US STUDIES ONLINE
AMERICAN GEOGRAPHIES: A REPORT ON THE BRITISH ASSOCIATION FOR AMERICAN STUDIES POSTGRADUATE CONFERENCE, UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD 2010
AARON R HANLON AND STEPHEN ROSS
© Aaron R Hanlon and Stephen Ross
The 2010 BAAS Postgraduate Conference, ‘American Geographies’, took place on 13 November at Oxford’s Rothermere American Institute and was a great success. In addition to noting the high standard of the panels we ourselves had the pleasure of attending, we were gratified to receive positive feedback from many of the participants, who hailed from universities including UC Berkeley, Cambridge, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Sussex, Thessaloniki, UCL, Yale, and more.
We were also especially privileged to have two outstanding keynote speakers, both of whom delivered impressive and engaging talks. We felt Donald Pease’s thoroughgoing meditation on transnationalism and its relation to American Geographies complemented Nick Selby’s rich and eloquent talk on American nature poetics very nicely. Overall, the ‘American Geographies’ conference theme proved to be as inclusive and stimulating a topic as we’d hoped it would be.
While our 39 papers covered a range of topics across disciplines, we were able to construct ten strong panels centered on themes such as border studies, early national literature and politics, and gender and geography. In addition to the panels, participants had the chance to get publishing tips from Professor Dick Ellis, hear about opportunities for study or research abroad offered by the Fulbright Commission and the NYU Summer Scheme in New York, and, between events, convene around coffee and sandwiches to meet other researchers or carry on conversations from prior panels. The atmosphere of collegiality and intellectual curiosity was particularly encouraging.
From our notably strong and abundant selection of papers emerged four contributions that we are proud to see featured in this issue of US Studies Online. David Hering’s ‘Theorising David Foster Wallace’s Toxic Postmodern Spaces’ enhances scholarly discussions of Wallace’s orientation toward postmodernism by calling attention to Wallace’s spatial and geographical narrative strategies. In ‘The Regional Modernisms of William Faulkner and John Dos Passos’, James Harding challenges critical tendencies to regionalize Faulkner and Dos Passos, and reflects on how these tendencies participate in assumptions of ‘American regional specificity’. ‘Charles Henri Ford’s Blues and Regionalism’, by Alexander Howard, recovers Ford from the critical fringe, tracing Ford’s influence on more prominent poets from both sides of the Atlantic, and arguing powerfully for greater critical attention to Ford’s work. Finally, Vidyan Ravinthiran’s ‘Prose-Rhythm and the Aesthetic Claim: A New Reading of Elizabeth Bishop’s “Santarém”’ gives us a fresh and compelling re-reading of ‘Santarém’ in which Ravinthiran explores Bishop’s dramatization, ‘by the very texture of the writing itself’, of the anxiety surrounding Kantian aesthetic judgment.
We would like to thank BAAS once more for their support throughout the planning process, as well as our keynote speakers, Professor Donald Pease of Dartmouth College and Dr Nick Selby of the University of East Anglia. Many thanks also go to our panelists and participants for helping us put on a truly stimulating and productive conference.
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD