Fag Rag and Gay Radicalism in the 1970s

Using primary sources from Popular Culture in Britain and America, 1950-1975 - an Adam Matthew Digital Collection

In the late 1960s and 1970s the radical gay press publications in the United States pushed the boundaries of acceptable journalism. Writing about controversial topics such as the age of consent, incest, bestiality and prostitution, the radical gay press not only horrified heterosexual society, but also alienated vast sections of the gay community. Continue reading

Book Review: Noise Uprising by Michael Denning

The State of the Discipline Series: Part I

As Benedict Anderson’s concept of nationalism relies on the omnipresence of ‘print capitalism’, so Michael Denning here argues that decolonisation depended on an era of ‘sound capitalism’ – a new, urban, plebeian music that circled the world. In this sense, then, while there is no clear moment when the ear was ‘decolonised’, the battle over sound and music was central to the struggle over colonialism. Continue reading

Book Review: The Saltwater Frontier by Andrew Lipman

The State of the Discipline Series: Part I

Most historical accounts of the colonisation of New England focus on  territorial claims made on certain swathes of land between the Hudson River and Cape Cod. Not so Andrew Lipman. Unequivocal in his rejection of ‘surf and turf’ histories, in The Saltwater Frontier Lipman argues that by focusing on the ocean itself as a paradigm of shifting territories, his book offers ‘a new way of thinking about Indian history and a new way of understanding this all-too-familiar region’. Continue reading

American Studies across Borders: International Opportunities for PhDs and Postdocs

International experience has become a prerequisite for success in academia – but depending on how you look at it, this can be exciting and terrifying in equal measure. In the second interview of this series, I talk to Dr. David Bosold of the John-F.-Kennedy-Institute Berlin about transatlantic relationships, career development, and dreams of meeting US footballers. Continue reading

Fault Lines in American Studies: Re-evaluating Academic Conference Models

In the first month of my PhD I read Barbara Tomlinson and George Lipsitz’s daring article on academic conferences in American Quarterly. “American Studies as Accompaniment” criticizes, amongst other things, the institutionalized, egotistical model of scholarship that prioritizes the scholar over the work or discussion:

“Because of the publications, presentations, positions, honors, and awards enumerated on it, the CV circulates out in the world as a strange surrogate for the person whose work it describes . . . The CV represents scholarly achievement largely as individual activity capable of being measured in quantitative terms. The work that scholars actually do, however, is innately collective and qualitative . . . scholarly conversations are cooperative creations, the product of collective communications in which all participants play a part.”

In writing this post I intend to expand on Tomlinson and Lipsitz’s reflections to make visible the flaws in our field with regards to conferences and, more importantly, offer feedback to postgraduates in the ways they can approach conference organizing. Continue reading

Review: ‘The Historical “Dispute of the New World”: European Historians of the United States and European History, Culture and Public Life’

The vast majority of speakers emphasized the importance of geographic location in writing U.S. history, albeit with different nuances. For example, diverse focuses included migration among Swedish Americanists, the state in France, and transatlantic relations in Italy, clearly showed the relevance of location in defining the different national contexts of U.S. historiography. Continue reading

US History as Myth-Busting

In the third post of the ‘Teaching America’ series Dr Andrew Hartman (Illinois State University), author of the forthcoming monograph A War for the Soul Of America: A History of the Culture Wars, discusses the ways in which graduate students can be encouraged to engage with ‘America as an idea’ in intellectual history modules. Continue reading

Teaching Radicalism

The second post in the ‘Teaching America’ series is by Dr Christopher Phelps (University of Nottingham), co-author of the new title Radicals in America: The U.S. Left since the Second World War, who reflects upon the intellectual advantages and challenges when faced with designing and teaching the history of U.S. radicalism. Continue reading