Report on the BrANCA Reading Group Session ‘Archival Pleasures’

“Following Garvey’s article, the group spent quite a while discussing the importance of the physical versus digital archive in regards to Carrie Hyde and Joseph Rezak’s piece, ‘The Aesthetics of Archival Evidence’ (J19, Spring 2014). They raise the importance of understanding the ‘aesthetics of the archive’, the need to encounter the ‘heft’ of physical material. In the group we asked does distance matter? Do we need to be able to touch and hold manuscript and original books if it is digitally available? There seems to be a ‘resonating aura’ from material text, a sensual need to have contact with the physical archive for some scholars. This sensual turn in literary studies is the last spatial turn, towards ourselves.” Continue reading

Historians at Play: American History in Modern Board Games

“Putting Freedom back into the spotlight, it offers a unique way to physically interact with the issue of slavery. The mechanics of the game are assigned to a real history and the slaves that the players cannot save represent the real slaves that were doomed a fate that the game leaves to the players’ imagination. Physically moving the slaves around the United States, represented by simple wooden cubes, makes it difficult not to treat the slaves as objects.” Continue reading

Review of ‘Myths in Culture’ Postgraduate Symposium 2014

“In his seminal Mythologies (1957), Barthes identifies myths as a type of speech, one that takes on universally acknowledged meanings which are rarely questioned. And although Barthes’ name was dropped only occasionally during “Myths in Culture”, a one-day postgraduate symposium at the University of Leicester, the spirit of his words were ever present.” Continue reading

Obama’s West Point Vision: Or, How to Retreat from Military Intervention and Democracy Promotion

“Ultimately, Obama’s stance represents an accommodation to the current reality that at present, America is unwilling and unable to pay the potential economic, military and political costs of a more expansive strategic and ideological posture.” Continue reading

Review of the “Alt-American” conference 2014

“Bell should be commended for convening a tremendous conference to do just that, challenging a distinguished group of critics, temporally and geographically dislocated from their subject at a conference in twenty-first-century England, to read the many implausible realities of nineteenth-century America.” Continue reading

Academic Job Applications “Do’s” and “Don’ts”

“Do stay positive. Writing an application is a great way of seeing how far you’ve come in your career and thinking about what you want to do next. Most people do not succeed at first try. You may have made a good impression that will help you in the future, even if you don’t get asked to an interview.” Continue reading

Review of 25th Annual Conference of American Literature Association 2014

“What stood out from the conference was the breadth of American literary studies, both in terms of approaches, historical periods, and geography. There seems to have been no waning in Trans-American Studies (transatlantic, transpacific, transcontinental and more), with the borders of American Literature stretching ever further.” Continue reading