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: 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

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

‘Strangers’ Revisited: Reading Donald Trump through John Higham

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

Foreshadowing the expressed foreign policy by the incumbent President of the United States, the National Association of Manufacturers confessed in 1920 that immigration might endanger the nation and exclaimed that policy must rest on “the needs and interests of America first”. We learn this from reading John Higham’s seminal work, Strangers in the Land, which quietly celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015. The book’s subject is American nativism, defined by its author as “intense opposition to an internal minority on the grounds of its foreign (i.e. un-American) connections”. Continue reading

60 Seconds with BAAS 2017 Conference Organisers

The U.S. Studies Online 60 Seconds interview feature offers a short and informal introduction to a postgraduate, academic or non-academic specialist working in the American and Canadian Studies field or a related American and Canadian Studies association.
Dr. Lydia Plath and Dr. Gavan Lennon are the organisers of the 62nd Annual British Association for American Studies conference, to be held at Canterbury Christchurch University, 6-8 April, 2017. 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

Creating Model Americans: The Mississippi Choctaw Billie Family and Relocation

Using primary sources from 'American Indian Histories and Cultures' – an Adam Matthew collection

This 1956 photograph captures a smiling couple with their four children, all dressed in their Sunday best – crisp white shirts for father and son, frilly dresses for the two little girls. The family poses around an armchair in front of their television set, displaying their homely apartment. This is not your average white middle-class family, however. Paul Billie and his wife were members of the Mississippi Choctaw Tribe, who relocated from Mississippi to Chicago in 1953. The only giveaway to the family’s background is their dark hair and skin. Continue reading