‘We cast these medals away as symbols of shame, dishonor, and inhumanity’: Veteran Protest and the Rejection of Cold War Patriotism

Part II: Anti-war Activism within the Military

Soldiers returning from the battlefields of World War II were treated as heroes and their sacrifice was celebrated long after their homecoming. By contrast, Vietnam veterans were not similarly welcomed home as champions of democracy. Indeed, some veterans felt there was not any honour in their participation in Vietnam. In 1967, a small group of likeminded veterans – simultaneously upset about the treatment of Vietnam veterans when they returned home and the particularly violent nature of the war – founded Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW). Continue reading

‘Still being sent to Nam to protect America’s myths’: Anti-war Soldiering and the Challenge to Cold War Patriotism

Part I: Anti-war Activism within the Military

A 1971 Army study suggests that over 50% of active duty soldiers engaged in some form of dissent during their service. Rejecting popular Cold War patriotic mythology, these activist soldiers deemed the military an authoritarian institution and a tool of oppression wrought by an imperialistic America. In doing so, they challenged the official Cold War depiction of the United States as the protector of global democratic ideals against an evil, totalitarian communist ideology. Continue reading

The Stettheimer Dollhouse: A Life and Salon in Miniature

Winner of the BAAS Postgraduate Essay Prize

For twenty years, the Stettheimer salon (1915-1935) reigned as one of the central cultural hubs of 20th-century New York. Led by sisters Florine, Ettie, and Carrie, the salon cultivated an influential network of modernist artists, writers, and musicians, which would inspire and facilitate most of the sisters’ creative endeavours, including Carrie’s dollhouse replica of the salon: the Stettheimer dollhouse. An amalgamation of both Stettheimer salon locations, the dollhouse functions as a microcosm of the Stettheimer salon. Notable salon guests contributed a number of miniature paintings and sculptures to the dollhouse, whilst also providing Carrie with encouragement to persevere with the project. Continue reading

Overcoming Postmodernism

David Foster Wallace and a new Writing of Honesty

The end of postmodernism? Jesús Bolaño Quintero explores David Foster Wallace’s writing, searching for a new form of honesty in American literature after the age of irony. Continue reading

Introduction to the Special Blog Series

‘Beyond the Graphic’ – Considering Violence, Sexuality and Obscenity in Comics

Despite being among the most culturally iconic narrative forms in the world, comics is only just starting to break away from its ignominious past and claim its rightful place alongside film and literature in the American canon. Since the 1970s, the form has grown massively, with its popularity moving beyond the original reader stereotypes and into new territory. As with gaming, which typically focusses on a narrow demographic of participants and materials, popular understandings of comics is liable to focus only on the mainstream (which includes the publishers Marvel, DC and Dark Horse) and ignore the huge number of other texts, which may be seen as outliers. This could not be further from the truth. The form is as diverse as any other, with examples in every conceivable genre and spanning all themes. Continue reading

‘See America First’: International Expositions, Nationalism, and Local Competition

Using primary sources from ‘World's Fairs’ - an Adam Matthew collection

Enumerating the reasons why San Francisco rather than New Orleans should receive federal sanctioning for the 1915 exposition celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, this illustrated pamphlet urged readers to acquaint themselves with the wonders of the Pacific Coast and to “See America First”. As the first global gatherings of mass audiences, expositions – or world’s fairs – assembled the world in a single site. Continue reading

Documenting Donald: A Trans-Media Post-Mortem about Documentary-Making during the 2016 Presidential Election

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

‘Documenting Donald’ is a trans-media article which combines the written word with short films and interactive elements. Media elements are embedded into the article and should be activated by the reader at the appropriate place in the text. Embedded elements can be viewed within the article or as full-screen presentations. Continue reading

A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance

100 Years of Writing against Complicity

How can writing escape complicity? As the 21st century version of nationalist authoritarian politics has internalised the postmodern recognition that language constructs reality, and warped it for its own purposes in Donald Trump’s ‘tweet-politics,’ a literature-focused backlash is developing. Katharina Donn discusses modernist and contemporary practices of hybrid women’s writing, and explores their politics of form. Continue reading

‘The Water-Cure Journal and Herald of Reform’: Understanding Hydropathy in Antebellum America

Using primary sources from ‘Popular Medicine’ - an Adam Matthew collection

A highlight of Adam Matthew’s ‘Popular Medicine’ collection is its rich repository of magazines and periodicals. These publications reveal the confluence of two important nineteenth century trends – the proliferation and democratisation of American print culture, and the development and diversification of American medicine and health reform. One of these periodicals was the Water-Cure Journal and Herald of Reform, the foremost publication of the hydropathy movement in the United States. Hydropathy, which advocated the internal and external application of water to the body as a means to promote health, happiness, and longevity, was one of several alternative medical practises which gained popularity in the antebellum United States. Continue reading

Creating Model Americans: The Mississippi Choctaw Billie Family and Relocation

Using primary sources from 'American Indian Histories and Cultures' – an Adam Matthew collection

This 1956 photograph captures a smiling couple with their four children, all dressed in their Sunday best – crisp white shirts for father and son, frilly dresses for the two little girls. The family poses around an armchair in front of their television set, displaying their homely apartment. This is not your average white middle-class family, however. Paul Billie and his wife were members of the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe, who relocated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1953. The only giveaway to the family’s background is their dark hair and skin. Continue reading