July #Bookhour: Ben Lerner’s ‘Leaving the Atocha Station’ (2011)

On Tuesday 27th June 2017, U.S. Studies Online hosted a #bookhour on Ben Lerner’s ‘Leaving the Atocha Station’ (2011). The novel focuses on Adam Gordon, a poet in his mid-twenties completing a fellowship in Madrid. While his aim is to write poetry, he spends his time in Spain taking drugs, … Continue reading

Book Review: Battle for Bed-Stuy: The Long War on Poverty in New York City by Michael Woodsworth

In recent years Brooklyn has become trendy. Young professionals have rushed to buy homes in neighbourhoods like Park Slope and Red Hook, while budding artists, writers, and musicians have flocked to Williamsburg and Green Point. Even those not looking to live in Brooklyn have been drawn to the hip new bars, restaurants, and shops that populate the borough’s newly fashionable neighbourhoods. While the intertwined forces of displacement and gentrification have reshaped only select areas of Brooklyn, there can be no question that the national and international reputation of New York City’s most populous borough has been thoroughly transformed. Continue reading

Overcoming Postmodernism

David Foster Wallace and a new Writing of Honesty

The end of postmodernism? Jesús Bolaño Quintero explores David Foster Wallace’s writing, searching for a new form of honesty in American literature after the age of irony. Continue reading

Anglo-American Isolationism: The Case for New Archetypes

Edward Luce recently wrote an article for the New York Times in which he argued that the ‘farce’ made of British governance by the current crop of Tory politicians is indicative of the parochial outlook of ‘post-internationalist’ Britain’s ruling elites. Whereas British politicians like Winston Churchill, Edward Heath, Denis Healy, and Margaret Thatcher demonstrated at least a modicum of understanding about the need for post-war European cooperation, people like Theresa May, David Cameron, and George Osborne seem never to have shown any particular affinity for international affairs. These politicians are not Little Englanders, but they have no serious internationalist hinterland. Continue reading

Book Review: Invisible Nation: Homeless Families in America by Richard Schweid

‘Fifty years ago’, Schweid points out, ‘the word “homeless” signified dysfunctional individuals – mostly men – who drank heavily and slept rough. Now it is more likely to mean a young single mother with small children and a minimum-wage job. In 1980 families with children made up only 1 percent of the nation’s homeless; by 2014 that number was 37 percent of the total.’ Continue reading

The Authoritarian Heroes of Liberal Individualism

The U.S. has long been known as a society of contrasts in which seemingly irreconcilable tendencies find a way to coexist. Unbounded belief in modern science versus conservative religious convictions, sober pragmatism versus utopian aspirations, deep-seated distrust of state authority versus ardent patriotism are only some of the juxtapositions that characterize the social climate. Recently, this gallery of American contrasts has been supplemented by yet another striking phenomenon: as a nation that celebrates radically individualistic values more than any other Western country, and is, therefore, extremely sensitive toward restrictions of personal freedom, Americans have voted in a president who placed the erosion of basic rights for large parts of the population based upon their race or religion at the center of his campaign. Continue reading

American Multiculturalism as Cultural Imperialism

In contemporary American society, being against “multiculturalism” is a lot like being against “baseball, apple pie, hot dogs, and Chevrolet.” It is as much of a part of American ideology as the rugged individualism of the American Cowboy or the self-sacrifice of the American citizen soldier. American institutions routinely celebrate America’s diversity and those who are brazen enough to challenge the merits of these celebrations are seen as being crude anachronisms from an America that no longer is. Continue reading

Review: Historical Fiction in the United States since 2000

Historical fiction is sometimes characterized as genre fiction—not serious enough to be considered literature—yet the discussions throughout the day demonstrated that this dismissal is an unjust generalisation. Much of the work discussed at this symposium has been both commercially and critically successful. Panels reflected ongoing debates about cultural memory, race, futurity and the self-reflexivity of postmodern representation in historical fiction. By twisting or revising facts, many of these texts ask readers to consider how history is told, which stories are privileged and how the traumas of the past continue to inform our contemporary moment. Continue reading

‘Homo Abominum Americana’: The cultural tradition of the vampire in Snyder and Albuquerque’s American Vampire (2010).

‘Beyond the Graphic’ – Considering Violence, Sexuality and Obscenity in Comics

ne of the most popular cultural figures to be adapted within the comic book format is that of the vampire, a creature whose murky cultural origins have been prone to evolution throughout its long and varied history. A staple of both European and American Gothic traditions as well as the American horror comics of the 1950s, vampire literature has long been associated with the lower end of the established critical canon, particularly due to its sometimes violent and sexually explicit content within the ‘low’ form of the comic. Yet, such an elitist view is to ignore some of the interesting insights and cultural evolutions that can be uncovered within the portrayal of the comic book vampire. Continue reading

British Association for American Studies Annual Conference 2017, Day Two

Following Thursday’s schedule, reviewed by Coco d’Hont, the second day of the annual British Association for American Studies conference engaged with some of the most pertinent questions facing the United States today, concerning marginality and oppression in terms of race, class and gender from a range of disciplinary perspectives. Continue reading