Review: Bellows and the Body: the Real, the Ideal and the Nude

Inspired by and focused on the George Bellows collection—recently acquired by the Barber Institute—this symposium brought together international academics to discuss art and culture of Bellows’ America. Bellows was arguably one of the most acclaimed American artists of his generation and the most prominent member of the Ashcan School. The event brought together discussion of Bellows and his work with more practical aspects of curation and acquisition, providing a fascinating insight into the value and importance of the collection. Continue reading

Book review: A Short History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America and the Caribbean by Alan McPherson

In A Short History of U.S. Interventions, part of Wiley-Blackwell’s Viewpoints/Punto de Vista series, Alan McPherson analyses U.S. interventions in Latin America from the No Transfer resolution of 1811 through the present-day drug wars. McPherson argues that the foremost goal of U.S. policymakers was ‘political stability and political cultural change’ (4). Economic and other motivations certainly played a role, but he asserts that every intervention ‘harboured above all political motives’ (4). Continue reading

Review: ‘My Dream or Yours? Make America ______ Again’, IAAS Postgraduate Symposium

‘My Dream or Yours? Make America ______ Again’, Irish Association for American Studies Postgraduate Symposium, University College Cork, 26 November 2016. The 2016 Irish Association of American Studies Postgraduate Symposium boasted a triumphant return to Cork following a number of successful conferences in the capital since 2011. The theme, ‘My … Continue reading

Review: The US and Us: American History in Britain in the Twenty-First Century

The framing question of the workshop was: how do we research the US from a distance? Andrew Johnstone, the organiser of this series of events, and holder of the British Academy’s Rising Star Award, drew together an impressive roster of academics, archivists, and librarians to help us answer that question. Continue reading

Book Review: Rethinking American Emancipation: Legacies of Slavery and the Quest for Black Freedom edited by William A. Link and James J. Broomall

It is axiomatic that the American Civil War was intimately connected with the demise of American slavery. Certainly, the circumstances and events of the war led to the Emancipation Proclamation and later the Thirteenth Amendment, ending chattel slavery in the United States. This relationship between the Civil War and emancipation has led to a general view of the war as a triumph for freedom and a redemptive rebirth of the American nation. Yet several decades of historical writing have sought to complicate this straightforward story of a dichotomous shift from slavery to freedom in 1865. Continue reading

Review: American Politics Group Conference

At this year’s American Politics Group (APG) annual conference at the University of Leicester, the 2016 US election and the then upcoming presidency of Donald J. Trump hardly warranted a mention. If that sounds unlikely to you, you are quite right. Trump, Trumpism, and the ‘failure to predict’ were hot topics across multiple panels, across dinner tables, and in the inevitable post-conference drinks. The campaign waged by ‘the Donald’ and his subsequent victory inspired a diverse range of assessments and analyses. No doubt, this will be the pattern for years to come. Continue reading

Review: Bowie’s Books Conference

Few musicians, perhaps, have been so closely identified with literature than David Bowie. Marking just over a year since the artist’s death ‘Bowie’s Books’, organised by Professor Richard Canning and Dr Sam Reese, gathered scholars from a variety of backgrounds for an interdisciplinary conference on Bowie’s relationship with literature. Continue reading

Book Review: Legalist Empire: International Law and American Foreign Relations in the Early Twentieth Century by Benjamin Allen Coates

Benjamin Coates convincingly demonstrates that, during the first two decades of the twentieth century, international lawyers helped shaped the ascendency of the United States and justified the expansion of its empire among governmental policy makers and within wider intellectual discourses. Driven by a desire to put ‘international law into the history of American empire, and the history of empire into international law,’ Coates successfully collates disparate scholarship that has, until now, been scattered across several disciplines (5). Continue reading

Book Review: The Cultural Left and the Reagan Era: US Protest and Central American Revolution by Nick Witham

Ronald Reagan and the modern conservative movement have fascinated scholars and journalists ever since the 1980s. Over the last thirty years, countless popular and academic books have been published which examine either the decline of liberalism, or the development of conservative ideas during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Perplexed by the seemingly sudden, bipartisan embrace of ideas associated with conservatism, scholars have spilled much ink trying to explain the supposed right shift of the late twentieth century. In many of these narratives, Ronald Reagan takes centre stage. Continue reading

Book Review: Liking Ike: Eisenhower, Advertising and the Rise of Celebrity Politics by David Haven Blake

David Haven Blake’s Liking Ike: Eisenhower, Advertising and the Rise of Celebrity Politics enters the field at a timely moment. Published just before Donald Trump’s election to the presidency, Liking Ike reminds us that media and celebrity have been critical factors in electing American presidents for nearly a century. Continue reading