Finding “Native America” in Jazz: The History of “Native Sound” in Jazz throughout the Decades

To look at jazz’s preeminent players and albums, or its popular historical narratives, one would think a “Native American” had never picked up a horn. Indeed, finding Native Americanism in a so thoroughly African-American art form may seem offbeat even for jazz. Yet a “Native jazz” tradition does exist— has … Continue reading

Designing a Module, Redux: Or, Why We’re Watching Buffy Again This Year

In High Fidelity, Rob (John Cusack) muses on the art of making a mixtape: “The making of a great compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do and takes ages longer than it might seem. You gotta kick off with a killer, to grab attention. Then you got to take it up a notch, but you don’t wanna blow your wad, so then you got to cool it off a notch. There are a lot of rules.” Designing a module is a similar balancing act. Continue reading

#Bookhour: Tuesday 25th November, Marilynne Robinson’s Lila

In last night’s first ever #bookhour twitter chat, Marilynne Robinson scholars Dr. Rachel Sykes, Anna Maguire and Jenny Daly joined U.S. Studies Online Co-Editor Michelle Green to discuss Marilynne Robinson’s latest publication, Lila, the final novel in Robinson’s Gilead trilogy.

What emerged was an insightful and fast-paced discussion in which the group explored the idea of Robinson as the true central character of the series, and to what extent Robinson’s Gilead trilogy can be described as a series of “shared intimacies” with Ames. They rounded on the question, is Lila an American novel, and if so whose “America” is this? How ordinary or extraordinary is Lila and her circumstances? Does Lila include a social reformist message, and does it translate to our era? Continue reading

Teaching History and Theory through Popular Culture: My First Time Designing a Module

“The academic analysis of popular entertainment can serve to bridge the chasm between traditionally “highbrow” literature and the more populist media that often defines a student’s pre-existing cultural experience. One educator, Rana Houshmand, describes this practice as the “scaffolding [of] difficult literacy skills” – a strategy which has proven remarkably successful in foundational projects where the critical analysis of hip-hop lyrics has been used as means of connecting students’ contextual experiences with the analytical skills developed in the classroom.” Continue reading

Book Review: Chasing the American Dream – Understanding What Shapes Our Fortunes by Mark Robert Rank, et al

The American Dream is a concept and ideal that millions of people around the word subscribe to wholeheartedly, to the extent that huge numbers risk everything just to have a chance of achieving it. Chasing the American Dream explains just what that dream is, what it means to a plethora of Americans striving for it and assesses whether it is still possible to achieve in the context of an economic downturn. Continue reading

Celebrating Neutrality? What We Can Expect from America’s Ongoing Centennial Commemorations of the “European War” (WWI)

Will the sacrifices of the dead suddenly take on a new importance as the one hundred year mark passes? Will American neutrality continue to be highlighted alongside the United States’ absence from the causes of the war, separating the nation from its European counterparts? Continue reading

60 Seconds with Sima Jalal Kamali

“How did you come to your current area of research?”

After doing my M.A dissertation on Toni Morrison’s trilogy Beloved, Jazz and Paradise, I really wanted to expand my research on Black Women’s literature. This interest introduced me to Maya Angelou’s autobiographical oeuvre, which became the focus of my PhD research. Continue reading