HOTCUS ‘Teaching America’ Introduction

When the idea was initially pitched during a committee meeting that the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) could produce a series for U.S Studies Online outlining how the history of the United States was being taught at universities the hope was to showcase both the breath and … Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour twitter chat on “Herland” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

During August’s #bookhour discussion Dr. Fran Bigman, Dr. Ben Nichols, Dr. Joanna Freer and #bookhour organiser Joanne Mildenhall chatted about Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “Herland” (1915). The discussion looked at the question of Herland as utopia, considering the roles of the male protagonists and the functions of gender, sexuality, romance and love in the novella. Participants focused on the central concept of motherhood, and questioned whether Gilman’s text could be considered feminist. Catch up on the discussion here. Continue reading

Over the Ice: Polar Exploration from the Air

For Americans, the spring of 1926 was an exciting time in long-distance aviation. The newspapers were full of thrilling tales of pioneering flights, including three aerial expeditions aiming for the North Pole. The excitement came to a head on 9 May 1926, when Richard E. Byrd, a young American naval aviator, returned to his expedition’s base at King’s Bay, Spitsbergen (Svalbard), after a flight of just over 15 hours, proclaiming that he and his co-pilot Floyd Bennett had become the first people to reach the North Pole by air. Byrd’s announcement triggered a patriotic outpouring in the American press, with headlines trumpeting the United States’ polar conquest. Byrd returned home a national hero, where he was met by cheering crowds and public accolades, including the Congressional Medal of Honor. Continue reading

Book Review: American History through Hollywood Film: From the Revolution to the 1960s by Melvyn Stokes

As a scholar of film and television rather than history, I have often been uncomfortable with the ways in which moving images are treated by historians, as either uncomplicated windows into the past or a means to demonstrate the historical ignorance of Hollywood filmmakers. Continue reading

In Memoriam: Legendary Civil Rights Activist Julian Bond

Activist, Politician, Lawyer, Writer, Poet and Educator, Julian Bond’s social activism and his long-standing service includes as Chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the oldest civil rights organisation in America from 1998 to 2010.

Julian Bond would have been at the celebratory centre of my British Academy-sponsored conference on “Civil Rights Documentary Cinema and the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations on History, Race and Rights”. Julian Bond embodied the conference theme, as a co-founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and SNCC’s Communications Director from 1961-66.

Instead, the conference will take place in his honour and in his memory. Continue reading

‘The speed of every incident is unbelievable’: Writer Muriel Rukeyser and the Spanish Civil War

Having been awarded funding through the AHRC International Placement Scheme, I arrived in Washington DC in early October 2014 to begin research in the Muriel Rukeyser Papers held at the Library of Congress. Rukeyser’s diary and notes from Spain at the Library of Congress furthered my understanding of how the article was produced. The sense of speed that characterised ‘Barcelona, 1936’ was even more evident in her diary, which she wrote in short phrases, punctuated by dashes as though she was keen to capture events as they unfolded. As well as her diary, the archive contains lists, maps, sketches and even another passenger’s diary from Spain. I had a sense that Rukeyser had chosen a camera-like aesthetic but the archive revealed just how far Rukeyser had gone to document what she had seen. Continue reading