Review: HOTCUS Postgraduate Conference, ‘Patriot or Protester?: Changing Ideas of Americanism during the Vietnam Era’

The concepts of patriotism and Americanism continue to constitute central facets of American national identity and thus remain important notions within the American political milieu. For example, on 1 September 2016, just eight days before this panel discussed the concept of Americanism during the Vietnam era, The Guardian reported on prospective president Donald Trump’s plans for American schoolchildren to be taught greater respect for patriotic values. In light of the recent election result, this is even more prescient. Continue reading

My Research: Juliet Williams

‘My Research’ is a new feature that aims to introduce and summarise the research and work of Postgraduates and Early Career Researchers within the field of American and Canadian Studies. Sit back, and get to know some of the craziest, challenging, and rewarding places researchers have been taken to… Continue reading

“You Think I’m Joking”: The Weaponized Comedy of President Obama’s Stand-up Addresses at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

“Obama Out.” As President Obama finished his last stand-up comedy address at the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, dropping the microphone to an ensuing mix of laughter and applause from the audience, a curtain fell on Obama’s considerable reshaping of this tradition.[2] The annual presidential comedy address at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner has become an increasingly popular aspect of American culture. Continue reading

Book Review: Masculinity in Contemporary Quality Television: The Cultural Politics of Media and Popular Culture by Michael Mario Albrecht

Albrecht first assesses FX sitcom The League as a ‘bromance,’ and a show that ‘offers a hyperbolic version of contemporary masculinity,’ that suggests the concept is ‘an overdetermined term with multiple iterations and complexities, rather than… a simplistic essentialist version of singular maleness’ (42). He provocatively uses the language of ‘safe space’ to suggest how the virtual space of a fantasy football league is utilised to act out unacceptable performances of masculinity, safe from misinterpretation and consequences (46). Continue reading

Book Review: Rhetoric of Modern Death in American Living Dead Films by Outi Hakola

The undead monsters of Hollywood films are embodied spectres of death, and the attempts to confront and overcome these monsters are accordingly ‘struggles to restore and extend shared knowledge and control’ (36). In the classical era, Hakola demonstrates how characters such as Dracula and Doctor Van Helsing in 1931’s Dracula portray the tension between ‘ancient settings, romantic lands and mysterious monsters’ and the heroes who ‘were often related to science and knowledge’, signifying ‘Western supremacy over primitive, pagan and non-American death’ (78) Continue reading

Book Review: Stars, Fans and Consumption in the 1950s: Reading Photoplay by Sumiko Higashi

Sumiko Higashi’s Stars, Fans and Consumption in the 1950s is a book about popular imagery, namely those of the female icons of 1950s movies. Only this isn’t about the movies, rather Higashi’s text investigates the iconography of these women as it is shored up in magazines and on billboards, unveiling not only the rampant commodification of Fifties bodies, but also how and why they were so voraciously consumed. Continue reading

Documentary Review: The Black Panther Party: Vanguard of the Revolution

Newly released documentary The Black Panther Party: Vanguard of the Revolution shows a lesser-seen side of the Black Panthers that marries the stylised, swaggering interpretations of Party members with the role of J. Edgar Hoover’s COINTELPRO and the frequently overlooked Survival Programmes. Continue reading

Research Across Borders – As fragile as a metaphor: Constructing Edna St. Vincent Millay from the Library of Congress records

These newspaper and magazine articles provide a striking insight into the version of Millay constructed by the press. She is consistently referred to as a ‘little poetess’ and reviews of her live performances pay as much attention on her gowns, hairstyles and gestures as they do the words of her poems. Continue reading

HOTCUS ‘Teaching America’ Introduction

When the idea was initially pitched during a committee meeting that the Historians of the Twentieth Century United States (HOTCUS) could produce a series for U.S Studies Online outlining how the history of the United States was being taught at universities the hope was to showcase both the breath and … Continue reading

Book Review: American History through Hollywood Film: From the Revolution to the 1960s by Melvyn Stokes

As a scholar of film and television rather than history, I have often been uncomfortable with the ways in which moving images are treated by historians, as either uncomplicated windows into the past or a means to demonstrate the historical ignorance of Hollywood filmmakers. Continue reading