Storify of #bookhour chat on THE MANDIBLES by Lionel Shriver

October 2016 marked our two year anniversary of #bookhour, and to celebrate this ongoing feature former U.S. Studies Online co-editor Michelle Green hosted a discussion of ‘financial crisis dystopia’ The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver with a panel of US and UK researchers. During the discussion Dr Kirk Boyle, Amy Bride, Sarah McCreedy and Michelle Green discussed Shriver’s depiction of material culture, emotions and capitalism, and to what extent the novel is a dystopia or plays with dystopian tropes. Debates arose around how self-conscious Shriver’s novelistic writing is, and if the novel is a Libertarian Candide or postmodern parody. The panellists ended the discussion by returning to The Mandibles as a neonaturalist novel, and left the chat asking, do the Mandibles achieve their capitalist utopia, and is a capitalist utopia achievable? Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour on SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD by Yuri Herrera

February’s #bookhour marked the first of Twitter chat of 2016. Donna Alexander hosted a discussion of Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera, translated by Lisa Dillman. She was joined by Dr Francisca Sánchez Ortiz, Dr Laura Smith, and Lisa Dillman. They considered a range of issues including, the myth of emptiness, the allegory of the underworld and how this worked with Mesoamerican mythologies alluded to by Herrera. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour chat on THE WATER MUSEUM by Luis Alberto Urrea

During September’s #bookhour discussion, Dr Gwen Boyle, Dr Laura Smith, Dr Mila Lopez-Paleaz Casellas and #boohour organiser Dr Donna Maria Alexander conversed about The Water Museum by Luis Alberto Urrea. The stories in Alberto’s collection gave way to a discussion about the range of genres and styles evident across the collection, from cli-fi to magical realism, and how these genres and styles reflect on the themes of environmental destruction, borders, loss and disappearance. Check out the storify here. Continue reading

‘The speed of every incident is unbelievable’: Writer Muriel Rukeyser and the Spanish Civil War

Having been awarded funding through the AHRC International Placement Scheme, I arrived in Washington DC in early October 2014 to begin research in the Muriel Rukeyser Papers held at the Library of Congress. Rukeyser’s diary and notes from Spain at the Library of Congress furthered my understanding of how the article was produced. The sense of speed that characterised ‘Barcelona, 1936’ was even more evident in her diary, which she wrote in short phrases, punctuated by dashes as though she was keen to capture events as they unfolded. As well as her diary, the archive contains lists, maps, sketches and even another passenger’s diary from Spain. I had a sense that Rukeyser had chosen a camera-like aesthetic but the archive revealed just how far Rukeyser had gone to document what she had seen. Continue reading

Review: The University of Nottingham Postgraduate Academic Retreat, 30 May – 6 June 2015

Timo Schrader and James Brookes, organisers of the University of Nottingham Postgraduate Academic Retreat, 30 May – 6 June 2015, look back upon the trip and its various strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading

What We Learned: Organiser’s report on the 1st Americas Postgraduate Conference at the UCL Institute of the Americas

In part two of our 1st Americas Postgraduate conference double header the organisers James Hillyer, Anthony Teitler, Thomas Maier and William Sawyers offer some useful organising tips for next year. Continue reading

Beyond the Boundaries of Time and Text: Recovering Oral Traditions in American Women’s Writing

The penultimate post in the series, courtesy of SSAWW, is written by Corey Hickner-Johnson and examines the theme of recovery through three writers (Margaret Walker, Leslie Marmon Silko, and Kao Kalia Yang) who reclaim their own family and cultural stories and histories through fiction. Continue reading

Storify of our #bookhour twitter chat on AMERICANAH by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

During this 90 minute chat we discussed the representation of “good” and “bad” blackness in the novel, and how this resonates with Adichie’s refusal of the Afropolitan label and Ifem’s “blackless” Nigeria. We debated what the novel loses in prioritising the love story at the close of the narrative, and some of the weaker aspects of the writing, such as Adichie’s representation of success, contemporary media and blogging as a form of social commentary. Finally we ended the discussion with reflections on Americanah’s effortlessly successful heroine, Ifem – how much does femininity help Ifem in America? How do we make sense of her success in relation to Obinze who more fittingly reflects the Afropolitan theme of being “hungry for choice and certainty”? Is the title a critique on her development and her story? Continue reading

American Studies in Europe Roundup: U.S. Studies Online Special Series

Throughout December 2014 and January 2015 U.S. Studies Online has published a series of interviews with postgraduate and early-career researchers working in the broad field of American Studies across Europe. Dr Richard Martin spoke to scholars based in western Spain to central Turkey, via Copenhagen, Warsaw and Timisoara about their wide-ranging research interests and the state of American Studies in their countries. This is a round-up of the series all in one place. Continue reading

Review of Culture and the Canada-U.S. Border 2014 Conference

Convening on a sun-drenched weekend amid the wonderful surroundings of University Park Campus, the third Culture and the Canada-U.S. Border conference met to discuss the broad theme of ‘Cultural Crossings’, interrogating production, consumption, and reception across the 49th parallel; that real-and-imagined international boundary that lies between the United States and Canada. Continue reading