As I write this, most of us are bleary-eyed with Finals marking and examiners’ meetings, and the Swansea BAAS conference seems a very long time ago. It seems to be the general consensus, however, that Swansea was one of the best BAAS conferences ever, attracting about 300 delegates from all over the UK, from over half the states of the USA, and from about fifteen other countries including the Czech Republic, Hungary, India and Japan. That the conference was such a real success, was largely due to the untiring efforts and wonderful organizational skills of Mike McDonnell and his team of helpers. The conference program was extremely well put together, the quality of the papers in general was outstanding, and the social side of things was Simply the Best.
As we look back at Swansea, it’s intriguing to conjecture about the reasons that underly the remarkable feeling of collegiality and community which exist in BAAS. There is, of course, the Is There Any factor (as in: ‘I teach American history/literature/politics.’ Response: ‘Is there any?’). Indeed, we are colleagues in a discipline which has in most institutions until fairly recently been placed in the necessity of continually justifying its own scholarly legitimacy and often its very existence. The positive aspect of this is that as a result we are for the most part very supportive of one another; younger scholars presenting papers for the first time at BAAS have remarked on how warm and constructive the atmosphere is, and how established scholars go out of their way to put them at ease. Those of us who came of age in the Sixties enjoy not only the vaguely subversive side of American Studies but also the refreshing lack of pomposity among our members. BAAS Swansea was a wonderful demonstration of the fact that intellectual rigor does not have to be accompanied by stuffiness or obsession with hierarchies, as the scene on the dance floor at the disco evenings would confirm, or the grace and stoicism with which non-dancing colleagues endured the forays of the Dance Police.
On our cover this month is an image of Althea Gibson, the first African-American woman to win not only Wimbledon but also at the US national tennis championship. My thanks go, as always, to my Editorial Assistants Marie Tate and Sean Groundwater for their hard work, intelligent ideas and unfailing good humour. Thanks are due to John Caughie, Dean of the Arts Faculty of Glasgow University, for his continued support of American Studies in Britain.
My very best wishes to all of you for a relaxing summer holiday.
Susan Castillo, Editor
Department of English Literature
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ
Tel: 0141-330 639
Fax: 0141-330 4601
BAAS Annual Conference—Swansea 2000
Chair’s Annual Report, presented to BAAS AGM, April 2000
Early in his career Alistair Cooke was apparently assigned to update his newspaper’s obituary file, and part of the work included consulting celebrities who were still breathing on the content of the columns in which they would be commemorated. Cooke immediately checked the file for his hero, H.L. Mencken, and found that the entry had been composed early in that writers prodigious career, and was years out of date. The young Cooke seized the opportunity to initiate a correspondence, by sending Mencken the extant copy, and requesting help to refresh it. Mencken responded and did expand the entry. He added, things continued much the same.
And so too, to some extent, for BAAS, which continued through 1999 and into 2000 pursuing its traditional role of promoting and defending American Studies in all sectors of UK education. But in our case continuity is not so much same- ness, as development and initiative.
Communication is a key element of BAAS’s work. American Studies in Britain, other publications, official consultations, the web-site, and conferences are all part of a communications network linking members, official bodies and the broader public constituency who have Americanist interests. Media coverage can also be valuable, bringing BAAS and American Studies to a broader audience. There are dangers. Reports in The Times and the THES have relied on QAA and RAE results that give a limited vision of the extent of American Studies, indicating the potentially misleading impact of government evidence. In other cases journalists do report on the basis of solid research, and it is comforting when one can depend on mention of BAAS appearing in a context of reliability.
BAAS pursues a full and active professional role. Our nominees were placed on the Research Assessment (RAE) panels on American Studies, History and English. The panels on Politics and International Relations, and Media and Cultural Studies, did not include our nominees, but did take note of our representations that panellists should include persons with some Americanist expertise. BAAS has responded constructively, helpfully and effectively to subsequent consultation letters from the RAE panel.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) has also consulted BAAS on the future of RAE/research review and funding policies. Our reply read in part, ‘The RAE timetable is coming to resemble the US presidential election process in which there is no “down time” from the permanent campaign. In our experience universities are devoting considerable internal resource, and demanding considerable time from their staff, in a constant round of internal research censuses, mock exercises, strategic analysis, and post-assessment reviews. This is more than monitoring, is diverting resources, and threatens to influence colleagues increasingly into short term research and publication projects. The process threatens therefore not just to stimulate more output, but to distort the nature of that output. In order to encourage the more long term and mature work that is characteristic of some disciplines the period between Research Assessments should be significantly extended.’
The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (Shefc) also approached BAAS for comment in its parallel consultation on the future of research review. The Scottish Association for the Study of America (SASA), the newly formed national branch of BAAS, has constructed a response to this consultation, which will be returned to Shefc co-signed by BAAS and SASA.
SASA emerged strongly from the BAAS Glasgow conference, and is making a real contribution to American Studies. The regional branch, Midlands BAAS remains very active, and thanks are due to Dr Peter Ling and Dr Elizabeth Clapp who have guided the group with great skill, but who are now standing down to let others take over. The North West may regain a branch, though this remains more of a virtual collective right now, there are moves to institute a branch in the South East, and this conference has seen a meeting that may generate a Welsh national branch.
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) Advisory Group on Multi-disciplinary and Modular Programmes, on which Professor Douglas Tallack of BAAS represented an Americanist perspective, has now published its report, which is accessible on the web at the QAA site. The QAA has not yet moved to establish the bench-marking group on non-language based Area Studies, but BAAS will be looking for strong representation on this group when it is formed.
In another initiative, BAAS has linked with colleagues in languages and linguistics to make a successful bid for funding a Learning and Teaching Support Network (LTSN). Alerted by Dr George McKay, BAAS made strong representations to Hefce and to the bidding consortium for the necessary inclusion of non- language based Area Studies, and this was eventually made a condition of a successful bid by the funding body. The bid having been successful, the management structure is now being put into place. The BAAS nominee, Professor Dick Ellis has been made chair of the Area Studies Committee-one of three committees guiding this LTSN.
BAAS has also been consulted in the past year by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) regarding future funding priorities, and by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) on nominations for relevant panels. After BAAS approaches to AHRB and to the Co-ordinating Council for Area Studies there is shortly to be a joint AHRB/CCASA symposium on the AHRB funding of area studies.
The US Embassy in London once again hosted the annual APG/BAAS colloquium last November. APG has a new chair, Dr. Alan Grant, and a new vice chair, Dr. John Dumbrell, and we will be co- operating again to discuss the 2000 election results, at this year’s colloquium, to be held on 17th November. We are also grateful to the Embassy for its support for BAAS conferences.
In co-operation with the Embassy, and at the suggestion of Ambassador Philip Lader, BAAS (in the form of Professor Dick Ellis and Graham Thompson) provided the technical facilities and expertise for a one hour on-line e-conversation between Ambassador Lader and American Studies and US politics students throughout the UK. The event received coverage in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) and in the local press, although the THES didn’t manage to credit BAAS for its part.
The US Embassy has also hosted a number of American Studies-related events and celebrations benefiting many parts of the American Studies community. A funny thing happened to me on the way to the Embassy for one of these. A routine visit to the optician escalated rapidly into my being asked to check into hospital. I demurred, pointing out that I had a schedule to keep, only to be told that if I insisted on going anywhere I risked what I think the Department of Defence once endearingly called one hundred per cent health reversal. I still was not wholly convinced, but decided not to go anywhere for the moment. I was escorted to a ward and briefed by a reassuring nurse about ward arrangements. She realised I would probably be remaining over the weekend, when some arrangements differed. Saturday, she said, if you’re still with us….. I only mention this story as the THES thought the episode engaging, and this time did include a mention of BAAS. Regardless of my loyalty to the Association this is not an effort the like of which I shall put in regularly.
BAAS was present at the launch of the Academy of Learned Societies in the Social Sciences (ALSISS), an organisation noted not only by the press, but also by Education Secretary, David Blunkett. We are eligible to make recommendations for academicians to this new organisation, and I would be pleased to receive suggestions of suitable Americanists from members of BAAS.
On the suggestion of Professor Gary McDowell, and on the premises of the Institute for United States Studies (IUSS) in London, BAAS helped sponsor a meeting of heads of American Studies programmes to discuss matters of common interest. Attendance was excellent and discussion vigorous. In pursuit of one shared interest I have been collecting data on recruitment, and a report, and further meetings, will follow.
Five BAAS short term travel grants were awarded in 1999, including the Marcus Cunliffe Award to Celeste-Marie Bernier, and the John Lees Award to Rosie Wild.
Having generously offered BAAS free committee meeting space for some years, the British Library in its new premises has adopted a more business oriented approach. Rather than accept a huge increase of management charges that would have rebounded on to the membership, BAAS approached a number of institutions to request the donation of occasional free meeting space. Manchester Metropolitan University and University College London have hosted BAAS meetings in recent years, and Nottingham Trent University, the University of Hull, Kings College London, the IUSS in London, and Rhodes House/Rothermere Institute, Oxford have all offered to host future meetings. We are grateful for these offers, and I hope that all of will be taken up in due course.
The chairs of the BAAS subcommittees present separate reports to the AGM, but I would like to note success all round. Under publications subcommittee The Journal of American Studies (in co-operation with Cambridge University Press), BAAS Paperbacks (in co-operation with Edinburgh University Press), and British Records Relating to America in Microform (in co-operation with Microform) all contribute mightily to the profession. Our own American Studies in Britain develops strength with each issue. And there are prospects for a schools-targeted series, and for an e-journal. BAAS’s identity on the web will become stronger with the adoption of our BAAS.ac.uk address.
Under Development subcommittee mini-conferences have been supported in Edinburgh, Brunel, Liverpool, Nottingham, and Lancaster, and more are in prospect. Grants favour, but are not restricted to, conferences that are geared to serve postgraduates, and schools. Guidelines are available to those who would like to apply for support. The Libraries and Resources Subcommittee plans its own conference during the coming year.
The Conference subcommittee does a terrific job, tidying up the final details of the last conference, planning the current meeting, and pre-planning for future years. We are always looking to the future-2004 and 2005 are still open, so please get your bids in shortly. Our first conference was held in 1955, making 2004 the 50th conference, and 2005 the 50th anniversary-I hope we can look forward to a great doubleheader. We are looking for ways of celebrating the fiftieth anniversary, and of resourcing those celebrations, and would welcome suggestions. Mike McDonnell, has been a consistent point of calm in the maelstrom of preparations for this Swansea conference. Our particular thanks are due to him, and his support team who have forsaken the evident pleasures of the beaches of Wales to provide the foundations for this annual conference.
American Studies was represented in an Honours List again, when Professor Malcolm Bradbury, a former member of the BAAS executive, was knighted. Professorships not new to the holders, but new to Nottingham, were created when John Ashworth and Judie Newman migrated to the midlands. Nottingham also elevated Peter Messent to a professorship. Nottingham Trent recognised the contributions of Professor R.J. (Dick) Ellis. Keele’s John Dumbrell accepted a Readership some time ago, and has in the past year Chris Bailey has also been made Reader in the same department. Durhams Head of Politics, an American specialist, became Professor R.J. (Bob) Williams.
Hugh Brogan has served six years on the executive committee of BAAS, recently as a most effective and active chair of Publications subcommittee. His warm and sincere feeling for American Studies has always been evident on the committee, and he will be missed. Thanks are also due to Kasia Boddy and Nick Selby, who have each served one term on the executive committee.
BAAS’s first elected postgraduate representative, Richard Hinchcliffe, has used his term in office successfully to establish the position within the Executive committee and the Development Subcommittee. Our co-opted committee member, Kathryn Cooper, of Loreto 6th Form College, Manchester, has continued the energetic and crucial input on American Studies in schools that the Association needs in order to serve the American Studies community as well as possible.
Janet Beer, who is vacating the Treasurers’ post, has proved a most effective and appreciated officer of the Association, and as well as showing consummate skill with its moneys, and its membership database, has supported and represented the Association in many valuable ways.
Since terms of office are staggered, the Secretary, Jenel Virden, the Chairs of the other subcommittees, Douglas Tallack (Development), Simon Newman (Conference) and Iain Wallace (Libraries and Resources), and the representative to EAAS (Mick Gidley) will continue to offer their inestimable talents to the Association. I am deeply grateful, and full of thanks, for the all of the support, intellectual impact, time, resources and sheer grunt effort that all of our colleagues on these committees volunteer to the British Association for American Studies.
In the course of my research this year for BAAS I have discovered from UCAS that there are about 2,800 full time single honours American Studies students registered at UK universities. Figures for Joint and Combined Honours are harder to find, but a brief look at the 50 or so universities that provide American Studies suggests that there will be many more students than those doing single honours. There are in addition undergraduate Americanist degrees that do not include “American Studies” in their title, and postgraduate programmes. Our constituency, in the universities and colleges alone, is clearly thousands strong.
BAAS is the one and only professional association that works unremittingly and solely for the whole American Studies constituency, throughout the UK, and at all levels. Your support for BAAS is necessary and appreciated. Your membership, your activities and your subscriptions underpin everything that BAAS does. Please continue that support, and work actively to bring into the Association all your colleagues whose progress and livelihoods are affected by the strength and development of our subject. If we don’t fight our corner there is no one else out there to do so.
We take every opportunity to serve our core constituency, and to expand awareness to a broader pool. I was recently invited to appear on a day time TV show, Collectors Lot, to display and discuss an archive that I have built over the years of thousands of examples of US elections materials. Excitement at the idea of reaching a substantial audience of potential Americanists was kept in check when I found myself sandwiched between the president of the Meat Loaf fan club, and an American lady collector of all things to do with Halloween, who referred unnervingly to her love of little vegetable people. But still there has been a tangible response, and it gives me pleasure to learn that I have extended a greater awareness of the Association and its place in the world to several BAAS members’ Mums.
Philip Davies, Chair, BAAS
The Conference Banquet was held on the final evening of the Swansea conference. The banquet was preceded by a very successful reception, complete with harpist, generously sponsored by Keele University, the hosts for the meeting to be held in 2001, and by the current hosts. Teifi Edwards, Emeritus Professor of Welsh at Swansea, spoke following the banquet.
We were pleased to have among our guests on the evening, Eileen Boris and Maxine Hong Kingston, two of the conference plenary speakers, Barry Sheerman MP, and representatives from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and from the US Embassy.
The dinner was followed by a number of announcements:
Short Term Travel Grants recipients:
Marcus Cunliffe Award: Celeste-Marie Bernier
John D Lees Award: Rosie Wild
BAAS Awards: Zoe Ann Greer, Ruth Percy, Barbara Stevens
Arthur Miller Essay Prize: Professor Douglas Tallack
On behalf of the American Studies programme at Swansea a special presentation was made to Professor Warren French for his contribution to American Studies on both sides of the Atlantic over the last 50 years.
Mike McDonnell authored a note of thanks for the chair to deliver: BAAS and the conference convenor want to express the most generous thanks to ALL of the staff and faculty of the American Studies Department, as well as the many individuals from the department of History, Literature and Politics who have helped out with the organisation of the conference in so many ways. Also the students, undergraduate and postgraduate, who have provided vital help before, during (and hopefully) after the conference, as well as a much needed breath of fresh air and welcome hospitality. And, though the number of people to be thanked are far too many to name here, we would particularly like to thank Jon Roper and Phil Melling for their invaluable support and advice about the conference, and their work in putting together some very special events. Bill Jones, from Cardiff University provided valuable advice on places for conferees to visit and who selflessly volunteered to run the larger excursions. Heather Akerman, Bev Evans, Angela Jones and Emma Frearson have worked tirelessly around the clock and far beyond the call of duty before and throughout the conference. This fulsome, and deserved message of thanks is incomplete without mention of the enormous contribution made by this years conference convenor, Mike McDonnell. Mike has at all times remained calm under pressure, and has engineered a meeting that combined smooth running and intellectual stimulation. The facilities have matched the needs, the details have been thought out in advance, and requests that emerged at the meeting have met an immediate and positive response. The whole has been a superbly enjoyable visit to Swansea, and we owe huge thanks to Mike McDonnell, who has been central to this.
Philip Davies, Chair, BAAS
Swansea Conference 2000 Panel Reports
Cultural Dialogues: Native American, Europeans and the United States
Chair: Mick Gidley (University of Leeds)
Gail Danvers (University of Sussex)
“‘Our Different Way of Living’: Iroquois Conceptions of Ethnic and Racial Difference”
Susan Castillo (University of Glasgow)
“Heterologues: Staging Encounters with Alterity in New World Literatures”
Martin Padget (University of Wales, Aberystwyth)
“‘American Indian Detours off the Beaten Track’: Tourism, Modernity and the construction of Ethnicity in the Southwest’s ‘Land of Enchantment'”
This stimulating session, which covered two episodes of cultural exchange from the colonial period and one of the early twentieth century, both introduced its audience to much new material and aired a number of important conceptual issues. Gail Danvers (Ph.D. student, University of Sussex; Lecturer in History, American Studies, Kings College London) spoke on “‘Our Different Way of Living’: Iroquois Conceptions of Ethnic and Racial Difference”. Confining herself to the mid-Eighteenth Century, but adverting to Iroquois myths of much older vintage, she showed how Iroquois dealings with whites affected their conceptions of their own cultural identity. From treaty records and other evidence it is possible to construe Iroquois positions and to see them in dialogue with-not simply superseded or suppressed by-European peoples and powers. Susan Castillo (English Department, University of Glasgow), speaking on “Heterologues: Staging Encounters with Alterity in New World Literatures”, gave a reading of the travel narrative of Louis Lom d’Arce, Baron of Lahontan, first published in 1703. She concentrated on his Dialogue with Adario, an account of his conversation with a Huron chief. She showed that, as in the case of other philosophical dialogues, we cannot take the two men’s speeches as raw evidence; the genre to some extent determined the way the two speakers were represented. Nevertheless, the Dialogues present fascinating material on religion, sexuality, law and the like. This enables us to see these representatives of two contrasting cultures in a reciprocal relationship. The final paper, given by Martin Padgett, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, “‘American Indian Detours off the Beaten Track’: Tourism, Modernity and the construction of Ethnicity in the Southwest’s ‘Land of Enchantment'”, was also about reciprocity. The Fred Harvey chain and the Santa Fé Railroad did bring inevitable changes to indigenous New Mexico Indian cultures, but these cultures, while undoubtedly commodified by tourism, were also dynamic: as they were ostensibly appropriated they were able to resist wholesale change on the invaders’ terms. The discussion which followed the papers was wide-ranging, lively, informed, and appreciative.
Representation and Equality in American History and Politics
Chair: Michael Les Benedict (Sussex University / Ohio State University)
James H. Read (St. Benedict/St. John’s University)
“Diversity, Homogeneity, and Statemanship in the thought of John C Colqhoun”
James M. Beeby (Bowling Green State University, Ohio)
“‘Equal Rights to all and Special Privileges to None’: Grassroots Populism in North Carolina”
G. Wayne Peak (Colorado State University, Fort Collins)
“Representation and Equality in the US Senate”
The session “Representation and Equality in American History and Politics” had an audience of 20-25. Each panelist delivered a clear, twenty-minute exposition of a longer paper. James H. Read of St. Benedict/St. John’s University both explicated and criticised John C. Calhoun’s theory of concurrent majorities. The theory relied upon a very high standard of statesmanship to avoid deadlock. The theory was arbitrary in deciding what interests deserved a veto and required similarly high statesmanship to foster necessary solidarity within the interests represented. If one achieved such statesmanship, he wondered, was the concurrent-majority mechanism necessary? James M. Beeby of Bowling Green State University (Ohio) argued that commitment to fair democratic procedures providing equal political access to all was the central commitment of rank-and-file Populists, rather than any particular economic interest. G. Wayne Peak of Colorado State University (Fort Collins) pointed out how radically the system of representation in the U.S. Senate malapportioned political power, suggesting its replacement by a system of proportional representation. Lively audience comment elucidated discussions of how likely a Senate reform would be, and how radically opposed were Calhoun’s philosophy and the philosophy underlying Professor Peak’s observations and suggestions.
Society and Politics in the New Deal Era: Right Wing Activism on the Pacific Coast during the 1930s
Chair: Michael Heale (University of Lancaster)
Robert W. Cherny
“Anti-Communist Networks on the Pacific Coast during the 1930s”
“Catholic Action on the Political and Cultural Fronts: The Case of San Francisco Labor, 1934-1958”
Comment: Michael Heale (University of Lancaster)
This session might have been better entitled ‘Anti-Communist Activism on the Pacific Coast in the 1930s and 1940s’. Not all anti-communists are right wing, or at least would not so regard themselves, and the session investigated a complex political sociology on the West Coast.
Robert W. Cherny spoke on ‘Anti-Communist Networks on the Pacific Coast during the 1930s.’ In a fascinating paper, ranging across the states of California, Oregon, and Washington (with an occasional glance at Hawaii), he identified eight anti-communist groups in action by the late 1930s: the American Legion, police red squads, national guard or military intelligence officers, business leaders, a few INS officials, organised labour, the non-communist Left, and the Catholic church. A striking feature was that around 1940 the FBI came to displace these local groups in the function of political surveillance. While some of these groups had been driven by a right-wing patriotism, others had a more sophisticated and constructive agenda, a theme taken up by William Issel in his paper on ‘Catholic Action on the Political and Cultural Fronts: The Case of San Francisco Labor, 1934-1958.’ He explored the role of Roman Catholic activists from the mid-1930s in resisting excessive individualism on the one hand and communism or class conflict on the other. They sought to build a moral economy (a ‘Third Way’?) in which trade unions, business groups and government would each have a role. The paper focussed largely on labour activity, which involved combating communist influence, but these activists spurned crude red scare tactics and offered their own positive vision to union members, one inspired by Catholic ideology. They enjoyed a fair degree of success, and one implication of this intriguing paper was that the deradicalisation of American labour was well under way at an earlier date than usually assumed.
Michael Heale offered a brief commentary on these papers, noting, among other things, how the popular front configurations on the Pacific Coast in the 1930s rendered the region vulnerable to anti-communist activity once the political climate moved to the right. He quickly gave way to a general discussion, which demonstrated the appreciation of the historians present for a session rooted in authentic archival research and which explored historical questions of real import.
Marketing the Body
Chair: Alan Bilton (University of Wales Swansea)
Bill Osgerby (Southampton Institute)
“A Cast, A Culture, A Market: Youth, Lifestyle and Marketing Practice in Post-War America”
Amy E Farrell (University of East Anglia)
“‘Are you Corpulent?’: Fat and the Origins of the Diet Industry in the United States”
The two papers examined representations of the body in advertising copy drawn from the turn of the last century and the 1950’s respectively, exploring the marketing of gender, youth and wealth. Drawing primarily from LIFE Magazine, a weekly humour periodical published at the turn of the century, Amy Farrell’s paper argued that the foundations for the budding diet industry were set much earlier than the 1920, the date conventionally given. While fat continued to be a marker of prosperity, health and social status for white men, for women it was linked to unfeminine demeanour and possible suffragist leanings. Bill Osgerby’s paper explored the relationship between the iconography of youth and wider social and cultural shifts during the 1950’s and 1960’s, giving particular regard to the rise of a new lifestyle sensibility within an emergent faction of the American middle class. The subsequent lively discussion questioned the ‘radical’ (or otherwise) credentials of the ‘flapper’ in the twenties, and counterculture advertising in the sixties. The homoerotic connotations of images of male bonding in advertising, and the relative merits of gendered and class-based approaches, were also debated.
Race, Ethnicity and Assimilation in American Popular Culture
Chair: Eithne Quinn (University of Central Lancashire)
W. Bruce Leslie (SUNY Brockport / University of Aarhus)
“Repressed Deutschum or Successful Assimilation? The Fate of German America, 1871-1941”
Gary D. Keller (Arizona State University)
“Interethnic Rivalries and Romances in United States Film from its Beginnings through the Urban Interethnic Movies of Joseph P. Kennedy”
James Lyons (University of Nottingham)
“‘I don’t think I’ve ever met a brother from Seattle in my life, man’ . . . Seattle and the Representation of Race”
This panel proved enjoyable, historically well-founded and surprisingly cohesive, as panelists grappled with questions of assimilation and difference in American popular culture (broadly defined).
Bruce Leslie provided a richly descriptive account of German- American culture, between 1871 and 1941, in order to identify the reasons why this immigrant group relinquished so much of its cultural specificity and sense of group identity. What propelled German Americans into a position of cultural invisibility and into divesting their ethnic roots? Despite the apparent clue in his time- line, which ends in 1941, Leslie ultimately refused the repressed Deutschum thesis: that they were forced to conceal and reject their ethnic roots with the onset of war. Instead, he argued that German Americans actively embraced assimilation, spurred by its perceived social, economic, and even cultural benefits. Leslie dubbed this a carrot rather than stick process of acculturation (a carrot readily available to white ethnics such as Germans but, of course, not to other racially demarcated groups). Interestingly, Leslie remarked on the shortfall in scholarship on German America, leading him to observe that scholars have been preoccupied with the authenticity of cultural difference far more than with stories of assimilation (the latter he termed, provocatively, the real story of American identity).
Gary Keller pursued this revisionist line of enquiry in his detailed account of narratives about interethnic rivalries and romances in early, pre-sound American cinema. Drawing on a wealth of examples, he argued that, from its very beginnings, American film served as a locus of numerous ideological struggles over identity. Despite the abundant use of ethnic stereotypes in films like The Cohens and the Kellys (1926) and Clancys Kosher Wedding 1927), these texts often endorsed and even celebrated ethnic interaction and difference. Focusing on narratives of Jewish/Catholic-Irish romantic liaisons, Keller argued that such film cycles (which catered to white ethnic immigrant audiences) held forth a promise of transethnic unities as one way to achieve the American Dream. His discussion of the highly successful play and film The Melting Pot 1915) led to the fascinating insight that this metaphor so in American Studies spheres today has not always served as a model for unifying and homogenizing processes of American identity formation (whether real or mythic). Instead, Keller argued, in the 1910s the popular term melting pot connoted robust ethnic, racial, and social-class diversity and contestation.
The 1990s saw Seattle emerge as one of the most symbolically resonant cities in the American cultural landscape (think Grunge music, Frazier, Sleepless in Seattle, the pervasive but place-based corporate image of Microsoft and Starbucks, etc.). In the final paper, James Lyons identified and explored the striking disparity between the actual social make-up of contemporary Seattle and its popularly perceived racial contours. Film and television imagery have conjured a city that is largely devoid of non-white inhabitants, despite the city’s demographic plurality. Not only does Seattle come to exemplify white urban space, but, Lyons argued persuasively, this apparently neutral image of whiteness actually serves, perversely, to foster the image of Seattle as a racially tolerant bastion of liberal-mindedness. Like Bruce Leslie, Lyons redirected the critical scrutiny away from marginalized identities and groups and towards the complex but often unexamined category of whiteness (in line with theoretical openings in cultural studies). The papers title quotation (taken from The Larry Sanders Show nicely captures the multiple mediations of Seattle’s whitewashed topography. The knowing comment takes aim at our tacit assumptions about Seattle, deftly exposing the implied viewer’s media informed perceptions ‘ a perceptual landscape that indeed apportions little space to non-white Seattleans.
A lively discussion followed the papers, with questions addressed to all three panelists.
Misery and Triumph: The Fates of Workers in Early America
Chair: Billy G. Smith (Montana State University)
Leslie Patrick (Bucknell University)
“Triumph over Injustice: The Narrative of Patrick Lyon, the Ingenious Blacksmith”
Susan E. Klepp (Rider University)
“Malthusian Miseries and the Working Poor in Philadelphia, 1780-1830: A Study of Infant Mortality”
“Misery and Triumph: The Fates of Workers in Early America” was a very lively session with two very good papers followed by a very informative discussion. Leslie Patrick, from Bucknell University, read her essay on “Triumph over Injustice: The Narrative of Patrick Lyon, the Ingenious Blacksmith.” The paper focused on the fascinating story of Patrick Lyon, a blacksmith falsely accused of robbing the Bank of Pennsylvania during the chaos of the 1798 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia. Lyon left one of the earliest and most informative first-hand accounts of a prisoner in Pennsylvania’s newly reformed punishment system. In addition to analyzing Lyon’s narrative, Professor Patrick dissected a well-known portrait of “Pat Lyon at the Forge,” painted by John Neagle in 1826. That Lyon decided to have himself depicted as a blacksmith rather than as the wealthy “gentleman” he had become was a telling comment about the way in which he defined himself.
Susan E. Klepp of Rider University read her essay on “Malthusian Miseries and the Working Poor in Philadelphia, 1780-1830: A Study of Infant Mortality.” This study challenged the widely held belief that health was not correlated with economic circumstance in early America. Using infant mortality as an index of health, Professor Klepp argued that class was very important in determining the physical well-being of urban Americans, and that differences in the quality of health intensified along class lines in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Another interesting finding was the gender difference in child mortality. A disproportionately high number of boys died in laboring families (when compared to wealthier households), suggesting that poorer Philadelphians may have valued girls more highly than boys, while wealthier families perhaps valued, consciously or unconsciously, boys more than girls.
Memory and the Construction of Nature in American Life
Chair: Stephen McVeigh (University of Wales Swansea)
Alice Nash (University of Massachusetts, Amherst)
“Tercentenary of an Indian Raid, Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1704-2004”
Eric Sandeen (University of Wyoming, Laramie)
“Nature and History in America’s National Parks: Resettling the Grand Tetons National Park”
Subarno Chattarji (St. Stephen’s College, Delhi)
“Poetry and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial: Towards a More Discriminating Remembrance”
During BAAS 2000, I had the pleasure of chairing a panel entitled ‘Memory and the Construction of Nature in American Life’. The well attended panel began with a paper by Alice Nash (University of Massachusetts, Amherst). The paper, ‘Tercentenary of an Indian Raid, Deerfield, Massachusetts, 1704-2004’ was a lively and entertaining exploration of the plans for the celebration of a problematic historical event, and the nature of the evolving memory of the raid itself.
Eric Sandeen (University of Wyoming, Laramie) in his paper ‘Nature and History in America’s National Parks: Resettling the Grand Tetons National Park’ offered a fascinating examination of the history and management of this public space, illuminated with a collection of magnificent slides.
Subarno Chattarji (St. Stephen’s College, Delhi) delivered a thoughtful and provocative discussion of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial that was concerned to a large degree with the memorial’s inability to deal with the nature of the war itself.
At the end of the session there were several useful questions and comments, with Subarno’s paper generating the bulk of the discussion.
What emerged from a panel that, on paper at least, seemed too disjointed to necessarily cohere, was a rich and diverse but fundamentally connected examination of the management of public memory and space in the contemporary American experience.
Evangelicals, Fundamentalists And American Culture
Chair: Phil Melling, American Studies, University of Wales, Swansea
Kelly Willis Mendiola (University of Texas at Austin)
“‘On to Victory She Goes’: Amanda Berry Smith and the Transformation of the Nineteenth Century Holiness Movement”
Robert Brinkmeyer (University of Mississippi)
“Religious Fundamentalism, Narrative and Recent Southern Literature”
James W. Boyd (Colorado State University )
“Creationism versus Evolution in Kansas”
Comment: Phil Melling (University of Wales Swansea)
This panel examined the roots and resurgence of religious fundamentalism in the United States. It indicated the extent to which conservative religion is a major dynamic in American culture-from the penetcostal crusades of the late nineteenth century to the philosophical conflicts and debates of the present day. Robert Brinkmeyer discussed the importance of Christian narrative in contemporary southern literature at a time of religious renaissance in the South and southern disgrace in the White House. He contrasted the work of southern artists of faith with the gothic scepticism of Flannery O’Connor, suggesting that in spite of a southern preoccupation with evil and sin, southern writers of faith accept the need for Jesus to exist as a figure of hope and moral renewal. James Boyd explored the religious fervour which underpins the debate between creationism and evolution in American culture. He suggested that the philosophical structure of this debate is anticipated in the fundamentalist approach to the Bible and the book of Genesis, in particular, and that the controversy between creationsim and evolution in the public schools in states like Kansas is rooted in an experiential approach to language and truth. Kelly Willis Mendiola looked at the links between ethnicity and religiion in the Holiness movement of the late nineteenth century. She examined the life of Amanda Barry Smith who utilised the idea of empowerment through sanctification to heal the painful racial and class divisions she experienced in New York City. Mendiola argued that Amanda Berry Smith provides one of the missing pieces in the transformation of nineteenth century Holiness thought to American Pentecostalism in the present day. The panel provoked a lively debate and threw up a number of useful links and connections between the papers.
Roundtable Discussion: Narcissism and Lyric in American Poetry
Chair: Nick Selby (University of Wales Swansea)
Nerys Williams (University of Sussex)
“Introduction to the show me business: Error in the poetry of Charles Bernstein”
Jo Gill (Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education)
“From ‘inverted bowl’ to ‘convex mirror’: Narcissism in post-war American Poetry”
Liana Sakelliou (University of Athens)
“The Deep Longing for a Greater Significance in American Life: How Denise Levertov Helps to Satisfy It”
Frances Barry (University of Sussex)
“‘Incoherent inaccessible muddled inaudible speech was a cry for action’: Susan Howe articulating anger”
The four excellent papers in this lively and fascinating session stimulated an extremely engaging discussion. Despite the very great differences between the poets discussed, many common themes and preoccupations were exposed. This demonstrated that the so-called ‘poetry wars’ between different factions of the American poetry scene have, perhaps, been overplayed by critics, poets and publishers.
Nerys Williams’ paper examined the role played by ‘error’ in the work of Charles Bernstein. The paper argued that the incidental slippages on the page that one encounters in his poetry belie a significant relationship to his conceptualisation of language. This leads one into the problematics of reading what often seem to be a series of assiduously defaced lyrics. The paper concluded by suggesting that reading error in Bersntein is to question convention whilst retaining a generous gesture towards a communal enterprise.
Jo Gill’s paper drew on Linda Hutcheon’s (1984) distinction between mimesis of process and mimesis of product in order to support the thesis that the narcissism (or ‘insistent mirroring’) of which the confessional poet Anne Sexton stands accused, should be read as a textual rather than an autobiographical phenomenon. It attended to the-perhaps unexpected-parallels between Sexton’s poem ‘For John, Who Begs Me Not to Enquire Further’ and John Ashbery’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror’. This comparison allowed for a discussion of how Sexton’s problematisation of reference and privileging of process, exceed the boundaries of the confessional mode, and anticipate the concerns of contemporary and postmodern poetry.
Liana Sakelliou argued that, like many poets of the 1990s, Denise Levertov writes new poems about nature, spirit, and their unity in order to present visions of a positive alternative to a techologised culture. The paper explored Levertov’s Welsh background and her references to the Welsh poet R. S. Thomas. In so doing, Levertov’s poetic quest was shown to be a model for the renewal of the American sense of a manifest destiny that would reorient technology by ethics, art, and personal values.
The final paper of the session, given by Frances Barry talked through some of the difficulties encountered in the work of ‘Language’ poet, Susan Howe, specifically how Howe expresses anger. By working ‘against the colloquial free verse lyric that occupies the mainstream’, the paper argued that Howe’s poetry moves the focus away from the transparency of language to its materiality. Rather, though, than moving away from personal articulation, the paper’s close reading of sections from Singularities, demonstrated the extent to which Howe’s work is invested with her gendered, political, fully conscious ‘ego’.
A Lifeline or a Fetter: The Black Atlantic’s Relevance to American Studies
Chair: Alan Rice (Central Lancashire)
Alan Rice (Central Lancashire University)
“Hidden Voices of the Black Atlantic”
Carol Smith (King Alfred’s College, Winchester)
“Portraying the Black Atlantic: Olaudah Equiano”
Richard Crownshaw (London)
“Memorialising the Black-Jewish Atlantic”
Jenny Terry (University of Warwick)
“‘Shuttles in the rocking loom of history’: The Deployment of the Middle Passage Ship in the Work of Toni Morrison, Paule Marshall and Paul Gilroy”
This was a most lively session to an enthusiastic and packed audience. Dr. Alan Rice kicked off with an introductory paper which took as its starting point visits to Gold Coast castles by black British and African American politicians before describing how we might discover voices of Africans within the slave ships through the ellipses in Slavers’ journals. Dr. Carol Smith traced the image of Olaudah Equiano from a reputed contemporary portrait to his appearence in the faith zone of the Millenium Dome, interrogating the various uses made of the portrait and hence of the personality of this key black Atlantic figure. Dr. Richard Crownshaw described the various ways the traumas of the middle passage and the Shoah have been memorialised in exhibitions here and in America. In a highly theorised paper he described the workings of a Jewish Atlantic which interfaces with Gilroy’s conception of a black Atlantic. Jenny Terry managed to say something new and challenging about Beloved, showing oceanic valencies in Sethe’s house in Ohio which indicate the Middle Passage literally shaking and haunting long after the journey itself. Her paper showed how Gilroy’s work has much to teach us in even the most land-locked areas of American Studies. The wide-ranging discussion afterwords ranged from Afrocentrism through Gilroy’s relation to Thatcherism to whether this work was actually cultural rather than American Studies
Special Focus Session: Rethinking the Multiple Meanings of the American Revolution
Chair: Steve Sarson (University of Wales Swansea)
Anthony Hutchison (PhD student, University of Nottingham)
“The Republican Persuasion: Hannah Arendt’s American Revolution”.
Trevor Burnard (Brunel University)
“Freedom, Migration and the American Revolution”.
John Schlotterbeck (DePauw University, Indiana)
“The Revolution in Northern Piedmont Virginia, 1760-1800”.
Neva Specht (Appalachian State University, North Carolina)
“‘Being a peaceable man, I have suffered much persecution’: The American Revolution and its Effects on Quaker Migration and Community Formation in the Western Country”
Emily Blanck (PhD student, Emory University)
“Freedom Suits in Revolutionary Massachusetts, 1764-1783”.
Examining one theme from five very different angles, the papers constituting this Special Focus Session showed what a complex, multi- layered and endlessly fascinating subject the meanings of the American Revolution is. Anthony Hutchison began where the current historiography of American republicanism began: with intellectual history. Hutchison critiqued Hannah Arendt’s stress on American republicanism’s establishment of social and political stability and continuity in light of long-term historical change attributable to the Revolution. By contrast, Trevor Burnard casts doubt on the idea of the American Revolution’s enhancement of freedom, particularly as southern enslavement grew more entrenched until violently overthrown while Britain abolished slavery peacefully. Burnard enhanced the power of his American-British counterpoint by examining the fates of black and white migrants across the British Empire from the 1780s to the 1840s. John Schlotterbeck’s study of Orange County uncovered considerable local social upheaval during the American Revolution, but found it ultimately replaced with greater cohesion and consensus among free whites caused by long-term trends such as out-migration, economic diversification, the rise of a plantocracy and entrenchment of slavery. Emily Blanck also explored the complexities of race and class. Her examination of freedom suits shows how in Massachusetts, unlike Virginia, white enlightenment and black aspiration for liberty became entwined, and yet how the former was deeply ambiguous and the latter greatly compromised. Neva Specht examined the contradictory experiences of a particular group in the American Revolution. She showed how pressures put on Quakers during a period of conflict weeded out those less committed to the Society’s Discipline but strengthened the resolve of those who were and who began to carve out new lives in Ohio and elsewhere. Whether encompassing Atlantic intellectual currents or the global migration of peoples, or relating local and particular phenomena to larger and general trends and events, these papers exemplified the best in American revolution scholarship. They also show that, notwithstanding the long pedigree of this scholarship, there is still much to learn.
Special Symposium: “Reporting War”
Chair: Jon Roper (University of Wales Swansea)
Jack Laurence, Charles Mahar, Charles Wheeler
War and its impact upon American politics, society and culture has long been a research interest and strength of the Department at Swansea, which both arranged and sponsored this special symposium. It brought together two eminent journalists, and the current air-attache at the US Embassy. Jack Laurence started by showing footage of his report from Hue City for CBS, made during the Tet offensive in Vietnam in 1968. He used this to illustrate ways in which the relationship between the military and the media works in times of war. Reflecting on his personal experiences as a pilot in the Gulf War, Mike Mahar gave a forceful defence of the military’s desire to ensure that war reporting does not erode the legitimate need to maintain silence on matters of security. Charles Wheeler commented upon changes in technology and news-gathering techniques which have in turn impacted on the media’s ability to present a balanced view of war. The ensuing panel discussion and questions from the audience turned rapidly into a lively debate which addressed the issues raised. In sum, a good panel.
Writing and Imagining New York City
Chair: Dave R Bewley-Taylor (University of Wales Swansea)
Richard Haw (Pg student, University of Leeds)
“Brooklyn Bridge: The Ideology of the Opening Day”
Barry Atkins (Manchester Metropolitan University)
“Failed Histories and Imagined Futures: John Dos Passos’ Manhattan Transfer”
This highly stimulating and enjoyable session involved Richard Haw, a postgraduate from the University of Leeds, and Dr. Barry Atkins from the English Department at Manchester Metropolitan University. Richard’s paper, Brooklyn Bridge: The Ideology of the Opening Day, examined what is considered by many to be the defining moment in the history of nineteenth century technology; the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge to the public in May 1883. His paper explored the various concerns, tropes and rhetorical strategies that marked the literature of this event. He also provided links with the currently burgeoning work on parades and other civic occasions in both the early republic and the twentieth century and suggested crucial differences. What emerged, Richard lucidly argued, can be seen to occupy a unique place within, what Sacvan Bercovitch has termed the American ritual of consensus simultaneously providing a link between popular civic occasions of the pre-Civil War era and the tightly controlled pseudo-events described by Daniel Boorstin in the twentieth century. Richards paper was complemented superbly by Barry’s discussion of ‘Failed Histories and Imagined Futures: John Dos Passos Manhattan Transfer’. Barry’s paper explored the extent to which critics of Dos Passos novels have seized upon the authors self-deprecating claim to be a second-rate historian and missed the full significance of the ways in which he looks for new ways to narrate an American future when confronted with a failure of any historical narrative to fully represent the observed world. Specifically Barry explored the ways in which Dos Passos looks not to the past, but to the representation of an American future in Manhattan Transfer. He cleverly argued that this work is not just a damning critique of a variety of modes of American capitalism, as some critics have argued, but instead represents a critique of a variety of modes of historical representation even as it offers up new ways in which it might be possible to narrate an American future. The quality of the papers was matched by the calibre of questions and comments during the discussion. Indeed, the overall success of the session is probably best illustrated by the fact that while comprising of only two panellists, the session lasted for eighty-five minutes and ran out of chairs and floor space for the participants.
Black /Slave Narratives
Chair: Kasia Boddy (University of Dundee)
Cindy Hamilton (Manchester Metropolitan University)
“Models of Agency: Frederick Douglass and ‘The Heroic Slave'”
Stephanie Browner (Berea College, Kentucky)
“‘Social Surgery’: Race, Literature and Medicine at the Turn of the Century”
George Hutchinson (University of Tennessee at Knoxville)
“The Negro Renaissance versus The Negro Vogue”
This fascinating session consisted of papers on diverse topics of African American literature and history from the mid-nineteenth century to the 1920s. Cindy Hamilton (from Manchester Metropolitan University) provided a new and detailed reading of Frederick Douglass’s ‘The Heroic Slave’ which considered how Douglass self-consciously challenged the prevalent sentimental construction of the slave as passive victim. Stephanie Browner (from Berea College) then presented a paper which drew on turn of the century works including The House Behind the Cedars and Iola Le Roy to consider the literary response to the (white and black) medical profession’s relationship to debates within racial ‘science’. The final paper, from George Hutchinson (of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville) argued, with special reference to Langston Hughes’s The Big Sea, against many of the myths perpetuated about the Harlem Renaissance. Both its impact and its duration were greater than it commonly acknowledged, and its characteristic works were more likely to be satires or tragedies than works of ‘uplift’. A lively discussion continued into lunch.
Embodying American Studies: Literary and Historical Approaches
Chair: Janet Beer (Manchester Metropilitan University)
Simon Newman (University of Glasgow)
“Reading Life and Society in Death: The Bodies of Philadelphia’s Poor, 1790-1810”
Tatiana Rapatzikou (University of East Anglia)
“Visualisations of Cyber-Gothic Bodies in William Gibson’s Trilogy and the Art of the Graphic Novel”
In her paper, ‘Visualisations of Cyber-gothic bodies in William Gibson’s Trilogy and the Art of the Graphic Novel’, Tatiana Rapatzikou brought together text and visual image in order to examine the motifs linking cyber-gothic fiction and graphic sources. She explored the the fusion of the human body with electronic technology in the horror motif of the cyborg/zombie in William Gibson’s trilogy (“Neuromancer”, “Count Zero”, “Mona Lisa Overdrive”), placing Gibson’s texts beside the graphic art design of Mike Saenz in order to focus on the formation of electronically engineered alter egos in the trilogy. In this paper it was suggested that the dense narrative style of Gibson’s trilogy can be seen in dialogue with the visual density of the graphic representations.
In his paper, ‘Reading Life and Society in Death: The Bodies of Philadelphia’s Poor, 1790-1810’, Simon Newman explored the burial records kept by the Reverend Nicholas Collin, the pastor of Gloria Dei Church in Southwark, Philadelphia. With a highly developed interest in medical practise and research, Collin kept extremely detailed records of the people that he buried, many of whom were drawn from the ranks of the labouring poor in early national Philadelphia. The records show extremely high rates of infant mortality, and then as survivors grew older childbirth and related infections and illnesses took the lives of many young adult women, while job-related injuries killed many younger men. However, while these records demonstrate the fragility of life amongst the poor in late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth century urban America, Collin was careful to temper this with a sense of the myriad ways in which people coped with and indeed enjoyed life, from children’s street games to alcoholic carousing and festive celebration.
Vietnam War and the Homefront
Chair: Craig Phelan (University of Wales Swansea)
Sylvia Ellis (University of Sunderland)
“‘One Hell of a Situation’: The Wilson-Kosygin Peace Initiative of February 1967”
Rodri Jeffrys-Jones (University of Edinburgh)
“‘The WORM and the Vietnam War”
The early Saturday afternoon session in the Callaghan building on “The Vietnam War and the Homefront” was well attended and sparked a remarkably sprited debate. Sylvia Ellis from the University of Sunderland read a paper chronicling the Wilson-Kosygin Peace Initiative of February 1967, a failed opportunity to pursue peace during the Johnson administration. Rodri Jeffrys-Jones from the University of Edinburgh discussed antiwar protest and argued that one point of agreement among the diverse groups of protesters was that Vietnam was a war conducted by the “WORM” (White Old Rich Men). Much of the debate that followed focused on the extent to which the antiwar movement can be credited with forcing an end to the war. Dr. Jeffrys-Jones articulated the view of those who believed that protest did hasten US withdrawal, but several members of the audience strenuously resisted his arguments, and the debate continued well after the session had ended.
Gender in Contemporary American Culture
Chair: Ann Heilmann (University of Wales Swansea)
Jeff Walsh (Manchester Metropolitan University)
“Elite Women Warriors and Dog Soldiers: Gender Reversals in Contemporary Hollywood War Films”
Sue Ellen Charlton (Colorado State University at Fort Collins)
“Gender and Sex in American Political Culture”
William Schultz (University of Athens)
“The Possible End of Gender Differences in America: Utopia or Dystopia?”
With its ideally matched papers on current debates about gender and sexuality, this proved a lively and stimulating panel which generated an animated discussion.
The opening paper was presented by Jeff Walsh (Manchester Metropolitan University) on the subject of ‘Elite Women Warriors and Dog Soldiers: Gender Reversals in Contemporary Hollywood War Films’. While films like ‘G.I. Jane’ and ‘Courage Under Fire’ represented a new departure in Hollywood cinema in that they experimented with gender roles by constructing woman as warrior, Walsh drew attention to the highly ambivalent nature of this figure, whose greatest feat of heroism appeared to consist in her feminine capacity for endurance and self-sacrifice.
The political repercussions of the contemporary crisis of the sex/gender dichtomy which has underpinned so much of the conceptual and legal framework of American society was explored by Sue Ellen Charlton (Colorado State University at Fort Collins). Her paper on ‘Gender and Sex in American Political Culture’ argued that recent sexual harassment cases (Tailhook, the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings) and current battles over bisexuals from any protected status) indicate the erosion of the line between private and public.
In his paper on ‘The Possible End of Gender Differences in America’ William Schultz (University of Athens) examined the utopian and/or dystopian potential of androgyny state legislation on gay rights (such as steps undertaken in Colorado to bar gays, lesbians and as represented in contemporary science fiction film (THX1138). Androgyny was imaged almost exclusively as the absence of gender and sexuality, and was therefore constructed as the loss of individuality: in film, it was typically linked with alienation and the dehumanisation of society. By contrast, conventional representations of gender (such as NASA’s space message) evoked a more optimistic outlook by celebrating a difference premised on the conflation of cultural and physiological attributes (hair length reflecting anatomical specificity).
Walt Whitman and His Legacy
Chair: Paul Giles (Cambridge University)
M. Wynn Thomas (University of Wales Swansea)
“Whitman, and 1850s New York”
William V Davies (Baylor University, Texas)
“Bruised by God: Charles Wright’s Apocalyptic Pilgrimage”
Kenneth Price (College of William and Mary)
“Cultural memory and the Politics of Desire: Representing Walt Whitman in Film, 1980-2000”
This session on Whitman offered three particularly stimulating and well-received papers. In ‘Whitman and 1850s New York,’ M. Wynn Thomas argued that the idea of spontaneity in Whitman could be seen as a political term and that many of the catalogues in Leaves of Grass might be likened to Fourth of July parades. Thomas contrasted Whitman’s method of naturalizing immigrants with the different attitudes of politicians in New York during the 1850s. In ‘Bruised by God: Charles Wright’s Apocalyptic Pilgrimage’, William V. Davis took up various aspects of Whitman’s artistic legacy in terms of Wright’s poetics of prophecy. Finally, in “Cultural memory and the Politics of Desire: Representing Walt Whitman in Film, 1980-2000”, Kenneth Price demonstrated the extent to which Whitman has become an icon within American popular culture over the last twenty years. In the subsequent discussion period, Price argued that the “erotics of discipleship” needs more attention from Whitman scholars, and all of these papers explored contemporary approaches to Whitman’s work to great effect.
Special Keynote Speaker
Chair: Phil Melling (University of Wales Swansea)
Maxine Hong-Kingston (University of California, Berkeley)
A Fifth Book of Peace
Maxine Hong-Kingston framed her talk with two readings. The first was an account of the loss of an original manuscript in the fire which engulfed her home and those of her neighbours in northern California in the early 1990s. Unable to find her bearings in a devastated landscape Hong-Kingston described her realization that everything she owned in the house was gone, including the manuscript. Encountering a journalist she explains the fire as divine retribution for America’s bombing of innocent civilians in the Gulf War, a comment which brought her severe censure in the local and national media. Hong-Kingston explained that, for her, America’s record in recent military theatres is a thing of enduring shame. The great moral tragedy is still Vietnam and Hong-Kingston’s personal act of reparation is a programme of work with Vietnam veterans in California. Hong-Kingston balanced her fire story with a water story, a lovely reading of ‘A Sea Worry’, from Hawaii One Summer. Here she recalls watching her son catch the waves in Sandy Beach, Hawaii. The contemplative tone of the reading allowed her audience the chance to cool down after the intense heat of A Fifth Book of Peace. Hawaii One Summer, a collection of eleven newspaper articles written in the form of seasonal vignettes, is set in Hawaii and was originally published by Meadow Press as a limited edition in 1987. It has since been reissued by the University of Hawaii Press (1998).
American Indian Treaty Making and Negotiation
Chair: Martin Padget (University of Wales Aberystwyth)
Benjamin Ramirez-schkwegnaabi (Central Michigan University, Saginaw Band of Chippewa)
“United States Negotiation and Treaty Making”
Carol Green-Devens (Central Michigan University)
“Gender Roles in Ojibwe Negotiation and Leadership”
Brian Alan Baker (Cornell University, Bad River Chippewa)
“Ojibwe Treaty Rights in the United States and Canada”
This panel provided a rich and illuminating focus on treaty making and negotiation as conducted by Ojibwe (or Anishinaabe or Chippewa) Indians during the nineteenth century. Benjamin Ramirez-schkwegnaabi (Saginaw Band of Chippewa), who teaches Native American history and the Ojibwe language at Central Michigan University, provided a comparison of Ojibwe and US negotiating strategies in the nineteenth century. Focusing his attention on an 1855 treaty between the US Government and the Ojibwe in Michigan, Ramirez-schkwegnaabi argued that treaty journals from this period provide an invaluable resource for analyzing the differing ways in which Ojibwe and US representatives understood time and language in their negotiations. Dealing with US bureaucrats who based their thinking on linear models of time and decision making proved difficult for a people for whom time was cyclical and decision making consensual. Carol Green-Devens, who also teaches at Central Michigan University and is the author of Countering Colonization: Native American Women and Great Lakes Missions, 1630-1900, gave a talk on the participation of Ojibwe women in the consensus-based decision making of their communities and nations. Arguing that historians have tended to overlook the key role played by women in diplomatic negotiations between Native Americans and the US, Green-Devens illustrated the various ways in which Ojibwe women participated in the diplomatic process and provided political leadership of their own. Brian Alan Baker (Bad River Chippewa), who teaches in the American Indian Programme at Cornell University, spoke about the fortunes of Ojibwe bands in the Lake Superior region who were drawn into different national political structures on either side of the US-Canada border. Baker focused on strategies proposed by the Ojibwe to share their land with other peoples at key points of their history over the past three hundred years. He paid particular attention to treaty making during the nineteenth century, when the Ojibwe used symbiosis to argue for the maintenance of their fishing, hunting and occupancy rights on land that US representatives considered had been ceded to their own government. Taken together, the three papers were representative of the many exciting developments that are ongoing in the areas of Native American Studies and ethnohistory.
Tourism, Imagined Cities and Failed Dreams
Chair: David Seed (University of Liverpool)
Christopher Pierce (University of Liverpool)
“Heuristic Instrument: The Directors City”
Jerry Foust (Loyola University)
“South Haven by the ‘Sea’: Community and Tourism in South Haven, Michigan, 1869-1930”
Ann McFerrin (Archivist, Kansas City, Missouri Parks, Recreation and Boulevards)
“The City Beautiful Movement: Study of the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Boulevard System”
Christoher Pierce opened the session with a discussion of the Dutch West India Company’s pentagonal plan for New Amsterdam. Citing a prototype in Philipville, he argued that we should not exclude religious and political issues from consideration, and proposed an interpretation of the plan as a design for an ideal castle in a new world Eden. Jerry Foust then followed with an account of South Haven, Michigan, stressing the role of tourism in the growth of that community. The town promoted itself as a refuge from nearby urban complexes. Ann McFerrin completed the session with an outline history of the parks in Kansas City showing the impact of the City Beautiful Movement on the construction of a boulevard plan. All three papers tied in with each other around the concept of planned construction and urban models.
New Perspectives in Welsh-American history
Chair: Bill Jones (University of Wales, Cardiff)
Lloyd Johnson (Campbell University)
“Welsh ethnicity on the South Carolina Frontier 1735-1800”
Ronald Lewis (West Virginia)
“Welsh Miners, American Coal and the Loss of Memory”
Aled Jones (Aberystwyth)
“Drych and American Welsh Identities 1851-1951”
This conference Special Session opened with Bill Jones’s shorter opening paper which briefly surveyed some of the distinctive features of the history of the Welsh in America. It also suggested that in recent years increased interest has been shown in the subject, revealing a more diverse and complex picture of immigration, settlement and acculturation.
Each of the remaining three speakers explored new directions in Welsh American history. Lloyd Johnson focus was on the Welsh- and English speaking Welsh migrants from Pennsylvania and Delaware who stamped a strong Welsh identity on the Pee Dee region of South Carolina in 1730s and 1740s. His is the first in depth study of this group so his contribution was especially welcome.
Ron Lewis addressed a familiar theme from a stimulating new perspective. During the nineteenth century knowledge of work skills won the Welsh leadership in American coalfield society and institutions, but by the 1920s structural changes had dissolved their competitive edge. He argued that the immigrants’ initial success was accompanied by the demise of the work culture which had provided them with cultural cohesion and identity. It also led to a loss of collective memory of that culture among their descendants.
Finally, Aled Jones examined another Welsh American success story, the newspaper Y Drych [The Mirror], founded in 1851 and still being published. Discussing the current University of Wales collaborative project on the paper’s historical role and function, he showed how research findings are revealing valuable insights into the ways in which it reflected and shaped an American Welsh identity during this period.
The presentations were followed by a lively discussion which ranged widely over aspects of Welsh ethnicity and identity in America.
Sentimentalism, Gender, and the Development of the Middle Class
Chair: Simon Middleton (University of East Anglia)
Sarah Knott (Royal Holloway College, University of London/Wolfson College, Oxford)
“‘Provedore to the Sentimentalists’: Robert Bell and Sentimental Readership in the Early Republic”
Charlene Avallone (Independent Scholar, Hawaii)
“Studied as an Art’: Conversation Crosses the Atlantic”
Marina Moskowitz (University of Glasgow)
“Recording the Middle-Class: Fact and Fiction in the Early Twentieth Century”
Sarah Knott (Royal Holloway College, University of London/Wolfson College, Oxford) provided a stimulating opening with her discussion of urban print culture and sentimentalism via the career of the Philadelphian bookseller, Robert Bell (1768-1784). Sentimentalism pervaded genres as diverse as history, conduct literature, travel accounts and medicine and extended reading to a popular audience of women and men. Charlene Avallone (Independent Scholar, Hawaii) examined the ways in which American perceptions of the art of English conversation guided Republican adaptations of salon culture and conduct literature in domestic tutelage into the more or less systematic disciplining of girls and women in conversing. Marina Moskowitz (University of Glasgow) closed with an enlightening discussion of “Recording the Middle-Class: Fact and Fiction in the Early Twentieth Century,” which managed what had at first seemed impossible, and united all the papers around central themes of sentimentalism, gender, and the development of the middle class.
Sexualities and Post-War American Literature and Culture
Chair: Richard J. Ellis, Nottingham Trent University
Denis Flannery (University of Leeds)
“‘The Blessed Wolf: Cormac McCarthy, Sibling Love and Homoeroticism”
Maria Lauret (University of Sussex)
“‘It’s for this we risk the wrath of God and Man’: recent black gay writing and the tradition”
Graham Thompson (Nottingham Trent University)
“The Anxiety of Organisation: Straight Male Fear, Paranoia and Self-Pity in Joseph Heller’s Something Happened”
Agnieszka Rzepa (Adam Mickiewicz University)
“Textual Anrdoyny? Susan Sontag’s the Volcano Lovers as an Androgynous Text”
Jude Davies (King Alfred’s College, Winchester)
“‘I’m in trouble, George … bad trouble’: Sex Matters in Dreiser’s Novels and Films”
Denis Flannery’s paper, ‘Cormac McCarthy, Sibling Love, and Queer Subjectivity’ considered McCarthy’s work-particularly The Crossing-from an approach informed by the historically complex and mutually determining relationship between sibling love and the literary articulation of queer, specifically homoerotic, possibilities. Drawing on the work of Judith Butler and others, Flannery considered the way in which sibling love in McCarthy is recurrently an initiatory signal for queer sexual and cultural possibilities. Flannery proposed that this could be recognised in The Crossing in the way the bond between the two brothers in the novel was one itself eroticised through the figure of the wolf.
Maria Lauret’s thoughtful, exploratory paper examined the relationship between recent black gay writing of the late 1980s and the 1990s to earlier writing by black gay men such as Richard Bruce Nugent and Langston Hughes of the Harlem Renaissance and James Baldwin some forty years later. The recent appearance of several anthologies of black gay writing and the inclusion of the work of Essex Hemphill and Randall Kenan in the Norton and Riverside anthologies of African American Literature suggested that what was emerging might be construed as a tradition, that could be traced back to these roots/routes, but Lauret instead proposed that such inclusion might be premature: a ‘tradition’ of African American gay writing may be in the making, but is as yet still an obscure object of desire, even if the writing that may be starting to found it is often strikingly complex and compelling.
Graham Thompson’s paper explored the ways in which surveillance and self-surveillance operate in the narrative of Joseph Heller’s Something Happened in terms of fear, paranoia, and self-pity and how these categories produce knowledge and information about an anxious straight male sexuality in the post-war corporate world, where fear of latency helped structure an unstable homosocial homophobia.
Agnieszka Rzepa’s analysis of Susan Sontag’s The Volcano Lovers (1992) viewed it as an ‘androgynous text’-the concept of the androgynous text being based mostly on the Bakhtinian concept of dialogism and the work of Hélène Cixous. An androgynous text, Rzepa contended, is defined chiefly in terms of its formal structure, in which individual characterization is not as important as a specific ‘orchestration’ of characters as ‘voices’ (in the Bakhtinian sense), in an open textual dialogue. Another essential element of an androgynous text is the impact, which the text might exert on the reader by defamiliarising of gender stereotypes. Sontag’s novel was presented as an exemplary androgynous text.
Jude Davies’ paper analysed the representation of sexuality and subjectivity in Theodore Dreiser’s novels Sister Carrie (1900) and An American Tragedy (1925), and the film adaptations A Place in the Sun (1951) and Carrie (1952). The paper recontextualised historical receptions of this material as (naturalistic) ‘pictures of conditions’ and as ‘social problem’ texts by reference to an interest in sexual activity and its regulation as a set of social practices at the borders of the cultural and the biological. An engagement with contemporary work on sexuality by Judith Butler was used to unpack issues of centralisation/marginality, and commodified and romantic desire.
This excellent set of papers, and a series of stimulating questions, ensured the BAAS Swansea conference ended on high note for all present.
The Self in American Literature and Poetry
Chair: Bill Lazenblatt (University of Ulster)
Justin Quinn (University of Prague)
Frank Bidart and the Fate of Lyric
Carolyn Masel (University of Manchester)
’Cloudless the morning. It is he’: The Return of the Figural in Wallace Stevens’ Apocalypses
Nick Selby (University of Wales, Swansea)
Desiring Texts: ‘Language Poetry’ and the Erotics of Domestic Space
Richard Hinchcliffe (University of Central Lancashire)
The Millencholic Wilderness: Testing the Self in Contemporary America
Natalie Dykstra (Hope College, Michigan)
Dressing Up: Representation of the Self in Elizabeth Keckley’s Behind the Scenes
As if to demonstrate that last is by no means least, the BAAS Special Focus session on The Self in American Literature and Poetry was kept to the very end of the Conference, on Sunday afternoon. And were it not for the fact that trains, boats and planes were waiting to return the speakers and their very appreciative audience to various parts of the globe, the discussion would probably still be going on. The first three papers in this crowded session dealt with poetry, with Justin Quinn of the University of Prague identifying in the lyrics of Frank Bidert ways of fastening the voice to the page in order to create a poetic self. For Carolyn Masel of the University of Manchester, Wallace Stevens achieved a voice of poetical authority in Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction by rediscovering self through the return of the figural. Nick Selby of the University of Wales, Swansea, considered the interception of domestic, cultural and bodily spaces in Lyn Hejinian’s My Life and Rosmarie Waldrop’s Inserting the Mirror, to illustrate how desire operates as a discursive site through which the two poets articulate an imaginary, unified subjectivity. All three papers made effective use of close readings and demonstrated that, though the writing self may be problematized, reading selves were acute and authoritative.
The prose papers which rounded off the session were likewise perceptive, with Richard Hinchcliffe of the University of Central Lancashire reminding us of the morally etiolated souls of Brett Easton Ellis’s bratpack in Less Than Zero, where selfhood has become as commodified as everything else in LA. Finally, at breakneck speed and with breathless delivery, Natalie Dykstra of Hope College, Michigan, explored the ways in which Elizabeth Keckley dressed up her own views in Behind the Scenes, in order to ventriloquate them through the voice of the First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln.
The Future of American Studies
Chair: Paul Giles (Cambridge University)
Warren French (Honorary Professor, University of Wales Swansea)
American Studies in the New Millennium
Barbara Shaw-Perry (University of Maryland, College Park)
Migrations of a Subject: (Re)Naming ‘American Studies’, ‘Part III (IV?, V?)
Comment: Susan Castillo (University of Glasgow)
In the last session of the conference, Warren French, who had the previous evening received a special award for his contributions to American Studies over the years, described his hopes and fears for the future of this field. French wants to locate American Studies specifically within an experiential context, and he offered illuminating insights into discrepancies between American Studies scholarship and the way life is lived in the United States today. He was followed by Barbara Shaw-Perry, an American graduate student from Maryland currently working at the University of Birmingham, who, coming at the subject from a different generational perspective, also raised important questions about the future of American Studies from an institutional point of view. Susan Castillo, from the University of Glasgow, then responded to these papers by describing various feedback she had received from members of the BAAS Executive about the future organization of this field, and subsequent discussion focussed largely on administrative challenges for American Studies within the complex bureaucratic world of the modern university.
Exchange Programme Meeting
Fifteen exchange tutors attended the Exchange Programme meeting at the BAAS conference at Swansea. A splendid buffet lunch was provided to facilitate the arrangement of a lunchtime Talk Shop, and the session proved to be very useful. The main topic was exchange of marks and grades in exchange programmes, but finance and other matters were touched upon. It was agreed that the BAAS homepage should be developed further as a means of disseminating information about student exchange programmes. BAAS members who are interested in exchange programmes should visit the BAAS homepage http://http://cc.webspaceworld.me/new-baas-site
The Conference Scene
BAAS Annual Conference—6-9 April 2001 University of Keele, Staffordshire, England: Call for Papers
The conference of the British Association for American Studies is the most comprehensive annual American Studies meeting held in Britain. The last annual conference attracted 300 delegates from all over the UK, from over half the states of the USA, and from 15 other countries.
Come and join us for our next conference, in 2001.We are now calling for paper proposals for the next meeting,to be held at Keele University on April 6-9, 2001. Proposals are welcome on any topic in American Studies. Themes may be multidisciplinary, or interdisplinary, or may examine a topic from the perspective of literature, culture, history, politics or any other approach to the study of America.
Proposals should be no longer than one page, and should include a provisional title. Individually paper proposals will be organised into appropriate panels. Panel proposals by two or more paper-givers, sharing a common theme, are also invited. Proposals are welcome from all researchers in the field, from senior colleagues to postgraduates.
Proposals should be submitted by 31st October, 2000, to:
Dr John Dumbrell
BAAS Conference Secretary
Department of American Studies
Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG
Fax: 01782 583460 (international: +44 1782 583460)
50th Anniversary BAAS Conferences
The first BAAS conference was held at Cambridge in 1955, which means that the 50th conference will take place in 2004, and we can continue the year-long celebrations with a 50th anniversary year conference in 2005.
The Conference Sub-committee and BAAS Executive invite proposals to host the 2004 and 2005 conferences. We would welcome any ideas for new and different initiatives that would build on the conference form, for example through the involvement of partner institutions and organisations who would welcome the chance to help sponsor and celebrate the Association’s anniversary.
We are keen to hear suggestions and ideas for innovation from BAAS members. Members of the Executive Committee will be happy to discuss any ideas, and informal proposals may be sent by letter to
Dr. Simon P. Newman
Director, Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies
University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ
EAAS CFP: “Nation on the Move: Mobility in U.S. History”, Fifth Middelburg Conference of European Historians of the United States, 18-20 April 2001
On 18-20 April 2001 the Roosevelt Study Center in Middelburg, The Netherlands, will host for the fifth time the biennial conference of European Historians of the United States. The theme for this “Middelburg 5” conference is: “Nation on the Move: Mobility in U.S. History”.
The conference aims to explore economic, political, religious and other motives of individual or collective mobility (geographical explorations, travels, adventures, tourism, economic migration, deportation or forced migration, commuting patterns), modes of transportation (horse, ship, railway, car, plane), and developments in routes and transport technology (rivers, cattle trails, construction of roads, canals, railways, airports, car industry) and their impact on American society and culture from colonial times to the present. The focus is on mobility within the U.S.A., not immigration into the country. Literary sources may be used subject to historiographical methods.
Historians interested in presenting a paper are invited to send a one-page proposal before 15 October 2000 to the conference organizers:
Dr. Cornelis A. van Minnen and Professor Sylvia L. Hilton
Roosevelt Study Center
P.O. Box 6001
4330 LA Middelburg
The organizers will make every effort to maintain the plenary character of all sessions, and to schedule sufficient time in the program for discussion.
To this end, individual oral presentations should not exceed 20 minutes. Selections of papers originally presented at preceding “Middelburg conferences” have been published in conference volumes, and although a guarantee cannot be given, we again envision a publication. To be acceptable for publication revised conference papers should be between twenty and thirty pages double-spaced, written according to the guidelines of The Chicago Manual of Style, and submitted as a Word for Windows document. Scholars interested in participating in the conference without presenting a paper are requested to contact the Roosevelt Study Center for a registration form (available from 1 December 2000 on). Hotel expenses of the speakers at the conference will be covered. Other participants are expected to cover their own expenses.
Conference volumes of the preceding four Middelburg conferences:-David K. Adams and Cornelis A. van Minnen, eds., Reflections on American Exceptionalism (Keele: Keele University Press, 1994).-David K. Adams and Cornelis A. van Minnen, eds., Aspects of War in American History (Keele: Keele University Press, 1997).-David K. Adams and Cornelis A. van Minnen, eds., Religious and Secular Reform in America: Ideas, Beliefs and Social Change (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press and New York: New York University Press, 1999).-Cornelis A. van Minnen and Sylvia L. Hilton, eds., Federalism, Citizenship and Collective Identities in U.S. History (forthcoming: Amsterdam: VU University Press, 2000).
The Middleburg conference has become an established biennial occasion, on alternate years to the EAAS conference. The previous four conferences have attracted historians from a large number of countries in Europe, as well as some from the United States. The cosy atmosphere of a relatively small number (about seventy-five) in the delightful setting of a charming, provincial Dutch town, have made these conferences extremely enjoyable as well as academically stimulating. The British contingent has usually been significant in size, so that it might be expected that both as paper-givers and attenders BAAS members will be well-represented.
The Omohundro Institute—Seventh Annual Conference, July 10-16, 2001
Call for Proposals for Papers and Panels: Seventh Annual Institute Conference
The Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture invites proposals for papers for its seventh annual conference to be held July 10-16, 2001. The conference is sponsored jointly by the Institute and by the University of Glasgow, which will be celebrating its 550th anniversary. The meeting will take place in Glasgow, with optional conference events at the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling.
The Institute’s field of interest encompasses all aspects of the lives of North America’s indigenous and immigrant peoples during the colonial, Revolutionary, and early national periods of the United States, and the related histories of Canada, the Caribbean, Latin America, the British Isles, Europe and Africa from the sixteenth century to approximately 1815. Given Glasgow’s historic connections with early America, the conference will have a general theme of the Atlantic World, and the members of the program committee are particularly eager to receive paper and session proposals focussing on researching and teaching early America from an Atlantic World perspective. However, proposals in all fields of early American history and culture will be welcome. The Institute, the program committee, and the University of Glasgow expect this conference to allow American and European scholars to gather together and re-examine early American history and culture in new ways and from new vantage points.
The University of Glasgow, founded in 1451, is one of Britain’s five ‘ancient’ (medieval) universities. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, shipbuilding and trade with the Americas encouraged Glasgow’s growth into the ‘second city’ of the British Empire. Hundreds of thousands of Highland and Lowland Scots passed through the city on their way to the New World, while others remained to service the coal, steel and shipbuilding industries that created both tremendous wealth and great poverty. Over the past quarter-century the city has enjoyed a spectacular revival: as European City of Culture in 1990, and UK City of Architecture and Design in 1999, the city has remade itself, although its mercantile roots remain evident in the grand Georgian and Victorian architecture of the Merchant City. Glasgow remains Scotland’s largest city, but lies amidst some of the most beautiful hill country in south west Scotland. Less than one hour from Edinburgh and Stirling, Glasgow has excellent train, bus and boat connections to the Highlands and Western Islands, as well as to Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Individual submissions should include a one-page proposal and a one-page curriculum vitae. Proposals for entire panels should be submitted in one packet by the designated organizer, with a one-page curriculum vitae and a one page proposal for each presenter, together with a one-page cover-sheet giving the title and theme of the panel, and a listing of all participants. Proposals should be sent to Dr. Simon Newman, Director, Andrew Hook Centre for American Studies, 2 University Gardens, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Scotland. These should arrive no later than September 15, 2000. Please do not send submissions by fax or by e-mail. Questions may be sent by e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Elmira 2001: The 4th International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies, August 16-18, 2001
Two BAAS members, Peter Stoneley and Peter Messent, are chairing respectively the ‘Mark Twain and the Body’ (bodies in pain, racialised bodies, genderered bodies, transformed bodies etc.) and the ‘Mark Twain in Pieces’ (short stories, essays, letters, sketches, maxims etc.) panels. Twenty minute papers to be sent to Gretchen Sharlow, Mark Twain Center, Elmira College, Elmira, New York 14901 by January 2001 for selection by open competition. British Mark Twain scholars are encouraged to submit.
Slave Passages and Liberating Sojourns
On May 8th last year a special one-day colloquium was held at the University of Central Lancashire. Organised by the American Studies Research Group it was the first in a series of colloquia featuring the research interests of the team. It aimed to foreground the Transatlantic study of African American culture through a series of papers on the Black Atlantic refracted through museum culture, local Lancashire history, travel narratives and African communities based in Europe. Sabine Broeck from Bremen discussed the Transatlantic implications of Nancy Cunards seminal collection The Negro whilst Alasdair Pettinger showed how her family firm had discriminated against the free passage of actual non-whites throughout the nineteenth century. Melinda Elder discussed the slaving voyages undertaken from Lancaster and the Fylde ports that implicated even the smallest of ports in the iniquitous trade whilst Tony Tibbles discussed whether such crimes Against Human Dignity could ever be adequately memorialised using his own work in curating the slavery gallery at the Merseyside Maritime Museum as his exemplar. Patrick Hagopian from Lancaster University discussed the kinds of contention that could arise at such sites as Williamsburg whose recreations of slave auctions were recently hotly debated in African American communities. Shamoon Zamir from Kings College, London interrogated the politics of Zora Neale Hurstons Caribbean sojourns whilst Michelle Maria Wright from Carnegie Mellon discussed the multifarious journeys of the Afro-Germanic population.
The stentorian presence of Wilson Harris illuminated the day especially when he delivered a lunchtime speech on the relevance of ethnic cleansing to Race at the end of the millennium and read from his novels. A poster display on the Manx Slave Trade from Frances Wilkins illuminated the foyer showing how slave merchant networks reached out into the Irish Sea and were fundamentally important to the development of Lancashire ports as leading players in the British slave trade. A book of essays is being compiled including these papers and others. Some students from Alan Rices Narratives of the Black Atlantic course were enthusiastic participants in an audience of about 50 which included curators, academics and local historians. The sessions were lively and sometimes controversial and showed the importance of moving beyond National boundaries in talking about the cultures of the Black Atlantic. We were able to have such a dynamic day thanks to sponsorship from the Merseyside Maritime Museum, Cassell Academic and the British Association for American Studies. The next colloquium from the Preston team will be on Transatlantic Studies: New Perspectives, held in Maastricht, the Netherlands at the Center for Transatlantic Studies 12-14 October. Details from the organisers, Heidi Macpherson (email@example.com) and Will Kaufman (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The BAAS/OVERhere 1999 Annual Post-Graduate Conference—Report
By/passing: an interdisciplinary American Studies Conference-the BAAS/OVERhere 1999 Annual Post-Graduate Conference, The Nottingham Trent University, Saturday 6 November 1999
This annual postgraduate conference was jointly sponsored by The Nottingham Trent University, OVERhere and BAAS, with each providing a measure of support and the Nottingham Trent University underwriting the project. Over forty people attended from all over the country-from the University of Glasgow to the University of Sussex. Twenty-eight post-graduates gave papers, which in every case proved to be provocative, thoughtful and challenging-testimony in itself to the continuing health of American Studies in Britain.
Topics ranged in period from the war of 1812 (Jonathan Hills, A Martial Image? The United States Militia and the Visual Medium in the War of 1812, University of Sunderland ) through the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Theresa Saxon, Friendship and Fraternity: The Location of the American Male in Roderick Hudson, MMU; Mark Rawlinson, Charles Sheeler, Adorno and the Relation of Art to Society, University of Nottingham) to the contemporary (Maria Noriega Sanchez, Chicanas in the Borderlands: Towards the New Mestiza, University of Sheffield), whilst subjects ranged from the literary and historical (Alice Hiller, Paradise Traduced: The Coded Landscape of Fanny Kemble’s Journey into Slavery) to contemporary cultural studies (Justin Crouch, Animation and New York, University of Birmingham; Rachel Jennings, Here Be Elvis Impersonators: Route Maps in Contemporary Road Books on the USA, University of Warwick) with frequent cross-overs also occurring (Graham Thompson, ‘Opaque Glass Bricks’: Sloan Wilson’s Gray Flannel Man in the Queer Organization, The Nottingham Trent University).
In this process, by/passing moved through a series of meanings and shadesof meaning, engaging issues of race (and passing), liminality and often passing between disciplines and genres. Three of the papers were selected for publication in the final issue of OVERhere (before it moves into a new period of its history as the European Journal of American Culture): Sarah Wood, Foul Contagions and Precarious Asylums: The Role of the Refugee in Ormond & Arthur Mervyn; Simon Topping, The Election of 1936 and the Emergence of African-American Political Power, University of Hull; Andrew Green, Postnational Fictions: Don DeLillo & Cormac McCarthy, Birmingham University.
The conference was constantly stimulating and enjoyable, and it is only a shame I cannot detail here all the papers given. Thanks are due to The Nottingham Trent University, OVERhere and especially BAAS as an organisation. I’d like to introduce a slightly critical note, however: it would nice to see a few more BAAS members turning up who are drawn not from the postgraduate community but from the ‘full fee paying’ category (i.e., those in jobs), providing another very valuable and very valued form of support to this annual conference.
Next year’s equivalent event will be held at the Manchester Metropolitan University (on 18 November 2000), and organised by Theresa Saxon and Margaret Smith. Please do contact them about this conference, to be entitled ‘Taking Stock: The American Century and Beyond’ (email: email@example.com). We are also currently seeking a host for the 2001 conference. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
R. J. Ellis
Report on European Association for American Studies (EAAS)
I was unable to report on EAAS in person in 1999 because the Glasgow conference clashed with the EAAS Board meeting, held in Olomouc in the Czech Republic.
At Olomouc the main items of discussion were:
1) Relations with emerging eastern European associations, one of which, the Belarus Association, was admitted to EAAS.
2) The establishment of a new travel scheme to support interchange between, especially, eastern Europe and the US, and eastern and western Europe, in the field of American studies; for a full account of the scheme and application procedure, see American Studies in Europe, No 43 (September 1999), p.2.
3) The programme for the Graz conference in April 2000. Here the UK did particularly well-especially considering our relatively poor attendance at EAAS conferences-with the appointment of two parallel lecturers (Peter Coates of Bristol and Paul Giles of Cambridge) and several workshop convenors or co-convenors, namely John Dumbrell (Keele), Robert Lewis (Birmingham), George McKay (Central Lancashire), Chris Mulvey (King Alfred’s College), and Carol Smith (King Alfred’s College).
4) The location for the 2002 conference was settled: Bordeaux, France.
The EAAS 2000 conference in Graz is taking place 13-16 April 2000. It is devoted to the theme “Nature’s Nation?” Anyone who has kept up with the EAAS email list, or who has read the Times Higher Education Supplement will know that this meeting-overshadowed by the inclusion of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government-has occasioned quite heated debate, with protagonists urging positions from total boycott to claims that the Austrian government is of no concern to American studies academics. My own view, which concurs with that of the EAAS President and all vocal Board members, is that we should attend and that we should take opportunities to express disquiet over the Austrian political situation. (It has already been agreed that conference time will be made available for appropriate discussion.) I would like to have BAAS support for this position, as expressed in the following resolution . [Text of resolution.]
Addenda: As it happened, while there was general support for the resolution put to the AGM, in the ensuing discussion a number of technical objections were raised about its precise wording, and it was agreed that the BAAS Executive Committee should formulate a resolution that took such objections into account. This was done at the final committee meeting in Swansea, and the agreed wording follows:
BAAS wishes to express its concern and anxiety at the participation of the Freedom Party in the Austrian government. The rhetoric of this party appears inimical to the values associated with academic freedom. BAAS calls on the President and Board of EAAS, during its conference in Graz, to make a public statement or statements to convey this disquiet. BAAS trusts that the Board of EAAS will make plain that EAAS, as a community of scholars, will not allow itself to be associated with any event, including social receptions, that could accrue to the credit of the Austrian government.
Members will be interested to learn that at meetings of the Board and at the special forum for debate of these matters a wide range of views was expressed. A number of other national associations, including those of France and Italy, submitted resolutions similar to ours. Ultimately there was virtually unanimous support for the following, which was put out as a press release to the Austrian and international media (I have abbreviated it slightly):
EAAS is a professional academic organisation, the umbrella organisation of European Americanists from a great number of European countries. It is also an association committed in its own structures and proceedings to democratic principles and democratic process. It should therefore be clear that EAAS is fundamentally opposed to Mr. Haider and what he stands for. It rejects any attempt to restrict or violate the individual rights of any citizens or to discriminate against anybody on the basis of ethnic or racial difference. It has decided to convene its biennial conference in Graz out of solidarity with its Austrian colleagues who share the same principles and commitments, and to demonstrate its awareness that the danger represented by Mr. Haider and his politics cannot be treated as being the problem of one country alone since it is a European problem that has to be confronted in all societies with equal determination.
Mick Gidley, BAAS delegate to the Board of EAAS
Recruitment Patterns in American Studies
Philip John Davies, Chair, British Association for American Studies, Professor of American Studies, De Montfort University Leicester
At an open meeting for leaders of American Studies programmes, hosted at the Institute for US Studies at the University of London, and co-sponsored by the British Association for American Studies, those present discussed their recent experiences of student recruitment in American Studies. The meeting requested me to write to American Studies programmes requesting information, opinions and comment. Our thanks for responses are due to American Studies colleagues at the following institutions: Birmingham, Brunel, Central Lancashire, De Montfort, Derby, East Anglia, Glamorgan, Hull, Leicester, Liverpool Hope, Liverpool John Moores, Manchester, Middlesex, Northampton, Nottingham, Oxford, Queen’s Belfast, Ripon & York, Sussex, Warwick. I also collected information from the UCAS website. Figures are not always consistent from page to page on the UCAS website. I presume this reflects the failure to collect every data item from every applicant, but that the data that has been collected is the best available.
According to figures culled from the UCAS website, trends in American Studies (Q4) Single Honours applications and acceptances from 1996 to 1999 are as follows:
American Studies Singles Honours, applicants, acceptances, showing breakdown by gender and persons over 25 years old
|(% yr-yr change)|
|(% yr-yr change)|
These figures show that from 1996 to 1999 the total number of American Studies single honours applicants declined by 25.8%, while the total number of acceptances declined by 5.4%. Over this period the decline was sharpest among males, where applications were down by 35.9%, and acceptances down 18.6%. Female applications were down by 18.8%, but the total number of females accepted was up by 4.2%. Applications from students over 25 years fell during this period by 63.6%, and the total number of these mature students accepted onto single honours American Studies degree courses fell by 59.1% over the same period.
The figures show that 1997 was the peak year for overall applications and acceptances in this four year period. If the rates of decline are calculated from 1997 to 1999 we find an overall fall in applications of 33.7% (40.5% among males, 29.3% among females). The simultaneous fall in the total number of students accepted was 15.2% (22.4% among males, 10.4% among females).
Total UCAS Applicants and Acceptances, all subjects
|Apps||(% yr-yr change)||Accpts||(% yr-yr change)||Ration Apps/Accpts|
Source as Table 1
For comparison the total number of applicants and acceptances to all subjects through UCAS from 1996 to 1999 are given in Table 2. A very substantial jump is evident in overall applications and acceptances in 1997, as it is in American Studies. There is a drop in overall applications after 1997, but this is not so marked as it has been in American Studies. The ratio of applicants to accepts for overall figures has seen a gradual decline over these years (and before-in 1995 it was 1.44:1, in 1994 1.50:1), but while the ratio for American Studies was similar to the overall figure in 1996 and 1997, it had fallen into a lower range in 1998 and 1999 (see Table 3).
The numerical trends in American Studies single honours also contain shifts in the demography of the student pool (see Table 3). The number of men applying for and entering the subject has declined much more sharply than the number of women. In 1996 women made up 59.2% of applicants, and 57.9% of acceptances. These percentages increased steadily over this four year period. In 1999 women made up 64.7% of applicants, and 63.8% of acceptances.
Ratios and proportions
|Ratio Apps:Accpts||Ratio Fem:Male Apps||Ratio Fem:Male Accpts||Prop 25+ Apps||Prop 25+ Accpts|
Calculated from Table 1
Over the same period the proportion of applicants and accepted students aged 25 years and older fell steadily. Entrants over the age of 25 years made up 9.1% of the total accepted in 1996. By 1999 this group had fallen to 3.9% of the total.
Competition for places in American Studies, on a sector-wide scale, has also changed. While in 1996 and 1997 the number accepted is around 25% lower than the number applying, in 1998 and 1999 the numbers accepted were, respectively, only 5.7% and 4.4% lower than the number applying.
The above figures in Tables 1 and 3 are calculated from UCAS statistics for single honours American Studies (Q4). Many students undertake American Studies in some form as part of a larger degree. Different universities offer American Studies as a Joint, Combined, Major, Minor, or with some other designation. Some universities offer degrees not called American Studies, concentrating perhaps on a particular disciplinary approach or combination of approaches, that we would recognise as American Studies, but which might not be classified as such by UCAS coding. While a UCAS researcher has devoted some time to this problem, it has proved impossible so far to aggregate UCAS data in a way that illuminates what is happening in these programmes.
It is also difficult to generalise from particular examples about the state of American Studies in its varied joint and combined forms. Students in some institutions must take Joint or Combined degrees to undertake American Studies. Some institutions offer both Single Honours and other options, in which portfolio the Single Honours has by far the smaller take up. Some institutions also have a portfolio of offerings, but in fact take very few students outside the Single Honours route. There is no common pattern, except to say that students are being given an increasingly varied range of ways to undertake American Studies.
I circulated an email questionnaire to American Studies programmes throughout the UK. The twenty responses varied from detailed statistical reviews to more general commentaries. They form the basis of the rest of this report.
All the universities and colleges that provided a statistical review of applications showed a noticeable fall through the 1990s. In some cases these falls were sharper than the UCAS overall figures for American Studies single honours applicants. However comparison of institutional experience of applications with global numbers of applicants over time can be misleading. You will all be aware that the applications process changed considerably during the 1990s. At the start of that decade universities and polytechnics and colleges had separated applications systems. Students often applied into both systems. By the end of the 1990s there had been a rationalisation into a single UCAS system. These structural changes mean that the same number of applicants generated far more applications in the early 1990s that they did by 1999. Even within UCAS, in 1994 the average applicant made 6.4 applications, while in 1999 the average applicant made 4.5 applications. In an applicant group of, say 1,000 persons that would mean that 1,900 applications would simply disappear from the system between 1994 and 1999, while the number of potential students remained the same. There are fewer American Studies single honours applicants, but those applications in the pool are being seen by fewer universities and colleges. This will in part account for the fact that while 1997 was the year with most students applying to UK universities (and a good year for single honours American Studies), colleagues have reported their peak years for American Studies applications as having been earlier in the 1990s.
It does seem clear that in American Studies as in other subjects, the introduction of fees prompted a surge in 1997 applications as potential students were prompted to act in their own financial interest. However the subsequent decline in applications has been very marked in American Studies single honours. Nonetheless many institutions that have seen a decline in applications still report healthy competition for places. Among the pre-reform universities there are plenty reporting their most recent application rates ranging between five and sixteen per place available. In the colleges and former polytechnics there was a wider range of evidence. Application to admission ratios as high as around 8 applicants per place were reported by some, but others have seen their applicant pool fall markedly in the last half of the 1990s, to 2 or 3 applicants per place, and have also seen their conversion rate from offer to place weakening sharply. The last couple of cohorts especially have resulted in very modest entry numbers in some institutions.
Some of those institutions that continue to receive many applications per place have increased, and are continuing to increase their intake, either as a planned policy of enlargement of American Studies or addition of new courses including American Studies, or as a temporary response to a good A level year, or as a pragmatic, but regular, response to demand. In a situation where the overall pool of applicants may be static or declining it does mean that some institutions find it difficult to maintain previous rates of recruitment.
In those institutions where disciplinary streams within American Studies could be tracked it appeared most common that the culture/media/literary streams were somewhat more buoyant than the history/social science streams. However this was not a uniform pattern, and in a couple of cases the trend was away from the cultural/literary options, while history and social science options were holding steady.
There were several reports that the representation of mature students was declining, and this is borne out very clearly by the UCAS evidence for American Studies single honours. This reflects in part a general decline in mature student application and entry. Responses mentioned the abolition of the mature student grant, the introduction of fees, and the decline in Access courses as roots of this decline. American Studies has generally attracted a lower level of mature entry than the UCAS overall figure, and the decline in mature entry has been a little sharper in American Studies. According to figures on the UCAS website applicants and acceptances over the age of 25 years made up respectively 14.6% and 13.1% of total UCAS figures in 1996, falling to 11.7% and 10.2% in 1999.
While the response was not uniform, most places reported that the existence of exchange programmes had not appeared to have a marked negative impact on recruitment in recent years. Places that had introduced or substantially redesigned study abroad options in the 1990s reported that applications for the study abroad opportunities increased and improved their pool of students, even though at some of these institutions only a minority of students opted for the study abroad route. Many universities and colleges have diversified their offerings in order to facilitate American Studies degrees with and without exchange participation at the same institution, and certainly the earlier tradition of insisting that all students study in the USA where programmes incorporate an exchange period seems to have been replaced by a more flexible range of options. Even some institutions currently devoted to 100% study abroad programmes, and reporting no evidence so far of applications being influenced by study abroad, are planning future course ranges including non-study abroad routes.
Some institutions, especially those that have traditionally attracted mature students, and less affluent students, did report that the year abroad is beginning to have a deterrent effect on some potential students. In some of these cases applications have declined, since the introduction of fees, more sharply on courses with a year abroad than on parallel courses without the extra time and costs involved.
Several responses referred to the marketing of American Studies and related programmes. One institution mentioned an intensive effort in the use of web pages and open days as a foundation of its good recruitment record. Many institutions pointed to the increasing range of American Studies routes (3 year/4 year, semester/year/no time abroad, interdisciplinary/disciplinary streamed, single/joint/major/combined/minor/ subsidiary) that are offered within single institutions. Some institutions emphasised that within this variety they are presenting particular approaches to American Studies as their strength, aiming for a niche that will properly reflect what they have to offer, and attract an appropriate student body.
While the introduction of choice is sometimes helping to maintain American Studies, it also provides other options. Two institutions offered examples of a shift in choices from American Studies as a major, to American Studies as a minor/subsidiary, as other popular subject offerings came on stream. In another institution the popularity of American Studies introductory modules as optional choices for students from many other subject areas has meant that up to 85% of the students on the modules are not registered as American Studies students.
American Studies remains popular, but it is not currently growing at least as a single honours subject. Provision has expanded considerably in recent years, and most providers find that the modules they provide recruit well. The recruits on to those modules are not necessarily single honours American Studies. The single honours pool has fallen, with especially marked slippage among male and mature applicants. Many institutions can still boast a very high application per place ratio. The overall increase in provision has left some institutions with a particular downturn in student demand.
Some institutions report a similar decline in joint and combined applicant pools, but this data is not clear, and the evidence is not uniform. Some institutions reported that joint/combined and other options were more attractive to students in the aftermath of fees introduction. Almost all institutions indicated their interest in offering a range of ways of undertaking an American Studies programme.
News from American Studies Centres
The David Bruce Centre for American Studies, Keele University
The Centre’s seventh international colloquium on the subject of Writing Southern Poverty Between the Wars will be held at Keele from 7-10 September, 2000. Inquiries should be addressed to Professor Richard Godden or Dr Martin Crawford, David Bruce Centre for American Studies, Keele University, Keele, Staffs. ST5 5BG
Two volumes of essays, originating in earlier colloquia, were published in 1999. They were Robert Garson and Stuart S Kidd, eds., The Roosevelt Years: New Perspectives on American History, 1933-45 (Edinburgh University Press) and Martin Crawford and Alan Rice, eds., Liberating Sojourn: Frederick Douglass and Transatlantic Reform (University of Georgia Press). The Centre also served as a sponsor of David K Adams and Cornelis A van Minnen, eds., Religious and Secular Reform in America: Ideas, Beliefs and Social Change (Edinburgh and New York University Press).
The first number of the Centre’s Occasional Papers was published. The Papers stem from the regular seminar series held in the Bruce Centre. A limited number of copies, featuring an essay by Pricilla Roberts on “I Begin to Think of Myself as a Marco Polo”: David Bruce in China, 1973-1974, are available on request and receipt of a large stamped addressed envelope.
The Centre sponsored the visit to Keele of Professor Hillis Miller, University of California, Irvine, and Professor Melton McLaurin, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, who served as Bruce Centre Fellow. Professor Noel Polk, Professor of American Literature, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, visits as Fellow in March 2000.
The Centre is also collating an inventory of research materials in American Studies held at Keele. It hopes that its endeavour will stimulate similar enterprises in other institutions, so that a comprehensive list of University research holdings will be generally available.
A number of research travel awards for registered research students were granted. Inquiries about research opportinities from prospective graduate students are welcome.
Robert Garson, Director, David Bruce Centre
Developments at Leeds
Ann Massa (BAAS Conference Secretary for 1996) has taken early retirement. She is being joined in this-for her-happy state by three other colleagues who have taught American literature over the years: Wayne Paton, Brian Scobie, and Alistair Stead. Since American literature was designated an area for development when I was appointed to the chair in 1995, it has been possible to make two new permanent appointments: Bridget Bennett (formerly of Warwick) in January 1999 and Jay Prosser (formerly of Leicester) in September 1999. Bridget is the author of The Damnation of Harold Frederic (1997) and Jay of Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality (1998). A further appointment is in train.
At our initiative, David E. Nye, Director of the American Studies Center at Odense University, Denmark, was awarded a senior Visiting Leverhulme Fellowship to conduct his own research and work with us; he was resident from January-August 1998 and for January 1999.
September 1999 saw the first successful completion of our new MA in American Literature and Culture with European Study. Jayne Wood, who is shortly to begin a Ph.D. on the popular regionalist writer Louis Bromfield, spent the second semester of her MA at the Kennedy Institute in Berlin. Since the application rate for this programme-which offers a period of study at one of 8 different institutions on the continental mainland-seems to be increasing, we are looking into more secure forms of funding for it.
In November 1999 I gave my inaugural lecture-a little late as several friends remarked-under the title “On Native Grounds: Indian Episodes in American Culture”. More than 180 people attended and the occasion went well. I was simply glad to get it over. A genuinely gratifying aspect of it was that a goodly number of BAAS friends invited from Yorkshire and a little further afield were able to be there.
University of Nottingham
“I Fought the War in Indiana: Forty Years of Vietnam in American Elections”
To mark the initiation of a new Joint Honours degree in Politics and American Studies, the University of Nottingham invited the Chair of BAAS, Professor Philip Davies of DeMonfort University, to give a Public Lecture on a topic in American Politics. Phil’s presentation filled the bill admirably, with an illustrated lecture on the Vietnam War in American presidential elections from Kennedy to Clinton. The 120 slides which were used, constitute a tiny fraction of Phil’s vast collection of election memorabilia, while the video clip-the Daisy girl in the 1964 election-illustrated a classic campaign commercial. As for the title, there are no prizes for guessing the mystery name, but, just in case, we shall give you a clue-J. Danforth who spells potatoe with an e. Phil’s lecture was an excellent inauguration of the Politics/American Studies degree at Nottingham, to add to the existing degrees in American Studies; History/American Studies; English/American Studies; and Philosophy/American Studies.
Peter Boyle, University of Nottingham
News from Members
An update on the activities of Alun Munslow, who served as BAAS Newsletter Editor (1985-1990) and BAAS Treasurer (1991 through 1996): Alun founded the Routledge journal “Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory & Practice”, published two further books-“Deconstructing History”(1997) and “The Routledge Companion to Historical Studies” (2000-but out now)-and was awarded a Professorship (Professor of History and Historical Theory) at Staffordshire. He is also about to embark on the General Editorship of a ten volume series on the nature of History for Longman (for which he will be seeking contributors, and is currently planning a biography of the 19th Century radical liberal Henry D. Lloyd. Colleagues who wish to know more about the history series project can contact Alun on e-mail at: email@example.com
Judie Newman and John Ashworth joined the School of American & Canadian Studies at the University of Nottingham in the Spring semester, 2000, as Professor of American Literature and Professor of American History respectively. Judie, a former chair of BAAS, has come from the University of Newcastle, while John has come from the University of Hull. In the Autumn semester, 1999-2000, two other appointments were made at Nottingham, Sharon Monteith, Senior Lecturer in American Literature, and Julian Stringer, Lecturer in American Film.
Bernard Aspinwall is Senior Research Fellow in Scottish History at Strathclyde University as well as university liaison officer to North American Colleges and Universities. He gave a lecture on ‘Sir William Drummond Stewart, Scotland and America’ to the annual general meeting of the The Friends of Glasgow University Library.
BAAS is a founder member of ALSISS, the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences. ALSISS is steadily creating a College of Academicians, projected eventually to number some 300 scholars and practitioners. Any nominee to the Academy should be:
an outstanding contributor as a scholar or practitioner in a branch of the social sciences; committed to promote excellence in the social sciences through research, education, and service to the community; willing to represent the interests of social science.
We would like to be sure that Americanists with social science interests are properly recognised in the Academy. Should you have any recommendations for nominees to the Academy, please contact any member of the BAAS executive with your suggestion.
Philip Davies, Chair, BAAS
The Arthur Miller Prize/City Sites
This year’s Arthur Miller Prize for the best article-length work on American Studies scheduled for publication in the UK, has been awarded to Professor Douglas Tallack of Nottingham University for his essay, “The Rhetoric of Space: Jacob Riis and the Lower East Side.” The Arthur Miller Centre at the University of East Anglia and the United States Information Service sponsor the prize which carries an award of £500. Professor Tallack’s essay will appear in M. Blashaw, A. Notaro, L. Kennedy, and D Tallack, eds., City Sites: Multimedia Essays on New York and Chicago, 1870s-1930s, An Electronic Book (University of Birmignham Press, 2000).
City Sites is an innovative web-based multimedia research collaboration that explores the meanings and forms of American urbanism in New York and Chicago in the modern period. The project is at the centre of 3 Cities project based at the Universities of Birmingham and Nottingham which seeks to foster new modes of analysing urban culture as well as developing a network of international scholars working on American urbanism. Colleagues are invited to follow the development of this innovative project at www.nottingham.ac.uk/3cities/
The Arthur Miller Centre is keen to encourage entries for the 2001 competition. Qualification and submission details and deadlines are available at the Centre’s webpage, www.uea.ac.uk/eas/intro/centre/miller/intro.htm.
Indigenous Peoples During WWII History Project
Documenting the Experiences of American Indians During the WWII Era
Robert J Clark, Director, PO Box 315, Granite City, Il 62040, USA
I’m an American Indian decent person researching indigenous peoples during the WWII era. I’m writing to American and North American Studies Departments, and American interest societies in different parts of the world in hope of obtaining assistance or correspondence on the topic of America’s indigenous peoples during WWII. Indigenous refers to American Indians, Native Hawaiians, Chamorro (Guam natives), Alaskan Natives, Aleuts, Eskimo/Inuit, American Somoans, Metis and Afro-Carib Indian blacks of the US Virgina Islands. I would be interested in corresponding with anyone who can provide information on the following.
Did any military, Red Cross or civilian persons from your country interact with indigenous ethnic Americans during the war years? This could have been as a result of military invasion or occupation, military cooperation (having US troops domicile temporarily in a country prior to being moved elsewhere), Red Cross interaction, being interned as POWs together or being a POW in the USA, or having met such persons while visiting the USA or its’ territories. Did any such Americans visit your nations’ territories or colonies?
What did your nation’s culture think of indigenous Americans? In the 1940s wre indigenous Americans used in advertising, regional cinema, etc? How did world history classes view these populations, if they were mentioned at all? How did your country’s citizens view American Indians and other indigenous groups?
Were there any organizations in your country circa 1930s-40s that were “interest groups” that focused on American Indian, Native Hawaiian, etc, cultures for charitable, academic, recreational/hobbyist interests, etc?
Indigenous peoples of the Americas played a vital role during WWII. Any assistance in learning more on how these people were viewed by other cultures is very important. If anyone knows of resources or of any elderly person who as an adult or child during the 1930s-40s have memories to share, please how can I contact such a person?
There were thousands of American and Canadian service personel in the British Isles during WWII. What publications or organizations should I write in order to get recollections from British families that might have befriended these GIs? Hopefully amongst all those British families that hosted “Yanks” will be a few who’ll remember if any of these folks were American or Canadian Indians.
The Fulbright Commission
Success in the US: Applying for postgraduate study in the United States Wednesday 6th September, 2000 1.00-6.15pm, University of Westminster, London
The Fulbright Commission’s US Educational Advisory Service is holding a half-day seminar on 6th September for anyone considering applying for a postgraduate degree in the United States. The seminar will feature guest speakers from US universities, a test training organisation and a funding organisation, as well as a panel of students who have successfully completed the application process. The seminar costs £9 including handouts and a reception.
For further information on this and other aspects of studying in the US, please see the Commission’s web site at http://www.fulbright.co.uk/eas1.htm, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 020-7404-6994.
The Fulbright Commission’s Educational Advisory Service gives out information and advice, free of charge, on all aspects of studying in the United States and the US education system. We are currently updating our pre-departure handbook, which gives practical information and advice on living and studying in the US, including information on the academic and cultural environment, travel in the US, communications, money, health insurance and so on. The guide is free of charge, and comes with a $10 AT&T calling card. Anyone wanting a copy only has to cover postage costs.
The Fulbright Commission’s Educational Advisory Service is in the process of revising its 65-page pre-departure handbook. The handbook provides practical information and advice for British-educated students headed to the US to study for a semester, year or full degree. They have obtained sponsorship for the guide from AT&T and are therefore able to offer it free of charge (in previous years it has cost £4.50), along with a $10 AT&T calling card. Anyone wanting a single copy of the guide just has to send a stamped A4-size SAE with 77p in postage to the address below. For multiple copies of the guide please contact the Educational Advisory Service directly for details of postage required.
Educational Advisory Service
The US-UK Fulbright Commission
62 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS
Telephone enquiries: 020-7404-6994
(T-F 10.30am-4pm, M 1.30pm-7pm, first M of month 5-7pm only)
Web site: http://www.fulbright.co.uk
Louise Cook, Director, Educational Advisory Service
The US-UK Fulbright Commission
62 Doughty Street
London WC1N 2LS
Direct line: 020-7539-4401
Student enquiries: 020-7404-6994
Web site: http://www.fulbright.co.uk
US Politics Today, by Edward Ashbee and Nigel Ashford
US Politics Today is an excellent introductory text for students of US Government and Politics at A-level or undergraduate level. Ashbee and Ashford do well in outlining processes and illustrate these with current and recent controversies-the student reader will certainly benefit from the stimulation that comes from the detail used to illustrate. The structure of the book is highly appropriate, beginning with three necessary chapters on the context and history of US society and history with a clear link to the institutions and issues that underpin US Government today.
For academic courses at colleges and universities, US Politics Today is also useful as a reference text, processes, ideas and concepts are analysed with vigour and more vital concepts are presented in tabular form as an aide memoire, which makes for a quick referencing through the detail fo US Government.
For those who require a greater depth of study, US Politics Today affords plenty of references and direction to other sources. It is also useful for those who want to read generally on US Government. Ashbee and Ashford have dealt concisely with a superb range of topics relevant to US Government, which is a far more pleasurable read for the student. I shall certainly recommend this book strongly as vital reading for my students.
David Craik, Kidderminister College
The Roosevelt Years: New Perspectives on American History, 1933-1945, Robert A Garson and Stuart S Kidd (eds.)
Edinburgh University Press. Pp207. ISBN 0-7486-1183-5
These essays, says Dr Garson in his epilogue, serve as a Festschrift for David Adams; he hopes they are “a fitting swan song”. I do not share this hope. Professor Adams was in excellent health when I last saw him (ten days ago as I write) and I hope his swan song will be long deferred. As to the young swans who have celebrated him so successfully, surely they have decades of work ahead before they lift their voices for the last time?
Festschriften are of two kinds: the indispensable and the intolerable. This volume is outstanding among the first sort. No one volume, whatever its length, could hope to do justice to the sweep and detail of the Roosevelt years, but any university teacher will want students to consult this one (it would do them good to read it right through0 and one or two items might even benefit the sixth form Ð I think particularly of William Leuchtenburg’s amusing essay on the Clintons and the Roosevelts, though that will appeal even more to any who have read Professor Leuchtenburg’s In the Shadow of FDR, or who habitually follow the extraordinary contortions of President Clinton’s career. Such experts will also find much to rip them in the other essays (twelve in all).
They are of an impressively uniform standard, which makes it unfair to single any out. But no-one knows everything, not even a reviewer, and perhaps therefore I may confess, without offending anyone, that my own ignorance was most valuably corrected by Margaret Walsh on public policy and transport during the depression and war; by Jaap Kooijman on FDR and national health insurance; by Gareth Davies on “the Unsuspected Radicalism of the Social Security Act”, which rather takes issue with the contentions of Jay Kleinberg’s equally interesting article on “Widows’ Welfare in the Great Depression”; by Patricia Clavin on “FDR, the Depression and Europe, 1932-6”, and by Michaela Honicke on the Morgenthau Plan-these last two are perhaps the most Adamsesque of the contributions. Perhaps a reviewer ought always to have one complaint, to make his praise convincing, so I will just hint that some of the contributors are a little too interested in bureaucratic manoeuvring, and not enough in politics; but it would be ungrateful to name names. ALL the articles are valuable.
Generally speaking, the volume is timely. The United States is (as I write) still enjoying the Clinton boom; in a period of such prosperity it is not surprising that many feel that they may safely dismantle New Deal programmes devised for a time of desperate poverty. And the United States, as the twenty-first century approaches, seems more powerful and invulnerable than ever before in its history. In principle, it can do no harm to remind readers that things have not always been so rosy, and to itemize the reasoning which shaped Roosevelt’s course both in the thirties and the forties, and to compel reflection on whether it is wise to reject his legacy of generous and enlightened government (nothing in these pages will support the belief that it was necessary or just to end the support for dependent children programme, for instance). And if once again the rude whirlwind should rise, here will be found many of the considerations which ought to guide those who will have to weather the storm. In short, this is a book fully worthy of its dedicatee.
Hugh Brogan, University of Essex
Fundamentalism in America, by P. Melling
Edinburgh University Press, 1999, £16.95, ISBN 07486-0978-4
The term fundamentalism is a remarkably protean one. Strictly, it refers to the movement that emerged in the United States in the early twentieth century in opposition to the rise of modernism within the Protestant churches. But it has been applied more widely to characterise strands within any of the world’s religious faiths that have emerged to do battle with modernity, and this study stretches even further to encompass both developments in American Chritaianity before the twentieth century and the rise of new religions and New Age thinking as the old millennium came towards its end. In considering these diverse developments, Melling ranges widely. Academic studies are brought alongside British and American newspaper accounts and discussions of films vie for our attention with consideration of novels. The bizarre beliefs of the Christian Identity movement, that whites are the Israelites of the Bible (and Jews the creation of Satan), are compared with the early Puritan fascination with the native American as a possible offshoot of God’s chosen people, and while we too may have seen the ‘astral fairytale’, Contact (if not agreeing with Melling’s complaints about Jodie Foster’s acting), it is very unlikely tha twe will have come across the remarkable account in the Tallahasee Democrat of the desperate hopes of the audience for an ‘End-Time Handmaidens’ convention in Washington in 1997 that at last the Lord will come to save them. This is a fascinating study that many will benefit from reading and may well be beyond the powers of any one reviewer to fully evaluate. But if there is much to praise, this cannot be without some reservation. Melling is concerned, among much else, with the organised right in American politics. Surprisingly for someone so obviously opposed to it, he is at pains to dispute the claim tha tfundamentalism is steeped in anti-Semitism. (Indeed, it could be argued that he goes too far in appearing to reject the argument that leading evangelist Pat Robertson’s controversial best-seller The New World Order shows any sign of anti-Semitic influence at all.) But if he is generous to the Christian Right, no such inclination appears in discussing those who have gathered together in the militia movement. A careful study of this movement would show its ideological diversity. Sadly, Melling reproduces the misleading conventional wisdom on the movement, and consigns it to the anti-Semitic fever swamp where some-but far from all of its adherents-belong.
Martin Durham, University of Wolverhampton
Producing American Races: Henry James, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison, by Patricia McKee
Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1999, $17.95. Pp. 240. ISBN 0-8223-2363-X
Patricia McKee argues strenuously, and on occasion a li tle laboriously, that in so far as characters in James, Faulkner, and Morrison “search for identity, they search for racial identity,” for “the very structure of individual consciousness is one of race.” The concentration is on six novels-The Wings of the Dove, The Golden Bowl, The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, Sula, and Jazz-a juxtaposition which McKee has had “difficulty in locating among recent studies of race.” This may be an unusual configuration of texts but they are all, nonetheless, popular performers in the arena of American Studies. Both Faulkner and Morrison-and even James, enigmatically, after the work of Jonathan Freedman, Sara Blair, and others-collocate unsurprisingly with race. What distinguishes Producing American Races, in any event, is its preoccupation with “whiteness” and the “different cultural media”-mostly visual in James and Faulkner, and “oral and aural” in Morrison-of “racial identity.”
Specifically, for McKee, “visual culture” has “reproduced racial distinctions that privilege whiteness . . . because the kind of symbolic construction that produces whiteness is the sort that produces twentieth-century visual culture.” (Incidentally, this plodding, pleonastic style soon palls: muted and restrained, and with a weakness for hampering relative pronouns, it is in dire need of syntactical variety and relieving dashes of colour.) “Racial whiteness” is “unmarked,” it is “visualized” rather than “visible,” and this “domination of visuality . . . has been critical” to the white “domination of political and cultural media.” The “nonvisual elements of racial identity” are “assigned to history in Morrison,” whereas in James and Faulkner “white characters cultivate an invisibility through more abstract representations of various kinds.” Isolating music from image, from the visual, is a potentially Procrustean manoeuvre and, McKee’s attempts to escape from discourse and what it compels, are mostly unpersuasive. None of these characters, who are imbued in this discussion with an autonomy from narrative control which disperses authorial and textual responsibilities, “sees,” or “hears” anything, in fact; and the reader’s immediate access, so to speak, is only to the concealing, coercive, processes of writing.
McKee succumbs to a taut narrative line. In The Wings of the Dove, Milly (again, the drab verbal repetition is typical) “reproduces her whiteness as a whitewash and reproduces American character as a void,” using icons, such as the “dove,” to “serve as her cover.” The Golden Bowl, by contrast, “marks an increased abstraction of American consciousness and American nonrace” as the “marginality of Fanny and the Ververs allows them . . . to exploit the discounted images they reproduce.” Why the shift? What has happened in James, America, or anywhere else, in the months separating the two novels? The argument reaches unnecessarily, and certainly unsuccessfully, for the hypotactical. Similarly, the “modernist consciousness” of individual white males is at issue in The Sound and the Fury as distinct from the focus on “community” in Light in August. Morrison’s Sula is a “center, a mass, of negation and to the limited extent “that the community bonds,” “it does so by means of Sula.”. In Jazz, however, music is identified “as a medium of black culture” as “history” is replaced by “tempo,” with its insistence on the “communal constituents of individual identity and on the capacity of response to provide identity.” It appears that in the world of Sula, music was unavailable, or ineffectual, or both, and that Light in August represents a disavowal of the atomistic “modernist consciousness” celebrated in The Sound and the Fury, but the lacunae abound.
What McKee largely fails to confront in a silence which constitutes part of her book’s rhetorical extravagance, is the inclusion of Henry James in this company. Race may not be that marginal to The Wings of the Dove and The Golden Bowl, yet it still lacks the unequivocally central position it has in, say, Morrison. All critics occupy the margins now, revelling in geometrical ingenuities frequently exasperating to students seeking at least an initial anchorage in the liberating territory of the non-peripheral, but James cannot simply be appropriated as a producer of “whiteness,” at least on these terms. The “dark” prince of The Golden Bowl is conscripted into the fray, for example, by means of a slippage from “racial blackness” to “racial darkness” on which McKee, elsewhere, would have seized rapaciously.
Peter Rawlings, Kyushu University, Japan
Living and Working in America: How to gain entry and how to settle when you are there, 5th edition by Steve Mills
Oxford: How To Books Limited, 1998, £12.99. Pp. 270. ISBN 1-85703-377-9
As the Pilgrim Fathers found of America, this book is not the panacea for those seeking a new life of affluence and happiness in the New World. This is a book for the educated and/or talented who wish to pursue their life and career in America in the short or long-term.
The text informs the reader that America is not a bigger and brasher version of Britain, but something which is now wholly different; it touches upon the great discernible cultural differences; and most importantly clearly outlines the obstacles which have to be overcome in order to take your place within the ‘fusion’ that is America.
Arguably, the section on ‘Visas and Immigration’ is the most important. The greatest obstacle to most who wish to work in America is how to obtain that all important visa. For those who wish to spend more than a cursory few weeks partaking of the cultural mash that is America, the thrust and parry of the visa trail is a necessary evil and Mills navigates without offering the false hope inherent in unequivocal statements. But Mills does give us the ‘simplest’ shortcut of all to circumvent the whole labyrinthine immigration process, ‘marry an American!’
Putting that shortcut aside, this book is written with two particular groups of individuals in mind. Not surprisingly, considering Mills’ background, the adventurous undergraduate or graduate looking at the possibilities of studying in the USA or working there in a gap year and the professional academic are very well served.
For the student, Mills provides good bibliographical references and Internet links to aid a more intensive look at studentships and working in America in the short-term. But the professional academic will gain most from this book in that it will open their eyes to every discernible aspect of living and working in America; from the deliberations on whether or not to go, to the practicalities of housing, banking, schools, and even the air conditioning in your car.
There is no pretence that a move from Britain to America would be easy and inexpensive. Quite the contrary. Yet the important message which underpins the whole of Steve Mills’ book is that a great amount of thought and deliberation is needed before the decision to live and work in America-or any other country for that matter-is taken. This message is supported on all fronts by detailed and practical advice along with the motivating factor behind the book, his own varied experience over a quarter of a century, experience which in Mills’ own words puts ‘a little more emphasis on the fun and a little less on the hassle.’
Johnny Finnigan, University of Glasgow
Congratulations to all of the following:
Janet Beer (one of the BAAS nominees) has been invited to serve on the AHRB English panel.
Malcolm Bradbury has received a knighthood. Congrats, Sir Malcolm!
Paul Giles has been invited to join the International Committee of the ASA.
Rhodri Jeffreys-Jones (University of Edinburgh) is in 2000 the holder of an Arts and Humanities Research Board research leave award given for the writing of a book on Hyperbole, Public Relations and the History of US Secret Intelligence.
Karen Kilcup (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) has been promoted to full Professor of American Literature and was named the 2000 Edna and Jordan Davidson Eminent Scholar Chair in the Humanities at Florida International University, Miami, Florida.
Susan Manning (University of Edinburgh) is the first holder of the Grierson Chair of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh, having moved from Cambridge University in time for the 1999-2000 academic year. Among her recent publications are a World’s Classics edition of Crevecoeur’s Letters from an American Farmer (1997) and an essay on Emily Dickinson and William James in Karen Kilcup, ed., Soft Canons: American Women Writers and the Masculine Tradition (University of Iowa Press, 1999). She is currently completing a major Scottish-American comparative study, Fragments of Union.
Peter McCaffery has been appointed Vice Principal of Bolton Institute for Higher Education.
David Murray (Nottingham) has been awarded a Fellowship at the Shelby Cullom Davies Center for Historical Research at Princeton University for 2000-2001.
Simon Newman has received a Research Leave Award from the Arts and Humanities Research Board; a Residential Fellowship at the International Center for Jefferson Studies, Monticello, Virginia, August-September 2000; a Research grant from the American Philosophical Society; and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship at the Library Company of Philadelphia.
David Seed has been given a Personal Chair at Liverpool.
In Print: Members’ Publications
Bernard Aspinwall’s publications in the last year include an essay on ‘William Robertson and America’ in T.M. Devine and John Yound eds., Eighteenth Century Scotland: New Perspectives (Tuckwell Edinburgh 1999) pp.152-175. Another essay includes details on Lithuanian imigrants who subsequently either adopted Scottish names, returned home or went on to settle in the USA-‘The ties that bind and loose: the Catholic Community in Galloway, 1800-1998’ in Records and Proceedings of the Scottish Church History 1999.
Philip John Davies, US Elections Today, (Manchester & New York, Manchester University Press, 1999); ‘Motivating the US ‘motor voter”, Politics Review, v. 9, no. 3 (Feb 2000); ‘Crowded Out: American Political Conventions’, published in two parts, Contemporary Review, v. 276, nos. 1908/9 (Jan/Feb 2000).
Karen Kilcup (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) has edited Soft Canons: American Women Writers and Masculine Tradition (Univ. of Iowa Press, 1999), 345 pp, ISBN 0-87745-689-5, £16.95. This collection of original essays by BAAS and EAAS members explores the relationship of male and female authors in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature. She also co-edited Jewett and Her Contemporaries: Reshaping the Canon (Univ. Press of Florida, 1999), 294 pp., ISBN 0-8130-1703-3, £39.95, and a special issue.
Joe Moran, Star Authors: Literary Celebrity in America (London: Pluto Press, 2000).
Forthcoming Publications: Call for Papers
Studies in American Humor Special Issue on Popular Culture
The 2001 issue of Studies in American Humor will be a special issue on humor in popular culture guest edited by Judith Yaross Lee. Topics can include (but are not limited to): cartoons (animated, narrative, or gag), graffiti, newspaper and magazine columns, film, television, performance humor, radio or sound recordings, folklore, and Internet humor. Submissions should be approximately 5000-8000 words. Address all inquiries and submissions by 15 January 2001 to: Judith Yaross Lee, School of Interpersonal Communication, Ohio University, Athens, Ohio 45701; email@example.com.
Teaching Nineteenth-Century American Poetry
Karen Kilcup welcomes suggestions and proposals for essays in a new volume, Teaching Nineteenth-Century American Poetry, to be published in 2002 by the Modern Language Association. Seeking to represent various perspectives on teaching in a range of academic institutions, the volume will cover a wide spectrum of topics and individual writers. The editors seek essay proposals that consider the following: period (e.g., antebellum, Civil War, premodern); style and genre (sentimental, humorous, visionary, religious, nature, oral, popular); audience (literary establishment, children, rural readers, ethnic communities); publication context (periodicals, books); issues of class, gender, and race; writing coteries; regional differences; and material conditions of publication (sales, distribution, history of the book). Please contact Karen Kilcup (firstname.lastname@example.org; fax and voicemail, 530-686-8076) or Paula Bennett (email@example.com) by 1 February 2001.
Short-term Travel Reports
Ruth Percy, University College London
Research trip to the Schlesinger Library of the History of American Women at Radcliffe College, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Firstly I would like to thank you once again for the generous support you have given me. Despite the fact that I had to cut it back to one week instead of two, my research trip to the Schlesinger Library was very successful. The library holds the papers of the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) as well as those of various individuals who were involved. I was able to get through the Margaret Dreier Robins papers (WTUL President 1903-1922) which consisted mostly of letters and speeches, the WTUL papers which were similar although in addition contained pamphlets and newsletters, and listen to an audiotape of an interview of Mary Anderson (Women’s Bureau Chair 1920-1944). As I said in my application for funding this material is essential to my thesis. Having done comparable work in London I have now begun to start writing.
In addition to this by sheer chance I became aware that another Harvard University library had a selection of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America (ACWA) archives. This is one of the trade unions upon which I am focusing in my study of British and American women garment workers from 1917-1927, so this find was a nice surprise as I was under the impression that the ACWA papers were all in New York. These archives turned out to be very productive. They included the papers of the President Sidney Hillman and also a collection of scrapbooks that had been compiled by union members containing press cuttings, pamphlets, etc. I was able to finish up with these and as such am beginning to construct some arguments as to why and how labour feminism developed among garment workers. This work will be further developed with the use of the archives held in the Trades Union Congress collection at the University of North London.
Rosie Wild, University of Sheffield
Report on Rosie Wild BAAS sponsored research to visit the Library of Congress, Washington D.C. in November 1999.
I have always wanted to visit Washington, so it was with great pleasure that I discovered that I would need to pay the Library of Congress a visit in order to research my dissertation on the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People’s role in the Montgomery bus boycott of 1955-1956. Although Cambridge University holds series I and II of the NAACP Papers on microfilm, the collection ends at 1955, precisely the date from which I wished to start my research. The rest of the official NAACP archive-as well as the original documents from series I and II-is catalogued in innumerable boxes in the Library of Congress. The Library also holds the personal papers of NAACP leader Roy Wilkins and leading black unionist and civil rights campaigner A. Philip Randolph as well as a wide selection of useful southern newspapers like the Montgomery Advertiser and Birmingham News.
Although the Montgomery bus boycott is a well documented episode, historians have almost exclusively studied it in relation to the ensuing civil rights movement of the 1960s and thus possibly overlooked elements that were perceived to be extremely significant in the mid-1950s. The major oversight of this approach has been an examination of the NAACP’s role in the boycott: it was after all the NAACP sponsored Browder v. Gayle (1956) court case that desegregated Montgomery’s buses and all the major actors in the boycott were or had been NAACP members. The NAACP also suffered tremendous harassment in Alabama during the boycott, culminating in it being legally enjoined from operating in the state in June 1956. By exploring the internal relationships between the national headquarters and the Alabama state and local branches of the NAACP and the external relationships between the Association and white and black northerners and I southerners I hoped to uncover the significance of evidence previously deemed irrelevant. Furthermore I wanted to explore the themes of legal and extra-legal harassment against the Association and the contribution of cold war and class concerns in shaping the NAACP’s approach to the Montgomery bus boycott.
The Library of Congress is a fantastic place. It is the Ritz of the library world. From my first telephone enquiries to my last day’s research the friendly helpfulness of the staff never wavered and the superb facilities and the scholarly atmosphere made the place a delight to work in. I would like to have stayed much longer than my ten days-and possibly even moved in if they would have let me!
I was quite surprised at the number of people using the NAACP Papers in the Madison Building’s Manuscript Reading Room; obviously the Association is beginning to attract more attention from scholars. I did not, however, have any difficulty in finding material to look at as the NAACP’s archive is simply enormous. It was a daunting task trying to extract specific information from such a huge and varied collection but after a few hours of sifting through petty cash ledgers, fundraising schedules and form letters, I managed to identify a number of interesting documents. Some of the most exciting things I found were not directly related to my research topic: for example I was particularly overawed when I stumbled across a very elegantly hand written speech, scribed in blue fountain pen on a yellow legal pad by Martin Luther King. I remember looking up guiltily expecting an irate member of staff to come rushing over shouting Dont touch that youre not worthy! The fact that anyone can walk into the Library of Congress completely free of charge and access such things is a commendable by-product of Americas democratic ethos.
Many of the most interesting documents concerning the NAACPs work in the Montgomery bus boycott dealt with the Associations relationship with the forces of anti-Communism. It became clear that the Association spent a great deal of its time and effort both defending itself against red-baiting and trying to eliminate Communist sympathisers from its membership. The fear of being tarred a Communist front or fellow traveller organisation was a recurring theme throughout the Associations papers and has perhaps been under-emphasised as a causal factor in the NAACPs decline after 1960. Other fascinating findings included two folders of the most vile and threatening letters sent to the NAACP headquarters from Proud Southerners-albeit not proud enough to sign their real names and some despairing letters from Roy Wilkins, bemoaning the inability of the black race to unquestioningly follow the orders the NAACP. The picture of Roy Wilkins the NAACP Papers painted was that of a dedicated and selfless man too focussed on his own vision of emancipation to appreciate the contributions of other campaigners and grass roots participation.
I did not find exactly what I was hoping for at the Library of Congress but I did gain a real insight into the nature of the NAACP and the immense obstacles it had to overcome to achieve as much as it did. I still think that historians have not fully acknowledged the groundbreaking nature of the Associations work before 1960 and uncovering the flawed nature of the NAACPs leadership and strategies during the Montgomery bus boycott only highlighted the impressiveness of its victories. I would sincerely like to thank the BAAS for its financial assistance in my research trip to Washington. Visiting the Library of Congress was an immensely enjoyable and satisfying experience, both intellectually and personally, and I am extremely grateful for the Associations help in affording me the opportunity to go.
Celeste-Marie Bernier, University of Nottingham
BAAS Report of Research Visit to Washington D.C. (April-May 2000).
I was awarded a travel grant from BAAS to go on a research visit to Washington D.C. in support of my Ph.d. As the focus of my research is the Creole slave ship revolt of 1841 and the competing literary and historical versions of it, I needed to look at a combination of extremely rare texts: including government documents, author manuscripts and obscure periodicals. Thus, I made extensive use of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center (part of Howard University) and the Library of Congress. Both were excellent. In particular, the Moorland Spingarn Research Center (complete with extremely knowledgeable and friendly librarians) had extensive collections of rare eighteenth and nineteenth century African American materials: all of which constituted an astonishingly rich resource throughout my visit. Similarly, the Library of Congress had very useful manuscript collections: including (of primary interest for my research) the Frederick Douglass and Lydia Maria Child Papers.
At the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, I made a transcript of the New Era Magazine (February-March 1916). This is an extremely rare “race” periodical published and edited by Pauline E. Hopkins. As this library only allowed photocopying of ten percent of any document, it was wonderful to be there to take exhaustive notes. These were needed due to the fact that many unsigned contributions were written by Hopkins in her capacity as editor: thereby extending the (by-no-means definitive) existing canon of known Hopkins authored material. I also looked at a great deal of rare material by William Wells Brown and Lydia Maria Child: including original copies signed by them as gifts to other abolitionists. These works ranged from antislavery tracts to Brown’s rather intriguing pamphlet, entitled William Wells Brown’s Original Panoramic Views (1852). A fascinating text, it was the published guide to a travelling exhibition he organised in London during the early 1850’s. Whether or not this exhibition took the form of waxwork models or painted illustrations forms a topic of current critical controversy. Either way, Brown references an image dramatising the Creole revolt and also the “Escape of Leander the Heroic Slave”. The latter piece borrows heavily from Brown’s descriptions of Madison Washington in his versions of the Creole mutiny, as well as pointing to important (and often unregarded) intertextual links between these texts and Frederick Douglass’s The Heroic Slave.
In general terms, while at the Moorland Spingarn Center I managed to look at many useful newspapers and periodicals, including: The Weekly Anglo-African (serialising Brown’s later version of Clotel retitled Miralda and other interesting pieces on insurrection); National Anti-Slavery Standard (useful for reports on the Creole revolt and surrounding issues); The Liberator (including Brown’s letters from England) and Frederick Douglass’ Paper (notable for its serialisation of The Heroic Slave). I also saw Lydia Maria Child’s antislavery giftbook The Oasis which was extremely interesting: particularly for one of Child’s own contributions, ‘Malem Boo: the Brazilian Slave’. The extensive volumes of The Liberty Bell yielded much: including Child’s melodrama of the Crafts’ escape “The Stars and Stripes” and Brown’s “The American Slave Trade”. I also looked at Channing’s abolitionist tract (The Duty of the Free States) which revealed the uses made by abolitionists of the Creole mutiny. At the Library of Congress, I gained access to Douglass’s New National Era and also the Frederick Douglass Papers. These contained his different manuscripts versions of “Touissant L’Ouverture”: relevant primarily in terms of their similarities to his depiction of Madison Washington as revolutionary exemplar in The Heroic Slave.
I would like to offer my most sincere thanks to BAAS and the AHRB for their generous support in funding this indispensable research visit.
The University of Nottingham School of American & Canadian Studies and Institute of Film Studies
M.A., MRes and PhD Funding Opportunities
A number of Scholarships (either Home/EU fees plus maintenance at AHRB rates or fee-waivers) and Teaching Bursaries are available to applicants in the following areas:
University Research Scholarship for a PhD (full-time) in Nineteenth-century American History and Culture (e.g. the Civil War, Slavery, including Slave Narratives, Race and Class) UniversityResearch Scholarship for a PhD (full-time) in Twentieth-century Women’s Writing in the US and/or Canada Schoolof American & Canadian Studies Research Scholarship for a PhD (full-time). All areas of American or Canadian Studies or Film Studies. Schoolof American & Canadian Studies Studentships (full- or part-time fee-waivers only) for either an MRes (any area) or an M.A. in one of these degree-courses: M.A. in American Studies; M.A. in American Studies (Literature); M.A. in American Studies (History); M.A. in American Studies (Visual Culture); M.A. in American Studies with Study in Europe. This degree offers students the opportunity to spend one semester at the University of Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin [Kennedy Institute], Copenhagen, Munich [Amerika Institute], Orleans, Turin, Venice, or Vercelli as part of a European M.A. in American Studies (taught in English). An Erasmus/Socrates grant would be available for such students.; M.A. in British and American History (joint degree with Department of History) Teaching Bursaries in the Institute of Film Studies (for full- or part-time PhD students) Canadian Studies Studentship (fee-waiver only) for a PhD (part-time). All areas of Canadian literary study considered.
Please contact the School Office for an application form and further information: E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: (0115) 951 4261. From overseas: +44 155 951 4261. Fax: (0115) 951 4270. From overseas: +44 155 951 4270. School Secretary, School of American & Canadian Studies, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK.
Applicants should indicate in a covering letter which award(s) they are applying for and, for full-time study, should confirm that they are also applying for other sources of funding (e.g. AHRB for Home/EU students; ORS or other sources for overseas, non-EU students). It is a condition of any of the above full-time awards that students must make such applications. Applicants for PhD degrees should include with their application form a 2-3 page outline of their proposed area of research. Pre-application enquiries about possible areas of research are welcomed, using the above contact. See, also: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/american The deadline for the above awards (and for AHRB applications) is 1st May BUT applicants should be in possession of an offer of a place on a PhD, MRes or M.A. programme by the end of March, allowing for 10-14 days for a completed application to be processed.
Professor Douglas Tallack Head of School School of American & Canadian Studies University of Nottingham Nottingham NG7 2RD, UK Direct line tel: 0115 951 4262. Secretary tel: 0115 9514261 School Fax: 0115 951 4270 School Homepage: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/american/
Carolyn Attwood, currently a recruitment consultant, is interested in American foreign policy, Red scares, and 17th-century settlers in America.
Peter Bell is Head of American Studies at the College of Ripon and York. He specialises in international history of the 1930s and 1940s.
Trevor Graeme Bernard is affiliated with the Department of History at Brunel.
Melanie Bleck is a postgraduate at Edinburgh University.
Kelly Boyd lectures in History and American Studies at Middlesex University.
Rober Cherny is Professor of History at San Francisco State University.
Christopher Clark, who is Professor of American History at Warwick, has published extensively on the roots of rural capitalism and on communitarian movements. His current research is on US society from 1770 to 1870.
Madeleine (Mandy) Cooper is Senior Lecturer at Canterbury Christchurch University College, with a special interest in Native American literature.
Susan Currell is preparing her D. Phil at the University of Sussex.
David Evans is a postgraduate in the Department of American Studies at Hull, focusing on Literature and Cultural Studies.
Bridget Falconer-Salkeld is an MPhil student at the Institute of United States Studies, University of London, researching the role of the MacDowell Colony in the development of American music.
Eva Fernandez de Pinedo is a Ph. D. student at the University of Warwick.
Jeffrey Geiger lectures in the Department of Literature of the University of Essex.
Lincoln Geraghty is a postgraduate student at Nottingham, researching links between American history and culture and science fiction.
Marybeth Hamilton is Lecturer in US History at Birkbeck College, University of London.
Peter Hammond is linked to the School of American and Canadian Studies at Nottingham University.
Timothy Hanson is a postgraduate at the University of Maryland.
Anthony Hutchinson is a postgraduate at Nottingham University.
David Ketterer is Professor of English at Concordia University in Montreal.
Sarah Knott is a research fellow at Wolfson College, Oxford.
Nicholas Maffei is a part-time Ph. D. student and lecturer at the Royal College of Art, London.
Sarah Martin is starting her M.Phil/Ph.D on Law and Space in Contemporary Native American Writing at Goldsmith’s College in London.
Trevor McCrisken is Tutor in American Studies at the University of Sussex.
Tony McCulloch is Head of American Studies at Canterbury Christ Church University College. His current research interests include FDR and the New Deal, the Truman presidency, and Anglo-American relations since 1920.
Megan McGilchrist has been linked with Goldsmith College. Her research interests are in the Western American landscape in 20th-century fiction.
Ian McGuire lectures in the Department of English and American Studies at Manchester University.
Mary McKinney is affiliated with the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies at Texas Christian University.
John Moore lectures in the Department of Literatary Studies, University of Luton.
Rachel Morgan is a postgraduate student in history at the University of Wales, Swansea.
Marina Moskowitz, with a Ph. D. dissertation in the area of Material Culture (mail-order homes), is Lecturer in American History at the University of Glasgow.
Alessandro Pirolini is researching in the area of Film History at University College, London.
Jay Prosser is Lecturer in American Studies at the University of Leeds.
Paul Quigley is a postgraduate at the University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill.
James Reibman is Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania.
Lisa Mary Rull is a postgraduate in American Studies at Nottingham.
Liana Sakelliou is Professor in the Department of English Studies at the University of Athens.
David Ryan is Principal Lecturer in the Department of Historical and International Studies at De Montfort.
Thomas Saville is Coordinator of Study Abroad programs at Southern Illinois University.
William Schultz also is affiliated with the Department of English Studies at Athens, where he is Associate Professor.
Kirstin Shands is Associate Professor at the University College of Southern Stockholm (Sweden).
John Soutter is preparing his Ph. D. on William Gaddis at Liverpool University.
Joe Street is preparing his Ph. D. at Sheffield on Kwame Ture (formerly Stokely Carmichael), and lists as his research interests African-American culture in the 1960s-70s, the Black Panther party, American slavery, and 1960s radical politics.
Jill Tabuteau is Manager of the Incoming Program with BUNAC Travel Services.
Rudi Theommes is a publisher specializing in providing primary sources in the History of Ideas.
Andrew Warnes is a postgraduate student in the School of English at Leeds.
Anne Sharp Wells is a Fellow at the Eccles Centre for American Studies, British Library.
Marjorie Wheeler is Professor of History at the University of Southern Mississippi.
Tracy Wismayer is currently preparing her Ph. D. at Sheffield University on Robert Kennedy and the Civil Rights Movement.
Tim Woods is Lecturer and alternately Head of American Studies at Aberystwyth.