Book Review: Legal Realism and American Law by J. Zaremby

At a first glance, the concept of realism appears somewhat dated, belonging to a particular epoch of legal scholarship. Being essentially a movement that had emerged during 1920s “out of a fundamentally progressive mood” [1] and gradually has fallen by the wayside since, it may appear as a quaint historic notion that a few dedicated academics grew to be fond of perusing, in a way reminiscent of an interest in pennyfarthing bicycles or silent film. Continue reading

Book Review: An Infuriating American: The Incendiary Arts of H. L. Mencken by Hal Crowther

Facing a canonical author with an intimidating wealth of existing scholarship can, at times, beg the question: what is really left to say? Mencken certainly falls into this category, a fact acknowledged in the “Disarming Introduction to an Alarming American”. Yet, in only seventy-seven pages, Crowther manages to offer a valuable and engaging contribution to the discussion of an extensively discussed man. Continue reading

My Career Story: Philip Davies, Director of the David and Mary Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library

U.S. Studies Online is excited to introduce our new segment “Career Stories”. This feature is an attempt to incorporate more professional development posts on U.S. Studies Online and address some of the wider anxieties in the postgraduate and early career cohorts regarding employment and employability. We hope to include interviews with professionals in a variety … Continue reading

Review: ‘American Into Periodical Studies’, The First Network of American Periodical Studies Symposium

The Network of American Periodical Studies (NAPS) was recently formed by Sue Currell and Victoria Bazin, and aims to bring together scholars working on American periodicals from any historical period. Hosted by the Eccles’ Centre for American Studies at the British Library—and supported by the British Association for American Studies, Northumbria University, and the University of Sussex—‘American into Periodical Studies’ constituted the inaugural NAPS symposium. Continue reading

Book Review: American Hippies by W.J. Rorabaugh

Proclaiming its title against a bright, tie-dye backdrop in swirling, psychedelic font, the visual appearance of W.J. Rorabaugh’s latest work could be said to somewhat underplay the scholarly worth of its contents. This is, however, perhaps fitting given its subject matter. Where recognised at all as something separate and distinct from the era’s climate of activism, the counterculture has often been portrayed as a colourful, but ultimately frivolous sideshow within broad histories of the 1960s, and it is in this respect that the account offered by Rorabaugh differs. Continue reading

Teaching American Studies with iPads

My students are technologically savvy in a way I never was; using an iPad is second nature to most of them. But a focused activity like this shows how their digital skills can be applied towards productive research and, beyond that, to source commentary and analysis. As Professor Katherine Aiken has written, “establishing common ground with students is often the first step to effective teaching.” In this light, iPads – rather than being tools of distraction – can be aids to discussion and debate. Continue reading

Book Review: American Guy: Masculinity in American Law and Literature edited by Saul Levmore and Martha C. Nussbaum

American masculinity has recently been reasserting itself as a legitimate topic for study. As recently as 2013, Stony Brook University (SUNY) established the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities under the directorship of Michael Kimmel, one of the foremost voices in masculinity studies in America today. Continue reading

The Indentured Atlantic: Bound Servitude and the Literature of American Colonization (Part Three)

The tricky challenge that the Indentured Atlantic presents to scholars is to recover, as far as is possible, the reality of bound servitude while navigating and comprehending the multiple ways in which this reality was articulated, ignored, appropriated, and imagined as part of a diverse range of social, political, economic and racial agendas. The eight dialectical categories and concepts I have broadly sketched out in these posts – singing, ventriloquizing, captivities, slaveries, falling, rising, life-writing, and forgetting – offer one chart for my ongoing research, and perhaps for that of others. But they can surely be joined by others. The Indentured Atlantic, hopefully, will flow on. Continue reading

The Indentured Atlantic: Bound Servitude and the Literature of American Colonization (Part Two)

In concluding the first post in this three-part series I asked how scholars can begin to address the challenge of recovering the transient and elusive oral culture of colonial-era indentured servants. One answer, perhaps, lies in dedicating greater attention to the conceptual rubric of singing, as a mode of communal vocalization that can be connected to the distinctively cohesive and mobile culture of circum-Atlantic performance delineated by theatre scholars such as Joseph Roach, Peter Reed and Elizabeth Maddock Dillon. Continue reading

The Indentured Atlantic: Bound Servitude and the Literature of American Colonization (Part One)

“There was some sleeping, some spewing, some pishing [sic], some shitting, some farting, … some darning, some Blasting their legs and thighs, some their Liver, lungs, lights and eyes. And for to make the shene [sic] the odder, some curs’d Father Mother, Sister, and Brother.”1 As accounts of transatlantic shipboard crossings during the eighteenth century go, this one stands out for its vivid corporeality. But what is truly unusual about it is that it was written by an indentured servant. Continue reading