“You Think I’m Joking”: The Weaponized Comedy of President Obama’s Stand-up Addresses at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

“Obama Out.” As President Obama finished his last stand-up comedy address at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, dropping the microphone to an ensuing mix of laughter and applause from the audience, a curtain fell on Obama’s considerable reshaping of this tradition.[2] The annual presidential comedy address at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner has become an increasingly popular aspect of American culture. Continue reading

“Atomic Ayatollahs”: The ‘Islamic Bomb’ in 1980s American News Media

The ‘Islamic bomb’ is and was shorthand for a perceived pan-Islamic desire for nuclear capability. Eliding nuanced understandings of the significant differences between strands of Islam, the diversity of the ‘Muslim world’, and the many different reasons why a country might (or might not) seek nuclear status, the ‘Islamic bomb’ was a trope that essentialised Islam and implied a monolithic religious bloc. Wilful misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the ‘Islamic world’ and its relationship with nuclear weapons have, however, been a feature of US media reporting since the late 1970s. Continue reading

Enemies at Home: THE AMERICANS Season Three

For all its frequent use of Russian language (the extensive use of subtitles is striking in an American TV show) and Soviet protagonists, the heart of The Americans plays into the most mythic US trope of them all: the individual in the wilderness. Continue reading

Review (Part Two) of IAAS Annual Conference

The design and implementation of a runaway artificial intelligence was a concern felt by many of the panellists. An AI that proved particularly threatening was one that may be built upon the incorporation of human minds into a computer network. The potential for an omnipresent surveillance filtered into an important term used at the conference – ‘hive mind’. Continue reading

Imagining a Female President: Commander in Chief and the unfinished business of presidential fiction

In the sixth SHAW post Gregory Frame considers the recent fictional depiction of a female US president in Commander in Chief and asks whether this television series gives us clues as to why there has yet to be a woman elected into the Oval Office. Continue reading

(In)Visibility, Race and Ethnicity in American Women’s Writing throughout the Twentieth Century

This blog series focused on American women writers, a partnership between The Society for the Study of American Women Writers and U.S. Studies Online, explores the field through several lenses that range from recovery to religion and from war to transnationalism. Leah Milne opens the series with a post about how ethnic American women writers tackle the idea and status of invisibility. Continue reading

60 Seconds With Peter Molin

To usher in a new series of 60 seconds interviews for 2015 we have invited contemporary war literature experts Assistant Professor Aaron DeRosa (California State Polytechnic University), Assistant Professor Peter Molin (Rutgers University) and Associate Professor Patrick Deer (New York University) to tell us a little bit more about themselves and their expertise.

DeRosa, Molin and Deer will lead our January #Bookhour discussion on Phil Klay’s REDEPLOYMENT on the 27th January 2015, 9-10pm GMT.

“How did you come to your current area of research?”

“My own military deployment to Afghanistan in 2008-2009 inspired me to begin reading contemporary war literature. I started my blog Time Now: The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in Art, Film, and Literature to publicize great work and initiate conversations on the subject.” Continue reading

Conference Review: ‘Protest: Resistance and Dissent in America’

Bianca Scoti and Dr Tomas Pollard review a selection of panels and the keynote lectures at the BAAS Postgraduate Conference (15 November, 2014) Continue reading

American Studies in Europe: Interview with Gözde Erdoğan, Hacettepe University, Ankara

“In my own academic career, there has been a natural trajectory from more literature-based research towards popular culture. After the emergence of neo-Marxism, post-structuralism, semiotics and postmodernism, I think the boundaries are collapsing and popular culture is becoming more and more a legitimate field of sociological study. I am also aware of the need for an interdisciplinary approach no matter what the field of research. Again, from my own research, I think Gothic studies are becoming more and more relevant, and should be explored as a wide interdisciplinary field.” Continue reading

Fargo 1996, Fargo 2014, and the Art of Homage

“Homage”: the deliberate but respectful recreation of one work within another. Think of Michael Cunningham’s The Hours, homage to Ms. Dalloway; the BBC’s Life on Mars and The Sweeney; the stairway shoot-out in The Untouchables and the Odessa Steps scene in Battleship Potemkin. They are all homage, yet all their own.

But contiguous with homage is plagiarism: disrespectful, deceitful, and what one expects prima facie of Noah Hawley’s Fargo. Continue reading