‘Now comes good sailing’: Henry David Thoreau’s Cape Cod (1865) and Early Postbellum America

Although the text for May’s forthcoming #bookhour discussion, Henry David Thoreau’s Cape Cod, has never attracted scholarship in the way that Walden, ‘Resistance to Civil Government’, and the Journal have done, it echoes the blend of geniality, history, metaphysics, and occasional grotesqueries found in the celebrated works of contemporaries such as Hawthorne, Melville, or Poe. Continue reading

Conference Review (part three) of BAAS 2015, with ’60 Years of BAAS’ Roundtable

This year’s conference celebrated 60 years of the existence of the British Association for American Studies, so it was only fitting that the final session of the conference was “60 Years of BAAS: A Celebration.” The delegates gathered to first hear Nick Witham discuss the way BAAS’s relationship to US political power has evolved over the years. Continue reading

Conference Review (part two) of BAAS 2015, with Saturday Plenary

On the third evening of BAAS 2015 we were treated to an eloquent and passionate plenary from Professor Dana Nelson (Vanderbilt). Best known for her work on race in the nineteenth century (The Word in Black and White, National Manhood), Dana’s lecture ‘A Passion for Democracy: Proximity to Power and the Sovereign Immunity Test’, drew from her most recent work Bad for Democracy (2008). Continue reading

Conference Review (part one) of BAAS 2015, with Friday Plenary

Sarah Churchwell’s talk was a part of a longstanding project investigating The Great Gatsby. She set out a number of findings from her thorough research into the era and context of the novel’s creation and reception, which she described as ‘treasure hunting for traces’. Continue reading

Book Review: Borders of Equality: The NAACP and the Baltimore Civil Rights Struggle, 1914-1970 by Lee Sartain

Lee Sartain focuses on Baltimore due to its historical significance as a border city and its proximity to Washington D.C. While racism and segregation existed here as they did elsewhere in the early twentieth century, Baltimore espoused a relatively large black middle class and offered some degree of black voice and representation. Continue reading

“The Land Entire Saturated”: Commemorating the Civil War Dead at 150 years

  April 9th, 2015 marked the sesquicentennial commemoration of the surrender of the General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to the Army of the Potomac under the command of General Grant. The surrender sounded the death knell for the shattered Confederacy. Appomattox was no cause for outpourings of joy; the … Continue reading

Conference Review: Sixteenth Annual Conference of the Scottish Association for the Study of America

While SASA is first and foremost a Scottish-based organisation, it is by no means dominated by academics from Scottish universities. Indeed, attendees and speakers travelled north from Newcastle, Coventry, Warwick, London and Dublin, highlighting the Association’s inclusiveness. Continue reading

Book Review: Desire and Disaster in New Orleans: Tourism, Race, and Historical Memory by Lynnell L. Thomas

The most striking feature of Lynnell L. Thomas’s book Desire and Disaster in New Orleans: Tourism, Race, and Historical Memory is the author’s exhaustive and intimate knowledge of her subject matter: namely, the city of New Orleans. Continue reading

Songs about Rebels: The American Civil War in modern country music

Each of these songs link into what Geoff Mann has called country music’s ‘narrative of loss,’ in that they recall and reconstruct what has allegedly been lost in history – on material, emotional and personal levels. The power of these four songs lies primarily in that sense of loss, rather than in any particular political or martial themes. Perhaps then, these songs form part of what has been called a ‘mild version’ of the Lost Cause, in that they present the memory of the Civil War as a way of both commemorating their ancestors and of supporting the United States. Continue reading