Review: ‘A More Perfect Union’: IAAS PG Symposium

Trinity College Dublin

Closing in on a year of turbulence and violence, the symposium’s question of American unity was extremely pertinent. The relationship between past and present, language and truth, healing and communities, and narrative, trauma, and identity emerged throughout the day. Continue reading

Book Review: American Niceness: A Cultural History by Carrie Tirado Bramen

When the current U.S. president, as Bramen puts it in her wide-ranging cultural study, ‘epitomizes the bombastic chauvinism of the Ugly American’ (1), the concept of American niceness sounds at best like an out-dated but innocuous cliché and, at worst, like a dangerous fiction. As American Niceness sets out to prove, the trope of the kind and generous American has yet to fall out of fashion and the role that it has played in disguising a long history of ugly violence might account for its unstinting survival. Continue reading

On Breaking Dissertations, or How I Read Sideways

If a project claims to re-consider the American avant-garde and its racism, what impact does this have on academic practice as such? Mariya Nikolova argues that a critique of avant-garde movements is impossible without Black and Gender theorizations. Hence the need for a re-consideration of avant-garde’s underlying protocols. Form and formality are invariably linked to epistemological violence, to the way knowledge inhabits and inhibits understanding. Experimentation often entailed elitism, but dissidence experiments, too. This double grammar resuscitates avant-gardism and requires a careful attention. The white avant-garde claimed the former through the latter, and the fact that it did raises the question of form. When does form collapse? Is there a way to make this visible?Does a methodology exist that attends to practices of unreading and whether a White scholar could ever impede their own safety? How would self-sabotage appear in such an endeavour?
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Veiled Interpretations of Du Bois’s ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ (1903)

Du Bois’s work The Souls of Black Folk (1903) attempts to capture the quintessential twentieth century problem “of the color-line” (713), that is the problem of racial belonging and identification. In these terms, Du Bois cautiously steps within the “Veil” of his racial segregation, a capitalized term he coins to help readers visualize the obscure barrier that separates the two worlds, and attempts to decipher the subliminal fluctuations of a blackness vastly treated as a flaw. This is the exact point which Du Bois delves into in order to staple together multiple thematic concerns. Continue reading

Book Review: The Boatman: Henry David Thoreau’s River Years by Robert M. Thorson

Most biographers have ignored Henry David Thoreau’s relationship to the river but Robert Thorson here aims to correct this narrow focus by arguing that the river – the active ever-changing water bustiling with activity both human and natural – is as much a part of Thoreau’s canon and its landscape as the still water of Walden Pond. In this book Thorson envisions Thoreau’s environment as a hybrid of land and water, and the man as a boatman as much as a woodsman. 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

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

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

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

Review: Bowie’s Books Conference

Few musicians, perhaps, have been so closely identified with literature than David Bowie. Marking just over a year since the artist’s death ‘Bowie’s Books’, organised by Professor Richard Canning and Dr Sam Reese, gathered scholars from a variety of backgrounds for an interdisciplinary conference on Bowie’s relationship with literature. Continue reading