Book Review: The Gospel According to David Foster Wallace: Boredom and Addiction in an Age of Distraction by Adam S. Miller

Even for those only casually acquainted with the field of Wallace Studies, the sanctimonious title of this slender volume from Adam S. Miller (Collin College, Texas) – part of Bloomsbury’s ‘New Directions in Religion and Literature’ series – might prompt alarm bells. Indeed, whilst the claim on the back cover – that this is ‘the first book to explore key religious themes’ in the work of Wallace – may be technically true, this is not a subject area that will be unfamiliar to Wallace scholars. Continue reading

‘Is It Because I’m Black?’: The Music Industry, Image, and Politics in the Careers of Syl and Syleena Johnson

Throughout June 2016, U.S. Studies Online will be publishing a series of posts to mark African American Music Appreciation Month. In the fifth and final post, Glen Whitcroft compares the similarities between Syl Johnson and Syleena Johnson’s music and careers. Looking back over my false dreams that I once knew, … Continue reading

Configuring The Dream Factory: Prince Fans and Destabilisation of the Album in the Digital Age

The speed with which ‘Prince’s ‘Vault’ of unreleased recordings was drilled into after his untimely death felt shocking to many. The existence of ‘The Vault’, a locked room within Prince’s Paisley Park recording complex, has been well known for decades and is believed to contain thousands of unreleased Prince recordings, as well as unseen music videos. However, the promise of authorising material that fans have been making their own for a considerable amount of time has refuelled discussion. Continue reading

Review: ‘Civil Rights Documentary Cinema and the 1960s: Transatlantic Conversations on History, Race and Rights’

The remarkable collection of films shown throughout the conference demonstrated how documentaries could intervene in the historiography of the civil rights movement. The makers of these films, often in collaboration with historians, used their documentary films to question dominant narratives, uncover unknown stories, and expose overlooked figures in the civil rights movement. Continue reading

Prince, Seventh-Day Adventism and the Apocalyptic Threat of the 1980s

In the light of his recent death, it is important to note how Prince’s music contributed to public discourse about religious norms and eschatological hopes. Prince’s most successful period as a recording artist came during the 1980s, and his lyrics throughout this decade reflect a contemporary escalation in discussions of the apocalyptic. Continue reading

Review: ‘Mothering Slaves: Motherhood, Childlessness, and the Care of Children from Slavery to Emancipation’

‘Mothering Slaves: Motherhood, Childlessness, and the Care of Children from Slavery to Emancipation’, University of Reading, 19-21 April 2016. Following events at the University of Newcastle and the Universidade de São Paulo, this third meeting of the Mothering Slaves Research Network sought to bring together experienced and new researchers, from a … Continue reading

Review: European Association for American Studies Conference 2016

To an historian – like myself – a panel entitled ‘Digitextualities – Spatialities, Fluidities, Hybridities’ seems perplexing at first, but the fact such papers could sit alongside those on nineteenth century slave history or modern American literature demonstrates EAAS’s inclusiveness. The exceptional coordination of such a large and international conference was a credit to the organisers. Continue reading

“Money, That’s What I Want”: Who Benefitted from the Crossover of African American Musicians in the 1960s?

Throughout the twentieth century, the American music industry was plagued by issues of race, segregation and inequality; much like America itself. As the century progressed, music became a significant indicator of race relations and a willingness within much of the United States to racially integrate. This is exemplified through the growing ability for African American musicians to crossover to mainstream audiences. Scholar, Phillip Harper defines the term ‘crossover’ as an act’s achievement of commercial success due to its appeal across racial boundaries Continue reading