Review: ‘Land and Water: Port Towns, Maritime Connections, and Oceanic Spaces of the Early Modern Atlantic World’, BGEAH Annual Conference 2017

University of Portsmouth

Portsmouth was an ideal city to hold a conference on the theme of port towns with its rich maritime history. The Roanoke colonists set sail from Portsmouth in 1587, and it has been a base for the navy since the early modern period. Continue reading

Folktales in Randa Jarrar’s ‘A Map of Home’ (2008)

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing Series

Randa Jarrar’s ‘A Map of Home’ (2008) narrates the coming-of-age story of a Muslim woman of Egyptian and Palestinian descent […] [and] can be compared to Kingston’s ‘The Woman Warrior’ (2000) which uses Chinese folktales; and Jarrar also alludes to Palestinian folktales. The protagonist, Nidali, describes this folktale through the way her grandma, Sitto, tells her the story, which is about “two sisters, one poor and one rich” […] “The poor one goes to the rich one’s house and the rich one’s stuffing cabbage leaves” (101). The poor one is creative and willing to help others until she becomes rich because her own fart is happy after she lets it go from her stomach and it presents her with gold, while her sister at the end is dying because her own fart gives her scorpions after forcing it to go out from her comfortable stomach. Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS PG Conference 2017 – Contesting Power: Rights, Justice, and Dissent in America and Beyond

University of Cambridge

Given the overarching theme of the conference, it is unsurprising that activism and dissent in the United States were recurring themes, and papers considered, for example, feminist responses to the AIDS crisis, and radical politics within VISTA during the Nixon years. Continue reading

Review: BAAS PG Conference 2017 – CHASE PG/ECR Workshop (Day Two)

University of Essex

The programme of sessions was designed to help PGR and ECR attendees appreciate the value of ‘networks, collaboration and friendship’, as well as thinking about obstacles they may face during their early years in academia. Continue reading

Women’s Emancipation in Mohja Kahf’s ‘Emails from Scheherazad’ (2003)

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing Series

Mohja Kahf the poet, novelist and scholar, was born in 1960 in Damascus, Syria and moved with her family to America’s Midwest in 1971. She is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the writer of two poetry collections […] Kahf’s collection of poetry, ‘Emails from Scheherazad’ (EFS) explores the struggle of Muslim women to reclaim their own identity and reverse American myths and stereotypes of the Muslim world, especially Muslim women. In doing so, Kahf alludes to Muslim Women’s forebears, such as Asiya, Mary, Balqis, Khadija, Fatima, and Scheherazad. Scheherazad, the Queen and the story teller in ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, is a hero for Muslim women as she successfully revered the King’s physical violence into magnificent stories, which made the King wiser in understanding humanity. Continue reading

Review: BAAS PG Conference 2017 – Post-Truth and American Myths (Day One)

University of Essex

Rounding off 2017 (the year of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’), this year’s British Association for American Studies postgraduate conference was a timely, enlightening scholarly event, centred on concepts of ‘truth’, myth-making, and cultural fact and fiction in American society. Continue reading

BAAS PG Conference 2018: Keynote Review

University of Essex

Malone’s paper was ambitious in scope, appealing to a range of different disciplines and drawing upon an impressive range of source material and methodological approaches. Despite the often serious nature of her subject matter, Malone’s paper was peppered with humorous asides, keeping the audience’s attention and demonstrating her skill as a speaker. Continue reading

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing

Introducing the Series

By exploring the heroic stories of American-Muslim women, who also represent other marginal groups, we gain a better understanding of how these groups have not only suffered from white mythologies from the periods of European colonialisms and American imperialism, but also have struggled to seek social justice and equality. And with the better understanding of these women’s struggles, this short series aims to contribute to discussions concerning American-Muslim literature, which explores both melancholic and convivial stories of marginal groups in order to reveal what it means to be American citizens of Muslim descent. Continue reading

Review: Black Art, Black Power: Responses to Soul of a Nation

Tate Modern

Nine speakers, four panels, one day: the highly-anticipated conference organised by the Tate Modern in conjunction with their Soul of a Nation exhibition was not only incredibly broad in the number of topics discussed but simultaneously rich in detail. Continue reading

Edward S. Morse: A look at Meiji Japan

Using primary sources from ‘Meiji Japan' - an Adam Matthew collection

From 1633 until 1853, the military governments of Japan enforced a policy of sakoku or ‘closed country’ which prevented foreigners from entering Japan on penalty of death, and prohibited Japanese citizens from leaving. This isolationist period was brought to an abrupt end in July 1853 when American Commodore Matthew Perry steamed four warships into Tokyo bay and threatened to open fire unless the Japanese agreed to enter into trade negotiations. Continue reading