Monday, 31 October 2011

Tomorrow: Prof. Nick Selby's Inaugural Lecture

Tomorrow (Tuesday November 1), Head of the School of American Studies Professor Nick Selby will be giving his inaugural lecture. All welcome.

"Reading difficulty: what's American about American poetry?" Thomas Paine Study Centre, 6.30pm.

News: Halloween 2011

It's Halloween! Link round-up below.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Fateful Birth: William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! turns 75

William Faulkner, looking haunted
by Ed Clough

This week sees the fall of Halloween and Dia de los Muertos – festivals celebrating (ostensibly, anyway) death as abstract and haunting, and as personal and familial; as elemental horror and as intimate loss – and, in both cases, as excuses for some freestyle, heavy-duty material and consumptive excess.

It’s apt, then, that this week should also mark the 75th anniversary of the publication of one of America’s most deathly and gothic literary masterpieces, William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom!, published on October 26, 1936. Faulkner, in a typically modest evaluation of his talents, referred to it as “the best novel yet written by an American”. Many would doubtless disagree – yet all the same, it’s hard to discount or ignore the sheer brilliance of this richly difficult, bleakly poetic book.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

AMS Discussion Cafés: Crisis and Contemporary America

The first in a series of Discussion Cafés hosted by students from the School of American Studies' final year module "New American Century: Culture and Crisis" takes place tomorrow! No need to book, no charge, and refreshments provided. Tomorrow's session:

‘How do national cultures deal with globalisation and Americanisation?’ October 25, 11-12, The Maddermarket Theatre, St. John’s Alley, Norwich.

You can see the full programme of events here. The Discussion Cafés are taking place throughout October and November.

Research Seminar: A. Robert Lee

At this week's research seminar, A. Robert Lee will be visiting. He is the author and editor of an wide-ranging number of books, and is, most recently, editor of this four volume collection of Native American Writing. On Wednesday, he will be talking about: "Postcolonial/Postindian: Literary and Other Representations of Native America."

Wednesday 26 October, 3pm, Arts 2.84. All welcome.

Monday, 24 October 2011

Steve Jobs, Thomas Edison and the Spirit of Invention

Thomas Edison, relaxing with his iPod
by Nick Cleaver

I’d like to talk a little about Steve Jobs. Not in the sense of an ode to a life tragically cut short – I never met the man and, while I do own a phone which could be considered to a greater or lesser extent a product of his genius or vision, without wishing to sound callous I would not presume that this places me in sufficiently close relation to warrant paroxysms of grief. Suffice it to say that 56 years is no great age in the 21st Century developed world and I am sure that his family, friends and colleagues miss him greatly. What I would like to talk about is Steve Jobs’ embodiment of ideas which resonate strongly with the United States of America a century before his time.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Research Seminar: Matthew Ward

At this week's research seminar we're being treated to a visit by Matthew Ward (University of Dundee). Matthew is the author, most recently, of The Battle for Quebec: 1759. He writes:
My current research examines the Seven Years' War in North America and its effects on Native Americans, French-Canadians and Anglo-American settlers. More broadly I am interested in Britain's involvement in early America, and the interaction of the British Empire with different peoples. This is reflected in my background, as I have been described in one review of my work as a 'genuinely trans-Atlantic product' with English roots, an American PhD, Canadian research interests, living and working in Scotland. These research interests take me to both sides of the Atlantic, conducting much of my research in archives in London, Canada and the United States, and giving conference papers on both sides of the Atlantic.

On Wednesday 19, he will be speaking about: "Justice from the law is fled’: Court and Community in the First American West, ca. 1730-1815.

Arts 2.84, 3pm - all welcome.

Opinion: Four Weddings and Three Hundred Funerals

by Liam Heffernan
On Thursday 28th April 2011 Alabama and the southern states were hit by a storm killing almost 300 Americans. It was 'the worst tornado outbreak since 1974' leaving thousands of people homeless and over a million without power. The following morning, I was sitting in a hostel in downtown Boston trying to see the news through the heads of old ladies huddled around the television (it was an odd place).

Thursday, 13 October 2011

AMS Film Screenings: Real to Reel

As an offshoot of our first year History modules this semester, we're running Real to Reel, a series of film screenings which serve as another way of introducing some of the issues at stake in the study of American history. These screenings will be of interest to students of American Studies more generally, and everyone is welcome. Below, the schedule.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

News: Kevin Smith's Red State

by Natasha Broad

Whilst filmmaker Kevin Smith is well known for making comedies, his latest offering concerns a far more serious topic. Released at the Sundance Film Festival amongst controversy, Red State is a hard-hitting film about religious extremism in the USA but, unexpectedly, also offers a thought provoking image of the American government post 9/11.

Monday, 10 October 2011

News: Urban Prep, and the Ongoing Battle between Education and Poverty in Chicago

by Andi Bawden

Hidden amongst a mass of BBC news stories focusing on the United States, an article by Mark Mardell with a brief video illustrates the success of a school in Chicago.  Although attracting relatively little attention in the UK until now, Urban Prep made American national news at the beginning of this summer after 100% of its graduating seniors were awarded places in American colleges.

Research Seminar: Richard Martin

This Wednesday, it's the first AMS research seminar of the semester, and it's something a little out of the ordinary. Richard Martin (Birkbeck) is currently undertaking a research project sponsored by the British Association for American Studies. From the BAAS website:

American Studies in the UK, 2000-2010The British Association for American Studies, in association with the Fulbright Commission, is embarking on an important new research project tracing the development of American Studies in the UK between 2000 and 2010. The project will produce a contemporary census document and a historical resource for future scholars.
Alongside statistical data, the report will also include commentary and case studies, involving a wide range of voices and experiences. Contributions are therefore invited from all sections of the American Studies community in the UK, including researchers, lecturers, administrators, teachers and students. Contributors are asked to respond to the central question: In what ways did American Studies in the UK change between 2000 and 2010?
Accordingly, on Wednesday, Richard will be talking about "American Studies in the U.K., 2000-2011." Should be a good one. All welcome.

Wednesday October 12, 3 pm, Arts 2.84.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Extreme Right-Wing Pundits Love Steve Almond’s Latest Much To The Confusion Of, Uh, Everyone

Steve Almond, beloved DIY-publishing, bad-poetry-writing, experimental “candy freak,” is releasing a new book entitled God Bless America at the end of October of “comic and forlorn” short stories about the United States and its many delights. Much to Almond’s bewilderment--and that of many others--his book has been touted by members of the right wing extreme & Fox News pundits—most notably, teddy bear lookalike Glenn Beck. Almond explains the whole situation in the trailer video for his book.

News: New Editorial Committee for Containing Multitudes

This year, in addition to its regular and semi-regular features, Containing Multitudes is going to feature a series of posts from the members of our new editorial committee, made up of a number of our supremely talented postgraduates. You'll get to know a bit about each of them as the year rolls on. So stay tuned for some exciting developments. And remember, you can follow us on twitter @AmericanStudies, and on Facebook here.