British Association for American Studies Annual Conference 2017, Day One

While the programme jokingly suggested ‘Trump group therapy’ as a potential feature of the conference, a more serious assessment of the value of American Studies research suggests that multidimensionality and critical interrogation of cultural myths are more important than ever, given the current political climate in the US. The conference demonstrated the value of transnational and transcultural perspectives which do not uncritically accept a limited definition of ‘Americanness’, and instead acknowledge, explore and celebrate the crossing of borders through interdisciplinarity. Continue reading

Review: Transatlantic Creative Writing Showcase, Transatlantic Literary Women Series

Building on the success of previous events in the Transatlantic Literary Women Series, including a series of book clubs and an afternoon workshop, the writing showcase offered a glimpse into how contemporary writers have produced creative and critical responses to transatlantic interests across genres, generations and continents. Continue reading

Book Review: Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet by Jeffrey Rosen

The title Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet for Jeffrey Rosen’s book is an appropriate one given the status of American politics today. Despite having been professional and politically active at the end of the nineteenth and at the turn of the twentieth century, many of the concerns of Justice Louis Brandeis are still very relevant today. As a result, Rosen’s book is a must read – if not for the historical analysis and insight it provides, then for the greater perspective it provides for our current era. Continue reading

Review: Scottish Association for the Study of America Annual Conference

Held at the University of Edinburgh, this conference brought together a range of researchers, based in the north and beyond, for a day of engaging panels and discussions. The openness of the call for papers attracted a variety of disciplines, representing exceptional new work in the field. Indeed, in a stark contrast to many of the issues and concerns discussed, openness and inclusivity somewhat characterised the day. Continue reading

Review: Transatlantic Modernisms, Transatlantic Literary Women Series

A particular highlight of the Transatlantic Literary Women Series so far was the Transatlantic Modernisms Workshop, an afternoon of papers dedicated to modernist female writers, and presented by esteemed female academics. Questions raised regarding American expatriate women and their often conflicted attitudes to homeland resonated with contemporary concerns, given the heightened awareness of Britain’s relationship to the rest of Europe and the United States following both the Brexit vote, and the presidential election of Donald Trump. Continue reading

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