U.S. Studies Online: The BAAS Postgraduate Journal
Continuities and Changes: A Report on the British Association for American Studies Postgraduate Conference, Northumbria University 2009
© Helen Mitchell. All Rights Reserved
Northumbria University was proud to host the BAAS Postgraduate Conference on Saturday 14th November 2009 where 25 papers were submitted for presentation within the theme of ‘Continuities and Changes’. The university welcomed an audience of over 50 people with delegates from across the UK as well as those from as far afield as Germany and Nigeria, providing an incredible richness to the variety of subjects under discussion.
The papers were thought-provoking and diverse, and included topics such as ‘Female Preachers and Gender in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, 1864-1888’, ‘The Influence of Hunting on Frontier Leadership in Revolutionary Kentucky’, ‘Bruce Campbell and the Representation of US Masculine Heroism’ and ‘Ritual and Federalism in The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon Gent (1820) by Washington Irving’. These papers are presented in this issue of US Studies Online, and were among other excellent contributions in the fields of history, literature, culture and politics in the individual sessions.
All the papers stimulated interesting debate which was carried forward into the various breaks throughout the day as delegates took advantage of the opportunity to engage with fellow postgraduates in a more informal environment. By late afternoon the wine and conversation was flowing and the delegates were engaged in lively exchange as the nerves of conference speaking eased. As conference organiser, this was particularly gratifying and I hope those who stayed in the city overnight enjoyed their time here.
Our plenary speaker, Professor Sara Evans from the University of Minnesota, undertook a long and tiring journey to be with us for the day and delighted us all by singing during her keynote, ‘Women and the American Presidency: From Victoria Woodhull to Hillary Clinton’: the experience of hearing the audience singing along with her will stay with me for a very long time! I’m sure all who witnessed this would agree that it was a truly excellent conference plenary and was pitched perfectly for the audience.
Sincere congratulations to those whose work has been published in this journal, and to all those who attended I wish you much luck and fortune in your forthcoming careers.
I would like to thank BAAS for the opportunity of organising the conference which was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I would highly recommend fellow postgraduates to seriously consider hosting this most worthwhile and satisfying venture. I would also like to express my gratitude to the US Embassy and Northumbria University for the very generous financial support without which we would not have been able to provide this valuable experience for young researchers. There are numerous others who contributed to the day’s proceeding and thanks go to them all, not least the delegates themselves, but especially to my own PhD supervisor, Dr. Sylvia Ellis, for her unerring support.