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: Borders vs. Bridges: Nationalism and Transnationalism in the Americas

Centred on the contentious—and arguably diametrically opposed—concepts of borders and bridges, this two-day conference brought together forty-eight postgraduate and early career researchers from Europe, Asia and the Americas. National identity and transnational relations remained the presiding theme of the event, yet the broad scope of panels attracted scholars from a diverse range of disciplines; interweaving historical, ethnographic, literary and sociological approaches into a holistic Pan-American perspective. Continue reading

Judge Dredd’s Burger Wars: Intellectual property, self-censorship and new exceptions

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

After years languishing in self-censorship due to fears of UK copyright law, a new EU directive has led ‘Burger Wars’ to re-emerge. Written by John Wagner (under the pen name TB Grover) and drawn by Mike McMahon in 1978, this ‘difficult tale’ of corporate America and the inherent crimes of the fast food industry finds the immutable Judge Dredd embroiled in a protracted war between the world’s biggest hamburger chains. The military operations commanded by the Burger King on one side and a familiar clown called Ronald – sporting a stripy top with familiar golden arcs ‘m’ logo thereon – who runs MacDonald (sic) City, on the other. Dredd and his team find themselves captured and force fed high-fat, high-sugar burgers and shakes. 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

‘See America First’: International Expositions, Nationalism, and Local Competition

Using primary sources from ‘World's Fairs’ - an Adam Matthew collection

Enumerating the reasons why San Francisco rather than New Orleans should receive federal sanctioning for the 1915 exposition celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, this illustrated pamphlet urged readers to acquaint themselves with the wonders of the Pacific Coast and to “See America First”. As the first global gatherings of mass audiences, expositions – or world’s fairs – assembled the world in a single site. Continue reading

Counterpublics and the New Dynamics of Contemporary Conservatism: From the Tea Party to the Trump Movement

Media Coverage and the Presidential Election of 2016

The election of Donald Trump as President of the United States came as a surprise to many. Others, the author of this article included, saw in his election the culmination of a variety of long-term processes and recent transformations within the contemporary American Right. Whether interpreted as an anomaly or confirmation of long-term developments, the Trump phenomenon has changed the way we think about voter alignments, election campaigning, the American Presidency and dynamics of the American Right. Continue reading

Book Review: Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet by Jeffrey Rosen

The title Louis D. Brandeis: American Prophet for Jeffrey Rosen’s book is an appropriate one given the status of American politics today. Despite having been professional and politically active at the end of the nineteenth and at the turn of the twentieth century, many of the concerns of Justice Louis Brandeis are still very relevant today. As a result, Rosen’s book is a must read – if not for the historical analysis and insight it provides, then for the greater perspective it provides for our current era. Continue reading

Review: Scottish Association for the Study of America Annual Conference

Held at the University of Edinburgh, this conference brought together a range of researchers, based in the north and beyond, for a day of engaging panels and discussions. The openness of the call for papers attracted a variety of disciplines, representing exceptional new work in the field. Indeed, in a stark contrast to many of the issues and concerns discussed, openness and inclusivity somewhat characterised the day. Continue reading