In preparing my first issue as editor of the BAAS Newsletter, I have been truly overwhelmed by the generosity of colleagues. First of all, I would like to thank Steve Mills, previous Editor of the Newsletter, for his excellent advice and for his hard work in the past. Congratulations to Steve for a job well done.
I would like to express my gratitude as well to members of the BAAS Board, past and present, for their assistance, with special thanks to Judie Newman, Phil Davies, Jenel Virden, Jay Kleinberg and Janet Beer for their sage counsel and unfailing good humour. Thanks are due as well to the Arts Faculty of the University of Glasgow, particularly to Mark Ward, Dean of the Arts Faculty, for his unflagging support of American Studies; to Simon Newman, Director of American Studies; to Cathy Dowling; to Marie Tate for her computer savvy and for her patience in suffering fools (i.e. editors) stoically; and to Sean Groundwater for his graphic flair. Gerard Sweeney, of Computing Services, earned my undying gratitude for zapping a virus which I feared had devoured this entire issue of the Newsletter. Richard Ellis, Assistant Editor, has provided invaluable assistance in making the Newsletter available on the Web.
As Editor, I would like for the Newsletter to act as a forum in which BAAS members can not only discuss professional issues which affect our discipline but also exchange information about what is happening in American Studies all over Britain. For this, I have been fortunate enough to assemble a team of correspondents from institutions all over Britain who have provided me with items about conferences, calls for papers, publications by individual members, research grants, and so forth.
As Editor, I welcome suggestions from members about the content and style (lively and informal, it is hoped!) of the Newsletter, and am sure that the Letters to the Editor section will be overflowing with good ideas. Cliched though it may be to say so, the Newsletter will only be as interesting and informative as its subscribers wish to make it. This issue begins with reports from the BAAS Norwich Conference, followed by information from American Studies Centres and diverse other rubrics. The Forum column is a new feature designed to provoke debate among subscribers on issues that are relevant to us all. The kick-off for the first Forum column is provided by Simon Newman, Director of American Studies at the University of Glasgow, with his essay ‘United States 2, Rest of the World 0: The Promise of Multicultural Football.’
This issue, because of logistic considerations related to the transfer of the Newsletter from one institution to another, will reach members in June. In the future, however, plans are to publish one issue in November and another in late March/early April. For the November 1998 issue, contributors are asked to send items to me (on disk if humanly possible, or by e-mail) by 15 October. Once again, my thanks to fellow BAAS members for your support.
Susan Castillo, Editor
Department of English Literature
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141-330 6393
Fax: 0141-330 4601
Norwich BAAS Conference 16-19 April 1998
The BAAS 1998 conference, which took place on 16-19 April at the University of East Anglia, was impeccably organized and well attended, with panels and lectures on widely diverse topics. Our thanks to the chairs of each session, who provided the following reports. It is hoped that panel chairs who were unable to provide reports for this issue will be able to do so for the Autumn Newsletter. Congratulations to Allan Lloyd Smith and his team at UEA for a job well done!
BAAS Chair’s Report 1997-8
There have been a number of promising developments this year. The Oxford Institute for American Studies is now under construction and may open as early as autumn 1999. Daniel Howe, the Director Designate is keen to foster links with BAAS, and may host a BAAS conference in the fairly near future. Liverpool John Moore’s University has opened its American Studies Centre. The Eric Mottram Collection has opened at King’s College, London – a research archive centred on American literature and culture and a welcome memorial to a man whom many of us will remember warmly. The plan at the University of Glasgow is to mark the retirement of Andrew Hook by opening its Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies this year.
We have also been pleased by the results in the TQA – despite the hours of effort which it entails – with high scores received already by Keele, University of Central Lancs, Nottingham, Birmingham, Reading, Hull, Liverpool John Moore’s, Brunel, Canterbury Christchurch, Wolverhampton, and UEA. Since the scores are awarded over a longish period BAAS will be collecting information from institutions. (Information welcome.)
The RAE rumbles on into the next century. BAAS commented on the RAE consultation document, essentially emphasising the desirability of a joint North/Latin American panel. We also drew particular attention to the need for effective and equal consultation between subject panels which need Americanist input e.g. Literature and History.
On the defence front, we had various dealings with the QAA (Quality Assurance Agency), concerning QAA proposals for change to the External examiner system. Broadly speaking, the proposal is for a central bank of examiners trained by QAA OR by subject associations like ours. These are the ‘Subject Benchmarking Teams’. The suggestion has also been made that money may in some way eventually be dependant upon the views of these teams. There are to be trials of the new system in 1998 in Scotland and Wales. (Originates from Dearing Recommendation 25). There is as yet no guarantee that there will be an American Studies benchmarking team – which clearly exposes us to the risks of being swallowed by English or History. The proposed areas for QAA work on benchmarking include the categories ‘History’ and ‘English and American Studies’. We need to press hard for an American Studies team, on the model of the RAE and TQA. Otherwise we risk subordination to the demands of another discipline in this exercise – AND we weaken our position overall. Following several conversations with John Randall, BAAS was placed on the list of subject associations to be consulted, and I then received an invitation to attend a meeting at which BAAS could give its views and ‘contribute its expertise to the refining of the new system’, for which they proposed to charge me £45. (Members may have seen my letter to the THES protesting about this.) I declined the invitation but Janet Beer (paid for by another institution) went in my stead, and has kept us fully informed. It is worth noting that we have also been liaising on this matter with both the English Subject Association (CCUE) – Janet Beer has attended their meetings – and the History at the Universities Defence Group. Professor Chris Clark of the University of Warwick is the Americanist on the HUDG panel. There is no equivalent representation on CCUE. Phil Davies has also alerted the American Politics group to the issues. It looks as if opposition to the whole ‘benchmarking’ idea is growing but it is still an area where we have to keep up full pressure. BAAS will be responding to the consultation document by 22 May and all views are welcome. Members are encouraged to exert pressure on this issue wherever they see an opportunity.
I also have to report the demise of the British Academy Overseas Conference grants scheme, about which we have protested. Although this only involved about 200 awards of some £300 each p.a. it was better than nothing – which is what as Americanists we now appear to have. There is no other source of public money for us. (Unlike scientists or those who can rely on the British Council or other governments.) It is apparently possible still to apply to the BA small research grants scheme if the conference is an ‘integral part of your research programme’ , but that is certainly less all-embracing than the previous scheme. Unless other sources are found, BAAS may have to think about how best to use the short term awards scheme in this respect. On the plus side, more Americanists appear to be getting research awards from Leverhulme/Humanities Research Board, and several of those whose names were supplied to the BA database seem to be having some input to the process.
BAAS has also had a certain amount of media presence this year – largely because with Bill Clinton under siege the Secretary appeared on more than 20 radio programmes. Both he and Mick Gidley have been heavily involved in the Shaker exhibition at the Barbican. More humbly the Chair was interviewed at length – and inaccurately – by the Philadelphia Enquirer on British reactions to the Louise Woodward case. And braved a Louise Woodward demonstration to meet Hillary Clinton during her autumn visit to Britain. Other BAAS members have been roped in by Andrew Lloyd Webber to write programme notes for his new musical. It’s often not appreciated just how many random enquiries of this type are fielded by BAAS members – from schoolkids working on A level projects to wargames fanatics and Native American buffs. It is easy in a summing up like this to make it sound as if BAAS is all about policies and plans but it is worth emphasising that much of the most important work members do involves a mass of apparently small tasks at the micro level, fielding enquiries from the public and press, and offering specialist input to various cultural activities. I am grateful to all those who have fielded such enquiries in the past three years.
It looks as if we will be able to offer the BAAS Archive (on permanent loan) to the University of Birmingham Library. We are grateful to D.S. Porter, a retired member for the offer of a complete run of the Newsletter. If you have useful material please HANG ON TO IT and send me a letter, as the spare room in Newcastle is now full. I will be seeing the archivist in May when I can also pass on my own papers.
1997-8 again saw a good crop of conferences and scholarly meetings, which included the BAAS/ American Politics Group Colloqium in London in November ( Phil Davies as co-chair), two Postgraduate conferences, a Faulkner conference in Nottingham, and a conference in Birmingham on the 1950s. Liverpool Community College also hosted an A level students conference in October 1997. In May there was for the first time an official BAAS panel at the American Literature Association conference in Baltimore and plans are proceeding for a joint ALA/BAAS conference – put off from 1998 to avoid a clash with the Martin Luther King Conference, which is May 8-10 in Newcastle with Harry Belafonte being awarded an honorary degree in the midst of it. Other conferences in the immediate future cover Urban Space in Nottingham, May 16th, Library resources in American Studies, London 18th June, New Orleans in Europe , Warwick 4-5 July, and Conspiracy culture in Winchester 17-19 July.
Individual congratulations go to the winners of various awards. The BAAS Essay prize was won by Paul Grainge, Nottingham. The Arthur Miller prize was shared by Richard Godden (Keele) and Priscilla Roberts (Hong Kong). The Short Term Awards competition attracted applicants this year, of very high quality indeed. The winners were: Nahfiza Ahmed, Leicester (John Lees Award) Sam Ann Maddra, Glasgow (Marcus Cunliffe Award) Neil Alsopp, Sheffield Janet Greenlees, York Darren Mulloy, UEA Karen Wilkinson, Manchester Metropolitan.
The scheme depends entirely on voluntary donations and BAAS is very grateful to those of you who contribute. We don’t name names here, but we are particularly grateful to one member who has effectively funded an award per year for the last five and a half years, and to a especially generous donation from another individual.
Congratulations also go to David Adams, awarded the OBE in 1997 for services to North American studies – the first citation of this kind, I believe; Janet Beer, now Chair of English at Manchester Metropolitan; Nick Cull, Chair of American Studies at University of Leicester, Chris Clark, Chair of American History at Warwick, Clive Bush, Chair at King’s College, London, Brian Ward, Reader in American History at Newcastle. Among BAAS members gaining awards we note David Seed (Leverhulme), Paul Giles (Humanities Research fellowship at Dartmouth), Douglas Tallack (Humanities Research board), Dave Murray (Newberry Library Fellowship), Richard King (Woodrow Wilson fellow, Washington).
It only remains to thank all the members of the BAAS Executive for their assistance – and especially those members who retired from office this year : Ben Andrews, Mick Gidley, Mike Sewall, Douglas Tallack, Andy Watts. Special thanks are also due to both the officers. Janet Beer took control of the treasury in a matter of days and comprehensively reorganised it and its database despite a smashed shoulder and a new job. And Phil Davies has been an absolutely invaluable Secretary. Being Chair of BAAS has been extremely enjoyable for me, and I take this opportunity to wish him as rewarding an experience as mine has been.
Judie Newman, University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Norwich Conference – Panel Reports
Chair: Judie Newman University of Newcastle Upon Tyne
Hugh Brogan (University of Essex) ‘Denis Brogan and His America’
The curse of the BAAS Opening Plenary Lecture was both fulfilled and averted at the University of East Anglia. Fulfilled, in that Nelson Polsby, who was originally to give the opening address was unfortunately too ill to attend. (We wish him the very best of speedy recoveries.) Averted, in that Hugh Brogan stepped into the breach at short notice and delivered a lecture which was erudite, witty, and meaty to boot. Brogan’s topic was Brogan – his father , Denis – and his aim was to demonstrate that Brogan’s America was just as interesting a topic as those of Tocqueville’s America or Bryce’s America would be. En route to fulfilling this aim Hugh also demonstrated that his own America would be just as fascinating a topic for analysis : this one could run and run.
Rather than giving a complete account of all his father’s work (impossible, given the volume) Hugh concentrated on his best-known writings, preceded by a brief biographical sketch which argued, suggestively to this reviewer, that the sense of outsiderhood as a Roman Catholic, a Scot and a working class descendant of Irish immigrants, was an important factor in the enthusiasm Brogan pere showed for America. The American Political System was his first important work, and a considerable succes d’estime, ultimately responsible for getting him a major academic Chair (thus enabling him to spend one term in three in America) . The outbreak of war in 1939 made all experts on America of public importance, and he then became a radio star. Brogan’s career was penetrated by a sense of mission, even at times of boosterism, his America bathed in something of a rosy glow. Yet while Coolidge’s America was Brogan’s too, the figure on whom he wrote most conspicuously was Franklin Roosevelt. Brogan was sharply critical as well as properly celebratory. Hugh examined the comparatively static picture of America to be found in the first major works (in which race was almost entirely absent from the picture, women did not fare much better, but class was of major importance) followed by Brogan’s view of the changes of his time, as his America (fundamentally Republican, Middle Western and small town) faced profound transformations. Brogan’s work was informed by a broad interdisciplinarianism in which everything – films, music, literature – was grist for his mill. As Hugh (in his own practice as much as in the description of his father’s career) amply demonstrated, he remains a powerful argument for the wide and bold approach to American Studies.
Revolutionary & Pre-Revolutionary America
Chair: Simon Newman, University of Glasgow Simon Middleton (UEA) ‘The Myth of the Artisan: Reconsidering the Transformation of Urban Politics in Colonial New York’
Colin Nicolson (Stirling) ‘The ‘Infamas Govener:’ Francis Bernard and the Origins of the Revolution in Massachusetts’
Michael McDonnell (University of Wales, Swansea) ‘The Virginia Minutemen and Their World: The Politics of Popular Mobilization in Revolutionary Virginia’
Simon Middleton explored the political economy of bread production and bread riots in seventeenth century New Amsterdam, illustrating how bakers began to improve their bargaining position by assuming local governmental offices. Few other artisans were so successful, and he challenged historians to question the assumed coherence of the artisan class as a social, economic and political unit. Colin Nicolson dealt with Governor Francis Bernard’s role in the coming of the Revolution in Massachusetts, paying particular attention to the largely unexplored relationship between Bernard and the Loyalist ‘friends of government.’ Bernard failed, Nicolson argued, because during the Stamp Act crisis he made the tactical blunder of reducing the controversy to basic principles, arguing that violent resistance and destruction of property entailed disloyalty. The few Loyalists who were willing to back Bernard were marginalised, and he succeeded only in destroying consensual politics in Massachusetts. Michael McDonnell asked why revolutionary Virginians found it so hard to create the wartime militias that were so easily established in New England: Virginia’s independent companies, he argued, had been relatively democratic entities, but the elite-organised and dominated militia units that followed showed the Virginia elite to be wary of a revolutionary erosion of deference, while yeoman farmers were politicised and the pre-war Patriot consensus disintegrated. A lively debate followed, and continued over drinks and meals throughout the conference.
American Male Identities
Chair: Richard Godden, Keele
Graham Thompson (Nottingham Trent) ‘”Privacy and Society Conjoined”: The Rhetoric of the Office in Melville’s Bartleby’
Carolyn Masel (Manchester) ‘Walt Whitman’s Fan Group, the “Eagle Street College”‘
Gert Buelens (Ghent) ‘The Queering of Henry James’
Kevin White ‘The New Man and Early Twentieth-Century Emotional Culture’
Graham Thompson’s paper, ‘”Privacy and Society Conjoined”: The Rhetoric of the Office in Melville’s ‘Bartleby, the Scrivener”, argued that the relationship between the lawyer-narrator and Bartleby is one of male-male desire. Both the office, which following Foucault can be considered a surveilling machine, and key elements of the narrative are constructed from those pairings that Eve Sedgwick has demonstrated as crucial for the epistemological organizing of male sexuality since at least the second half of the nineteenth century (public/private, surveillance/self-surveillance, disclosure/secrecy). Using Lee Edelman’s theory of homographesis, the paper argued that the surveillance of the office is actually a process which inscribes the bodies of men with sexual identity. However, by desiring a Bartleby who is inscribed in such close relation to a passive, feminized masculinity the lawyer-narrator actually deconstructs the logic of his own apparently normal masculinity. The result is that he has to disavow and rid himself of Bartleby, and so of aspects of himself. Thompson argued that such processes of reading, inscription, and deconstruction were figured through the lawyer-narrator’s question at the end of the story: ‘Dead letters! Does it not sound like dead men?’
Carolyn Masel’s ‘The Reception of Walt Whitman: Some Reflections on Late Nineteenth-Century Masculinity’, contributed to the ongoing debate about Walt Whitman’s sexuality. Her paper was based on Horace L. Taubel’s letters to James W. Wallace, ‘master’ of the ‘Eagle Street College’ in Bolton, Lancs. The ‘College’ was in fact a long-running group whose central focus was Whitman’s poetry; its extensive archive is now held in the Bolton Public Library, with a smaller collection in the John Rylands University of Manchester. Masel contrasted the contradictory messages about Whitman’s alleged homosexuality sent by one of Whitman’s literary executors, R. M. Bucks (through his apparently sympathetic edition of Whitman’s letters to his friend Peter Doyle), with the emphatic repudiation of Walt’s homosexuality by Traubel, another executor – a view endorsed in even more extreme language by Traubel’s colleague, Brinton. The crucial role played by J. A. Symonds in the definition of Whitman’s sexuality by these men (as well as by Whitman himself) was also considered, as was the figure of Edward Carpenter.
Gert Buelens’s ‘The Queering of Henry James’ , addressed a Jamesian erotics of power, noting that for James (and most particularly in The Portrait of a Lady) gender might best be located culturally along a scale detailing degrees of mastery or submission. The resultant erotics would stress role-play around such issues as the ‘enjoyment’ of power and the ‘taking’ of property – both, by the measure of that most American character, Caspar Goodwood, male activities. Buelens then offered an alternative map of desire in Portrait , whereby Isabel Archer is marked ‘male’ by her inheritance; Gilbert Osmond, (the esthete) falls for her strength, and although masculinized by marriage, is effectively refeminized by his desire to ‘have’ Lord Warburton for Pansy. Other transformations rendered Henriette Stackpole male, by dint of her careerism, and cast Madame Merle as a focus of Isabel’s desire.
Kevin White’s ‘The New Man and Early Twentieth Century Emotional Culture’ challenged Cas Wouters and Francesca Cancian’s paradigm for the history of sexual emotions in the twentieth century – that the century saw a shift from repression to liberation, based on an ‘informalisation of emotional control’ and consequent ‘greater intimacy.’ Looking at the male experience (following Anthony Giddens), he argued that the shift away from a purely procreative sexuality in the twentieth century caused a ‘plastic sexuality’ that actually led to an ’emotional abyss… between the sexes’. Victorian Americans, with their strict roles over erotic visibility, kept sex unseen and encouraged ‘romantic love’ with its high erotic and emotional intensity. Twentieth century ‘dating’ and ‘companionate marriage’, by openly sexualising and democratising courtship and marriage, stimulated a more worldly-wise, mature and adult ‘new love’. Rational and sensible, the ‘new love’ ridiculed Victorian emotional passions, but lacked Victorian intensity. He concluded, therefore, that the twentieth century resulted in a dampening of sexual passion, as its ‘liberation’ imposed new disciplines on men, and perhaps on women too.
Literary Tourism and Taste
Chair: Douglas Tallack (Nottingham)
G.J. Reynolds (Kent) ‘Washington Irving, Literary Tourism and National Identity’
Elisa Tamarkin (Stanford) ‘Deferring Independence: Anglophilia and the Origins of American High Culture’
James Massender (Kent) ”Our vulgar sense of wonder’: Science and Masculinity in Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez.’
I was drafted in at short notice to chair this session and it proved to be a thoroughly stimulating experience. The three papers were of a very high standard and were professionally delivered to an appreciative audience.
In ‘Washington Irving, Literary Tourism and National Identity’, Guy Reynolds addressed the central issues of cultural transmission and literary tourism by concentrating upon Irving’s largely forgotten books about Spain and arguing for their significance as part of a genealogy wherein American artists encounter and represent the Iberian peninsular. Relations between literary and visual representations received some attention. Irving’s work, Reynolds argued, anticipates twentieth-century texts such as Richard Wright’s Pagan Spain, and sketches out an ‘American’ Spain which is pre-modern, surreal and folkloric.
Elisa Tamarkin examined how critical insistence on literary nationalism and cultural independence has ignored a competing phenomenon of American anglophilia in the ante-bellum years, a phenomenon which cut across the boundaries of region and class and which meant that a fascination with the Prince of Wales and ‘British Intelligence’ vied in the national imagination with the Revolution itself. She went on to describe how just prior to the Civil War, Anglophilia had become not only necessary to America’s cultural ideology, but its endorsement of ‘loyalism’ and ‘deference’ as virtues would be used to serve a new nationalist rhetoric based on guarding the status quo.
To conclude the session, James Massender gave a paper entitled ”Our vulgar sense of wonder’: Science and Masculinity in Steinbeck’s The Log from the Sea of Cortez.’ As part of a broader investigation into the conjunction between science, tourism and gender in American literature and culture, the paper offered a reading of Log which considered its complex politics – suggesting that while the text presents a critique of an institutionalized Western science, and accentuates the relation of that science to the consolidation of capitalist state power, its gender politics are problematic. The difficulty crystallizes around the text’s preoccupation with its own vulgarity: the male figure of the ‘true biologist’ allows for both a critical treatment of issues of status and class, at the same time as that same figure motivates a conservative gender politics that insists upon virility as ‘natural’ and negates any critique of masculinity as ‘genteel’ reaction rather tan political engagement.
The question session covered such matters as other candidates for Guy Reynold’s genealogy and James Massender’s conjunction of issues; the significance of textual tourism; and – in response to Elisa Tamarkin’s paper- distinctions between Anglophilia as it existed in the North and in the South.
Rhythm and Blues
Chair: George McKay (Central Lancashire)
Mark Anton Goble (Stanford) ‘Black Music and the Insatiable White Ear: James Weldon Johnston and the Technologies of Identity.’ Maurice Bottomly (Manchester Metropolitan) ‘In the Spirit: New Classic Soul and Contemporary African-American Culture.’
Barbara Wylie (University College, London) ‘Popular Music in Nabokov’s Lolita or Frankie and Johnny: a new Key to Lolita.’
Three enjoyable papers exploring issues of popular music and its place in wider American (and transatlantic) culture were presented. On his first visit to a BAAS conference, Mark Anton Goble from Stanford University considered the significance of popular music in a literary text. Goble critically unpacked aspects of voice, technological innovation such as the phonograph, and racial identity in James Weldon Johnson’s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Goble concluded with remarks on a later literary manifestation of the cluster of issues around music, technology and African-American identity, that of Ralph Ellison.
Maurice Bottomly from Manchester Metropolitan University looked at the sub-genre of contemporary black pop music known as New Classic Soul. Offering close readings of key features, Bottomly discussed ways in which this form of contemporary soul employs African-American traditions from jazz, doo-wop, and Motown. He implicitly contrasted this utopian construction in New classic Soul with some more negative forms of, for instance, rap.
Barbara Wylie from University College London returned to the place of popular music as presented and employed in American writing. Her paper traced ways in which the significance of popular music is seen by Nabokov in Lolita, particularly through the eyes or ears of Lolita herself, and took issue with previous critics’ limitations in their readings of this aspect of the text. Perhaps despite Nabokov’s declared inability to hear music, Wylie offered a comparative analysis of revenge scenarios in the novel and in a classic American pop song, ‘Frankie and Johnnie’. Her paper also raised the conflict of identity between Humbert’s European high culture and Lolita’s American low culture in the context of popular music.
Chair: Hugh Brogan, University of Essex
Phil Davies (DeMontfort University) ‘Crowded Out: The Mediation of the Crowd in American Political Conventions’
Kevin Yuill (Nottingham University) ‘The Nixon Administration and the Origins of Affirmative Action’
John Dumbrell (Keele University) ‘Varieties of Post-Cold War American Isolationism’
The first of three speakers was Phil Davies (DeMontfort), whose theme, or rather whose suggestion was that over the centuries since the American Revolution the American people have gradually been edged out of significant direct participation in politics, leaving the field to the professionals. In a swift survey of American history he reminded us of the role of the crowd in the American Revolution, of Shay’s Rebellion, of the fact that some women voted in post-revolutionary New Jersey, of Andrew Jackson’s inauguration and the day of ‘King Mob’, and of the emergence of the party conventions, which were marked by ‘crowd involvement and party management.’ But in the twentieth century the power to choose the presidential candidates has moved away from the conventions; 1952 was the last year in which they actually decided the nominations (unless we remember the contest for the Democratic vice-presidential nomination in 1956 between Estes Kefauver and John F. Kennedy). In the 1960s there could still be drama at the conventions: Dr. Davies instances the struggle over the Mississippi Freedom Party in 1964 and the war on the streets at Chicago in 1968. But the reforms in the Democratic party which followed 1968 shifted still more power away from the convention to the voters in the primaries. Debates of great importance could still occur, but by 1996 even these seemed too dangerous to the party bosses, and both conventions were ‘thoroughly mediated.’ Television watchers therefore switched off in droves, which encouraged the managers to ignore them. What were once, in Alistair Cooke’s phrase, chess games disguised as circuses, have become, by what may be a normal evolution, mere unconvincing showcases. And there are now no national forums for the parties.
Kevin Yuill (Nottingham) spoke on ‘The Nixon Administration and Affirmative Action,’ using the Philadelphia Plan of those years as a useful illustration of his themes, which were twofold. First, he argued that ‘affirmative action’ had been a specific strategy, accepted across the board, ever since the New Deal, as the perception of institutionalised racism became general. Society and the economy were seen as a sort of zero sum game, and it was agreed that the federal government had to intervene to see that the disadvantaged (in 1968, ‘women, minorities and young people’) got their due slice of the cake. Nixon’s Philadelphia Plan exemplified this: it was the first time that the government had given anti-discriminatory instructions direct to contractors. But the Philadelphia Plan failed, and affirmative action led inexorably to the creation of quota systems, which were soon denounced as discriminatory. Then came 1973 and affirmative action became still more controversial. In hard times no-one will readily relinquish any part of their opportunities.
John Dumbrell (Keele) spoke on ‘Varieties of Post-Cold War American Isolationism.’ Taking as his axiom the view that some of the positions called isolationist should not automatically be consigned to darkness, he surveyed in masterly fashion the complex debates about America’s position in the world which have taken place since the defeat in Vietnam and the end of the Cold War, and are still continuing. Part of his undertaking was taxonomic: he listed the great variety of attitudes that may be called isolationist: liberal isolationism, conservative isolationism, idealist isolationism, ‘peace dividend isolationism’, and so on. He also related isolationism to other tendencies, such as unilateralism and multilateralism, and the new, Right-wing populism of leaders such as Pat Buchanan and Jesse Helms with his contempt for ‘deadbeat diplomats’. The picture he painted was not altogether reassuring, though he concluded that so far isolationism has not much affected US policy: President Clinton is a globalist. But the defeat of ‘fast-track’ shows that the problem is still with us. After a useful discussion the session closed with the moderator’s warm thanks to these three speakers for putting together such a valuable survey of some current problems of American democracy.
Science Fact and Fiction
Chair: David Seed (Liverpool University)
Farah Mendlesohn (Ripon & St. John, York) ‘The Politics of the Early Science Fiction Magazines, 1926-1940’
Richard Hinchcliffe (Central Lancs) ‘Pilgrims Progress and the Protestant Work Ethic in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse 5’
Louis J. Kern (Hofstra University, NY) ‘Jeux d’esprit: Fantastic Voyages, and the Imaginary Construction of Popular Phenomena: Moon and Ballon Hoaxes of the 1830s and 1840s’
Farah Mendlesohn (Ripon & St. John, York) opened this session with a presentation from a cross-sectional survey-in-progress of the stories in science fiction magazines from the 1920s through to c. 1950. She drew comparisons with late 19th century missionary boys’ adventures which influenced the general pattern of these stories, minus the religious dimension. Three standard plots were identified: man invents new scientific device; the exploration of a new world; and the encounter between humans and aliens. War features repeatedly and America is usually presented as the innocent target of aggression. In general these stories are unconcerned about belligerence and genocide, until the 1940s when writers like Asimov and Bradbury develop pacifist positions.
Richard Hinchcliff engaged with a related issue. His comparison produced similarities (the recurrence of psychomachy, for instance) and partly it highlighted differences. The patch-work texture of Slaughterhouse-5 contests the telos of Protestant narratives and, during an examination of the title-pages for both works, it was argued that the author is drawn into the text. Billy Pilgrim’s journey shadowed the progression in conversion-narratives towards the salvationary city but ultimately Vonnegut inverts Bunyan, presenting Dresden as a lunar wasteland.
The Moon gave Louis J. J. Kern a handle for his examination of the beginnings of popular journalism in early 19th-century America. Fantastic moon voyages entered U.S. culture in the 1820s, usually as satires. Poe exploited the current balloon fad in his ‘Hans Pfaall’ and nine weeks later Richard Adams Locke, editor of the New York Sun, published an article about Moon discoveries. Poe saw the latter as plagiarism from his own idea, but the factor of envy may have played a part here. Locke was a successful journalist impressing Poe with the breadth of circulation. This period marked a turning-point in Poe’s career towards hoaxing and the questions which followed picked up on this ambivalence in Poe.
Chair: Philip Davies, DeMontfort University
Scott L. Bills (Stephen F. Austin State University, Texas) ‘Boundaries of Imperial Discourse: Vietnam, Kent State, and Paramilitary Visions’
Kendrick Oliver (Southampton University) ‘”Post-Industrial Society” and the Psychology of the American Far Right, 1950-1974’
Martin Durham (Wolverhampton University) ‘Constructing an Alternative History: The Christian Far Right, The Militias, and Conspiracy Theory in late Twentieth Century America’
These three papers examined memory, theory and conspiracy as roots and foundations of the contemporary American far right. According to Scott Bills (Vice-President of the Peace History Society), the shootings at Kent State provided a location (another grassy knoll) and a searing image of death and betrayal around which to focus the national memory of Vietnam and its domestic ramifications. The event defined for some the challenge to US policy in Vietnam, the roots of that challenge, and the acceptable levels of response. When domestic tension was perceived as rooted in third world guerrillas supported on the streets and campuses of America by a revolutionary rabble, then a paramilitary response was appropriate. The far right, observing the phenomenon, and the lack of retribution, encompasses the moment and builds on it a critique of liberalism as the threat to society, with the white male as the oppressed soul at the core.
Social tension also featured in the analysis presented by Kendrick Oliver (author of Kennedy, Macmillan and the Nuclear Test-Ban Debate, 1961-1963, Macmillan) Daniel Bell could not accept the Marxist model of class and ideological cleavage as a driving force in American society, but saw influence and prestige reallocated towards experts and technocrats in a post-industrial world. The new elites became the targets of the right, but this was a mis-identification of the cause of the problems that might be equally founded on lack of wealth creation, street crime and disorder, and so forth. Explained by Adorno as a product of authoritarian personalities, and by Bell as a response to social strain, it has to be remembered that in some regions and localities far right thought and opinions are more an element of social acceptance than of social strain.
Contemporary views of the right often link the Christian conservative movement and the Militias. Martin Durham (author of Women and Fascism, Routledge) pointed out the differences: a long-established Christian conservative movement has worked within the system, lobbying, campaigning, and gingering up the Republican party in particular; the Militias are a more recent phenomenon, much smaller in numbers, and with a deep suspicion of authority that culminates in arming against the potential incursions of their own government. Followers of both Christian and Militia right thought are influence by conspiracy theory, and occasionally these emerge in the more mainstream political activities. Pat Robertson’s 1988 presidential campaign warned of ‘the dominion of Lucifer’. By the time that Pat Buchanan was talking of a ‘cultural war in America’ and George Bush of ‘A New World Order’ the political lexicon had been so hijacked that rank and file conservatives in the Republican party were deeply suspicious of the legitimacy of the policy aims of their leaders. These three well-fitted papers stimulated a further hour of questioning and discussion before the chair had to call a halt in order to allow the conference programme to proceed.
Writing the Body
Chair: Margaret Roberts (Exeter)
James Annesley (Brunel) ‘Sex and the Spectacle: Exhibitionism in Some Recent American Fiction.’ Susan Rogers (Hull) ‘Representations of the Body in Gloria Naylor’s Mama Day.’
Stephen Shapiro (Saarland) ‘Social Historians Study the Vagaries of Women’s Fashions: Gramsci, Drag, and the Wars of (Subject) Position.’
James Annesley’s paper noted the strong exhibitionist streak that can be traced in late twentieth century culture. He cited publications like Madonna’s Sex, the performance art of Annie Sprinkle and the films of Hall Hartley, Atom Egoyan and Larry Clarke as examples of a contemporary preoccupation with sex. The paper considered the ways in which explicit elements are incorporated into a range of contemporary narratives, and developed into a commentary on the general significance of this sexual turn. Using Susanna Moore’s novel In The Cut, James outlined the ways in which this and other narratives represent explicit sexuality in objectified terms. He argued that this objectification, both physical and abstract, provides a way of connecting these representations with the mechanisms of commodification. This argument implies that the sexual turn in these texts can be linked to the consumer frenzy of late twentieth century capitalism. The explicit images in the texts were interpreted in terms of a commodified sexual spectacle allowing James’s conclusions to form part of a more general perspective on exhibitionism in American culture.
Susan Roger’s central argument was that one of the main concerns of Naylor’s novel Mama Day, is the need of her mixed race heroine Cocoa, to come to terms with the miscegenation of her ancestors. Cocoa’s emotional journey towards recognition of her cultural identity, is played out to a large degree in relation to her physical self. The paper examined the way that Naylor’s work at once challenges notions of identity grounded in the body, and also explored the impact prescriptive ideas about the body have on the individual who inhabits that body. The argument moved on to suggest that Naylor’s novel undercuts the idea of physicality as a stable site of identity and goes on to unsettle ideas about fixed oppositions within slavery. Exploring issues around Cocoa’s physicality and mixed race identity highlighted the way the text reinterprets ideas about the slaveholding past.
Stephen Shapiro’s argument starts from the premise that American Cultural Studies has reached an impasse in its basic terminology. He stated that Gender and Sexuality studies, the essentialism/social construction debate seems unable to work through this problem. Further Cultural Materialism is also suffering grid lock in the debates about Neutral vs. Negative ideology. Taking Gramsci’s ‘wars of subject position (1980s-1990s,) and its re-situation through Stuart Hall’s mediation of ‘war of movement’ and ‘war of position’, Stephen argues that Hall’s emphasis on ‘war of position’ creates its own set of self-defeating analyses. These blind American Studies to the ways in which its objects themselves exist within and reconfigure culture. Using the Jennie Livingston movie Paris is Burning, the paper goes on to illustrate how a ‘war of movement’ can work when a war of position is untenable. By arguing that movement and position act intemporal responses, not static positions or immanent language differences, Stephen calls for American Studies to metacritically examine the historical specificity of its terminology in order to gain a more satisfying sense of the relations between culture and society. Questions were lively and constructive.
American Studies or Studies of America: The Choice is Yours
Chair: Jay Kleinberg
Lecture: Peter McLeay (University of Wolverhampton)
Peter McLeay addressed the topic of ‘American Studies or Studies of America: The Choice is Yours’ in a lively and provocative session which addressed the issue of methodology in American Studies and its relative absence from BAAS conferences. The core of American Studies in Britain is in literature, popular culture, history, and politics, but the speaker urged its expansion to include science and technology in order to broaden our understanding of the United States. He particularly focused on the need for a spatial dimension to the study of the US since we are all bound together by our interest in the place.
Dr McLeay made some useful suggestions about ways forward for the interdisciplinary study of the American experience, suggesting that Americanists focus on how systems work and the consequences of their working. He pointed out that our students learn various types of reasoning: through deduction, by analogy, and by synthesising ideas and artifacts through contextual analysis. He then illustrated how he uses these techniques in case studies, including one based on The Grapes of Wrath, the movie, in which an interdisciplinary and holistic approach is taken to the Great Depression. Dr. McLeay concluded by urging Americanists to move forward and to experience the challenging and demanding fun which interdisciplinarity can bring.
A Cosmic Watergate: The Roswell Incident and the Public Imagination
Chair: Vivien Miller (Exeter)
Lecture: Alasdair Spark (Winchester)
Alasdair Spark’s informative and entertaining pre-dinner exploration of the origins of various popular discourses surrounding the Roswell Incident of 1947 was extremely well received by a mixed audience of historians, cultural studies and literary specialists. Spark is interested in the cultural invention of conspiracy views and their constructions in popular culture. Roswell is of particular interest as in July 1947 it was only one of many sightings of flying saucers and other alien craft, and was a largely forgotten incident until thirty years later when it resurfaced as a subject of controversy and debate at the centre of a perceived military/government cover-up. There is no longer a coherent ‘Roswell Incident’ but several Roswells as every aspect of the event is disputed and there is little consensus between chroniclers, witnesses and conspiracists except over the question of ‘if’. Spark traced the growth of UFO popular culture from the early 1950s through the present day, noting that ‘The Truth is Out There’ has entered popular knowledge and discourse. The lines between fact and fiction have become increasingly blurred in any discussion of aliens, for example.
Most intriguing was Spark’s exploration of the impact of the Freedom of Information Act (1974) on the notion of conspiracy and evidence of cover-ups. Declassification gave ufologists unprecedented access to military archives in which they located further evidence of government cover-up and conspiracy in blacked out records. Such revelations had the effect of forcing the US military to admit to the existence of covert projects; this in turn fuelled notions of conspiracy and government/military intrigue. Such a magnitude of ‘evidence’ and commentaries about Roswell has now been amassed that the possibility of nothing having happened is too devastating to contemplate. The only disappointment of Spark’s discourse was the absence of time in which to show pertinent video clips.
Late Nineteenth-Century Literary Encounters
Chair: Janet Beer, Manchester Metropolitan University
John Cooley (Western Michigan) ‘Mark Twain’s Same-Sex Shotgun Marriages’
Peter Rawlings (Kyushu University, Japan) ‘A Name’s of No Significance: Henry James and American Configurations of Shakespeare’
Frank Lennon (Liverpool, Hope) ‘W. T. Stead’s The Americanisation of the World (1902) Revisited’
In the session Late 19th Century Literary Encounters, chaired by Janet Beer, speakers looked at Mark Twain’s Same-Sex Shotgun Marriages, W.T. Stead’s The Americanisation of the World and Henry James and American Configurations of Shakespeare. John Cooley, from Western Michigan University, examined Twain’s confirmation of the sexual stereotypes of his era alongside his undercutting of them in his later fiction, particularly in the short stories ‘How Nancy Jackson Married Kate Wilson,’ (1901-3) and ‘Wapping Alice.’ (1882-1907).
He noted that the first story explores involuntary transvestism which concludes with the ‘shotgun marriage’ of Nancy (successfully disguised as a young man named Robert Finlay) and Kate Wilson, who faces the dishonor of having a child out of wedlock and that ‘Wapping Alice’ also violates social conventions by deliberately crossing and thus confusing gender categories and boundaries. Twain was shown to establish a specifically homosexual sub-text which explores a subject matter both hidden and forbidden in his era: homosexual friendship, sexuality (including sodomy) and marriage. Cooley cited evidence which suggests that Twain was responding to the 1895 sodomy trials of Oscar Wilde and their notoriety on both sides of the Atlantic.
Frank Lennon from Liverpool Hope examined W.T.Stead’s The Americanisation of the World which was written at the dawn of the ‘American century.’ The book was put into the broad context of late nineteenth-century Anglo-American thought with particular reference being made to A.E.Freeman, James Bryce, and Andrew Carnegie. Stead wrote the book in order to persuade his British fellow-citizens that a close alliance, even amounting to federation, with the United States was the only way by which Britain could continue to be a major force in the events of the new century. He had reached this conclusion after wide-ranging analysis of the extent of growing American influence in the British Empire and what Stead called ‘The Rest of the World’, and of the methods by which this Americanisation had taken place and was continuing to do so. The upshot was a remarkable, if flawed, survey which could stand as a useful starting point for an understanding of the trends of the twentieth century.
The third speaker, Peter Rawlings from Kyushu University, argued that American culture had achieved some of its distinctiveness and power by effectively taking over Shakespeare from the Old World. By the end of the nineteenth century, the scale of this operation had made it possible to locate American Shakespeare in the burgeoning mass culture industry. Henry James, for ever caught between the imperative to express and the even greater imperative to conceal, and further troubled by the possibility of an endlessly elusive popularity he nevertheless disavowed, explores many of these issues in his short story ‘The Birthplace’, a story whose ultimate plea is for silence.
The Literatures of Colonial America
Chair: Susan Castillo (Glasgow)
Kathryn Napier (Glasgow) ‘Pocahontas: The Historical Figure’
Elsa Simoes (Fernando Pessoa University, Oporto) ‘Anne Bradstreet and Mary Rowlandson: An Escape from Puritan Captivity’
James Egan (Brown) ‘”A Brat as Black as Ink!”: English Identity and Colonial Writing’
In a lively and well-attended session, Kathryn Napier (Glasgow), Elsa Simoes (Fernando Pessoa) and James Egan (Brown) presented papers on diverse aspects of American colonial tests.
In her paper ‘Pocahontas: The Historical Figure’, Kathryn Napier analyzed the ways in which the story of Poconhatas has been received in America, emphasizing the fact that she was a woman of non-European origin, is mediated by texts which are themselves a product of patriarchal, British imperialist discourse.
Elsa Simoes, in ‘Anne Bradstreet and Mary Towlandson: An Escape from Puritan Captivity’, discussed the strategies used by Bradstreet and Towlandson in publishing and in claiming legitimacy for their texts, with special focus on the subversive nature of mourning.
Finally, James Egan in a paper entitled ”A Brat as Black as Ink’: English Identity and Colonial Southern Writing’, examined how writers from what is now known as the colonial South re-imagined English collectivity in the light of colonization. In order to explore this issue, he focused on George Alsop’s A Character of the Province of Maryland (1666). Egan argued that in demonstrating what Maryland can, as he puts it, ‘bring into England’, Alsop suggests that a fundamentally different ground for English identity is needed if the monarchy – and, along with it, what he associates with everything that is ‘truly English’ – is to survive. English identity, Alsop contends, depends on English bodies mixing with colonial soil. Alsop imagines England a community that stretches across the Atlantic to eat from what he calls ‘the dish of discourse’ Marylanders have to offer. The papers were followed by a stimulating discussion session.
Foreign Policy Issues
Chair: Hugh Wilford (Middlesex University) Priscilla Roberts (Hong Kong) ‘Hamilton Fish Armstrong: Paradigm of the American Foreign Policy Establishment’
Dianne Kirby (York) ‘The Cold War “Balance of Ideologies”‘
Nathan Abrams (Birmingham) ‘”Like a Stallion”: Arthur Miller as Sexually Orthodox Cold War Warrior’
The three papers presented in this session all dealt with a subject of increasing interest to historians of American foreign relations, namely the part played by non-official individuals and networks in the formulation and conduct of US foreign policy. Hamilton Armstrong Fish, for example, the subject of an entertaining presentation by Priscilla Roberts, was never a government officer but nonetheless made a number of vital contributions to American foreign policy-making in his role as long-serving editor of Foreign Affairs and link-man between the worlds of Washington, New York high finance and the big foundations. A supporter of the League of Nations, opponent of appeasement and, finally, critic of American policy in Vietnam, Fish mixed large quantities of Wilsonian idealism with dashes of Theodore Roosevelt-style real politik. However, it was the ease with which he glided between the public and private spheres of US diplomacy that made him, Priscilla Roberts argued, a ‘paradigm of the American foreign policy establishment.’
Next, Dianne Kirby carried on her important work on Christianity and the Christian church in the Cold War by examining the religious imagery employed in the foreign policy pronouncements of Harry Truman and Ernest Bevin in the late 1940s. The use of such imagery, she argued, was no mere rhetorical flourish, but reflected a deliberate, conscious attempt to deploy Christianity in the ideological and strategic construction of an Anglo-American alliance against Soviet Communism. The western cause in the Cold War was, both literally and figuratively, a ‘crusade’.
Finally, Nathan Abrams presented a typically fascinating account of Arthur Miller’s role in the ‘Cultural Cold War’. Usually seen as lying outside the anti-Communist consensus of the 1950s, by virtue of his defiance of HUAC and the anti-McCarthy allegory of ‘The Crucible’, Miller’s work was in fact permeated by Cold War discourses about gender and sexuality. The presence of such elements in his plays helps explain why it was that, at the same time they were denounced at home as ‘un-American’, they were being staged overseas under the auspices of the State Department. All in all, then, a very stimulating session – as was demonstrated by the liveliness of the discussion period – showcasing some of the best current scholarship on non-official players in US foreign policy.
Chair: Duco van Oostrum (Sheffield)
J.C. Levenson (Virginia) ‘The Apprentice Diplomat Transformed: England in The Education of Henry Adams’
Kurt Mayer (Vienna) ‘”My Own Anglicism Is Somewhat Wilted”‘: Henry Adams’s Education in England, 1861Ð1868
The Henry Adams panel, organised by the Henry Adams Society, was the only single-author panel of the 1998 BAAS-conference. Even though such singular focus might appear to limit the range of discussion, this turned out to be far from truth. The speakers had been invited to assess Henry Adams’s English education, a topic particularly suitable to a Henry Adams panel held under rubric of BAAS. After all, Adams proclaims rather loudly in chapter 12 of The Education of Henry Adams: ‘Knowledge of human nature is the beginning and end of political education, but several years of arduous study in the neighborhood of Westminster led Henry Adams to think that knowledge of English human nature had little or no value outside of England.’ Adams describes his experience with English education succinctly as: ‘For him alone the less English education he got, the better!’ He depicts the English mind as ‘one-sided, eccentric, systematically unsystematic, and logically illogical.’
The first speaker, Professor J.C. Levenson, editor of The Letters of Henry Adams and author of The Mind and Art of Henry Adams (1957), presented a paper on the ‘English’ chapters in The Education and reaffirmed his position as the foremost scholar of Henry Adams in the contemporary academic world. In the context of current debates about interpretative masterplots and open-ended signification, Levenson argued that The Education has much to offer that is relevant to that debate. As Levenson argues: ‘The incorrigibly pluralistic world that Adams depicts, a world where contingencies co-exist with necessities and absolutes regularly turn out to be relative, is at the center of current discussion, but is not new.’ During his year as Private Secretary to his father, Charles Adams, Minister to Great Britain, Henry Adams followed closely in the footsteps of his father. Levenson’s suggestion that the narrative voice in the English chapters of The Education appears to blend with the character Henry Adams rather than present him with ironic contempt is wonderfully suggestive. Adams quests for grand narratives yet his commitment to scholarly precision allows him to criticise his own grand narratives from within. That commitment to detail in combination with an ethical quest is what makes Adams’s text a suggestive model for contemporary scholarship. Henry Adams is not just, as John Carlos Rowe has put it, a Bricoleur, but he is more a Bricoleur malgre lui. As Levenson concluded: ‘Adams has acted on the belief that there are continuities as well as particularities, that the world may be ‘partially unified,’ a very different matter from not hanging together at all.’
The second speaker, Dr Kurt Mayer from the University of Vienna and a respected scholar on Henry Adams’s Education in Germany, complicated Henry Adams’s own depiction of his English education in The Education by bringing to life to us the young Henry Adams (‘a Brahmin brat with a personal income of $2,500 a year, room and board free’), completely isolated in his father’s shadow and suffering from culture shock. In an entertaining fashion, Mayer demonstrated how even the servants utterly intimidated the young Henry Adams, by obliterating his Presidential New England background into insignificance. In a piece he anonymously wrote for the New York Times in 1861, Adams apparently empathises so much with the death of Prince Albert that he becomes caught up in the mis-recognition of continental aristocracy which the British do not recognise for its superior class. ‘The shifting first-person pronouns in the second paragraph of that obituary emphatically position the author himself; Adams feels equally ignored and alien.’ Yet in spite of his initial bewilderment, Adams gradually adopts the pose of British aristocracy as a model for his later life. As Mayer concluded his assessment of English education: ‘Posing as a young aristocrat of the international set, Henry modelled himself on Richard Monckton Milnes, Lord HoughtonÉ. When at age thirty Henry Adams returned to the United States, he eventually settled down, in the words of The Education, as ‘a young duke in Washington.’
The papers provided the basis for a superbly informed discussion. All speakers acknowledged a debt to the work of Bill Dusinberre, who was among the select audience, with regard to Adams’s English education. The audience was clearly well versed in the historical and literary significance of Henry Adams, and the discussion especially highlighted the importance of Adams’s History as exemplary of the attention to detail and theory which characterises Adams’s contribution to contemporary American Studies. All in all, the session positioned Henry Adams at the centre of relations between History and Literature in American Studies in England.
The South and Southwest
Chair: Jenel Virden (Hull)
Martin Padget (Aberstwyth) ‘”The Ruins of the Old Missions Buildings Were Sad to See, but the Human Ruins were Sadder”: Ramona and the Politics of Romance’
Mark Fanin (Belfast) ‘The Brotherhood of Timber Workers in Louisana and Texas’
Matthew McKee (University of Ulster at Jordanstown ‘”A Peculiar Race”: The Eugenics Movement in the 1920’s and the Scotch-Irish of Southern Appalachia’
In late morning on Saturday I chaired a session on ‘The south and Southwest’ which included three excellent papers on various aspects of southern and south-western history in the late 19th and early 20th century. Martin Padget of Aberystwyth gave a fine paper on Helen Hunt Jackson’s novel Ramona, published in 1887. The novel places the decline of the Native American population and their struggle to maintain a clear identity within a setting of Romance literature. The novel also reflected the early Progressive Era reform impulses as witnessed by Jackson’s Indian activism.
Mark Fanin of Belfast followed on with an interesting paper on the Brotherhood of Timber Workers union in Louisiana and Texas. At its peak, between 1910-1914, the Brotherhood attempted to address various concerns and issues of lumbermen during a time of rapid change in both the economy and in the lumber industry. The Brotherhood reflected the more radical philosophy of its parallel union the Industrial Workers of the World by welcoming African Americans into its rank and file as well as incorporating women (although there were few in the lumber industry) into its membership. Although the Brotherhood did not push for racial equality, its expanded membership (which reached a peak of 20,000 by 1913) clearly went against the dominant Southern culture of the time.
The final paper in the session was delivered by Matthew McKee of University of Ulster who discussed his research on the eugenics movement in 1920s America and its implications for the Scotch-Irish of Appalachia. The eugenics movement fed the anti-immigrant feelings of the 1920s associated with the arrival of ‘new’ immigrants from southern, central and eastern Europe. In addition, McKee demonstrated that the same theories of race were applied to the Scotch-Irish in Southern Appalachia who came to be regarded as a different race; different from white Anglo-Saxon Protestants. Despite coming over to the United States during the colonial period from a truly northern area of Europe, the Scotch-Irish were seen as a threat to the white race and decidedly unprogressive. The legacy of this type of eugenic theory left the inhabitants of the Appalachian region struggling against an image of their ethnicity which portrayed them as lazy and stupid. All three papers cover a wide geographic area and appear to be unrelated until one takes a closer look. In each case the subjects of the papers are in search of an identity – whether it be as a Native American, as a worker, or as the Scotch-Irish. In addition, each of the papers is linked by the issues surrounding race relations. On the issue of race relations, Southern historiography tends to be dominated by the struggle between whites and African Americans. These three papers demonstrate the need to cast the net wider when looking at the history of race relations within a given geographic location.
Femininity and Domesticity
Chair: Susan Castillo, University of Glasgow Carol Smith & Jude Davis (King Alfred’s College, Winchester) ‘White Femininity, Professionalism and Maternity in US Situation Comedy, from I Love Lucy to Murphy Brown’
Lorraine Morley, (Birkbeck College, London) ‘A Chilling Environmental Horror Story: Suburban Domesticity and Feminine Identity in Todd Hayne’s Safe’
Heidi Macpherson (University College, London) ‘Shifting Sands: Anne Tyler and Time(ly) Motherhood’
In this session, panellists provided an intriguing and provocative view of representations of maternity and domesticity from the postwar years to the present.
Jude Davies and Carol Smith, in a joint presentation, analysed the crucial place of white femininity in the construction of American politics on television both before and after second wave feminism. Its crux was the tension between, on the one hand, representations of white femininity as related to ideas and discourses associated with identity politics and with feminism, and, on the other hand, the continued invocation of white femininity as incarnating American national identity. These tensions were brought into focus via analysis of two historical moments when white motherhood was at issue both in television situation comedies and in official political discourses: the treatment of Lucy Ricardo’s pregnancy in I Love Lucy (1952-1953) and the gendered address of Eisenhower’s inaugural speech: and the pregnancy narrative of Murphy Brown (1992), as taken up by Vice President Dan Quayle. Thematic and multivalent nature of television representations of white femininity and national identity, and to stress the importance of constructions of gender and ethnicity in defining ‘America’.
Lorraine Morley’s paper dealt with the dystopic side of suburban reality for women. Set amidst the contemporary landscape of an affluent Californian suburb, Todd Haynes’ film, Safe, according to its reviewers, is the first major expose of the ’20th century illness’: an extreme allergic reaction to our chemical-ridden environment. Julianne Moore plays the suburban housewife who falls prey to the illness that eventually leads to her isolation in a porcelain-lined ‘safe house’ in the New Mexico Desert. This paper argues that whilst Safe is ostensibly a cautionary tale of ecological disaster and its consequences, this ‘chilling environmental horror story’ may be read as a metaphor for a less tangible 20th-century sickness. A crisis of identity precipitated by the sense of displacement conveyed in Haynes’ suburban wasteland. Amidst this domestic no-man’s land, the fitting victim of the illness is a woman. Drawing on Julia Kristeva’s theory of abjection, I explore the physical and emotional disintegration of Haynes’ female character, and suggest that the ‘safe’ haven of suburban domesticity is un-safe: a lethal Eden which threatens the integrity of the woman subject, as it entombs her within a domesticated feminine identity. I conclude by suggesting that the isolation and exclusion through which Safe’s ailing female character responds to her condition may be the logical antidote to her ‘sickness’: her entombment in an identity that she no longer has the stomach for.
Heidi Macpherson’s paper argued convincingly that Anne Tyler’s novels, rather than being simply or cosily ‘realist’ in mode, utilize other forms of narrative in order to question the ‘fictions’ of mothering. In Ladder of Years, Tyler depicts a world in which mothering positions are temporary and shifting, and time itself is represented as unstable and jumbled. Through Delia Grinstead, Tyler addresses the issues of autonomy and femaleness in relation to the community which itself participates in the invention of character, and especially in the invention of ‘good mother’. Tyler problematizes feminist self-discovery novels which enact an escape from society by revealing that a space outside of ideology does not exist. This realization leads to a somewhat dissatisfactory resolution to her novel; however, this paper argued that a less-than-feminist ending does not necessarily equate with an anti- or non-feminist text.
Annual General Meeting (AGM)
The 1998 AGM was held at the University of East Anglia on 18 April. Elections: Philip Davies was elected Chair (to 2001) Jenel Virden was elected Secretary (to 1999) To the BAAS Committee, the following were elected: Karen Wilkinson (2001), Mick Gidley (2001), Douglas Tallack (2001), Nick Selby (2000). Richard Hinchcliffe (2000) is the member representing postgraduate students. Janet Beer, BAAS Treasurer, circulated accounts. She made in particular the following points:
1. Changes in Charities law mean that we do not need a full audit. The accounts are subject to overview by a professional accountant, and are produced by a professional accountant. The new accountant has made many very helpful points regarding the practices of BAAS.
2. The BAAS database is now working very well, and is a considerable resource, especially if members are willing for us to sell/hire the list. This matter will be addressed in the coming year.
3. Fulbright funds have been transferred to the STA fund, with the consent of Fulbright.
4. In order to exploit charitable status, and to reduce the financial stress on the Association and its members, an optional covenanting system will be introduced for members. The accounts were accepted.
The Chair gave an address covering achievements in American Studies over the past year and the threats posed by the QAA proposals. (See Judie Newman’s full text.)
Vigorous discussion followed on the QAA proposals, which were clearly a surprise even to some senior colleagues. Members were encouraged to make representation through their departments and programmes.
A question was put about an earlier plan to commission a history of BAAS. It has proved impossible to raise the money to support this project, but an archive, including oral histories, has been collected and is being deposited with the University of Birmingham Library.
Simon Newman discussed preliminaries for the BAAS Glasgow conference in 1999. Swansea and Oxford were mentioned as possible future conference venues.
Jay Kleinberg, Chair of the Publications Subcommittee, reviewed the situation of all publications.
Douglas Tallack, Chair of the Development Committee, pointed to some evidence of fall-off in undergraduate recruitment, possibly connected to the introduction of fees. He outlined our work to protect and encourage American Studies in schools, and reviewed the conferences and regional groups that BAAS supports.
Mick Gidley, BAAS representative on the Board of the European Association of American Studies (EAAS), reported that more British involvement was needed at the EAAS conference. BAAS is the second largest national association, but has a poor turnout at these events. Currently 18 associations are part of EAAS, with more ready to join.
Under the heading of Any Other Business, conferences on New Orleans (Warwick, July) and OVERhere (Sussex, December) were announced. Elections practice was discussed. The meeting took the position that elections by post were not needed, but that some form of statement from candidates would be useful. The committee will look into altering the time of closing nominations in order to facilitate this. A discussion took place regarding the exclusion of applications from North America to a recent post at Edinburgh University. A member undertook to relay the opinions expressed at the meeting to the University.
‘The Shadow of Nature’: How Artists and Intellectuals Read the Okie Migration to California
Chair: Martin Padget (Aberystwyth)
Lecture: Stephen Fender (Sussex)
Stephen Fender began his lecture by asking why artists and writers such as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, John Steinbeck, Carey McWilliams and Archibald MacLeish focused so much on the supposed helplessness of Okies when they represented the Okie migration to California in the 1930s. And further, he asked, why did such intellectuals emphasise the difficulty of providing effective public aid in California for Dust Bowl migrants when the evidence suggests that Okies were far more resourceful than documentary images imply? As became clear by the end of the talk, these questions are part of a broader concern with issues of restlessness and mobility in American history and the degree to which distinctive patterns of culture can be maintained across time and space.
As historians such as Donald Worster have contended, the very term ‘Dust Bowl’ masks reality even as it suggests potent myths about Okie migration. For one, although half of the Texas Panhandle and half of the Oklahoma Panhandle were affected by severe drought and erosion in the 1930s, most of the land affected by the Dust Bowl was in Colorado and Kansas. Also, the collapse of farming during the mid- to late-1930s followed a severe fall in farm prices during the 1920s and the subsequent ill-effects of the Depression. Far from being a new phenomenon, Okie migration of the 1930s echoed the larger influx of Okie migrants to California between 1910 and 1920. And after the 1930s they continued to come, no longer farmers but bound for shipyards and the World War II defence industry. Such facts, Fender contended, suggest the need for memories of the Depression and the Dust Bowl to be modified.
Pointing to Lange’s famous image of a migrant mother and her three young children that seems to epitomise the despair engendered by economic and social depression, Fender gave a fascinating account of how this ‘most concentrated image of desperation and anxiety’ misleads the viewer into thinking that the iconic Dust Bowl mother was passive and helpless in the face of severe hardship. The woman, Florence Thompson, had actually been in California for ten years when the photograph was taken. She was a Cherokee Indian, mother to eleven children and had worked as a union organiser. Recently it has been discovered that her second husband was away fitting a new radiator for the car when Lange photographed her. Far from condemning Lange for creating a misleading image of poverty-stricken despair, Fender argued that the image should be understood as providing propaganda in the good sense. That is the image was taken to elicit the sympathy of middle-class voters and swing public opinion into pushing for State relief funds. While emphasising the need for relief, the image also suggested resilience and endurance and thus, in effect, the strength of the maternal figure lying at the centre of the ‘uprooted’ Okie family.
Turning to Steinbeck’s fiction and reportage, Fender asked why in In Dubious Battle there is such an emphasis on ‘glooming down’ the fate of Okie migrants. He attributed much of this to the influence on Steinbeck of Ed Ricketts, whose evolutionary theory of human action dictated that when in combination people work on impulse. By the time he was writing The Grapes of Wrath, however, Steinbeck had modified his understanding of collaborative action after gaining access to FSA camps and learning much about Okie experiences through FSA camp organiser Tom Collins (an apostle of the belief in self-help for migrants).
But of course in the novel the Joads don’t remain within the FSA camp and instead, in a fictional ploy that does not mirror historical reality, move on. Fender saw Steinbeck’s insistence on continued displacement as common among intellectuals representing Okies in California. Why was there such an emphasis on displacement and moving on? There are two main reasons. First, many intellectuals representing the Okie migration posed the problem facing Okies inaccurately. They presumed that mobility was wrong for farmers and characterised the Okie migration using natural metaphors. Thus the Okies were ‘uprooted’ and had been forced to move because of soil erosion, suggesting that the problem was inherent in them rather than in the market. Second, intellectuals subscribed to a deeper prejudice, namely that migration must entail cultural failure. Okies appeared to arrive in California without culture. Theirs was a culture of poverty. Fender provided fascinating details about public health advice given to Okies, as though they lacked knowledge of either a decent diet or hygiene, and demonstrated that really Okies were resourceful and adaptive. Thus they maintained a distinctive pattern of culture in poverty.
Fender concluded by stating that ‘uprooted’ is too strong a term to describe the Okie migration. Okies were neither uprooted nor displaced culturally. Indeed their exodus to California was not historically exceptional for their westward movement was part of a larger pattern of repeat migration for British immigrants initially drawn to the Chesapeake region in the 17th century. Fender ended by suggesting that insofar as such mobility has been characteristic of immigrant groups throughout American history, the truly uprooted in American culture were those commentators of the 1930s who didn’t understand how ‘traditional’ societies could maintain themselves through movement and their dynamic responses to changed circumstances.
Film and Visual Arts
Chair: Jonathan Munby (Lancaster)
Margaret Roberts (Exeter) ‘Performative Discourses of Dependency: Black on White in A Streetcar Named Desire and In the Heat of the Night’
Danielle Ramsay (Newcastle) ‘The Lethal Weapon Films and the Biracial Buddy Movie’
Adam Roberts (Royal Holloway) ‘Blackness in Men in Black’
This panel shared a collective concern in revealing how ‘Blackness’ has constituted an informing, structuring and enabling cultural logic in the Hollywood cinema.
Margaret Roberts evaluated the structuring absence of race in A Streetcar Named Desire, detailing how a White imagined Black male identity (stereotyped as the natural man, the mythical black rapist as threat to Southern White womanhood) deeply inflects Brando’s performance (as Stanley Kowalski) as ‘the White Negro.’ Arguing that understanding movies as ‘texts’ misses the vital aspect of performance in Hollywood cinema, the paper revealed how Brando’s invocations of Blackness in his gestures and mannerisms were reinforced by the manipulation of the movie’s mise-en-scene (in terms of blocking, lighting, camera angles, and music – the Blues) by director Elia Kazan – all of which was exacerbated by Vivien Leigh’s wistful performance of Southern White womanhood as the appropriately named ‘Blanche.’
Danielle Ramsay’s paper on biracial buddy movies extended these insights through an equally nuanced reading of the reversals of traditional race-role designations in the Lethal Weapon movies of the late 1980s. Having highlighted how Mel Gibson takes up an (in)appropriate place as the White Negro in the movie’s symbolic structure, while Danny Glover assumes the White Father’s position as stable family patriarch, the paper went onto engage questions of how racial stereotypes (especially the image of a rogue black masculinity) are essential to the way the Lethal Weapon films rework, mediate, and mobilize an Oedipal drama of father/son relations. Thus, while the issue of race might not be openly acknowledged as vital to these films, it serves to amplify Freudian scenarios endemic to Hollywood melodrama.
Having initially highlighted the value of the imaginative space of science-fiction to open-up a discussion of the function of Blackness as ‘alien’ and ‘threatening,’ Adam Roberts’ paper, ‘Blackness in Men in Black,’ delved into the self-conscious performance of Blackness by Will Smith. Arguing that the movie’s excessive replication of well-established biracial conventions brings about a partial divestment of the White cultural capital invested in Blackness (especially Black male identity), the paper discussed how the White signifier of anonymity – the black corporate suit – becomes a signifier of difference when worn by Will Smith (who manages to invest the suit with new cultural capital – that of ‘cool’). While a tone level the film indulges in a glorification of the power of repressive technologies (of White corporate conspiracy), this exists in tension with Will Smith’s ironic exposure of this power’s operating terms – a capacity only available to Will Smith because of his ability to manipulate the signifying power of Blackness.
Chair: Michael Heale (Lancaster)
Nathaniel Pitts (UEA) ‘North and South: The Experiences of African-American Soldiers during the Second World War’
Steven J. Niven (North Carolina, Chapel Hill) ‘Black Power, White Power: Tobacco Workers and Race in North Carolina, 1945-1965.’
A roomful of historians was delighted to get to grips with some real history in this session. The two papers both arose out of doctoral dissertations, and the two speakers beguilingly shared the findings of their research in ways that connected with larger historiographical concerns.
In Nat Pitts’s account the South was not so exceptional, his focus being on the experience of African American servicemen not overseas but within the United States. The dramatic expansion of black troops during the Second World War meant that many were stationed outside the South, and riots and other confrontations involving them occurred in locations throughout the country. Northern communities as well as southern protested at the stationing of black troops in their midst, and practised their own versions of Jim Crow. This research calls into question that interpretation of the origins of the civil rights movement that suggests that service in the North had a liberating effect on blacks; if anything, the military was tending to extend segregation in the North.
Steve Niven also offered a revisionist thesis, questioning the familiar picture of a southern labour movement invigorated by the war but quickly demoralised by post-war racism and McCarthyism. In the case of Durham tobacco workers, who were organised in separate black and white AFL locals, he noted the significant degree of cooperation between black and white officials. White unionists supported the election of blacks to municipal offices, and a coalition of black and white activists for several years controlled the county’s Democratic party and promoted progressive policies. But in the aftermath of the Brown decision racial cooperation gave way to conflict, as rank-and-file white workers began to fear for their skilled jobs. White-black collaboration could withstand red- and race-baiting, but not once did it directly challenge the principle of segregation.
In a lively discussion ranging across the wider racial tensions of the 1940s and 1950s, the relationships of black soldiers with white officers, the distinctive moral economy of Durham, and the wartime role of Sam Shepperson in the Kenya African Rifles, the audience added its own nuances to the revisionist interpretations offered by the two speakers.
Chair: Professor Deborah Madsen (South Bank University)
Dr Nick Selby (University of Wales, Swansea), ‘”To Write Paradise”: American Poetics and the Cantos of Ezra Pound’
Dr Andrew Lawson (Staffordshire University) ‘H.D.’s Eugenic Paganism’
Dr Victoria Bazin (University of Northumbria), ‘Marianne Moore, Modernism, Gender and the Modern Metropolis’
This session raised some interesting issues of American cultural identity, and gender and racial constructions in the literature of the early twentieth century, and provoked a correspondingly lively discussion which was only brought to a conclusion by the too-rapid arrival of the morning coffee break!
Nick Selby began his talk with the Emerson’s famous essay of 1844, ‘The Poet’, in which he struggles to articulate his sense of American literary and cultural identity by noting that ‘America is a poem in our eyes … its ample geography dazzles the imagination’. Selby demonstrates and analyses the ways in which Ezra Pound’s The Cantos emerges out of an American poetic geography, out of a struggle ‘to write the land’. He sees this struggle as crucial to an American poetics because it voices a central concern of American ideology, namely the desire to see the New World as a paradise. After over sixty years spent writing The Cantos Pound asks, in a late fragment, to be forgiven for his failure to write a poetic paradise: I have tried to write Paradise,’ he writes, Do not move / Let the wind speak / that is paradise // Let the Gods forgive what I have made’.
Selby examines in detail the relationship of Pound’s modernism to his romantic forefathers, especially Whitman. He argues that the epic ambition of both Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Pound’s The Cantos has its roots in Anglo-America’s colonial imagination: these poems testify to a desire to write an identity for America through its poetry. This is seen in the sprawling provisionality of Whitman’s poem, which mirrors the westward expansion of America at the time, and in Pound’s desire to write his modernist epic as a poem that includes history’. In both cases, however, he argues that the production of an American poetics is as much the result of the pressures of burgeoning capitalism and the instability of a language of selfhood as it is the result of myths of national identity.
Selby’s reading of The Cantos, then, presents it as both the modernist American epic poem par excellence, and as a classic’ American text. In its political and cultural difficulties, Pound’s epic is not only a test-case for reassessing the legacy of modernist aesthetics, but also the exemplary ground upon which a New Americanist critique of the poetics of American identity can be built.
In Andrew Lawson’s paper he argues that H.D.’s modernist project of self-invention in the autobiographical novel Her (1927) involves an identification with the Negro as an idealized ‘other’ who will enable the banalities of ‘Anglo-Saxonism’ in the 1900s to be transcended. Crucially, however, this identification also allows the class privileges and cultural authority of Anglo-Saxonism to be maintained. In order to explain this apparent contradiction Lawson analyzes Her in relation to the contemporary discourses of eugenics and Hellenism. He begins by arguing that the militant claims for civil rights made by W.E.B. Du Bois and the Niagara Falls Movement in the 1900s make the traditional paternalist strategy of ‘Negrophilia,’ or identification with the ‘coloured mammy’ stereotype, problematic since it appears that African Americans are no longer prepared to adopt the role of domestic docility. H.D.’s text shows an attempt to discover deeper racial ‘kinships’ by deploying the scientific discourse of eugenics in its project of self-invention. Her defines its central character, Hermione Gart as ‘Nordic,’ using the specialized vocabulary of the American eugenicists William Z. Ripley and Madison Grant to establish a ‘scientifically’ validated European genealogy. The novel also adopts, via Walter Pater’s Greek studies, the late Victorian discourse of what Martin Bernal has called ‘Aryan’ Hellenism: the construction of ‘Dorian’ culture as the citadel of Greekness, the distillation of Western rationality and culture as opposed to ‘Ionian’ or Asian barbarism. In this process of adoption, the Negro domestic servant, Mandy, is aestheticized and Orientalized, converted into an ‘Ionian bronze’: a specular projection of otherness which confirms the cultural distinction and authority of whiteness. The result of this combination of discursive regimes is what Ezra Pound calls ‘eugenic paganism.’
Thus, while a discourse may be appropriated for the purposes of individual self-invention, the ideological functions of a discourse as it pertains to confirming group identity and privilege are, at the same time, confirmed. It seems misleading, therefore, to describe the condition of being simultaneously ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ discourse as, in Homi Bhabha’s term, ‘ambivalence,’ since this suggests a psychic hesitation between alternative identities. What Her shows is an ambivalence which is resolved through a more or less conscious political decision: to reject the Negro as a figure of exotic abjection, and identify with ‘Nordic’ authority and distinction.
Victoria Bazin draws into relation with the concept of Modernity the notion of the city as a gendered space as an alternative to the Modernist image of the city as a symbol of cultural decline or the site of encounter with the ‘Other’. In Marianne Moore’s poetry the city becomes a place of potential liberation for women, a place where the possibilities for transgression are rich amid the carnivalesque imagery and ephemera of urban living. Bazin suggests that Moore may have discovered in Henry James this sense of ‘gusto’ as characteristic of urban culture: a perception of the city as a site of romance, of excess. In this way, Moore’s representation of the city as haunted by the spectre of modernity but enriched by the process of fragmentation and the proliferation of ephemeral fragments, simulacra that are empowering rather than threatening, places her in opposition to some of the dominant American voices of Modernism.
Chair: Philip Davies
Malcolm Bradbury (Emeritus Professor, University of East Anglia) ‘The American Philosophes in France.’
A career as critic, analyst, broadcaster, writer, novelist and academic (latest publication: Introduction to American Studies, 2nd. edition) has more layers than most, and Malcolm Bradbury’s introduced his audience to a project in which many of these layers interweave. Colleagues were taken on a tour of the life of, and influences on Chateaubriand, resident in France, and visionary visitor to the USA. This came after an exploration of Russia, and particularly St. Petersburg, through the eyes of Catherine the Great and the (mostly discarded) theories of Diderot. Diderot went east to seek his fortune, and returned west to Paris having had his bills paid for at least a while. Chauteaubriand decided to go west in a futile search for the Northwest Passage, successful meetings with Native Americans and white immigrants, both noble and not so noble, and views of Niagara and the Natural Bridge. He returned east, though, to Bungay in Suffolk, not to France, and these wonders he had seen, together with his awareness of some of the cruel realities of the opening of America, fed his writing, as they now stimulate that of Malcolm Bradbury. This skilfully woven talk brought a most successful BAAS conference to end on a high note.
How African are African-Americans
Chair: Simon Middleton (East Anglia)
Lecture: Howard Temperley (East Anglia)
Drawing upon his research in African history and recent commentary and debates within American identity politics, journalism and the popular press, Professor Temperley challenged the claim of Black American culture to African origins. In Professor Temperley’s view the ‘African’ component of Black American culture, both historically and currently, has less to do with retention and cultural inheritance and more with contemporary struggles over race and identity within the academic profession and American society at large. In the lively debate which followed Professor Temperley was challenged to account for the findings of historical anthropology relating to African cultural practices in the US and to extend his critique of cultural construction beyond his claims regarding African-American culture. By the end of the session it was clear that Professor Temperley had raised important questions regarding the use of the culture concept in history, in particular concerning the difficulties in trying to distinguish between culture as a transferable shared system of practices and meanings and culture as something generated and formed in particular contexts and in response to contemporary social relations
Simon Newman (University of Glasgow)
‘United States 2, Rest of the World 0: The Promise of Multicultural Football’
The upcoming World Cup will be a very French affair. Most seats have been reserved for French fans and sponsors, and each ticket will be imprinted with the holder’s name to ensure that none but the French will sit amongst the French. Meanwhile tens of thousands of police and security officials will surround the fans of other countries, separating them from one another and from their French hosts, employing the threat of state sanctioned violence to keep the peace as the tribal chants of rampant nationalism echo around the French stadia. How sad it is that the world’s most popular sport continues to separate far more than it unites. Four years ago, however, the multicultural potential of both football and of the United States was readily apparent when the world came to America. It was a potential that eluded or unnerved some Americans, while it thrilled and enthralled thousands more, illustrating the bitterly divisive contests over the emergence of a new, multicultural America in the sport that is played by more Americans than is any other.
Watching the games in Chicago, the gap between the reality of the World Cup as a multicultural endeavour and the myth of a monocultural America was all too apparent. Of all the teams that played in Chicago, it was the Germans who were most popular with the reporters of the Chicago Tribune. Germany were the defending champions, and the surrounding midwest was home to a sizable German population (with about 1.8 million German Americans in the Chicago area alone), and they were white western Europeans who fit the image of WASP melting-pot America a good deal better than the Bolivians, Greeks, Spaniards and Bulgarians, whose teams also played in Chicago. When the Germans arrived, the Tribune noted with pleasure that lamp posts around the team’s suburban hotel were decorated with German flags and banners wishing them ‘Viel gluck’ – ‘lots of luck.’ 1 Three weeks later the Germans left for their quarter-final game, and the Tribune said ‘goodbye to the global representatives of the world’s most popular athletic endeavor,’ despite the fact that the Germans had never found their rhythm and did not look at all like champions. But the Tribune’s headline said it all: ‘World comes to end: German team leaves.’ 2
The differences in Tribune reporting of the Germans and their opponents was quite remarkable. In the opening game the defending champions met Bolivia, and despite the stifling heat and the silly speeches, some 65,000 fans thoroughly enjoyed the opening ceremonies. With more than a little surprise, the Tribune noted of the fans that ‘the Bolivians seemed to have the most spirit,’ but then went on to reassure readers that, of course, ‘the Germans had the numbers.’ 3
What the Tribune reporters missed, but was quite obvious to the fans at Soldier Field was that almost all of the 12,000 odd German fans had come from Germany. Most German emigrants came to the United States before soccer was an established part of German culture, and few of their German American descendants are familiar with the sport or consider it part of their own ethno-cultural heritage. Thus relatively few German Americans got particularly excited about the World Cup or went out of their way to attend the games. But most of the Greek, Spanish, Bulgarian and Bolivian Americans have come to this country far more recently. The vast majority of those supporting Bolivia, and there were a good many more than 12,000, had not travelled from Bolivia, but were instead drawn from the many hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans who traced their ancestry to Latin America. What entirely escaped the Chicago Tribune reporters was that the most heavily foreign group of fans to visit Chicago were the Germans: the Greek, Spanish, Bulgarian and Bolivian fans were far less foreign and far more American.
But while the Tribune writers realized that most of those attending the games came from the Chicagoland area, they did not realize the significance of this fact.4 Implicit in most of their reporting was the assumption that soccer was not an American sport, and that consequently this was a fundamentally foreign event, and was in a very real sense un-American. Only one television network, the Miami-based Spanish language network Univision Broadcasting, showed every one of the World Cup games. The president of their Chicago affiliate WCIU estimated that there were at least 650,000 Mexican Americans in the Chicagoland area, to say nothing of those with roots in other central and southern American countries, or the 400,000 odd Greek Americans in Chicago, and the many more Italian and Irish Americans.5 Soccer was far from alien to these ethnic Americans.
This is one aspect of multicultural America, shown in the ways that different racial and ethnic groups hold on to aspects of their social and cultural heritage while yet adding more colors to the spectrum of American society. Soccer is American, but only if one allows for a definition of American that will include the socio-cultural heritage of Greeks, Mexicans, Italians, Irish and others who play and watch soccer. But Tribune reporters, extremely sensitive to the fact that WASP America was not part of this rainbow, could not help but see it as foreign and un-American.
In the ‘Food Guide’ section of the Tribune, for example, two reporters described the ethnic neighborhoods and restaurants that would be of interest to the teams and fans visiting Chicago, Schulien’s for the Germans, Ba-Ba-Reeba for the Spanish, Rinconcito for the Bolivians, Little Bucharest for the Bulgarians, Santorini for the Greeks.6 But there was no sense, or at least no acknowledgment of the fact that most of those who attended the games were Americans who lived in these neighborhoods, and who dined at these restaurants, and perhaps more significantly, at McDonalds and Burger King all the time.
The shared soccer heritage of these ethnic groups was evident long before the World Cup came to town. To begin with, one can watch professional soccer at a variety of ethnic taverns. The crowds at these events usually contain a majority that reflects the ethnicity of the tavern, but many more from other ethnic groups attend, and this was especially true during the World Cup itself.
These traditions are even more evident in the playing of soccer. There are 15 soccer leagues in the Chicagoland area, comprising about 500 teams and over 10,000 players. The Metropolitan League is the best, with sizable numbers of Italian, German, Polish, Serbian and Croatian American players. The most enjoyable is the Hispano and International League, boasting players whose roots are as distant as Haiti, Nigeria and Belize. The large majority of the players in the Chicago Latin American Soccer Association are Mexican American. Some of the players in all of these leagues are foreign-born, but the majority are native-born American citizens, yet that is not how the Tribune reporters see them. It was only after reporting that nearly 90% of the players in the Chicago Latin American Soccer Association were ‘Mexican’ that reporter Bob Condor admitted that well over half of them were American-born.7
There is a clear contradiction here. In the eyes of Tribune reporters one is either Mexican or American, but an individual who is both and a soccer player to boot completely confounded these writers. This confusion was heightened by the Tribune’s regular and ongoing reporting of little league and high school soccer games in Chicago’s vast suburbs. Over the past couple of decades soccer has become one of the most popular sports in suburban high schools, and many middle American white girls and boys have played and enjoyed the sport. Their championship games are regularly reported in the Sports section of the Tribune, and have become an accepted part of the high school and college sports scene.
But the large majority of adult male players are ethnic Americans: to the Tribune they remained foreign, different and other. And the same was true of the visiting teams from Bolivia, Greece, Bulgaria and Spain. This became particularly clear when I read reports about the hotels and the training sessions of these visiting teams. All stayed outside the ethnically rich city itself, opting for the wide open spaces of the affluent suburbs of DuPage County. Some twenty five miles west of the city, DuPage is monocultural America, solidly middle class and about 90% white. Even the Tribune made note of this, commenting that the World Cup teams had ‘brought a certain incongruity to suburbia’: it did not occur to Tribune reporters that in the ethnically and racially rich multicultural America of the late-twentieth century, it is the white suburbs that are becoming ever more incongruous.8
Perhaps this accounts for the defensiveness and the negativity in much of the Tribune’s reporting of the World Cup. For in Soldier Field one could see some indication of the ever increasing racial and ethnic diversity of multicultural America. The World Cup illustrated that after two centuries Crevecoeur’s tantalizing question ‘What is an American?’ remains not only unanswered but deeply contested.9 Crevecoeur observed that in ‘this great American asylum… Europeans become Americans,’10 but as the American century ends it is people of South American and Asian descent who are becoming Americans, challenging us to reformulate a white European vision of American identity. To the majority of fans attending the games it was abundantly clear that soccer, and presumably a great deal more, is not part of exotic foreign cultures. It is a vibrant part of the new America, but issues of class, race and ethnicity blind most of middle America to its presence. In soccer, as in food, religion and a great many other rites, ethnic and racial communities come together and form a new kind of majority: this is what threatened the Tribune reporters and their largely white readership.
Throughout the nineteenth century the immigrants who poured into America believed that to be successful and to become American they needed to emulate the white western European model. What is different today, as ‘the culture wars’ become every more bitter, is that an increasing number of academics and social commentators are acknowledging that the America of the next century will no longer fit this imposed pattern. Within a few years Spanish will be the first language of a majority of the students in California high schools, Latin Americans will comprise over half of the working population in the City of Angels, and by 2050 California will be ‘majority minority.’11
In Soldier Field one could detect some small glimmerings of how American society will begin to re-answer Crevecoeur’s question in the next century. Ordinary Americans, perhaps unwittingly, are redefining their national identity in relationship to the country’s multicultural reality. They are moving beyond the melting pot, and beyond a white-imposed and mediated pluralism, and are taking the nation towards a ‘cacophonous and conflictual’ new America whose citizens neither shed old identities nor acquire new ones in order to become Americans.12 As a result, the United States remains the most interesting and certainly the most appropriate nation to host the World Cup.
- Andrew Bagnato, ”Viel gluck’ – Germans arrive,’ Chicago Tribune, Tuesday 14 June 1994. Back
- Ted Gregory, ‘World Comes to end: German team leaves,’ Tribune, Saturday 9 July, 1994. Back
- Colin McMahon and Sue Ellen Christian, ‘Chicago Says Welcome to the World,’ Tribune, Saturday 18 June 1994. Back
- See ‘Ted Gregory, ‘World comes to end.’ Back
- Jean Davidson, ‘World Cup Goal: New increase in U.S. fans,’ Tribune, TV Week, Sunday 12 June 1994. Back
- Pat Dailey and Steven Pratt, ‘Chicago Winners,’ Tribune, Thursday 16 June 1994. Back
- Bob Condor, ‘Field of Teams,’ Tribune, Friday 10 June 1994. Back
- Ted Gregory, ”Cup teams take world to DuPage,’ Tribune, Thursday 16 June 1994. Back
- J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Letters From an American Farmer (1782), (New York, 1957), 35. Back
- Ibid., 27, 44. Back
- Evelyn Hu-DeHart, ‘Rethinking America: The Practice and Politics of Multiculturalism in Higher Education,’ in Beyond A Dream Deferred: Multicultural Education and the Politics of Excellence, ed. Becky W. Thompson and Sangeeta Tyagi, (Minneapolis, 1993), 7. Back
- Duster, ‘The Diversity at California at Berkeley: An Emerging Reformulation of ‘Competence’ in an Increasingly Multicultural World,’ in Beyond A Dream Deferred, 234. Back
News from American Studies Centres
The David Bruce Centre for American Studies, Keele University
The David Bruce Centre for American Studies welcomed two Research Fellows for the second semester 1997/98. They are Dr. Daniel Preston of the College of William and Mary, Virginia, and Regents Professor of Political Science and Statistics at Oklahoma State University, Robert Darcy. Dr. Preston is editing the papers of James Monroe. Professor Darcy is researching the role of women and minorities in American politics.
The Centre also hosted the Canada United Kingdom Colloquium held at Keele from 23 to 26 November. The theme of the conference was the ‘Implications of the Communications Revolution for Canada and the UK.’ The dinner was addressed by Sir Nicholas Bayne, former British High Commissioner to Canada and His Excellency the Hon. Roy MacLaren, Canadian High Commissioner.
The Centre was also the recipient of a number of books from the estate of the late Jim Hardy, who graduated in American Studies from Keele in 1968. He went on to teach at Queens College, New York, and then became Vice President for Human Resources at Citibank, New York. He had asked for the books to be dedicated to the memory of the late John Lees, who had taught and inspired him.
Recent research acquisitions include: Chicago Defender, 1985-1997; Variety, 1991-1997, US Statutes at Large (complete) and Lyndon B. Johnson National Security Files: Vietnam, 1963-1969 and Vietnam: Special Subjects. The Centre welcomes inquiries about its other holdings.
In addition, the Bruce Centre and the Centre of American Studies, University of Hong Kong, have concluded an Academic Exchange and Collaboration Agreement. The Agreement provides for exchange of postgraduate students and faculty, joint research activities and the organization of joint conferences. It is envisaged that the general area of U.S. foreign policy will constitute core activity.
Applications for the Centre’s MAs in American History, American History and Politics and American Literature and Culture are still being considered, as are applications for doctoral degrees.
Institute For United States Studies
The major public event of the Institute’s year is the James Bryce Lecture on the American Commonwealth. Inaugurated in 1996 by the Institute’s Chairman, Lady Thatcher, the second lecture was delivered in 1997 by Professor Arthur M Schlesinger, Jr. In addition, the Institute has established the Cleanth Brooks Lecture on American Literature and Culture which was inaugurated by Joseph Epstein in 1997. The second Cleanth Brooks Lecture will be delivered by Sir Frank Kermode on October 28th, 1998. The Thatcher, Schlesinger and Epstein lectures are all available for purchase from the Institute.
In addition to many public lectures and seminars, the Institute organises the John M Olin Programme on Politics, Morality and Citizenship. The Olin lecturers to date have been Professor Roger Scruton, Martha Bayles, F Carolyn Graglia, Professor Lino Graglia (University of Texas at Austin) and Professor Stephen B Presser (Northwestern University School of Law), Professor Jean Bethke Elshtain (University of Chicago), Professor Harvey C Mansfield, Jr, (Harvard University), Professor Kenneth Minogue (formerly of the London School of Economics), Professor JR Pole (formerly of St Catherine’s College, Oxford). All the Olin Lectures are available as monographs by the Institute. On May 5-6 the Institute hosted a two day international conference on Lessons on Federalism: What Europe Might Learn from America at the Royal Institute of British Architects. The keynote address was given by L Douglas Wilder, former Governor of Virginia; other speakers included Bill Cash MP, former United States Attorney General Edwin Meese III, Ambassador Philip Lader, Sir Roy Denman, Hugh Brogan, Robert McKeever, AJ Badger and AE Dick Howard. The conference was supported in part by the United States Information Service.
In addition to its public programmes, the Institute offers a one-year full time and two- year part time MA in United States Studies with courses in American History, Political Thought, International Relations, Politics, Constitutional History, Music, Literature, Hollywood and the History of Popular Film, War Studies and Economic History.
The Institute has also recently re-established its research programme leading to the MPhil/PhD in United States Studies. The Institute also has two non-stipendiary fellowship programmes: the John Adams Fellowships and Visiting Research Fellowships, both of which are open to members of the British Association for American Studies. Information on all of these activities, including how to join the Institute’s mailing list, can be obtained from
Mrs Anna Brooke
Institute of United States Studies
London WC1E 7HU.
Please note new telephone and fax numbers:
Tel: (0 11 44) 171 862 8691
Fax: (0 11 44) 171 862 8696
American Studies/Middlesex University
When not preparing for our QAA inspection (result: 22 out of 24), staff in the American Studies programme at Middlesex University have been busy with the following:
Clive Bloom has published Cult Fiction (Macmillan and St Martin’s Press, 1997) and, as editor, Gothic Horror (Macmillan and St Martin’s, 1998). He is speaking at the ‘Coming Down Fast! Replaying the 1960s’ conference at the University of Wolverhampton, July 10-12.
Douglas Eden has edited The Future of the Atlantic Community (Middlesex University Press, 1997), and is currently working on two further collections for Macmillan. He is also organising a conference on European Integration and the Transatlantic Relationship and Trade, to be held at Middlesex’s Trent Park campus on Friday 12 June (for details e-mail D.Eden@mdx.ac.uk).
Vivien Miller’s book Violent Crime, Sexual Deviancy and Executive Clemency in Florida, 1889-1918 will shortly be published by the University of Florida Press. She recently gave a paper at the Cambridge University conference on Southern Women’s History.
Having spent much of last year teaching and researching in the US on a Fulbright Scholarship, Hugh Wilford is currently writing Britain, America, and the Cultural Cold War, 1945-60. He is speaking at the conference on ‘Anglo-American Relations in the Twentieth Century’, ICBH (Senate House, London University), 6-8 July. Dr Hugh Wilford Curriculum Leader for American Studies Middlesex University White Hart Lane London N17 8HR Tel: 0181 362-6018
American Studies at Glasgow
We are proud to announce the creation of the Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies at the University of Glasgow, named to honour Andrew in the year of his retirement. In addition to administering a new taught M.Phil. in American Studies, the Centre will build on Glasgow’s traditional strengths in American history, literature, and media studies, and will sponsor conferences, lectures, seminars and a variety of events. On May 22nd the Centre will sponsor a seminar entitled ‘American History: The View From Glasgow,’ which will include a roundtable discussion of the books published by Glasgow staff members Michael French, Simon Newman and Phillips O’Brien, and a lecture by Professor Tony Badger entitled ‘American History in Britain: The Glasgow Model.’ We are collaborating with Waterstone’s to bring major writers to campus over the coming year, including Toni Morrison and Gore Vidal, and with the United States Consulate in Edinburgh in order to stage seminars and lectures to celebrate their bicentennial. In March of 1999 we shall host the annual conference of the British Association for American Studies, and in the summer of 2001 the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture will hold their annual meeting here, which will be the first occasion on which they have met outside of the United States.
American Studies/University of Central Lancaster
The team has established a series of research seminars in American Studies-related areas, and guests this year have included Professor Laura Mulvey, and Professor Wilfred Samuels from Ohio State University. We are looking to develop the series further next year, and will be glad to send out details of seminars to colleagues, particularly those in the North-West. Contact Dr Alan Rice firstname.lastname@example.org.
American Studies is closely involved in the Maastricht Center for Transatlantic Studies, which has taken its first students and staff on short term exchange at the campus in Maastricht. Further details are available from Dr Will Kaufman email@example.com.
American Studies/University of Central Lancashire – QAA Visit Result
American Studies at the University of Central Lancashire was recently rated 24 out of 24 following a QAA visit, one of the few so-called ‘new’ universities ever to receive this top mark. One area particularly praised was the innovative nature of the curriculum, which was revalidated some years ago to include greater emphasis on cultural theory and the interrogation of American cultural hegemony. A second noteworthy feature of this outstanding result for Preston was that every single teaching observation was rated with a top mark of 4. Combined with the award of non-formula funding in the 1996 RAE, it seems as though Preston is a place to watch for developments in the discipline. Congratulations!
Liverpool Hope University College
Stephen Perrin presented a guest lecture on ‘William S. Burroughs: Beyond the Temporal Paradox’ on April 15, 1998, at the Department of Anglo-American Studies of the University of Catania, Italy.
Newcastle: Historic Images Found in Robinson Library
Some of the earliest photographic images in the world have been found in Newcastle’s Robinson Library. The discovery of ten daguerreotypes, which date from 1840 and include the oldest-known photographic images of Niagara Falls, taken only a few months after daguerreotyping was invented, is causing great excitement in the UK and US.
‘The story began when a box marked daguerreotypes was unearthed,’ explains David Perrow, Deputy Librarian. ‘The images were labelled HL Pattinson, April 1840, identified as Hugh Pattinson, an eminent industrialist and metallurgist.
‘Eight of the images are of Niagara Falls and were taken by Pattinson whilst sightseeing after a business trip to the USA. They are the first photographs ever taken in Canada, as well as being the first photographs of Niagara. The two other images are of Rome and were taken by Lerebours, a famous daguerreotypist, before being acquired by Pattinson. All the images were badly in need of restoration and their age and significance demanded specialist expertise.’
An appeal on the Internet led to an offer of help from George Eastman House, the International Museum of Photography in Rochester, New York, who are world experts on daguerreotypes. ‘These images are one of the most important finds in the field of photographic history in years,’ said Anthony Bannon, Director of George Eastman House.
The restored images were exhibited in New York this summer and have now been returned to Newcastle for further conservation work. They will be exhibited in the University’s Robinson Library in Spring 1998.
Librarians believe they have solved the mystery of why the daguerreotypes remained undiscovered for so long. The family of Pattinson’s great granddaughter, Gertrude Bell, best known for her travels and political work in the Middle East in the early 20th century, donated an archive of 7,000 photographs, diaries and manuscripts to Newcastle University after her death in 1926. ‘It seems her grandfather’s daguerreotypes were donated at the same time, put to one side whilst the huge photographic archive was catalogued and not rediscovered until some 70 years later,’ concludes David Perrow.
A New Resource for American Studies: The Eric Mottram Collection at King’s College London
by Shamoon Zamir
Eric Mottram (1924-1995) was Emeritus Professor of English and American Literature at King’s College London. He was appointed Lecturer in American literature in 1961, the first such post in Britain, and was, in 1963, a co-founder of London University’s Institute of United States Studies, the first of its kind in the country. An original and accomplished American Studies scholar, he is well known for his pioneering work on the Beat writers and on post-World War II American poetry. But Mottram also wrote extensively on the likes of Melville, Poe, Whitman, Twain, Faulkner, Hemingway, Pound, and Williams. His cultural investigations stretched from the relations of law and literature, technology and culture (including superb studies of guns and cars in American culture), the fears of invasion in American society, to the rock culture of the 1960s, the music of John Cage and the use of Sufi philosophy and poetics in post-World War II American poetry. Himself an accomplished poet, Mottram was also one of the moving forces behind what he himself referred to as ‘the British poetry revival’ which has been underway in the world of the small presses since the 1960s – though that is an aspect of his work that cannot be dealt with here. All in all there are several books and pamphlets of literary and cultural criticism, over twenty books of poetry and over two hundred articles. Less easy to quantify, though no less significant, is Mottram’s work as a teacher and educator. Anyone who has studied with him will testify to what in today’s academic world appears as a reckless generosity with his time and energy.
The extensive archive of books, papers, audio tapes and other materials which Mottram left behind constitutes a unique research resource for American studies and contemporary British literature. The heart of the Collection is made up of some 12,000 books, hundreds of boxes of papers and several hundred audio cassettes. The books cover a very wide range of topics but special areas of strength include first editions and rare items relating to Beat writers and post-World War II American and British poetry. As far as the American materials are concerned there is no comparable collection in Britain. The papers consist of Mottram’s own drafts, manuscripts and research notes (containing a great deal of unpublished scholarship and poetry), correspondence with a wide range of writers in America and Britain (including Ginsberg, Duncan, Jerome Rothenberg, and Basil Bunting), and Mottram’s diaries and creative notebooks. These latter provide not only a valuable record of Mottram’s own development but also essential records of contemporary literary and cultural history. For instance, Mottram was teaching at Kent State University in America in 1970 when student protesters were shot. He was involved in the counselling of both students and staff and kept a detailed journal of those days. The vast majority of the tapes (begun in the 1960s) are original recordings of poetry readings, interviews, lectures and discussions done by Mottram himself. In addition the archive contains a small selection of artworks by contemporary British artists and a library of LP records covering classical, jazz and world musics. Mottram often quoted the American poet and scholar Muriel Rukeyser’s conviction that ‘the range must be taken.’ The Eric Mottram Collection is without doubt the work of such a creative ambition.
The Mottram Archive is open to interested members of both the academic and non-academic communities. For further information please call the archive at 0171 873 2015.
Area Studies Database of Expertise in the UK
The first ever comprehensive, web-based database of its kind, the Area Studies Database of Expertise in the UK is bringing together extensive listings of academic experts, together with their contact details, language skills and research interests for users to access via a specially designed web interface. Funded by HEFCE, theESRC and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office the Database is based at the University of Manchester and is co-ordinated by Dr. Pandeli Glavanis, Ms. Cynthia Carter, Ms. Laura Turney and Professor Richard Werbner.
Convenient and easy to use, the Database will provide a number of different ways to search for information and will be an invaluable tool for both academic, business, media and other users who will be able to easily access information via clickable web links designed to take the user quickly and directly to the appropriate individuals and/or research centres. Thus, a prospective user with an interest in Canada will be able to focus on a discipline, language or institution and narrow their search down to the information reflecting their specific interest. Alternatively, those who wish to access information regarding more general questions such as overall research, teaching or language provision with relation to countries and/or areas will also find the Database extremely useful.
For further information:
Area Studies Database of Expertise
Department of Sociology
University of Manchester M13 9PL
Tel: 0161 275 6784/2516
Fax: 0161 275 2462
The Area Studies Web Page will be available in 1998.
Centre for the Study of Globalisation, Eurocentrism & Marginality (CGEM)
Department of Sociology
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL UK
Tel: 44 0161 275 7852
Fax: 44 0161 275 2462
Grants to Aid Graduate Attendance at BAAS Conferences
In recent years some universities hosting the BAAS annual conference have been in a position to offer significant subsidies to postgraduate members who attend. These have helped to boost the number of graduate students at recent conferences, a trend that has been widely and positively noticed. Sadly, not all universities are equally generous. In some years it will prove necessary to set stringent limits on how much anyone can receive and under what circumstances.
In others, as at Glasgow in 1999, we anticipate that a flat rate subsidy may be possible. In order to spread the subsidy more effectively at future conferences, we have to require graduate members of BAAS to provide the Conference organiser with some evidence (perhaps from a supervisor) that assistance has been sought from their own institution. You should, therefore, approach your supervisor, Head of Department, and Financial Office to investigate what possibilities may exist. BAAS will try to help as long as you have exhausted those possibilities.
We hope that in many years the Conference funding will allow flat rate subsidies. When it does not, BAAS is not in a position to offer more than limited assistance beyond the existing low rate of membership for postgraduates.
Exchange Programmes with American Universities
At the BAAS conference in Norwich, it was agreed that a session should be held at the 1999 BAAS conference in Glasgow, especially in the light of the introduction of tuition fees and the implications which this could have for exchange programmes. The session will be organised by Dr Peter Boyle, who has been involved for many years with exchange programmes of the University of Nottingham with a number of American universities. The session will be concerned with exchanges which are part of an American Studies degree – not a Junior Year Abroad – and other such exchange programmes of a more general nature.
Peter Boyle has drawn up a questionnaire which he would like to be filled in and sent to him by BAAS members who are involved in American Studies exchange programmes. At the session on exchanges at the Glasgow conference, Peter Boyle will present a summary of the findings from the responses to the questionnaire, and this will form the basis for a general discussion at the session. Questionnaire on Exchange Programmes 1) With which American universities does your university have an exchange programme? 2) For which period of time do your students go to an American university on an exchange programme (eg. a semester; a year)? 3) At which point in their degree do your students go to an American university on an exchange programme (eg. 1st semester of 2nd Year; a year between 2nd and 3rd Year)? 4) Do you exchange students on a one-for-one basis or on another arrangement? 5) Do your students exchange tuition fees? 6) Do your students exchange accommodation fees? 7) Do the grades attained by students at the American university which they attend count towards their degree? 8) If grades do count towards students’ degree, how do you translate American grades into British university marks? 9) Is a period of study at an American university a compulsory or optional part of your American Studies degree? 10) Do you feel that a period of study at an American university is a essential part of an American Studies degree which should be a required part of every American Studies degree? 11) What are the main benefits which you feel that your students gain from a period of study at an American university? 12) What are the main benefits which you feel that your students gain from a period of study at an American university? 13) Has the introduction of tuition fees led you to alter your exchange programme in any way? Please send your response to:
Dr Peter Boyle
Department of American and Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD, or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Conference Scene
Exeter Conference Report: Identifying America / American Identities
The School of English and American Studies at the University of Exeter hosted the annual BAAS Interdisciplinary One-Day Postgraduate conference on 6th December 1997, entitled ‘Identifying America / American Identities.’ BAAS gratefully provided a grant of £200 to support the conference, as well as helping to publicise the event in the early stages.
The conference was quite modestly attended, perhaps due to the relative geographical remoteness of our University. We also had to overcome several last minute problems of illness and cancellation. Despite all this, the conference was friendly and relaxed, and proved to be a useful and stimulating experience. The conference was organised around four panels.
The morning session was on ‘Nostalgia.’ Paul Grainge (University of Nottingham) spoke on ‘Time’s Past in the Present: Nostalgia and the Black and White Image’ followed by Maurice Bottomley (Manchester Metropolitan University) on ‘Back in the Day: Nostalgia and the New Classic Soul.’ Despite the differing subject areas, the discussion afterwards raised some interesting points about the American desire for nostalgia. The session was followed by an announcement from Anna Notaro (University of Nottingham) on the forthcoming HRB funded ‘Three Cities’ project, which is being run jointly by the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham.
After lunch, the conference split into two concurrent panels. The ‘Ethnicity’ session heard papers by Eric Kaufmann (London School of Economics) on ‘From Anglo-Saxon to Avant-Garde: Modernism and White American Identity Since 1913’, Richard Crownshaw (University of Sussex) on ‘The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Jewish-American Identities and the Nationalisation of Holocaust Memory’ and David Kennedy (University of Exeter) on ‘Martin Scorsese – Italian-American?’ The discussion period found useful common ground between the three papers, and was informative in its considerations of what ethnicity might mean in contemporary American society. Next door, the session was called ‘Looking Outside/Looking Inside.’ Saer Maty Ba (University of Exeter) spoke on ‘Religion and Struggle Against Racism: the case of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam’ and Sue Wragg (University of Nottingham) spoke on ‘A Modernist Identity?: The U.S. and French Modernity.’ Thanks are especially due here to Candida Taylor (University of Birmingham), who stepped into the breach caused by one of the last minute cancellations and presented her paper on Zoot suits and 1950’s Chicano fashion and style. The discussion afterwards found shared thematic concepts between the papers while remaining sensitive to the specific differences between them. Next the delegates were given a tour of the Bill Douglas Centre, the University of Exeter’s new museum and research facility. Collected by the late Scottish filmmaker Bill Douglas and gratefully donated by his friend Peter Jewell, the collection consists of over 15,000 books and over 30,000 artifacts relating to cinema and popular culture.
The final session of the day was on ‘Women Writing.’ Ann Hurford (Nottingham Trent University) spoke on ‘Speaking out and Soap Opera: Anne Tyler’s Interrogation of Language in A Slipping-Down Life‘ and Hilary Dixon (Independent) on ‘Margaret Fuller: Identity Work.’ One of the conference casualties, Sophia Taylor (University of Nottingham), who had injured her back a few days before the event, arranged to have her paper on ‘Ellen Glasgow’s Spiritual Identity: Skeptic or Believer?’ read by her colleague Helen Oakley. Despite the chronological differences between the writers addressed, the discussion session again found useful links between the papers. The conference as a whole was a good advert for both the quality and diversity of work being done in American Studies at the postgraduate level and all of the papers provoked stimulating and interesting discussions. Paul Giles from the editorial board of OVERhere invited all the contributors to send their papers in to be considered for publication, and it is hoped that a selection of them will appear. We would like to thank Jo Whitmore, the postgraduate secretary in the School, for her help in all aspects of organising the conference, as well as Ph.D. student Fan Austin for her help on the day. Finally we thank BAAS and OVERhere again for their support.
David Kennedy and Richard Bradbury
Annual Conference of the Irish Association for American Studies: Alan Graham Memorial Lecture
On March 27, 1998, Douglas Tallack (University of Nottingham) gave the Alan Graham Memorial Lecture to open the annual conference of the Irish Association for American Studies in Dublin. His lecture, on the subject of ‘Just Waiting: The Hotel Lobby’, was delivered in the official residence of the American ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, who was in the audience. Jean Kennedy Smith is a sister of the late President John F Kennedy.
Martin Luther King Memorial Conference
Between 8-10 May 1998, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Conference was held at Newcastle University, expertly co-ordinated by Dr. Brian Ward of the History Department and various indispensable (and tireless!) helpers. The Conference theme this year was, ‘Media and Culture, Race and Resistance in the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements’. It drew together an invigorating range of distinguished Americanists from both sides of the Atlantic (as well as many postgraduates, lured by the generous student discounts!). The academic sessions were dynamic and stimulating, involving a lively variety of papers and discussions drawn from a range of disciplines within American Studies. The great public attractions included the NAACP’s chairman, Julian Bond’s lecture on ‘The Media and the Movement’ and, the pinnacle of the conference, ‘An Audience with Harry Belafonte’: the renowned African American artist, entertainer and humanitarian. This was followed by the much enjoyed ‘Harry Belafonte Celebration Dinner’ at which exclusive footage, filming Martin Luther King receiving his honorary degree from Newcastle in 1967, was shown. This provided a moving tribute to the thematic and political underpinnings of the King Conference as a whole. It is hoped that, in due course, another publication will emerge (in addition to the published collection of essays from the last King Conference), edited by Brian Ward, which will extend the intellectual benefits of this really excellent event to a wider audience.
Urban Space and Representation Conference, Arts Centre, University of Nottingham 16 May 1998
This one-day interdisciplinary conference was the first to be organised in the context of the six year research project: ‘Literary and Visual Representations of Three American Cities (New York, Chicago, Los Angeles) 1870s-1930s’. This is a collaborative project initiated by the Department of American & Canadian Studies at the Universities of Nottingham and Birmingham. A successful joint application to the HRB/Funding Councils’ Institutional Fellowships Scheme has permitted the appointment of two Research Fellows, Dr Anna Notaro in Nottingham and Ms Maria Balshaw in Birmingham. The overall project director is Professor Douglas Tallack at Nottingham and Dr Liam Kennedy directs research at Birmingham.
About 40 participants attended the event which ran from 10:15am until 5:30 despite the lovely weather and, most importantly, the concomitant FA Cup Final! After registration Douglas Tallack welcomed the participants and introduced Anna Notaro, the conference organiser, who presented the research project’s Web Site and some of the design issues addressed in setting up the Site. Douglas Tallack also chaired the first session which included two papers: the first by David Nye (Odense), on ‘The Technological Sublime in the American City 1870-1931’, and the second by Eric Sandeen (Wyoming), on ‘Signs of the Times: Preparing for the Millennium in Times Square’. Both papers were nicely presented and richly illustrated by several slides. The papers were followed by a thirty minutes discussion which raised some very interesting issues. After lunch, particularly appreciated by all the participants, Maria Balshaw chaired the second session which included a presentation by Rachel Bowlby (Oxford), entitled ‘The Last Shopper’, and one by Peter Brooker (Nene), on ‘A Novelist in the Era of Higher Capitalism: Iain Sinclair and the Postmodern East End’. After the discussion and the coffee break Anna Notaro chaired the last of the conference sessions which saw papers by Iain Borden (UCL) on ‘A Performative Critique of the American City: The Urban Practice of Skateboarding and Liam Kennedy (Birmingham) on ‘Paranoid Spatiality: Postmodern Urbanism and American Film’. Liam Kennedy replaced Sallie Westwood, who had originally featured in the programme, but could not attend the conference due to illness. The conference ran smoothly to its conclusion. Anna Notaro thanked all the speakers for their richly layered with meaning presentations and announced the second of the Three Cities Project Conference to be held in Birmingham in April/May 1999. All the papers presented at the Urban Space and Representation Conference will be placed on the Three Cities project’s Web Site together with abstracts from the discussion, to this purpose the whole conference has been audio-recorded. In the light of the responses received on the Web, the original presenters will then be invited to rewrite their papers and to submit them for publication in a volume entitled Urban Theory and Practice, Anna Notaro (ed.), Pluto Press.
Colloquium/workshop: Jazz Contexts
The University of Nottingham’s Departments of American & Canadian Studies and Music are co-hosting a one-day colloquium/workshop on Jazz Contexts: The Music and Its Role in American Culture on Saturday 6 June 1998, 10:30am-5:30pm. There will also be a panel-led discussion on Jazz and American Studies to look at ways of including jazz within an American Studies curriculum. For further details and registration forms, please contact:
Dr Graham Taylor
Department of American & Canadian Studies
University of Nottingham
Nottingham NG7 2RD
Tel: 0115 951 4846
OR check the departmental website JAZZ CONTEXTS pages at www.nottingham.ac.uk/~aazwww/jazz
Conference: New Orleans in Europe, University of Warwick, 4-5 July 1998
New Orleans is one of the world’s most celebrated and mythified, albeit under-researched cities. The birthplace of jazz and the South’s oldest and most cosmopolitan city, it has long been a mecca for all kinds of creative artists engaged in many forms of cultural production. It has also enjoyed longstanding links with Europe, engaging in reciprocal exchanges with European countries and artists.
This conference will bring together New Orleans scholars and enthusiasts from Europe and the United States, to share current research and ideas about the city and to expand those circum-Atlantic dialogues in which the city’s artists and intellectuals have always engaged. Interdisciplinary perspectives will be brought to bear on crescent City history, music, literature, film, festivals and photography.
Speakers include: Emily Togh (on Kate Chopin), Paul Gilroy and Violet Harrington Bryan (on voodoo), Paul Olicvver and Michel Fabre (the origins of New Orleans music), Berndt Ostendorf (jazz funerals), Diane Roberts (Mardi Gras), as well as Tony Badger, Janet Beer, Ralph Willett, Richard Ings and Stephen F Mills. Lillian Boutte, New Orleans’ internationally famous ‘Musical Ambassador’, singer of gospel, blues and jazz, will perform on Saturday night and attend the whole conference. Further details:
Marian Franklin/Helen Taylor
University of Warwick
Coventry CV4 7AL
Tel: 01203 523401
Fax: 01203 524750
Call for Papers: The American Politics Group 25th Annual Conference
The American Politics Group is pleased to announce that its 25th Annual Conference will take place at Selwyn College, Cambridge, from Wednesday 6th January to Friday 8th January 1999. Papers are invited on any aspect of American politics. If you wish to offer a paper, or just to be added to the mailing list to be kept informed about the conference, please contact the conference convenor:
School of Humanities
De Montfort University
Leicester LE1 9BH
Tel:+44  116 257 7398
Fax:+44  116 257 7199
Fourth Middelburg Conference of European Historians of the United States
On 21-23 April 1999 the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, the Netherlands, will host for the fourth time a biennial conference of European historians of the United States. The theme for the Middelburg IV Conference is ‘Federalism, Citizenship and Collective Identities in U.S. History.’ Historians interested in presenting a paper at this conference are invited to send a one-page proposal before 1 November 1998 to:
Dr. Cornelis A. van Minnen
Roosevelt Study Center
P.O.Box 6001 4330 LA Middelburg
F ax: (31)118-631593 e-mail: email@example.com
A selection of papers presented at previous Middelburg conferences have been published in the series European Papers in American History of Keele University Press. To be acceptable for publication, conference papers should be between twenty and thirty pages double spaced, written according to the Chicago Manual of Style, submitted on disk (Word for Windows 95, version 7.0). The oral presentation at the conference should not exceed twenty minutes.
Scholars interested in attending the conference are requested to contact to Roosevelt Study Center. Registration forms will be available from 1 November on. The conference organizers (Dr. Cornelis A. van Minnen and Professor Sylvia L. Hilton, Complutense University, Madrid) will raise funds to cover the hotel expenses of the speakers. Other participants are expected to cover their own expenses.
Callum MacDonald Commemorative Conference
‘Global Horizons: U.S. Foreign Policy After World War Two’
Saturday 23 May 1998 School of Comparative American Studies and Department of History University of Warwick MBA Centre
Whether conceived of as watershed or rite of passage, World War Two has had a significant and lasting impact on American foreign policy. It saw the rise of the United States to military superpower status and an enduring global projection of that power. It prompted a revision of strategic thought which would shape the contours of the Cold War for decades. It heralded an unprecedented expansion of American commercial and financial power, and anticipated an extension of US diplomatic interests and commitments across every continent. In these and many other ways, World War Two saw American foreign policy obtaining truly global horizons.
This conference, which celebrates the work of the late Professor Callum MacDonald of the University of Warwick, assesses some of the most significant aspects of wartime and postwar US foreign policy in the light of contemporary scholarship. Bringing together leading authorities from the United States and Britain, it focuses on selected military and diplomatic dimensions of both World War and Cold War across the full range of those global horizons: from Europe via Asia to Latin America.
Speakers will offer reevaluations of and new perspectives on the Cold War’s military flash points, from Korea to Cuba; on the relationship between World War and Cold War; and on the machinery – diplomatic, ideological and literal – of both. Together they will throw new light on the long shadow of war on post-war US foreign policy. Program 9:00 – 9:30 Registration 9:30 – 10:00 Professor Warren Kimball (Rutgers University), ‘The Second World War: NOT the Origins of the Cold War’ 10:00 – 10:30 Professor Lloyd Gardner (Rutgers University), ‘Technological Escapism: Ending the War with a Bang’ 10:30 – 11:00 Discussion 11:00 – 11:30 Coffee 11:30 – 12:00 Dr. Scott Lucas (Birmingham University) ‘Ideology and the Cold War’ 12:00 – 12:30 Dr. Richard Crockatt (University of East Anglia), ‘Arnold Toynbee, the United States and the Cold War’ 12:30 – 13:00 Discussion 13:00 – 14:00 Lunch 14:00 – 14:30 Professor Bruce Cumings (University of Chicago), ‘War Crimes and Historical Memory: The United Nations Occupation of North Korea in 1950’ 14:30 – 15:00 Dr. Peter Lowe (Manchester University), ‘The Impact of the Korean War on Anglo-American Relations’ 15:00 – 15:30 Discussion 15:30 – 16:00 Tea 16:00 – 16:30 Dr. Nicola Miller (University College London), ‘Reassessing the Cuban Missile Crisis: the Post-Cold War Historiography’ 16:30 – 17:00 Discussion 17:00 – 18:00 Panel Discussion Registration Fee (includes coffee, lunch, tea, reception): stlg30 (postgraduates stlg15) For further details and a registration form, please contact:
School of Comparative American Studies
University of Warwick
West Midlands CV4 7AL.
Tel:  522502
Fax:  523437
Walt Whitman Weekend
29-31 May 1998
Friday 29 May Exhibition of Walt Whitman books and momentos in the Archives Searchroom, Bolton Central Library, 5:30-7:15 p.m. Whitman lectures and readings Speakers: Dr. Paul Salveson, Dr. Carolyn Masel and Dr. Robert DiNapoli, Central Library Lecture Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Saturday 30 May Whitman Birthday Walk Meet at Barrow Bridge bus terminus, 2 p.m. Sunday 31 May Service of dedication, music and poetry. Unveiling of plaque and reception at Rivington Chapel, 3 p.m. Further details from J.A. Dagnall, tel. 691833.
Tyranny and Liberty: Big Government and the Individual in Toqueville’s Analysis of Modern Democracy
The Stevenson Room, The British Council, 9 rue de Constantine, Paris Information from Anna Brooke, Programme Officer, Institute of United States Studies, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Papers: International Edgar Allan Poe Conference
Richmond, VA. 7-10 October 1999 Abstracts for papers and proposals for sessions are invited for the International Edgar Allan Poe Conference, commemorating the sequicentennial of Poe’s death. The event, to be held at the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia, is sponsored by the Poe Studies Association, in conjunction with the Poe Foundation. All topics related to the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe are appropriate. Please send abstracts for twenty-minute papers (and proposals for hour-and-twenty minute sessions) to Richard Kopley, Vice-President of the PSA, Department of English, Penn State, University Park, PA 16802. The deadline for all submissions is 31 December 1998.
As we go to print, congratulations to Philip Davies, BAAS President, (DeMontfort University), and to Jay Kleinberg (Brunel University) Chair of the BAAS Publications Sub-Committee, who have been appointed to personal chairs at their respective institutions. Well done!
Simon Newman, Director of American Studies at the University of Glasgow, has received a Resident Fellowship for study at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centre at the Villa Serbelloni in Bellagio.
John David Smith, Graduate Alumni Distinguished Professor of History at North Carolina State University, has been appointed Fulbright Professor of American Studies at the Ludwig-Maximilians Universitat, Munich, for 1998-1999. He can be reached at email@example.com or c/o Amerika-Institut, Universitat Munchen, Schellingstr. 3, 80799, Munich, Germany. Phone: 49-89-2180-2137.
In Print: Members’ Publications
William Blazek (Liverpool Hope) has published ‘Artistry and Primitivism in The Enormous Room’ in New Perspectives on the Literature of the Great War, ed. Patrick Quinn and Steven Trout (London: Macmillan, 1998).
Michael Glenday and William Blazek (Liverpool Hope) have published
American Mythologies at the Turn of the Century: New Essays on Contemporary Literature (Liverpool University Press, 1999).
Will Kaufman of the Cultural Studies Department at the University of Central Lancashire has recently published The Comedian as Confidence Man: Studies in Irony Fatigue (Wayne State University Press, 1997, ISBN 0 8143 2657 9 hardback). The book has been nominated for the Eugene M. Kayden Press Award and the Morris D. Forkosch Prize for the Journal of the History of Ideas.
Forthcoming from Sheffield Academic Press is George McKay’s Yankee Go Home (& Take Me with U): Americanization and Popular Culture. The publication of this collection of essays by scholars from Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Bulgaria on the process of Americanization was aided by a subvention from the European Association for American Studies.
‘Claiming, Corrupting, Contesting: Reconsidering ‘The West’ in Western American Literature’, an article by Martin Padget (University of Wales/Aberystwyth) will be published in the May 1998 issue of American Literary History.
Niall Palmer, Lecturer in American Studies at Brunel University, travelled recently to Concord, New Hampshire, to address the New Hampshire Historical Association at the State Historical Archive. The speech marked the publication of Palmer’s book, The New Hampshire Primary and the American Electoral Process (Praeger. Connecticut, 1997. ISBN: 0-275-95569-9). Present at the launch were the Democratic State Governor, Jeanne Shaheen, former Governor and Reagan/Bush campaign manager Hugh Gregg and New Hampshire Secretary of State, William M. Gardner. Governor Gregg received a copy of the book on behalf of the Historical Society.
The Civil Rights Movement: Struggle and Resistance, by William Riches, Senior Lecturer in History and American Studies at the University of Ulster/Jordantown, has just been published by Macmillan in the UK and St. Martin’s Press in the United States. It is available in hardback and paperback.
The Icon Critical Guide to Herman Melville, (Cambridge: Icon, 1998) edited by Nick Selby, has just been published.
Kevin White (Sussex) has published ‘The New Man and Early Twentieth-Century Emotional Culture’ in Peter Stearns and Jan Lewis, eds., An Emotional History of the United States (New York and London: New York University Press, 1998).
BAAS Essay Prize
The winner of the 1998 BAAS Essay Prize of £100 is Paul Grainge, University of Nottingham, for an essay titled ‘Time’s Past in the Present: Nostalgia and the Black and White Image.’ Congratulations!
BAAS – Short Term Travel Grants 1998/99
BAAS is happy to announce assistance for short-term visits to the USA during the academic year 1998-9 to scholars in the UK who need to travel to conduct research, or who have been invited to read papers at conferences on American Studies topics. It is intended that the grants be awarded for the study of subjects where the principal aim is the study of American history, politics, society, literature, art, culture, etc. and not of subjects with other aims, the data or materials for which happen to be located in the United States.
The resources available are relatively modest. It is envisaged that grants will be supplemented by, or will supplement, funds from other sources. The maximum for each grant will be £400.
Among qualified applicants, preference will be given to those who have had no previous opportunities for research-related visits to the USA and to young scholars including postgraduate students needing to visit the United States for research purposes.
Applications are invited from UK citizens, from persons normally resident in the UK, and from scholars currently working at, or registered as postgraduate students at UK universities and institutions of higher education.
Although it is recognised that awards under this scheme may need to be supplemented it is not intended that they should be used to supplement or extend long-term awards.
Application forms can be obtained from Jenel Virden (BAAS Secretary), American Studies Department, University of Hull, Hull HU6 7RX; see also pp 50-51 of this Newsletter. Four copies of the application must be returned to the same address by 30 September 1998.
It is hoped to notify successful applications by 2 December 1998. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you wish to be notified in the case of your being unsuccessful.
Research Award Reports
Report – Nahfiza Ahmed
John D. Lees Travel Award Report – Nahfiza Ahmed, Department of Economic and Social History, University of Leicester
Having approached the final year of my Ph. D. research focusing on the civil rights movement in Mobile, Alabama c. 1925-1985, I found myself in the difficult position of having to finance one final trip to the city of Philadelphia which was vital to the completion of the thesis. Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Moira Lees and various donors who contributed to the 1997 John D. Lees Award, I was able to make a visit to one of America’s most historic cities where the Declaration of Independence was signed. This in itself was an exciting opportunity but it was the work of the American Friends Service Committee, (AFSC), the community outreach branch of the Quakers in Mobile County between 1969 and 1973 that initially brought me to Philadelphia. First-hand accounts of the racial situation in this Alabama locality during the post-civil rights era has proved extremely difficult to obtain, particularly since the Federal Bureau of Investigation has seized the records of the only Black Power movement to emerge in South Alabama since King and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference staged the hugely successful demonstrations at Selma, Birmingham and Montgomery. The Neighbourhood Organisation workers, (NOW), was formed in Mobile in response to the assassination of King in 1968. Primarily a grass-roots movement, NOW rejected mainstream accommodationist politics in favour of local black representation. The work of two AFSC agents, Bill Rosser and David Jacobs, appointed to aid the orderly integration of Mobile County schools in this period, provides the only primary accounts of the nature and form of the Black Power movement in the county.
It was planned to interview Rosser and Jacobs, but due to the fact that they had already supplied oral history transcripts to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, and did not live in Philadelphia, I made a last-minute journey to that archive so I could look at them. Whilst in North Carolina, I was able to conduct telephone interviews with former members of NOW. The group’s ex-president, Noble Beasley, has been in prison since 1971 on drug trafficking charges and so it was not possible to interview him. I was, however, successful in talking to NOW’s former treasurer, Frederick Richardson, who is currently serving on the Mobile city commission.
The transcripts at Chapel Hill and my own interviews shed interesting light on a period of Mobile’s racial history that has almost been forgotten. Civil rights scholars are now paying more attention to this important phase in the history of the American race relations. With the victories of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the black struggle for equality reached a successful legal conclusion. The emergence of Black Power movements in the nation’s localities proved yet again that race continued to create social and economic divisions among African Americans themselves and within the community at large. However, in Mobile, it was the established black middle-class leadership which financed and successfully concluded a legal suit charging that the city’s commission form of government deliberately diluted black voting power by electing commissioners at large. ON account of this, Mobile reverted to mayor system and now elects its legislators via votes drawn from the individual wards. It is likely though that NOE’s militant presence, by attracting the attention of the AFSC and the Mobile white establishment, helped bring black political representation to the city in the 1980s. It is hoped that the final chapter of my case study of Mobile will provide the basis for a paper to be delivered at the next BAAS annual conference in Glasgow.
Report – Neil Allsop
An Account of Neil Allsop’s BAAS Sponsored Research Trip to The United States of America, 8/1/98-9/2/98
My arrival in the United States was delayed because of the inclement weather at JFK airport. After an unscheduled stop at Newark International, ‘we’ finally landed at JFK after 12 hours on the plane. Fortunately, after a tiring and frustrating start, the remainder of my trip went relatively smoothly.
After a weekend stay with friends on Long Island, I made my way to Albany, N.Y., on the Monday morning. Fearing the worst, after reports of massive icestorms in upstate New York, I was very surprised to find that Albany had missed a storm that had left most of the ‘North Country’ without power.
The first two weeks of research were spent almost entirely in the New York State Library. During the first week, I worked through the library’s collection of Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (TERA) documents, in an attempt to find material that I did not already have. My search provided me with only one new document. My search for documents pertaining to New York’s Public Welfare Law of 1929 and the federal Social Security Act proved to be more fruitful. The latter research, along with brief trips to SUNY Albany’s Dewey Graduate Library, accounted for the remainder of the first week.
During the second week, I consulted the resources pertaining to the Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the Civil Works Administration (CWA). The FERA and WPA collections were of most importance to my study, and provided me with a substantial amount of information for chapter 5 of my thesis. My research of FERA and WPA also took me into the collections of the New York State Archives.
The third week of my visit began as the second week had ended, in the archives. I finished off my research of the WPA, and its work in New York State, before scouring Governor Herbert H. Lehmen’s Governorship files for any detailed information about TERA in the years 1935-37. What little I found should be adequate to supplement the reports of TERA that I already have.
My next port of call was the New York State Department of Labor Library. Although the library is in the process of moving, the librarian was more than helpful in my search for several reports, dating back to the 1930’s, that I needed. The rest of week 3 was spent at the Dewey Graduate Library and SUNY Albany’s main Library, working with the WPA Research Monographs and local newspaper collections.
Week 4 was spent finishing my research in the SUNY libraries and tying up loose ends.
My research trip proved to be very fruitful. I completed all of the research I had intended to do, and even had time to do some writing. I would like to thank BAAS for awarding me the short-term award that allowed me to complete my research.
Report – Darren Mulloy
Report of the research visit by Darren Mulloy to the University of Kansas, Lawrence, between the 8th and 25th of March 1998, for his research project on the Militia Movement
There is a saying in the mid-west that if you don’t like the weather just hang around a few minutes. I can confirm the truth of this particular folk wisdom. My arrival in Lawrence was delayed a day due to a severe snow storm which had closed Kansas City airport, within days I was suffering the effects of sunburn, and then I was almost washed away in the torrential rains which followed. However, with the weather as one of the major topics of discussion I was able to enter conversations with ease. A lifetime spent in the British Isles had not been wasted. I had less success with the other main subject area: the University of Kansas basketball team, the Jayhawks. I had arrived, it seemed, during ‘March Madness,’ this being the finals of the college basketball season. The Jayhawks were one of the favourites for the title and the campus was in a state of barely suppressed frenzy. The demolition of their first round opponents hardly made for a restful night in the Halls of Residence where I was staying and I feared the worst for the fortnight ahead. Fortunately, for me, if not the Jayhawkers, they then crashed out of the competition to Rhode Island. So with the campus undertaking some collective soul searching I was able to get on with my research in relative peace.
The Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements is housed in the Kenneth Spencer Research Library as part of the Kansas Collection. It was established by Laird Wilcox in 1965 and has grown to become one of the largest collections of ‘extremist’ political literature in the U.S. containing ‘more than 10,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals, 800 audio tapes, 73 linear feet of manuscript materials and nearly 85,000 pieces of ephemera, including flyers, brochures, and clippings.’ Fortunately, Becky Schulte, the assistant curator, and Lin Fredericksen, one of the library assistants, had prepared an initial list of militia and patriot movement texts with which I could begin to thread my way through this mass of material and I was soon making my acquaintance with the photocopying machine.
As I had hoped the Collection contained a huge amount of material which was unobtainable to me in the UK. To give some indication, there were newsletters and flyers from the Militia of California, the Florida State Militia, the Kentucky Rifleman Militia, the Militia of Montana, the Michigan Militia, the Vermont Free Militia, the White Mountain Militia, the Kansas Second Amendment Militia, and the American Justice Federation. There were publications such as The Freedom Networker, The Independent Newsletter, Patriot Report, The Anti-Shyster, and the Aid-and-Abet Newsletter. There were catalogues for videos and books from The Secret Information Network and American Viewpoint Monthly, together with first editions of some of those books including The Turner Diaries and Behold a Pale Horse.
The wider Patriot Movement is very well represented in the Collection as are survivalist and gun rights groups including Gun Owners of America and the Citizen’s Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. I was able to consult issues of Directions, The Preparedness Journal, The American’s Bulletin, The McAlvanay Intelligence Report, Gary Allen Communications, On Target, Patriots Information Network, and Spotlight. I also took advantage of the Collection’s resources to examine more historical material from various groups including the Posse Comitatus, The Covenant, The Sword and the Arm of the Lord, the Christian Patriots Defense League, the Minutemen, the Black Panthers, the Populist Party and William Pelley’s Silver Shirts to provide useful background material for my research.
The Spencer Research library is a non-circulation library by which one has to call for material from the stacks, and as the staff are still in the process of transferring the card catalogue to computer files, I was advised to use both systems to obtain the call numbers I required. I am grateful for the patience of all the staff in retrieving the documents I requested, including, occasionally, pulling huge piles of periodicals or newsletters only for me to decide that a promising sounding title was in fact not what I was looking for. This, though, was the exception. On the whole the material of the various groups and individuals whom I wished to examine were easy to locate, while serendipity also led me to some useful material which I wouldn’t have necessarily thought of to consider such as the Alaska Free Press. My thanks to Bryan Culip, Deborah Dandridge, Kristin Eshelman, Jennifer Evensen, Lin Fredericksen, Mary Hawkins, Nancy Hollingsworth, and Becky Schulte both for all their help with my research and for making my two weeks in the Collection such an enjoyable experience.
In addition to this primary material I was also able to make use of some of the other facilities on campus for important secondary material. These included the reports of congressional investigations into the Militia Movement held in the Government Documents Library and several academic texts in the Watson Library which are difficult to obtain in Britain.
My research, however, was not confined to the University of Kansas and with the aid of a hired car I was able to explore the flat expanse of Kansas and Missouri. I had three meetings with the Wilcox Collection’s founder, Laird Wilcox, one of the leading experts on extremist groups in America. As well as being supportive of my own work and extremely generous with his time and ideas, Mr Wilcox provided me with further material on the Militias which had not yet made the journey from his home to the University, including some of his own work in progress. He also shared with me some entertaining stories from his 35 years studying the political fringe. It was great to make contact with such an expert in the field and I look forward to our future exchanges.
I concluded my trip by spending an afternoon with eight members of the Kansas City based Missouri 51st Militia. This included a three hour taped interview. I am grateful to Kay for making her home available for the day and to Jim, Mike, Rick, Jim, Bill, Joanne, and Jackie for agreeing to talk to me. They made no restrictions on what I wished to discuss and were very forthcoming in explaining their views. It was a productive meeting and did much to enhance my understanding of the Militia Movement. I also have an offer to be taken target shooting on my next visit which I can hopefully take up sometime in the future.
The trip was absolutely invaluable for my research both in terms of the amount of primary and secondary material – six large folders full – which I was able to gather in a little over two weeks, and which I am now in the process of sorting through, but also in furthering my own understanding of the Militia Movement, the people involved in it, and its relationship with other ‘radical’ political movements in American history. My time in the Wilcox Collection demonstrated to me the diversity and sheer number of groups which exist on the ‘radical right’, but it also illuminated the similarity and historical persistence of many of their concerns. I can recommend the Wilcox Collection and Lawrence itself not only to students of the ‘radical right,’ but also to those of the ‘radical left.’ My thesis would be much the poorer without this trip and I am extremely grateful to the Association for giving me the opportunity to undertake it, and to the Gilchrist Educational Trust, the Arthur Miller Centre and the Graduate Studies Committee at UEA for making it possible.
It is particularly gratifying to note the continuing rise in membership of BAAS, particularly among postgraduate students and among colleagues in other countries. The British Association of American Studies is pleased to welcome the following new members:
Neil Colin Allsop is currently enrolled in the University of Sheffield’s American History Ph.D. program. The subject of his Ph.D. thesis is the development of unemployment relief in upstate New York during the Great Depression.
Christopher Bates is Head of Politics at Kimbolton School, where he teaches A Level Politics (US and Comparative) as well as GCSE and A Level History. He is currently planning to write a textbook on the U. S. Supreme Court for A-level students, and would like to establish contacts in the US with academics researching the Supreme Court. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Beck is Adrian Research Fellow at Darwin College, Cambridge. His Ph.D. was on William Carlos Williams and John Dewey. He is now researching Left Modernism, American deserts, text and terrain, and Buckminster Fuller. His other subject interests include contemporary art and photography, American philosophy, and post-1945 poetry and fiction.
Celeste-Marie Bernier is a postgraduate student in the area of African-American women’s literature at Newcastle University. Her Ph.D. will focus on Gloria Naylor, Zora Neale Hurston and Octavia E. Butler.
Scott L. Bills is Professor of History at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nagadoches, Texas, where he has taught courses on Global Democracy, the Civil Rights Movement, and Modern East Asia. He was Co-Executive Editor of Peace and Change, 1994-1997, and has published extensively on American history, diplomacy and foreign policy.
Colin Brown is Head Teacher at Sandwich School, where he also teaches American/Comparative Politics. Janice Burrow is a postgraduate student in the Department of English Literary and Linguistic Studies at Newcastle University, working on slavery and the supernatural in twentieth-century North American literature. Her research is also concerned with the way in which history is represented in fictional works.
Ronald Bush is Drue Heinz Professor of American Literature at St. John’s College, Oxford. He has written and lectured extensively on diverse topics, ranging from T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound to the negotiation of group identity. His books include The Genesis of Ezra Pound’s Cantos and T.S. Eliot: A Study in Character and Style.
Ian Chambers is preparing an M. A. at the University of Warwick on the consequences for Native Americans of English settlement on the Southern colonial frontier. He was a speaker at the 1998 Midlands BAAS post-graduate conference.
Michael Charles holds an M.A. from Oxford in Modern History and is a retired teacher. He devised an A-level syllabus on ‘Slavery and Secession’ for Shiplake College in London, and has extensive experience teaching sixth-form American History and Politics.
Jonathan Coleman is preparing his Ph. D. at the University of Liverpool on Anglo-American relations during the period 1964-1968. His primary interest is US foreign relations, though he is also interested in American literature.
Peter Cottrell is a retired accountant, and is currently enrolled in a B.A. degree course in American Studies at Nene College, Northampton.
Gail D. Danvers is preparing her D. Phil at the University of Sussex on colonial America, with particular emphasis on Iroquois relations with New York colonists. Her primary focus is on Sir William Johnson, superintendent of Indian Affairs, who functioned as an important mediating link between these cultures.
Thomas John Donnelly is currently studying for an M. A. in American Literature and Culture at the University of Leeds. His academic interests include Cultural Studies, Film, and Art History.
Brian Dunn is preparing an M. Phil on Paul Auster at University College, London. The title of his thesis is ‘Auster’s New York, America, and the Self.’
Richard Follett lectures in American History at the National University of Ireland, Galway. He received his Ph.D from Louisiana State University in 1997, with a dissertation on ‘The Sugar Masters: Slavery, Economic Development, and Modernization on Louisiana Sugar Plantations, 1820-1860.’ His research interests include slavery, the antebellum South, and nineteenth-century US economic history.
Lisa Ganoblsik-Williams is completing her Ph. D. thesis on Charlotte Perkins Gilman and social reform discourses at Miami University, though she lives in Britain at present. She has published articles and presented conference papers on Gilman and her work, as well as on slave narratives and abolitionist discourse.
Joanna Gill is a postgraduate student at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. She is currently working on the poetry of Anne Sexton.
Alex Goody has just received his doctorate from the University of Leeds, with a dissertation on the modernist poetry of Mina Loy. He is currently teaching at the University of Leeds, and is looking for an academic post.
Faye Hamill is in her final year as a Ph. D. student at the University of Birmingham. Her dissertation is on Canadian literature, and she is interested in further research in the area of comparative American-Canadian studies, possibly linking S. J. Duncan with her American contemporaries.
Eric Homburger is Reader in American Literature at the University of East Anglia. His most recent publications are The Historical Atlas of New York City (Henry Holt, 1994); Scenes from the Life of a City: Corruption and Conscience in Old New York (Yale UP, 1994) and The Penguin Historical Atlas of North America (1995). He is currently working on the aristocracy of New York City in the nineteenth century.
Cathy Hoult is a postgraduate student at Leicester University, where she is carrying out research on American women’s history at the end of the nineteenth century.
Louis J. Kern is Professor of History at Hofstra University, where he teaches courses in Cultural and Intellectual History, American Literature, Film Studies, and Popular Culture. Among his publications are An Ordered Love: Sex and Sexuality in Three Victorian Utopias – The Mormons, The Shakers, and the Oneida Community, and (as co-editor) Women in Communitarian Societies in the United States.
Andrew Lawson is Senior Lecturer in American Literary and Cultural Studies at Staffordshire University. He has published articles in Textual Practice, Contemporary Literature and the William Carlos Williams Review. His current research is on intersections of class and race in early American modernism.
Andrew Lee is an M. A. student at the University of Sheffield. His subject interests include cultural and political U. S. history since 1945, focusing on the Nixon years.
Ian David Margeson holds a M.A from Exeter University and is a Ph. D. student and part-time lecturer in American History at Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education. His current area of research is American Loyalist mentality during the revolutionary period, with particular attention to U.K. archival sources.
Alan John Martin is a postgraduate student at the Institute of United States Studies. His special interests include immigration, Native American history and literature, and Jack Kerouac.
Annette Matton is a postgraduate research student at Exeter University, where she is preparing a dissertation on representations of the Vietnam war in American comic books.
Simon Middleton lectures in American History at the University of East Anglia. He holds a Ph. D. from the City University of New York and an M.A. from Harvard University. His research interests have included free and skilled labor in seventeenth and eighteenth-century New York, urban trades in seventeenth-century New York, and cultural interpretations of the Industrial Revolution.
James Moore has been Executive Director of the US-UK Educational Commission (Fulbright Commission) since 1993. He received an M. A. from Trinity College, Cambridge, and has held posts in Norway, Thailand, Warsaw, Beirut, Ottawa, Manila and Copenhagen.
Kathryn Napier is a postgraduate student at the University of Glasgow, where she is preparing her M. Phil thesis on the work of Louise Erdrich. Her research interests include Native American literature, gender issues, and theory of ethnicity.
Joao Paulo Nunes received his B. A. and M. A. from the University of Coimbra. He is currently a postgraduate student at King’s College, London, where he is working on the poetry of William Carlos Williams.
Peter Opitz is a postgraduate student in the American Studies Department of the University of Hull, where he is working under the supervision of Professor John Ashworth.
Martin Padget lectures in American Studies at the University of Wales/Aberystwyth, where he also acts as Degree Scheme Coordinator. He holds a Ph. D. in American Literature from the University of California at San Diego, and is currently completing a book entitled ‘Indian Country’: Representing the Southwest, 1869-1937.
Josef Pesch studied English and Geography at Bonn, Coventry, St. Catherine’s College/Oxford, and Munster. His dissertation on Oscar Wilde and James Joyce, titled Wilde, about Joyce , was published in 1992. He has taught American and Canadian literature at the Saar University, Saarbrucken, and at Freiburg University. His work on Michael Ondaatje has been published in Zeitschrift fur Anglistik und Amerikanistik, Zeitschrift fur Kanada-Studien and Ariel. He is now writing a second book titled Deconstructing Apocalypse: Post-Apocalyptic Visions in North American Culture.
Luca Prono holds a B.A. from the University of Venice, and recently completed a M.A. thesis on literary and sociological representations of Chicago at the University of Nottingham. He is currently involved in research linked to the HRB-funded project on The Visual and Literary Culture of Three American Cities. His interests include theories of ethnicity, African-American literature, and intersections between literature and sociology.
Adam Roberts lectures in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. His interests include twentieth-century popular culture, postmodernism, science fiction and fantasy. He has published books on American contemporary Arthuriana and on science fiction.
Markku Ruotsila received his M. A. from the University of Tampere and is currently a Ph. D. student at St. John’s College, Cambridge. His current research is on early (1917-1921) development of anti-Bolshevik thought in the U.S.
A.B. Christa Schwarz holds a M. A. from Queen Mary and Westfield College, with a dissertation on the gay dimensions of the Harlem Renaissance. She is now enlarging on this project in her Ph. D. thesis with the American Studies Department of the University of Sussex
Stephen Shapiro is a Junior Lecturer at the University of Saarland in Saarbrukcn, Germany.
Barbara Shaw-Perry is a Ph. D. candidate at the University of Maryland/College Park. Her research areas include US Latina literature, Borderland studies, feminist theory, and Cultural Studies. She is also interested in issues related to gender, race, class and sexuality in film and other mediated cultural texts.
Daniel Short is a Ph. D. student at the School of English, Leeds University. He is currently researching the work of John Dos Passos alongside a study of photography.
Gemma Marie Slade is a postgraduate student at the Institute for United States Studies, with special interests in the areas of history, media studies, and politics.
Sophia Taylor is a postgraduate student in American Studies at Nottingham University.
Graham Thompson is a research student at Nottingham Trent University, where he is writing his Ph. D. on representations of the office in American fiction from the mid-nineteenth to the late twentieth century, with particular emphasis on scopic regimes and male sexuality.
Simon Topping is a graduate teaching assistant at the Department of American Studies, University of Hull, where he is carrying out research under the supervision of Professor John Ashworth.
Anne-Marie Trudgill is a research student at the Roehampton Institute, where she is working on the New England writer Elizabeth Barstow Stoddard.
Bertram Allan Weinert holds a Ph. D. in Social Welfare History, with a thesis on legislation and health insurance in the US, 1900-1920. He was Director of Consumer Education in the office of the New York State Attorney General from 1979 to 1993. He now lives in the South of France, and is currently researching the impact of transnational corporations on people in the United States and Europe.
Saranne Weller is preparing her Ph. D. thesis in English and Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick. She is currently researching the racism of Thomas Dixon and his relationship to turn-of-the-century black literature.
Karen Wilkinson is a research student at Manchester Metropolitan University in the department of American Studies at the Crewe and Alsager Faculty. Her current area of research is gender, religion and society in the novels of Susan Warner.
Juergen C. Wolter is Professor of American Studies at Wuppertal University, Germany. He has published three monographs as well as numerous articles, and lists among his current research interests contemporary American literature and the literature of the American South.
Nerys Owen Williams is a postgraduate student at the School of English and American Studies, University of Sussex, where she is preparing a D.Phil.
Barbara Wyllie is a Ph. D. student jointly at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies and University College London. Her Ph. D. thesis is titled ‘A Study of the Works of Vladimir Nabokov in the Context of Contemporary American Fiction and Film.’ She is also a freelance archival researcher into Holocaust issues, particularly Nazi loot.
Duco van Oostrum lectures in American Literature at the University of Sheffield. He holds a Ph. D. from Rice University, and has published a book titled Male Authors, Female Subjects: The Woman Within/Beyond the Borders of Henry Adams, Henry James, and Others (Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodolpi, 1995), as well as articles on Henry Adams, Toni Morrison, Larry McMurtry, and others. His current research is on American Sports Narratives.
Reminder: Members are asked to notify Professor Janet Beer, BAAS Treasurer, in the event of a change of institutional or home address. Her contact data is as follows:
Professor Janet Beer
tel. 0161 247 6590
Department of English
Manchester Metropolitan University
Geoffrey Manton Building
BAAS Birmingham Update
William Riches of the University of Ulster/Jordantown has forwarded the following report on three papers given by participants from the University of Newcastle at the Birmingham BAAS conference: George Lewis (Newcastle): ‘Not So well Red: Black, White and Native Americans In and Out of the Historiography of the Civil Rights Movement’ Jenny Walker (Newcastle) ‘The Gun-Toting Gloria Richardson? Black Violence in the Nonviolent Civil Rights Era’ Stephen Walsh (Newcastle) ‘Bringing the Nitty-Gritty to the ‘Chocolate City’? Black-Oriented Radio and the Civil Rights Movement in Washington, D.C. 1948-1975′ After twenty years and more of government cuts to higher education there is good reason to fell despondent about the future of higher education. But then there are moments when the cynic feels that perhaps there is still hope. All the above papers demonstrated the exciting scholarship being undertaken by very talented individuals and makes one hope that the future of American Studies will be very good.
George Lewis correctly pointed out that the role of Native Americans in the civil rights movement has been sadly neglected. He cited the shortcomings in many of the standard works on the movement and his paper concentrated on the interaction between civil rights organisation and the Lumbee Indians of North Carolina. He carefully delineated the difficulties that Native Americans faced with the challenge of the movement, especially over the integration of schools which threatened their cultural identity. In the lively discussion that followed it was pointed out that there remains considerable doubt about the true origins of the Lumbees.
In one of the best papers that I heard during the conference, Jenny Walker explored the myth and reality surrounding Gloria Richardson, leader of the Maryland Cambridge Nonviolent Action Committee. when Richardson’s activities are considered by historians she is portrayed as an advocate of violence when she was in fact a middle-class, middle-aged black woman who was an advocate of nonviolent direct action. The gun-carrying stereotype is compounded by the women’s movement which has transformed her into a feminist icon. Portraits of Richardson as the armed revolutionary are based on white newspaper accounts which blamed blacks for violence, ignoring the role of whites. Paul Giddings, who has done so much to ensure that black women are treated as part of the movement, is rightly criticised for perpetuating the stereotype which leads to misunderstanding of the movement.
Stephen Walsh’s study concentrated on the role of the radio in the civil rights movement and it was stressed that, despite many short-comings, the medium played a positive role in the movement. He is careful to point out that the finding about radio stations in Washington as a case study cannot be extrapolated to the nation as a whole. The problems of white ownership are dealt with as is the decline of black owned stations, especially WHUR which has the support of Howard University. Commercial interests were always the foremost concern of radio stations – black or white owned – and it was these commercial interests which dictated the contributions they made to the movement. In a lively question and answer session that followed, all three speakers demonstrated their command of their topics and all present were agreed about the excellence of the session.
William Riches (University of Ulster at Jordanstown)
Irish Journal of American Studies – 6th vol.
A limited number of the sixth volume of the Irish Journal of American Studies is available. The articles in this issue are: Elaine Tyler May, ‘The Politics of Reproduction’ John Pearson, ”That the Stuff You Gotta Watch’: The Background to Rock and Roll’ Lee Jenkins, ‘A Pluralistic Universe: Rereading Wallace Stevens’ Harmonium’ Alan Bairner, ‘Sharon McClone’s San Francisco: The Role of the City in the Work of Marcia Muller’ Subarno Chatterji, ‘Vietnam Poetry’ Denis Flannery, ‘Brothers and Sisters: Sibling Loves in Paris Is Burning’
Limited numbers of Vols. 1-4 are also available, at a cost per issue of £5 (academics) £3 (graduates and undergraduates) and £15 (libraries).
Orders should be sent to Steve Ickringill, IAAS Treasurer, The University of Ulster, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry.”
7868How to do ‘more’ with ‘less’ and still maintain ‘quality’ is a conundrum of long-standing to those in private enterprise. It is a relatively new one, however, to confront Universities. In facing up to it, Universities have been compelled to manage their affairs in a much more self-conscious way than was previously considered necessary. It is this process – of change, and the management of this change – which was the focus of the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship undertaken by Dr Peter McCaffery, Dean of the School of European, International and Social Studies, Thames Valley University. A ’round-the-world’ Fellowship, indeed, in which he covered 37,000 miles visiting a cross-section of universities in the USA and Australia over the last two months. While each of the Universities were engaged in a common set of initiatives – the development of their own intranet; the provision of courses on the world-wide web; the professionalisation of management development and so on – Dr. McCaffery also found that they had established their own particular priorities. For: the devolution of financial power and responsibility to departments; the application of Ernest Boyer’s ‘scholarship’ framework to all aspects of university business; or the establishment of ‘teaching only’ appointments. Either way, what made the significant difference in successful implementation was the manner and extent to which University leaders had prepared their staff for change. The unanticipated personal experiences Dr.McCafferty encountered also lent a sharper edge to the professional aspect of his Fellowship. These included: an emergency landing in an ice-storm at St. John’s Newfoundland; flooding in Los Angeles (in the wake of El Nino); the longest heatwave in Brisbane since 1946 ….. intersecting with the White House sex scandal; the arrival of Oasis in Perth.
Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship
How to do ‘more’ with ‘less’ and still maintain ‘quality’ is a conundrum of long-standing to those in private enterprise. It is a relatively new one, however, to confront Universities. In facing up to it, Universities have been compelled to manage their affairs in a much more self-conscious way than was previously considered necessary.
It is this process – of change, and the management of this change – which was the focus of the Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship undertaken by Dr Peter McCaffery, Dean of the School of European, International and Social Studies, Thames Valley University. A ’round-the-world’ Fellowship, indeed, in which he covered 37,000 miles visiting a cross-section of universities in the USA and Australia over the last two months.
While each of the Universities were engaged in a common set of initiatives – the development of their own intranet; the provision of courses on the world-wide web; the professionalisation of management development and so on – Dr. McCaffery also found that they had established their own particular priorities. For: the devolution of financial power and responsibility to departments; the application of Ernest Boyer’s ‘scholarship’ framework to all aspects of university business; or the establishment of ‘teaching only’ appointments. Either way, what made the significant difference in successful implementation was the manner and extent to which University leaders had prepared their staff for change.
The unanticipated personal experiences Dr.McCafferty encountered also lent a sharper edge to the professional aspect of his Fellowship. These included: an emergency landing in an ice-storm at St. John’s Newfoundland; flooding in Los Angeles (in the wake of El Nino); the longest heatwave in Brisbane since 1946 ….. intersecting with the White House sex scandal; the arrival of Oasis in Perth.
Letters to the Editor
American Studies and the Year Abroad: Rebuttal to Mills
Universities are increasingly besieged, not only by funding cuts but also by a style of business management that prefers to equate the university to the corporation. Vice Chancellors describe themselves as executives of large corporations and demand, and get, inflated salaries and other perks (free luxury housing, expense accounts and cars) that they feel is commensurate with their status as heads of large corporations. In addition, the late business jargon of the late 1950s now dominates all discussion in the university. Students are no longer students, they are consumers. Education is no longer a term that is popular but rather academic staff are asked to package their courses into semester-long, easily digestible confections. But in the darkening gloom there are those of us who are prepared to fight for education, independent thought and to offer students challenges that they should face in the academic community. One of those educational opportunities and challenges provided for American Studies students at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown is the year abroad. And it is this intercalary year which Steve Mills questions in his OP-ED page in the Autumn issue of the BAAS Newsletter.
First a brief history of the American Studies programme at this University. A dedicated group of colleagues have spent twenty years planning this degree which started in 1984. at first we arranged an optional year abroad in a three-year degree, transferring credit from a few selected American universities and with the aid of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP) based in Washington, D.C. and by placement agreements reached with universities, such as the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 1988 we had the opportunity to revise the degree and included a year abroad for all students who wished to graduate in American Studies.
Why? First, because the optional programme was fully funded by the students and their parents which meant that only the wealthy could benefit. With a large number of our students coming from poor or working class backgrounds self-funding was not an option. The benefits of study abroad we felt should be made available to far more students in future.
What are these benefits? By requiring students to study at accredited universities in the United States we enable them to study a far greater range of topics which are just not available in this university. For example, one student did constitutional law courses at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and after graduation did a law conversion course and is now a solicitor. Similarly another student at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville took courses in photo journalism and has had several commissions since graduation.
The additional year in the United States enables a student to mature when s/he faces the challenges of a different culture and academic system. Very few students are as fortunate as Steve Mills’s children (or mine for that matter) to have made frequent visits to the United States. To extrapolate from the personal experiences of my own children that a year abroad as part of an American Studies programme is irrelevant is almost syllogistic.
I have never approved of ‘study’ programmes which did not require students to study in the United States. At this university all students are required to take approved studies at university in the US. They are expected to undertake research for their third year honours project. One student while at Indiana State did social anthropological studies in African American urban myths and legends which would have been impossible without the year abroad. The credit earned by students is transferred based on an internationally agreed formula and accounts for 15% of their final mark.
The benefits of the intercalary year are seen in the performance of the students. Almost 70% of students graduating in American Studies from this university were awarded 2:1 or first class honours degrees. The assessors in the Teaching Quality Assessment, carried out in October 1996, stated in their final report:
Evidence of their performance indicates that students take the opportunities offered to study a wide and imaginative choice of course units at an appropriate level. The year abroad is a very successful part of the programme and makes a significant contribution to the achievement of aims and objectives. It is well integrated into the course structure and informs work in the final year, especially in relation to the dissertation.
The demands and experience of completing the intercalary year at a university in the USA contribute to broader personal development that enhances final year achievement, and expands the choice and opportunities of postgraduate placement.
And these views have been backed up by every external examiner and the numbers of our students who are undertaking graduate studies in the USA. But in today’s ‘educational’ climate is academic and teaching excellence of any value? It is noteworthy that a department can get extra funding and staff for excellence in research and get nothing as a result of an excellent TQA.
For those enamoured with the business world there are very special benefits for students who have participated in study abroad for a year. Having worked in business for several years there are standard questions for any new applicant. Are they willing to attempt new things and are they flexible in their approach to their work? A bonus for our graduates is that they can prove that they can adjust to a different culture and succeed. Any student who meets the challenges posed by adjusting to living in the United States and the difficulties in coming to terms with a new academic system has demonstrated not only their academic ability but also their maturity and flexibility.
All the staff at the University of Ulster at Jordanstown were delighted when the assessors stressed in their final report that: The intercalary year in America is a much valued experience and is central to the development of the students’ knowledge, understanding and skills. It is well integrated with the other elements of the curriculum.
For these, and many other reasons, the faculty teaching in the American Studies programme at this university will fight to the bitter end to keep the intercalary year as an essential part of the debate.
William Riches Senior Lecturer in History and American Studies University of Ulster at Jordantown
Out of date
Dear Dr. Castillo, The information which has been published about me in the current issue of the BAAS Newsletter is, due to my own fault, several years out of date. I finished my studies at Middlesex and earned my graduate research diploma in 1990. I am continuing my research interests but in another field of American Studies (also to do with the Cold War, but intellectual rather than diplomatic history). In 1991-92, I wrote a dissertation, as part of my M. A. in Library and Information Studies at Loughborough University, on ‘Encounter’, the Congress for Cultural Freedom, and their Connections with the New York Intellectuals. I am intending to expand this into a book or series of articles at some point. This can be confirmed by contacting Dr. Hugh Wilford, at Middlesex University, with whom I work quite closely.
Yours sincerely, Brandon High, B.A., M.A. (Lib)
To Err is Human
The Newsletter would like to make the following corrections to items appearing in the last issue, with apologies to those involved: The surname of Laura Turney, of the Centre for the Study of Globalisation, Eurocentrism and Marginality (CGEM), Manchester University, Manchester M13 9PL, was mistakenly indicated as Turner. Please note that her correct e-mail address is Laura.Turney@man.ac.uk