[vc_row margin_bottom=”15″][vc_column][dt_banner image_id=”7003″ bg_color=”rgba(238,238,34,0.05)” text_color=”#6b6b6b” min_height=”165″][/dt_banner][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”1/2″][dt_quote]As the new Chair of BAAS I want to ensure that the Association continues to provide for all its members the sort of nurturing and intellectually generous environment that has meant so much to me over the past three decades, writes Professor Brian Ward. It was at BAAS that I first found an intellectual home among people who saw the virtues of multiple, sometimes genuinely integrated approaches to the study of the American experience.[/dt_quote][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/2″][vc_column_text]The first BAAS conference I ever attended was in the mid-1980s at King Alfred’s College, the forerunner of the University of Winchester. At the time I was a postgraduate in history at Cambridge University, working on a thesis that explored the links among African American popular music, black consciousness and race relations during the civil rights and black power eras. That thesis bore all the hallmarks of my BA in American Studies from the University of East Anglia at a time when there really wasn’t much inter-disciplinarity in traditional history departments. More than a few eyebrows were raised as I gamely tried to argue that Motown songs were as revealing as Malcolm’s speeches[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row margin_bottom=”10″][vc_column][vc_column_text]and that James Brown meant a good deal more to most African Americans in the 1960s than H. Rap Brown. Still, I did manage to secure college funds to build a discography of esoteric rhythm and blues and soul records from a postgraduate tutor who was more used to disbursing money for additional palaeography instruction. I mention this only to note that it was at BAAS, amid the panels and pints of the annual conference, that I first found an intellectual home among people who saw the virtues of multiple, sometimes genuinely integrated approaches to the study of the American experience.
[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_column_text]Since UEA and Cambridge, my journey through academia has taken me from appointments at the Universities of Durham, Newcastle upon Tyne, Florida, and Manchester to my current post as Professor in American Studies at Northumbria University. My research and teaching have focused on the modern African American freedoms struggle, the history of the modern US South, popular music and the mass media, and Anglo-American cultural relations. I have a growing interest in the medical humanities and am unapologetically fixated on the 1920s and 1960s. I have published eight books, including Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness and Race Relations and Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South. My latest co-authored book, on Artists and Repertoire workers in the early US recording industry, should appear in the winter[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][dt_teaser image_id=”12879″][/dt_teaser][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]of 2016-17 and I am just starting another project on Martin Luther King’s 1967 visit to Newcastle scheduled for publication on the fiftieth anniversary of that event. I have also served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of American Studies and the Journal of Southern History and was a member of the Area Studies sub-panel for REF 2014.
At least as important as anything that I’ve written or done, I have been lucky enough to supervise a host of gifted doctoral students (18 completions and counting). I proudly bask in the reflected glory of their many achievements.
At the most recent BAAS conference in Belfast, co-hosted with the Irish Association for American Studies, I was elected chair of the Association and I thought again about the sense of belonging and encouragement that I have always experienced in BAAS. One of the Association’s prime functions is still to bring together and support diverse communities of British Americanists, teachers and students alike, regardless of their disciplinary backgrounds or institutional affiliations. Moreover, as the list of conference delegates, the range of submissions to the Journal of American Studies, and the global reach of US Studies Online all attest, the Association now enjoys unprecedented international profile and prestige. As chair, I look forward to working with many of you over the next three years. Above all, however, I want to ensure that the Association continues to provide for all its members the sort of nurturing and intellectually generous environment that has meant so much to me over the past three decades.
Brian Ward is Professor in American Studies at Northumbria University. He researches and teaches mainly on twentieth-century African American and southern history and culture, with a special interest in media, music, and transatlantic relationships. In addition to many articles and book chapters, he has published eight books, including Just My Soul Responding: Rhythm and Blues, Black Consciousness and Race Relations (1998), Radio and the Struggle for Civil Rights in the South (2004) and, most recently, three co-edited volumes on Creating and Consuming the American South (2015), The American South and the Atlantic World (2013), and Creating Citizenship in the Nineteenth-Century South (2013). Brian is currently completing a book about Artists and Repertoire men in the early American recording industry.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]Archive