) has been awarded his PhD by JMU for his research into medical practices in 19th century America.
Pam Wonsek (City University New York) of our US Advisory Panel, will be visiting the ASRC in early July to offer continued advice and support in ways we can develop our services.
Ian Ralston has been appointed as Chair of the Libraries and Resources Sub-Committee of BAAS. ASRC Resources Co-ordinator and Web Manager, David Forster has also joined the Sub-Committee.
The schools conference for next academic year will take place in November. The topic will be The US and the Cold War. Details and booking forms can be found on the ASRC web site. (http://www.americansc.org.uk/Conferences/Cold_war.htm)
As noted at the start of this report, the ASRC still faces significant problems that have held back an extension/improvement of opening hours as well as the development of a number of projects. It had been hoped that additional sources of funding, over and above that the ASRC already generates, would be forthcoming. However, this has not been the case. Consequently, the ASRC has decided that in order to secure the future development and maintenance of our work, all possibilities regarding its future location and funding will be considered and evaluated. UK and US Panel members will be informed of all developments in this area.
Ian Ralston, ASRC Director
Web site: www.americansc.org.uk
BAAS Conference Easter 2006: Call for Conference Bids
The BAAS Executive Committee are interested in any institutional bids for hosting the BAAS Easter conference in 2006. Initial interest in submitting a bid should be addressed in the first instance to Dr Tim Woods, Chair, BAAS Conference Sub-Committee, Dept of English, Hugh Owen Building, Penglais, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 3DY, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guidelines on the information required by the Conference Sub-Committee for submitting a bid will be sent out to all enquiries. Fully completed final bids will need to be sent to Dr Tim Woods by 22 September, 2003, in order that the Conference Sub-Committee can consider the bids at its early October meeting. It would be expected that the successful institution will be notified shortly thereafter.
BAAS Short-Term Travel Award Recipients
I am trying to compile a list of all of the recipients of BAAS Travel Awards. If you have been the recipient of such an award, please could you write to or email me with your name and contact information, the approximate date of your award, and your research topic.
Many thanks for your help.
Chair, Development Sub-Committee
Department of History
1 University Gardens
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Telephone: 0141 330 3585
Fax: 0141 330 5000
BAAS Database of External Examiners
The Secretary of BAAS, Heidi Macpherson, holds a list of potential external examiners. If individuals would like to put their names forward for this list, please email her on email@example.com. Include the following information, in list form if possible:
Name and title
Affiliation with complete contact details including address, telephone, fax, and email Externalling experience (with dates if appropriate)
Current externalling positions (with end dates)
Research interests (short descriptions only)
By providing this information, you agree to it being passed on to universities who are seeking an external for American Studies or a related discipline. Should you wish your name to be removed in the future, please contact the Secretary.
Any university representative interested in receiving the list should also contact the Secretary. BAAS only acts as a holder of the list; it does not “matchmake”.
Paper copies can also be requested by sending a letter to:
Dr. Heidi Macpherson
Department of Humanities (Fylde 425)
University of Central Lancashire
Preston PR1 2HE
Subject Centre Report for Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
We have held a considerable number of workshops across all our subject areas this year. The events pages of the website provide more detail about the programme and in many cases an event report. Go to: www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/events/llaseventsarchive.aspx
Sample listing of events:
Curriculum 2000 and the implications for HE
Institutional visit to Coventry University attended by staff from Coventry, Aston, Warwick, Birmingham, Staffordshire.
Using Virtual Learning Environment for Languages
Personal Development Planning in Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies
Area Studies Network meeting
Intercultural learning and the role of visual media
Interactive Whiteboards for Language Teaching
Computer Assisted Assessment
Pedagogical Research workshop
Teaching on less commonly taught Area Studies programmes
Interdisciplinarity & inter-cultural learning in Area Studies curricula
Implications of the White Paper and the National Languages Strategy
Key Skills and Assessment in Linguistics
Set texts? New approaches to the teaching of literature in languages and related studies/area studies
We are now involved in such a broad array of projects that we have devoted an edition of our newsletter Liaison Light to them. Copies of the newsletter are available from the Subject Centre. Liaison Light can also be viewed online at www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/news/newsletter.aspx
Selected List of projects included in the newsletter:
Good practice guide
Area Studies project
The forthcoming Learning Technologies project
Several of these projects also contain mini-projects – a good way of involving a wider range of expertise and sharing out funding amongst the community.
The new Subject Centre website was launched in January 2003. It is database driven, resource rich and, we hope, easy to navigate. The website continues to be well received and is being updated constantly. The next project involves working with the website consultant at Southampton to integrate into the website the software database previously managed by the Subject Centre team at the University of Hull.
Revised PowerPoint presentation
We have produced another version of the ‘Why study languages/linguistics/area studies?’ CD which includes updated statistics from Keith Marshall and additional slides. This can be obtained from the Subject Centre with LLAS notes (see below).
We are producing a book of useful facts and figures on student numbers in our subject areas (GCSE, A Level, university applications etc). This is available in August and will be distributed free of charge to those who complete the online booking form. This is available at www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/mailinglist/notebookfrm.aspx
Area Studies Bulletin: Atlas
We have recently published the first issue of ‘Atlas: the bulletin of the Area Studies projects’. If you are interested in receiving a free copy of this, contact Marie Weaver at the Subject Centre (M.Weaver@soton.ac.uk).
The following information sheets have been produced/updated since January 2003 by Dawn Ebbrell, Subject Centre/CILT HE Information officer:
Information sheets: 26, 28 and 31 on subject associations updated – to feed into contribution on Subject Associations to web guide.
NEW: Studying Languages, Linguistics and Area Studies at University –three new Fact Sheets which can be downloaded from the Subject Centre website at: www.lang.ltsn.ac.uk/resources/resourcesitem.aspx?resourceid=1586
Languages: Work Project
This project has received funding from the DfES for a two-year period to create promotional materials for languages for school pupils and careers advisers. Subject Centre staff are represented on the Steering Group of this project.
The Subject Centre convened an informal meeting held immediately before this UCML plenary to discuss the implications of foundation degrees for our subject areas.
The partnership with Scottish CILT is now well established and the second meeting of the Scottish Advisory Group took place on 16 May. The Chair of the Scottish Advisory Group is John Joseph, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh.
The Subject Centre is working with Keith Marshall, Director of CILT Cymru, to set up a partnership to support colleagues in Wales following the SCILT model. In addition to this we have, in partnership with Alison Allan at HEFCW, convened a meeting of those involved in the teaching of Welsh in HE in January 2003. At present, we are in discussion with HEFCW about the future role and remit of this group.
The Learning Technologies Special Interest Group met in February. Additional members were added to the group. The group provided useful advice to the Subject Centre on the shaping of the call for bids for the learning technologies project on ‘Rethinking pedagogical models for e learning’. Eight bids were submitted. The University of Sheffield was awarded the project.
The Subject Centre and CILT are starting to think about a conference for July 2004. The focus will be languages and related studies with strands on policy as well as pedagogy. Partners in the conference are UCML, SCHML and AULC. The conference will take place from 30 June to 1 July at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Higher Education Academy
The Report of the Teaching Quality Enhancement Committee published in January 2003 recommended that a new Higher Education Academy be established. The Academy would bring together the functions of ILTHE, HESDA and LTSN and develop new functions to better support the enhancement needs and interests of higher education communities. At present, the functions and remit of the academy are being developed in detail. Subject Centres should be fully integrated into the Academy by August 2004.
E J Ashurst, Subject Centre Manager
International American Studies Association: First World Congress
The first World Congress of the International American Studies Association took place in Leiden, the Netherlands, in May 2003. Despite the unstable international situation and the SARS epidemic which brought about several last-minute cancellations from the Far East, there were still about 220 participants from five continents. The theme of the conference was “How Far is America From Here?,” and the intellectual exchanges around this topic reflected the controversial and fractious nature of America’s relationship to global politics and culture in the twenty-first century. Unlike some more localized organizations, the focus of IASA is on the United States and the Americas generally as components of a larger world system, and the three plenary speakers gave outstanding talks examining these issues from different perspectives. In “How Far is America from America?,” Werner Sollors from Harvard spoke about American literature and culture as a multilingual phenomenon; in “Resisting Terror, Resisting Empire: The Evolving Ethos in American Studies,” Kousar Jabeen Azam from Hyderabad, India, addressed the “cultural turn” in international relations; while Edouard Glissant from Martinique expounded his theory of métissage in relation to the transatlantic position of Caribbean culture in his lecture “The Politics of Diversity and the Poetics of Mondialité.” Plenary addresses, supposed as they are to combine academic innovation with a broader general appeal to non-specialists, are notoriously difficult to do well, but as a trio these were the most successful examples of the genre I have ever heard. Glissant, who is averse to flying, had arrived by ship from New York only the day before he was scheduled to speak, having caused the organizers some anxiety about whether or not his Atlantic crossing would be blessed by a fair wind.
The Congress also featured a productive exchange between Djelal Kadir, the founder and president of IASA, and Amy Kaplan, President of the American Studies Association, about the role and function of American Studies in the world today. Professor Kaplan had been invited to give a response to Professor Kadir’s first presidential address with a view to establishing the kind of intellectual dialogue and opportunity for disagreement which is, perhaps, not common enough on today’s conference circuit. The organization of the individual panels—two hours for each session—was also designed to allow enough time for more expansive debate and audience participation, rather than having the familiar situation where speakers are shoehorned into tight time grids and everyone is forced to watch the clock. Speakers from Britain included Theresa Saxon from Manchester Metropolitan and Catherine Toal from Cambridge on Melville; Pedro Garcia-Caro from King’s College London on Fuentes and Pynchon; David Ryan from De Montfort along with Liam Kennedy and Scott Lucas from Birmingham on American foreign policy and representation after 9/11; Alex Seago from Richond on the “deterritorialization of pop” and the music of black Detroit; Susan Castillo from Glasgow on Creole identity in New England; Maria Lauret from Sussex in roundtables on multi-ethnic studies and autobiographical writing; Susan Manning and Penny Fielding from Edinburgh on Scottish-American relations; Helen Dennis from Warwick on Native American writing; Duco van Oostrum from Sheffield and Jude Davies from Winchester on American images; Andrew Pepper from Belfast on the internationalization of Hollywood; Celeste-Marie Bernier from Nottingham on Frederick Douglass; and Jay Kleinberg from Brunel, Harry Bennett from Plymouth and Philip Davies from De Montfort in a roundtable on American Studies journals.
Although the largest American Studies association in the world is in India (not the USA), there are some areas of the world, particularly in Asia and Australasia, where the professional organization of the subject is not so widely developed, and participants from these countries particularly welcomed the opportunity to debate the directions in which American Studies might be heading. It was also interesting and illuminating to compare responses from U.S. delegates to those which emerged from other parts of the world, and so to get a sense of how the idea of American Studies works differently in different locations. The programme featured many speakers with extensive experience in American Studies organizations—including Janice Radway, past president of the ASA, Emory Elliott from the international committee of the ASA and Heinz Ickstadt, former president of EAAS—and the best of these sessions had the feel of an “événement,” an old-style Sixties “happening,” where it was difficult to predict who might come under attack or what might happen next.
The Congress is expected to convene on a biennial basis, with the next meeting scheduled for 2005, probably in either Mexico or India, where it is expected that the weather will be warmer than it was this time round in Leiden. Further information about IASA can be found on the organization’s website: http://www.iasa.LA.psu.edu
Star/Symbiosis Conference, Edinburgh, July 18-21, 2003
Those who attended the ‘Across the Great Divide’ conference in Edinburgh from 18th-21st July 2003 have attested to its overwhelming success. This joint event was the fourth annual conference of Symbiosis, the journal of Anglo-American literary relations, and the first conference of the Carnegie Trust-funded STAR (Scotland’s Transatlantic Relations) Project. Appropriately, it brought together 87 delegates from both sides of the Atlantic and from Canada to Argentina for four days of stimulating dialogue on all aspects of literary, theoretical, and material transatlantic cultural exchange between the British Isles and the Americas. In addition to events held at the University of Edinburgh, the National Library of Scotland (NLS) and the National Museums of Scotland (NMS) sponsored and hosted several conference sessions. ‘Across the Great Divide’ received important support from The University of Edinburgh’s School of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures and the University Development Trust; thanks are also due to Professor Vicki Bruce, Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science, for her support of the event.
The conference began on Friday evening with Professor Amy Kaplan’s plenary lecture, ‘Between Empires: Frances Calderón de la Barca’s Life in Mexico (1843)’, in the Boardroom of the NLS. Professor Kaplan’s new work on this Scottish-born woman’s experience as the wife of a Spanish diplomat in Mexico stimulated lively discussion and set the tone for the rest of the conference. Afterwards, delegates retired to Edinburgh University’s magnificent Playfair Library for a reception marking the official launch of the STAR Project. During the course of the next three days, delegates would present 70 papers on panels that included Transatlantic Romanticism; British Cultures and the Black Atlantic; Constructing the Transatlantic Experience; (Re)creating National Identity; Emigration; Periodicals; Wharton and James; Arthur Conan Doyle and the United States; Britain and the Spanish Americas; Revolution, War, and Transatlantic Identity; Transplanted Religion; Translating Religious Experience; Transatlantic Connections in Music; and Gothic Literature.
Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the British Association for American Studies (BAAS), the Scottish Association for the Study of America (SASA), and the School of Literatures, Languages, and Cultures, the conference organisers were able to provide financial support to postgraduates giving papers at the meeting. And at mid-day on Saturday, the STAR Postgraduate Luncheon served as a valuable opportunity for students to give feedback on the direction they would like to see STAR take. Discussion included the format of the STAR Postgraduate Seminar in American Studies, which will reconvene for its second year in Edinburgh in October 2003, and new web content and links that people would like added to the STAR site. A consensus emerging here and throughout the conference was that there is a great demand to expand the project’s scope to include connections between Britain and the Spanish Americas; STAR will begin to facilitate these requests in the coming months.
The proceedings on Saturday afternoon were sponsored by the National Museums of Scotland; many thanks are due to Mr. George Dalgleish and Dr. David Forsyth for their organisation of these stimulating events, which were much enjoyed by delegates. To kick off the ‘museum afternoon’, Dr. Forsyth led a talk in the Royal Museum Lecture Theatre on the NMS’s exciting new Trailblazers: Scots in Canada exhibition, which will run from 17th October 2003 until 4th January 2004. Jenni Calder then put a literary bent on the material culture theme in her plenary lecture, ‘Changing Place: The Migrating Meanings of Objects’, in which she discussed the role of objects in Margaret Laurence’s The Diviners and Alistair MacLeod’s collection of stories Island. Following a refreshment break in the Royal Museum’s Bird Hall, George Dalgleish and David Forsyth each led a museum tour that sharpened appetites for future investigations of the collections. Delegates then reconvened in the Royal Museum Lecture Theatre for an absorbing panel entitled ‘The Undelivered Letters: Bridging the Great Divide’. This session centred on the personal tales that have emerged from a series of recently discovered letters, many of which originated in Orkney, which were written to Hudson’s Bay Company men in Canada between 1830 and 1857.
Sunday morning saw further noteworthy sessions and a lively luncheon during which a planned business meeting was postponed in favour of the more immediate pleasures of impromptu Italian entertainment. In the afternoon, Professor Ludmilla Jordanova delivered the third plenary lecture of the conference, on ‘Artists, Portraits, Fiction’. Her memorable illustrated talk on the role of art in fiction explored interconnections in the lives and work of John Singer Sargent, Henry James, and Robert Louis Stevenson, and nudged emerging themes of the conference into new avenues of interdisciplinary discussion. Later that evening, delegates gathered on the terrace of the Café Hub for a drinks reception, to enjoy good weather and scenic views of the Royal Mile before heading inside for a congenial meal, a musical performance by singer/storyteller Stuart McHardy, and further good talk.
A final day of panel sessions at Old College preceded the concluding event, Monday evening’s ‘Dead Poets / Live Poets’ reading at the National Library of Scotland. Convened by Dr. Nick Selby (University of Glasgow) with the generous assistance of Dr. Kevin Halliwell (NLS), the event utilised the NLS’s archive recordings from the Academy of American Poets to celebrate the rich relationship between American poetry and contemporary poetry written in Scotland. Live readings by Susan Castillo, Alan Riach, Gael Turnbull, and Geoff Ward were interspersed with recordings of the American poets whose work has most shaped their poetry. In the interval, delegates were able to take a saunter around the current NLS exhibition ‘Wish you were here!: Travellers’ Tales from Scotland 1540-1960’.
All in all, ‘Across the Great Divide’ served as a tremendous opportunity for scholarly exchange; much exciting new work emerged, and both the journal Symbiosis and the STAR Project will build on the momentum gained through publication of papers from the conference. Updates on this and other initiatives can be found on the STAR website (www.star.ac.uk). Thanks again to all who participated, and supported the event!
European Historians of the United States
European Historians of the United States celebrated the tenth anniversary of the founding of their association with their regular biennial conference at the Roosevelt Study Centre in Middleburg in the Netherlands. Founded in 1993, with David Adams of Keele University as Founding Father, the conferences of the European Historians of the United States at Middleburg every second year have been consistently intellectually stimulating and socially very pleasant. This year’s conference on April 23-25, 2003, was no exception. It attracted historians of the United States from a wide variety of countries, including Britain, Italy, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France and Spain, as well as Canada and the United States. There was a strong British representation on the programme, including Tony Badger, Rob Lewis, Melvyn Stokes, Louis Billington, David Brown, David Adams, Peter Boyle, Steve Ickringill and Joseph Smith.
The theme of the conference was Frontiers and Boundaries. The definition was broad, allowing a wide variety of approaches, including Thomas Jefferson’s Expeditions to the West, the Communist Party and the Ideological Boundary, Hawaiian Statehood, Frontiers and Boundaries as Reflected in American Film, the Louisiana Cajuns, the Multi-Ethnic Frontiers of the Industrial City and America’s Territorial Frontier in the Philippines. As with previous conferences it is expected that an edition of a selection of the papers will be published as a book. The editors will be the conference organizers, Cornelius van Minnen, Director of the Roosevelt Study Centre in Middleburg, and Sylvia Hilton, from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. The smooth, efficient organization of the conference was, as usual, an important reason for its success.
The next conference of European Historians of the United States will be held at the Roosevelt Study Centre in April, 2005. An announcement of the theme and a call for papers will be made in due course.
University of Nottingham
American Politics Group Annual Conference
Paper proposals for the annual American Politics Group conference are welcomed.
The conference will be held at the Rothermere Centre for American Studies, Oxford University, between January 2 and 4, 2004.
The conference organisers will be delighted to consider any proposals on American politics or recent American political history.
Professor John Dumbrell
Staffs ST5 5BG,
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BAAS/American Politics Group Annual Colloquium
This year’s colloquium will be held at the US Embassy on November 14.There will be sessions on the US Presidency, 40 years on from John Kennedy’s assassination and on US-European relations after the Iraq war.
Anyone interested should contact:
Professor John Dumbrell
Staffs ST5 5BG,
or E-mail: email@example.com.
Fourth MESEA Conference, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece May 20 – 23, 2004
Ethnic Communities in Democratic Societies
Proposals for workshops and papers may engage the following topics, among others:
Negotiation of culture, language, religion within (non-)territorial communities / Parochialism and globalization / Community and fragmentation in global cities / Communitarianism vs. rights / Literary and artistic productions within transnational democracies / Aesthetic concerns of ethnic subjects in democratic societies / How literature reflects democratic concerns / Negotiating ethnic exceptionalism and participation in a larger collectivity / Nation states and imagined communities / Nationalism and transnational loyalties / Nativism and racism in democratic contexts / Ethnic Press and transnationalism / Ethnic community vs. local law / (Il)legal immigration / Transnational identities / Fragmented identities / Political agency, political choices / Balkanization of mentality / Bastions of ethnic tolerance / Citizenship and ethnopolitics / Civis and civility / Ethnic anxieties / Ethnic discrimination and affirmative actions / Ethnogenesis and ethnostasis / From Confrontation to cooperation / Internal colonialisms / Mythologized nationalisms / Xenophobia/xenophilia.
Deadline for proposals: December 20, 2003.
Send a one-page proposal and a one-paragraph bio on the same page as E-mail submission to:
Dr. Heike Raphael-Hernandez
University of Maryland in Europe
Im Bosseldorn 30
Only members of MESEA or MELUS may present papers at this conference.
For membership information please check: www.mesea.org
Transatlantic Studies Association 2004 Annual Conference
The annual conference in 2004 will be Monday-Thursday July 12-15 in Dundee.
In the light of feedback from delegates and comment in the TSA Newsletter there will be themed interdisciplinary/multi-disciplinary panels as well as discipline specific panels. We would welcome suggestions for themed panels in addition to the following:
Multi/Inter-disciplinary Themed Panels
The impact of race and migration in the transatlantic region
The cold war
European-Latin American relations
The impact of us bases in Europe
Anti-Americanism in Europe & anti-Europeanism in America
History, Diplomacy, Security Studies and International Relations
Literature and Culture
Planning and the Environment
Please start to offer papers.
All proposals should be presented in a short synopsis (100 words) along with a brief cv.
They should be sent to Alan Dobson at firstname.lastname@example.org
To reach him on or before 1 November 2003.
Crosstown Traffic: Anglo-American Cultural Exchange since 1865
University of Warwick, UK: July 4-6, 2004
An interdisciplinary conference co-sponsored by The North American Conference on British Studies, The Royal Historical Society and The British Association for American Studies
Much has been written about the ‘special relationship’ between Britain and the United States on the level of high politics and diplomacy. Rather less, however, has been written about the presumed existence of a shared, common culture-a culture that has, since the American Civil War, been actively cultivated and promoted as a way of cementing that ‘special relationship’. Still less, perhaps, has been written about the equally important cross-fertilization that has taken place in the realm of the popular cultures of the two nations. This conference proposes a wide-ranging inquiry into the cultural manifestations of the ‘special relationship’ and into the transatlantic traffic in cultural styles, attitudes and motifs between Britain and the United States since the late nineteenth century. Paper and panel proposals will be considered that address the multiplicity of exchanges that have developed between the two nations-both in the realm of specific media (fashion, film, literature and music, for example), and more generally in the cultures of consumption and popular politics. The conference will focus on the traffic in culture that has taken place in either direction across the Atlantic and in both directions. It will pay particular attention to the social differences which influenced the definition and purchase of ‘the popular’ in the two countries and to those differences in racial attitudes which at first divided and then, creatively, brought the two cultures closer together.
Conference organizers: Marybeth Hamilton (Birkbeck College, London), Peter Mandler (Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge) and Chris Waters (Williams College, Massachusetts).
Proposals are invited for individual thirty-minute presentations or full panels by 1st October 2003. Please send a 250-word synopsis, and a one-page cv to:
Dr Chris Waters
Williams College Oxford Programme
145 Banbury Road
Oxford OX2 7AN
Transit of Venus: An International Pynchon Conference, Malta, June 8-10, 2004
This three-day event, slated to coincide with the next Transit of Venus (June 8, 2004), will provide a forum for wide-ranging engagement with the totality of Pynchon’s work to date.
We welcome presentations on any Pynchon-related subject, taking any critical or theoretical approach; studies of individual texts or of Pynchon’s oeuvre; studies of the texts in themselves or in cultural, literary-historical or other context. We also welcome presentations on other subjects that may appear to particular advantage viewed through the lens of Pynchon’s work.
To facilitate a rich and stimulating exchange of views, all presentations will be in plenary session. Each speaker will be allotted thirty minutes.
Selected conference proceedings will be published as a special issue of Pynchon Notes.
Held in Valletta, the conference will also include a tour of Pynchon’s Malta, observation of the Transit of Venus, and archival displays to complement the academic schedule.
Presentations may take the form of individual papers, media presentations, or panels. Please submit proposals/abstracts (in English) of 500-750 words for individual presentations, or of 1,000-1,500 words for panels. (Also, please specify what, if any, audiovisual or other equipment may be needed.) Responses to inquiries and notification of acceptance will be by E-mail.
Deadline for proposals: October 15, 2003.
Decisions by December 1, 2003.
Proposals should be E-mailed to Vaska Tumir: Vtumir@conestogac.on.ca
School of Liberal Studies, Conestoga College, Kitchener, Ontario, Canada
John M. Krafft
English Department, Miami University-Hamilton, Hamilton, Ohio, USA
The University of Malta
St John The Cavalier Centre for Creativity, Valletta, Malta
Tim Blessing is Associate Professor of History at Alvernia College, Reading, Pennsylvania. His research interests are Western Executive, Appalachian Studies and popular culture 1920-1945.
Harina Cacloppo received her DPhil from the University of Sussex where she completed a thesis on Italian American ethnicity.
James Campbell is a postgraduate student at the University of Nottingham researching criminal justice in antebellum Virginia.
Alexandra Ganser is currently doing research for her doctoral thesis on representations of landscape and nature in postmodern American travel fiction. She is the recipient of a Fulbright grant to study at the University of Oklahoma.
Rowland Hughes currently teaches part-time at both University College London and the University of Hertfordshire. He completed a PhD on early frontier writing.
Kevin Hunt is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham working on the visible word in American art of the twentieth century, with a particular interest in the impact of advertising and graphic design.
David McBride is a PhD student at the University of Nottingham where he is working on a comparative study of US and UK foreign policy in the Middle East, 1945-1956.
Peter McLeay retired from the University of Wolverhampton and is currently working on an introductory text on American Studies.
Stephanie Palmer teaches in the American Studies Centre at the University of Leicester and has general research interests in literature, gender studies and cultural studies, and more specifically in fictional narratives of travel accidents as ways of staging mixed class and regional identities in postbellum American literature.
Julia Pühringer is a student at the University of Vienna currently working on a dissertation about the genre of film noir and its representation in recent US cinema.
Markus Rheindorf is a lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics at the University of Vienna. His research interests are film, transposition and adaptation, academic writing, comics and interactive media.
Nicholas Sharman is a PhD student at the University of Melbourne where he is working on the Chicago Seven trial.
Dale Townshend is a postgraduate at Keele University who interested in the use of gothic conventions in nineteenth-century American slave narratives.
Albert Zambone is a DPhil student at the University of Oxford and is currently working on a thesis about popular Anglicism and intellectual culture in colonial Virginia, 1688-1776.
In the Spring 2003, Deborah Madsen took up the Chair of American Literature at the University of Geneva. Her new book, Beyond the Borders: American Literature and Post-Colonial Theory is published by Pluto Press in Autumn 2003.
Edward Ashbee has been appointed Associate Professor of American Studies at Copenhagen Business School.
Dr. John A. Kirk (History, Royal Holloway) won the J. G. Ragsdale Book Award
from the Arkansas Historical Association for best non-fiction book-length study on any subject related to state history for Redefining the ColorLine: Black Activism in Little Rock, Arkansas, 1940-1970 (Gainseville: University Press of Florida, 2002).
Paul Grainge, Monochrome Memories: Nostalgia and Style in Retro America (Westport and London: Praeger, 2002)
Paul Grainge (ed), Memory and Popular Film (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003)
W. B. Stephens, Sources for U.S. History: Nineteenth-Century Communities (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002). Following the success of the hardback version of this book, CUP have reissued the book in paperback as part of the History Repeats Itself series.
Graham Thompson, Male Sexuality under Surveillance: The Office in American Literature (Iowa: University of Iowa Press, 2003)
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: email@example.com
Dr Heidi Macpherson (Secretary, first elected 2002, term ends 2005)
Department of Cultural Studies, University of Central Lancashire, Preston PR1 2HE
Dr Nick Selby (Treasurer, first elected 2000, term ends 2006)
Professor Janet Beer
Department of English, Manchester Metropolitan University, Geoffrey Marton Building, Roasamond St. West, Manchester M15 6LL
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
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 Ian Scott (first elected 2003, term ends 2006)
Department of English and American Studies, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester, M13 9PL
Dr Carol Smith (first elected 2001, term ends 2004)
School of Cultural Studies, King Alfred’s College, Winchester SO22 4NR
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
Dr Jenel Virden (first elected 2002, term ends 2007)* Representative to EAAS, Department of American Studies, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX
Tel: 01482 465638/303
Fax: 01482 465303
Dr Tim Woods, Department of English, Hugh Owen Building, Penglais, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion, Wales, SY23 3DY
Ms Kathryn Cooper (Co-opted), Development Subcommittee
Loreto 6th Form College, Chicester Road, Manchester M15 5PB
Dr Jay Kleinberg, (Ex-Officio), Editor, Journal of American Studies, American Studies, Brunel University, 300 St Margarets Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 1PT
Mr Ian Ralston, (Ex-Officio), Chair, Library & Resouces Subcommittee, American Studies Centre, Aldham Robarts Centre, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool L3 5UZ
BAAS Sub-Committee Members
Professor Simon Newman (Chair)
Ms Kathryn Cooper
Professor Philip Davies
Ms. Catherine Morley (Postgraduate Representative)
Dr Ian Scott
Dr. Peter Thompson
Dr Iain Wallace
Professor Janet Beer (Chair)
Dr Jay Kleinberg (JAS)
Dr Heidi Macpherson
Professor Ken Morgan (BRRAM)
Dr Carol Smith (BAAS Paperbacks)
Dr Graham Thompson (ASIB and website)
Dr Jenel Virden
Dr Tim Woods (Chair)
Dr Susan Castillo
Dr. Jude Davies
Dr Sarah MacLachlan (2004 Conference Secretary)
Dr Michael McDonnell
Dr. Nick Selby
Libraries and Resources:
Mr Ian Ralston (Chair)
Dr Kevin Halliwell