The Best of 2014, and What’s Next for U.S. Studies Online in 2015

As we enter a new year, here at U.S. Studies Online we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to reflect on what a fantastic 2014 we have had and look ahead to some of the exciting projects we have in the pipeline for 2015. In keeping with the tradition of festive toasts given by inebriated relatives after the Turkey has been sliced but before anyone has had chance to tuck in, this post will be just a little rambling, contain a few mixed metaphors, and be more sentimental than the adopted child of Love, Actually and the end of A Christmas Carol (Christmas, Actually. Quick! Does anyone know Richard Curtis’s phone number?). Continue reading

#Bookhour: LET ME BE FRANK WITH YOU by Richard Ford

On Monday 29th December 2014, 9-10pm GMT scholars Jennifer Daly (TCD) and Dr. Gillian Groszewski (TCD) joined Co-Editor Michelle Green (University of Nottingham) to discuss the fourth instalment in Richard Ford’s Bascombe series, his 2014 novella Let Me Be Frank With You. Check out the storify below to catch up on their conversation which tackled Ford’s controversial representation of race, place, Hurricane Sandy and Obama’s legacy. Find out what they thought of Frank’s character development (does he develop?), his contradictions (can he really say “place means nothing” now?), and his future (is the last we have seen of Ford’s “uncommon man”?). Continue reading

Must-Hear Podcasts: A List for Students and Scholars of American Studies

In December 2014 we asked you what are the very best podcasts for students and scholars in American Studies. Here is the list we received!

Podcasts that made the list include the popular Serial, This American Life, Love+ Radio, Planet Money, Night Vale and BackStory to some surprising scientific recommendations, including NASA Science Casts and StarTalk! Continue reading

Conference Review: APG/BAAS Annual US Politics Colloquium

The event was a combination of two discussion panels and two paper presentations showcasing the diverging views of the Democratic and Republican participants on the 2014 midterm election results and the parties in general, as well as perspectives on Barack Obama regarding race and foreign policy. Continue reading

American Studies in Europe: Interview with Dietmar Meinel, Freie Universität Berlin

Richard Martin: Your postgraduate work was undertaken at the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin, which was founded in 1963. How would you characterise the approach to American Studies taken at the institute? Dietmar Meinel: My personal experience has been shaped by two trajectories at the JFKI. On the one … Continue reading

500 Shades of Blues: ‘Bluesologist’ Gil Scott-Heron’s “H2Ogate Blues” as Meta-performance

For performance scholar Lesley Wheeler, “print exchanges presence for longevity, voice for script” but by including the audience reaction to an already recorded performance for “H2Ogate Blues,” Scott-Heron manages to pay tribute to the longevity of art through a permanent record while simultaneously honouring the presence of the poet in the original performance by putting him in dialog with a second audience … Scott-Heron refuses to substitute the importance of orality and performance that permeated alternative artistic cultures in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the Beat Generation, the Black Arts Movement and the Nuyorican Movement, for the textual condition that has brought artistic expression to the forefront of our everyday lives since the advent of writing and then printing. Continue reading

American Studies in Europe: Interview with Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder, University of Mississippi

Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder: I suppose I am of a generation who has only known American Studies as transnational. However, I realize many problems have yet to be resolved – especially the danger for U.S. scholarship to colonize the work of other foreign discourses into a Western or rather U.S.-centric tradition under the auspice of the transnational. For non-U.S. scholars, American Studies has always been conceived comparatively, so the idea of a “transnational turn” is in danger of being patronizing unless there are more evenly weighted conversations. My greatest concern with the “recent trend” is that it does not necessarily conclude in transnational relationships with scholarship from institutions beyond its borders. Continue reading

Fargo 1996, Fargo 2014, and the Art of Homage

“Homage”: the deliberate but respectful recreation of one work within another. Think of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, homage to Ms. Dalloway; the BBC’s Life on Mars and The Sweeney; the stairway shoot-out in The Untouchables and the Odessa Steps scene in Battleship Potemkin. They are all homage, yet all their own.

But contiguous with homage is plagiarism: disrespectful, deceitful, and what one expects prima facie of Noah Hawley’s Fargo. Continue reading