Monday 10 December 2012

Guest Post: Richard Crockatt, The Far Right Fantasy of an American Golden Age

Richard Crockatt, Emeritus Professor in the School of American Studies, on The Far Right Fantasy of an American Golden Age:

Amid the blizzard of reactions to Obama’s reelection a particular remark of Sarah Palin’s deserves close attention for what it reveals about the mentality of the far right in America. In a Fox News interview she bemoaned the fact that Obama might have the opportunity to appoint new members to the Supreme Court. This, she said, would be a blow against the ‘traditional interpretation of the Constitution.’

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Guest Post: Kirsty Callaghan on the Obama campaign in Colorado

Four years ago, AMS student Kirsty Callaghan, then on her Year Abroad, wrote us a firsthand account of the Obama campaign in Kissimee, Florida for the 2008 election. Now, Kirsty is back in the US, teaching and studying at the University of Wyoming. On her own blog, Forever West, she's written a new account of her experiences volunteering for the Obama campaign in Colorado. It's available here - check it out, and marvel at how time flies.

Friday 9 November 2012

Arthur Miller Centre Prizes

The Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies is once again offering its annual prizes:

Call for Nominations: The Arthur Miller Centre Prize, and the Arthur Miller Centre First Book Prize
Deadline: 1 March 2013
The Arthur Miller Centre Prize of £500 is awarded annually for the best journal length article on any American Studies topic in the preceding calendar year by a United Kingdom citizen based at home or abroad or by a non-UK citizen who publishes their essay in a United Kingdom journal, providing that the entrant is a member of the British Association of American Studies in the year of submission.
Those interested in entering an article for consideration should submit three copies of the essay, including publication details, to:
The Arthur Miller Centre Prize Committee
School of English and American Studies
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ

The Arthur Miller Centre First Book Prize of £500 is awarded annually for the best first book on any American Studies topic in the preceding calendar year by a United Kingdom citizen based at home or abroad or by a non-UK citizen who publishes a book, providing that the entrant is a member of the British Association of American Studies in the year of submission.
Those interested in entering a book for consideration should submit four copies, including publication details, to:
The Arthur Miller Centre Prize Committee
Arthur Miller Centre for American Studies
University of East Anglia
Norwich NR4 7TJ

Please Note: Books submitted for consideration for the BAAS book prize are ineligible for consideration for the Arthur Miller Centre First Book Prize.

Thursday 11 October 2012

Letter from America: Prof. Geoffrey Plank

Geoff Plank has just returned from a five-day tour of the Philadelphia area during which time he presented five talks related to his new book John Woolman’s Path to the Peaceable Kingdom: A Quaker in the British Empire.  Geoff spoke at the Quaker meeting house in Woolman’s home town of Mount Holly, New Jersey, at Swarthmore College, Haverford College, and the Pendle Hill Quaker Conference Center.   He spoke on a range of topics, including the eighteenth-century abolitionist’s family life, and the Woolman family’s experience of  slaveholding.

Here are some pictures of Geoff in action, at Mount Holly:
Pendle Hill:

And Haverford:

Poetry Reading: Lisa Samuels

TIME: 17:00
DATE: 18 October, 2012

ABOUT: Lisa Samuels teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She publishes essays and edited work on poetry, theory, and critical practice. She is the author of four chapbooks and six books of poetry, including The Invention of Culture, Throe, Tomorrowland , Mama Mortality Corridos, and Gender City, as well as a creative non-fiction book, Anti M. Her current projects include an essay collection, Modernism Is Not Enough, an audio recording of Tomorrowland with soundscapes, and a modular novel experiment, Tender Girl. Having lived in various parts of the United States, as well as in Sweden, Israel / Palestine, Yemen, Malaysia, and now New Zealand / Aotearoa, she is interested in transculturalism, especially as embodied in language and the digitas.

For enquiries please contact Dr Hilary Emmett:

Copies of Lisa Samuels’ Throe, published by Oystercatcher Press, will be on sale at the reading.

News: Prof. Chris Bigsby in the Times Higher

AMS's Professor Chris Bigsby is now a regular columnist for THE. You can see an archive of his recent columns here. Enjoy!

Monday 1 October 2012

Research Seminars, Autumn 2012

Our Research Seminar series - subtitled American Borders this semester - is about to jump into action. You can view the full schedule here.

The first session takes place this Wednesday at 4pm in Arts 1.16.

Our speaker will be John Attridge, Lecturer in English at the University of New South Wales. His essays on modernism and twentieth-century literature have appeared in journals such as ELH, Modernism/modernity and The Henry James Review. He is co-editor, with Rod Rosenquist, of an essay collection entitled Incredible Modernism: Literature, Trust and Deception, due out in 2013 from Ashgate. This Wednesday he'll be talking about:

Mind, body and embarrassment in Henry James

Henry James is traditionally regarded as the most inward-looking of all nineteenth-century novelists, preoccupied above all with the representation of consciousness. This focus on the recesses of subjectivity, however, can lead us to overlook the importance of bodies and of public behaviour in his work. In this paper I suggest that James’s late work shows a preoccupation with one such publicly observable behaviour in particular: embarrassment. Focusing mainly on What Maisie Knew (1897) and The Awkward Age (1899), I read James’s representation of embarrassment and social awkwardness in the context of debates within late-Victorian psychology about the mind-body relationship. I suggest that blushing and other manifestations of embarrassment were charged with special significance in the context of these debates, and that James’s sensitive depiction of these states is not susceptible to critical analysis in terms of consciousness and interiority.

All welcome - see you there.

Monday 17 September 2012

Containing Multitudes / Black History Month programme out now!

The programme for Norfolk Black History Month 2012 is out. AMS's Containing Multitudes exhibition is featured on pages 44-49. So check it out! Available here.

Thursday 30 August 2012

AMS Undergraduate Published in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal

Some exciting news: AMS Undergraduate Hamish Jackson, who's returning to the UEA in September after his Year Abroad, has had an article published in Nexus: The International Henry Miller Journal. His essay, "Henry Miller's Black Spring Through the Looking Glass of Jacques Lacan", shares page space with a contribution from Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa. More information here.

Wednesday 1 August 2012

BAAS: American Studies in the UK, 2000-2010

The British Association for American Studies has just released a report into the state of American Studies in the UK 2000-2010. It contains much that will be of interest to anyone involved in the field. Available here.

Monday 9 July 2012

"America Changed Through Music": Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music at 60

Ross Hair and Thomas Ruys Smith are currently organising a one-day conference to mark the 60th anniversary of Harry Smith's landmark Anthology of American Folk Music. Taking place at the UEA London Campus on Saturday September 15th, the day features a keynote from Professor Geoff Ward, a variety of papers from an international panel of speakers, and free musical performances. Booking is now open, so for more information and to download a booking form visit

Containing Multitudes at the Forum

The School of American Studies presents a public exhibition of the letters of Sarah Hicks Williams, a northerner in the slaveholding South, hosted at the Millennium Library Norwich, this October as part of Norfolk's Black History Month 2012. In addition, there will be a series of free public lectures and cafe conversations hosted by Fusion at Forum and the Millennium Library, with cafe conversations at Cafe Bar Marzano. Further details on the exhibition, public lectures, and cafe conversations can be found here.

Tuesday 3 July 2012

AMS Poster Competition: Winners Announced!

Alex Francis's winning entry!
The panel of judges for the AMS poster competition met last week and although the quality of entries was outstanding, we all agreed that Alex Francis’s design (above) wonderfully encapsulated the themes of the exhibition and the wider one of Black History Month for 2012, “Black Champions”. Alex was therefore awarded first place and his design will be used on all promotional material relating to the exhibition and the series of public lectures and cafe conversations during the 1st – 14th October. Both Victoria Mccollum’s and Megan Snyders’ designs (below) were also judged as serious contenders and they were awarded second and third place respectively. An awards ceremony will be held during the two week exhibition (date to be confirmed) where Alex, Victoria, and Megan will receive their prize money. It is hoped that all artwork submitted to the competition will be exhibited at Fusion in the Forum during the exhibition. Congratulations again to the winners, and thanks to all those who submitted designs.

Victoria Mccollum

Megan Snyder

Thursday 21 June 2012

AMS welcomes Prof. Robert S. Levine to give keynote lecture at “Melville and Americanness”, Friday 29th June

At next Friday's conference on Melville and Americanness one of the many exciting events will be the keynote speech delivered by Professor Robert S. LevineProf. Levine visits us from his home University of Maryland to give his talk, “Melville and Americanness: - A Problem”, which will raise questions about the very term "Americanness" and explore how Melville connects to this concept that, he proposes, “seems always in flux.” Described by his peers as “impressively prolific”, Prof. Levine’s weighty body of works includes studies on Brockden Brown, Cooper, Hawthorne, Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown, to name a few. A recent recipient of the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, his latest publication on Melville, The New Cambridge Companion to Herman Melville, is due out later this year.

Taking place in the Thomas Paine Study Centre, the conference kicks off at 9am and promises papers ranging in topics from Gothic, Philosophy and Democracy to Transnationalism.  It’s not too late to register: if you would like to join us, find out more by visiting the conference website.  There are special rates for PGRs – all are welcome.

Wednesday 13 June 2012

New AMS book: Geoffrey Plank's John Woolman’s Path to the Peaceable Kingdom

Professor Geoffrey Plank’s new book John Woolman’s Path to the Peaceable Kingdom is now available from the University of Pennsylvania Press. Christopher Brown of Columbia University describes it as “a carefully researched and quietly brilliant work that provides a genuinely new perspective on a familiar figure in the history of antislavery. Plank finds in Woolman not only an early opponent of slavery but also an ardent critic of most every facet of commercial life in the Delaware Valley and, more generally, the British Empire.”

Prof. Plank will be giving talks on his book on the following dates:
  • At the Woodbrooke Quaker Studies Centre in Birmingham, England on the evening of Wednesday, September 26
  • At Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania on the evening of Thursday, October 4
  • At the Pendle Hill Quaker Conference Center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania on Sunday, October 7
  • At Haverford College in Pennsylvania on Monday, October 8 - see
  • At the Friends House in London on the evening of Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

More details will be posted as they become available.

UPDATE 16/07/2012

Geoff Plank has added two more events to the schedule of his early October trip to the Philadelphia area.  He will be giving the following talks connected to his new biography of John Woolman:
  • “The Other Woolmans” at Swarthmore College on Thursday evening, October 4, and at Mount Holly, New Jersey Quaker Meeting House at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 6
  • “John Woolman and the Utility of History” at the Pendle Hill Quaker Conference Center on Sunday, October 7
  • “The Other Family living with the Woolmans” at Haverford College at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, October 8. 
  • Additionally he will be presenting a paper drawing on his new work related to his current research (the paper is tentatively entitled “Sheep, Thomas Tryon, and the English Empire”  at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies on the afternoon of Friday, October 5.

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Call for Papers: Transitions 3 Interdisciplinary Comics Symposium

We're excited to announce that American Studies PhD student Ed Clough is organising the Transitions 3 Interdisciplinary Comics Symposium! Here's the Call for Papers.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Letter from North Carolina: Barack Obama (and Amendment One)

by Tom Macarte

If you were on the internet over the last couple of weeks, you’ve probably seen Barack Obama slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots.

What the rest of the episode of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon made clear was that it was filmed in Memorial Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This photo was posted by the White House Twitter account.
The filming came after Obama gave a speech about student loans to thousands of students, some of whom had waited outside overnight to get tickets. Fallon tickets, on the other hand, were distributed only to Seniors (as in, fourth year undergraduates) first through an online ‘reservation’ lottery, which gave you the right to queue up for hours to hopefully get a seat assignment. They made it very clear that, with all the security, students should pick one or the other, they would not be able to get across campus in time.

I picked Fallon. I slyly entered the lottery through the link emailed out to Seniors, and queued for three hours, getting fairly good seats.

I’m maybe 60% sure this is me. I was around that area, in a Carolina blue sweater, so at least you get the idea.
Obama was preaching to the converted here, reminding students why they (probably) voted for him. It didn’t hurt that he’d predicted the UNC Tar Heels basketball team to win the NCAA Championship (WE WERE ROBBED: mostly down to poorly timed injuries).

I’d seen a tweet explaining that POTUS had chosen UNC because it was such a great academic institution, which is partially true but a fairly na├»ve assessment.  With North Carolina a swing state for Obama, where the young voters would make all the difference, there was clearly an ulterior motive.

There was also a reason he’d chosen UNC, and not just his college basketball fandom. North Carolina’s universities are all pretty great, local rivalries aside (DUKE SUCKS), but Chapel Hill is often referred to as the liberal centre of the State, sometimes of the whole American South. When someone asked Jesse Helms, notorious early '90s right-winger (his name should be familiar to any Bill Hicks fans), about a state zoo, he responded by suggesting they just fence off Chapel Hill. As you can imagine, this quote is recounted with rather a lot of pride.

But back to Obama. He was as wonderful and charming as a liberal foreigner would imagine. I was still hoping for a full musical number (he has been known to sing, and if it was going to happen under any circumstances, it would’ve been then, backed by the Roots), but it was all pretty great. I wasn’t anticipating seeing POTUS, but it was a great day, a real treat for an American Studies student on his year abroad.

Something else happened really recently (yesterday, at the time of writing) that I wanted to write about in terms of Chapel Hill being a liberal centre. You might be aware of Amendment One, a motion to rewrite the state constitution to redefine marriage and civil partnership. It’s largely a move against gay marriage, but that is far from the only thing that the amendment affects.

This morning, I found out that, as I had feared, the majority of the vote yesterday had been FOR rather than against the Amendment. I just wanted to say that that is not the North Carolina that I know. Yes, a lot of this has to do with the liberal bubble I’m in, but I hate that this vote sends out a particular message about the state. It only recently dawned on me that it was likely to pass: here, in Chapel Hill, it seemed that everyone was strongly against such a breach of rights. So basically, I just wanted to work against the message it sends out. North Carolina is a beautiful state, and I have encountered nothing but friendliness and compassion, both in Chapel Hill and further out, in the mountains and on the coast.

The message that Amendment One sends out: that is not the North Carolina that I know.

Editor's note: in the wake of Amendment One, President Obama has just declared his support for same-sex marriage“At a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.”

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Research Seminar: Mike Lee

The speaker at this week's research seminar is Mike Lee, a former American television newsman who was originally hired by none other than Walter Cronkite. As he puts it on his website:
Mike Lee is an Emmy and Peabody award winning former U.S. TV network correspondent.  Mike covered the world for 47 years for ABC (see ABC News Bio), CBS, and other news organizations.    Mike Lee has reported from over 40 nations.   His global news reporting includes virtually every major news story from Europe, Russia, Middle East, and Africa.    Mike has produced human interest feature profiles of people and issues in dozens of locations from the Artic Circle to the South Pacific.
And you can follow Mike on Twitter here.

Wednesday 25th April 2012, A2.51, 3pm. All welcome.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

£350 up for grabs: Calling all budding artists and graphic designers in the making....

Stop the Press:

The School of American Studies is organising a public exhibition about slavery, race, and the American South to coincide with Black History Month 2012 (Monday 1st – Sunday 14th October).

The exhibition to be hosted at the Millennium Library, Norwich, includes letters written by Sarah Hicks Williams, an antebellum woman born and raised in New York State as part of the genteel middle class, who, in 1853 married Benjamin Williams, a slaveholder from Greene County, North Carolina. The letters chart her experience as a slaveholding mistress through the Civil War and into Reconstruction. The eleven letters included in the exhibition highlight the stark differences between Sarah’s family’s home in New Hartford (and the antebellum North in general) and Greene County, (where the Williams' plantation was located), North Carolina and the South. The letters mark Sarah’s transition as she became more attuned to Southern life, slaveholding, and her status as plantation mistress. They also include letters written during and after the Civil War when the enslaved owned by the Williams’ family are emancipated and Sarah faces African Americans as their employer rather than mistress.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public lectures by members of faculty and research students, hosted by Fusion at the Forum, in addition to a number of public cafes discussing the ways in which Black history and lives are represented in American society.

Creativity Needed:

What we need now is some eye-grabbing artwork to promote the exhibition and related events. Framing the event around the catchy title “Containing Multitudes” and thinking thorough the events we have planned, AMS is running a competition beginning mid-April (i.e. now) through mid-June (closing date: Friday 15th June) to provide AMS students with the opportunity to promote your talents (and of course the event itself!) through your artwork.

What Do I Need to Do to Enter?:

Submit a copy of your artwork via email attachment by the closing date of 15th June. Entrants will be judged by myself, as organiser of the exhibition, Nick Selby, as head of school, and another member of the AMS faculty (yet to be chosen). Winners will be notified by the end of June 2012.

Saving the Important Bit until Last:

The winning design will be used on all promotional material for the event and the successful entrant will win prize money of £200. There will also be additional prize of £100 for the entrant who is judged runner-up, and £50 for third place. The award ceremony (including all three designs) will take place during the exhibition in October.

If you have any further questions in relation to the competition or the events themselves please contact me at or else pop by my office (Arts Building, 1.37).

Monday 2 April 2012

News: Special Seminar on Henry David Thoreau

Exciting news: the School of American Studies is delighted to announce that it will be hosting a special seminar for graduate students and faculty members on American writer Henry David Thoreau in May.

Friday 30 March 2012

Symposium: Carlisle, PA: Site of Indigenous Histories, Memories, and Reclamations

On October 5-6, 2012, the School of American Studies is co-sponsoring an international symposium in the USA that will bring together Native and non-Native scholars, leaders, artists, and community members to share their work, concerns, and perspectives.

Carlisle was the location of the first government Indian boarding school. The school’s goal was to obliterate Native cultures and prepare Native American children for citizenship. Carlisle Indian School is a research topic of Jacqueline Fear-Segal and several American Studies graduate students; the University holds copies of the school’s newspaper archive.

Learn more here.

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Guest Lecture: Prof. Drew Isenberg, Temple University, Philadelphia

Tomorrow lunchtime, Prof. Drew Isenberg, visiting the School of American Studies from Temple University, Philadelphia, will be talking about "The Code of the West: Sexuality, Homosociality, and Wyatt Earp".

Wednesday 7th March, 12pm, ARTS 3.02.

There will also be a follow up discussion group, directly afterwards in ARTS 1.07, 13:00 – 14:00.  Please email to confirm attendance at the discussion group.  No email is necessary if you wish to attend the lecture only. All welcome, see you there!

Friday 24 February 2012

Interview: Elliot Grove on the Oscars

Ahead of our live blog this Sunday we caught up with Elliot Grove (above), founder of Raindance and the British Independent Film Awards, who shared some Hollywood insight and gave us a few Oscar predictions.
CM: What are your thoughts on the Oscar contenders?
EG: I believe The Artist is going to take home at least four Oscars, including Best Picture, since it won at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards and Producers Guild. The Artist is a favourite for Best Director, Best Original Score and Best Actor. Best Supporting Actor is a lock for Christopher Plummer and Best Supporting Actress is a lock for Octavia Spencer. Best Actress in a Leading Role is the toughest choice. There may be an upset in this category. I believe the favourite is Meryl Streep, but Viola Davis has a shot after her Screen Actors Guild win. Martin Scorsese's Hugo may take some technical categories, while Harry Potter should win its first ever Oscar for Best Visual Effects. The final category that may be a tough choice is Best Original Screenplay. The Artist should be a favourite, but Woody Allen's Midnight in Paris is a definite threat since it's his most original work in years. It's not winning Best Picture, but the screenplay was too good to ignore with Allen's brilliant dialogue and unique storytelling skills. Anything can happen.

CM: What are the biggest myths or misconceptions about Hollywood?
EG: One is that it is a liberal institution. Is that a possibility?  Does Hollywood allow celebrities to act as they choose. That's a definite no. Recently, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen asked the Academy producers if he could attend the awards on Sunday as his new character in the upcoming The Dictator. Cohen was not allowed to do this. He was not given the freedom to do this, because it would be extremely inappropriate for cable television. I don't believe they force people to think a certain way, even if they have the freedom to do what ever they want, sometimes

CM: Is there any way for a film to be completely independent of Hollywood and still crack the Oscars?
EG: The last few years, the Best Picture winner was a film that never encountered a wide release until after it won Best Picture. The Hurt Locker and The King's Speech were not successful in the box office at all, but they still managed to sweep the major categories at the Oscars. After the Oscars, people decide to go see it. I saw The King's Speech before it won, but it took me a while to find it. I heard about The Artist, but could not find it in any local theatres. After I arrived in England, it was really well advertised and is playing in a few theatres. After viewing the film, I hope it wins every Oscar it's nominated for, because it will pull another independent film upset over the films that were a box office success

CM: What do independent fesivals like Raindance and BIFA do that Hollywood and the Oscars can't?
EG: Hollywood and the Oscars are a big deal, but they cannot show absolutely every film that many independent film festivals presented. Raindance had a better shot presenting The Artist, because it took Hollywood so long to present it in theatres. Most importantly, Raindance and BIFA want to promote upcoming filmmakers. They want to help filmmakers find their big break or teach them important aspects of making a successful film. For Hollywood it takes a while to work your way up to be successful, while you can be a beginner and learn how to make your own films in Raindance and BIFA. It wants to give people a chance, while Hollywood only want to exploit people that are just beginning. It doesn't always give people a shot unless they have a lot of experience doing it.

Remember to come back to Containing Multitudes Sunday from 10.30pm when we'll be live blogging the 84th Academy Awards. For more information on Raindance visit

Thursday 23 February 2012

Postgraduate Study at the School of American Studies

Come and join the School of American Studies at the University of East Anglia for postgraduate study! Funding available. Click the flyer above for details. Need convincing? More information below.

LIVE: The Oscars 2012

We're liveblogging the 84th Academy Awards through the night from the first arrival to the final award, so join us and get involved. Comment below or Tweet using #UEAOscars to get your opinions featured.

Tuesday 21 February 2012

Celebrating Mardi Gras

New Orleans is currently alive with celebrations for the annual Mardi Gras festival. As ever, the celebrations end on Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent begins, which means that it falls on the same day as Shrove Tuesday in the UK. Tuesday 21st February marks the occasion this year, and will see tourists and locals alike flood the streets to dress up, watch the parades and catch the beads thrown from the floats.

Sunday 19 February 2012

Alcohol on Pine Ridge Reservation: a $500m Debate

by Andi Bawden

On the 10th of February, the Oglala Sioux tribe sued a number of international beer companies, as well as smaller alcohol retailers in close proximity to their Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, for 500 million dollars.

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Research Seminar: Anthony Stanonis

At this week's research seminar we're delighted to be welcoming Anthony Stanonis from Queen's University Belfast. Anthony is the author of
Creating the Big Easy: New Orleans and the Emergence of Modern Tourism, 1918–1945 (Athens, Ga.: University of Georgia Press, 2006) and, most recently, the editor of Dixie Emporium: Tourism, Foodways, and Consumer Culture in the American South (Athens, Ga: University of Georgia Press, 2008).

He'll be talking about: "Getting Color: Race, Tanning, and Tourism in the American South, 1900-1970."

February 15, Arts 2.51, 3pm. See you there.

Sunday 12 February 2012

Remembering Whitney Houston

by Liam Heffernan
You don’t have to be a fan of Whitney Houston to recognise the impact she has made across the entertainment industry. Many of her critics would hold her responsible for influencing the likes of Christina Aguilera, or for single-handedly keeping the TV talent show alive with her catchy dance pop stuff and those timeless ballad things. I’m not a music buff. But this is an artist who has sold 170 million albums, has 11 US number one hits, 6 Grammy Awards, and the best selling single by a female artist of all time (data from BBC News), which makes her almost as big as Robson & Jerome, and for that she will always be remembered as one of the greats.
The 48 year old singer of I Will Always Love You was pronounced dead in her Beverley Hilton Hotel room at approximately 3.30pm (11.30pm GMT) on Saturday. She was in Los Angeles for this evening’s Grammy Awards, and was due to attend a star-studded party last night hosted by record industry bigwig and long time mentor Clive Davis. The awards are usually the biggest event in the music calendar, but tonight it will take an appropriately sombre tone as former colleagues and friends pay their respects to someone who influenced almost everyone in popular music today. And if Michael Jackson’s death in 2009 is anything to go by, Houston’s fans will be turning the charts into a celebration of her greatest hits. Plus, we can expect Simon Cowell to deliver a touching dedication to the singer on the next series of The X Factor, for which the ratings boost will be purely coincidental and not a heartless calculation in any way whatsoever.
In recent years Whitney Houston has made headlines for very different reasons. Her turbulent marriage to Bobby Brown and her long term substance abuse overshadowed her music, and her attempts at a big comeback a few years ago faced setbacks following a disappointing live tour. This will be covered in grisly detail over the following weeks as investigative journalists tell us everything we already knew and call it The Secret Life of Whitney, The Real Whitney Houston, and so on. But for the real fans of Whitney Houston, the ones she sang for, the ones who bought her records and sat through her movies out of nothing more than blind loyalty (because sitting through The Bodyguard is no mean feat) she will be immortalised as one of the most talented, most influential, and most successful performers of the twentieth century.

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Research Seminar: Susan-Mary Grant

At this week's research seminar, we're very pleased to be welcoming Professor Susan-Mary Grant (Newcastle University). The author of a number of books including The War for a Nation : the American Civil War (Routledge, 2006) and the forthcoming A Concise History of the United States of America (Cambridge, 2012), she will be talking about: "‘A wooden leg is no excuse for anything’: Maiming, Masculinity, and the Medicalization of the Civil War Soldier."

Arts 2.51, 4pm, all welcome.

Thursday 2 February 2012

Superbowl Special: Immaculate Connection

Immaculate Connection: Can Madonna, Gay Men and American Football Go Together?

by Francisco Costa 
On July 24, 2011, New York became the sixth, and largest, state to allow same-sex couples to marry. Two months later, following decades in which gay rights issues have divided American’s opinion, the end of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy allowed gay men and women to serve openly. In February this year, following a year which suggested that Americans were becoming increasingly less tolerant of institutional homophobia, a gay icon will be the halftime performer at the Super Bowl show which airs to an average audience of 111 million viewers in America. This not only suggests that Americans are less tolerant of institutional homophobia, but of cultural homophobia as well. Thus, the importance of popular culture, and in particular of Madonna performing at the Super Bowl, is rooted in its ideological, social, cultural effects, and on its capacity to reconceptualise cultural norms and hegemonic values, by reinforcing sexual otherness.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Research Seminar: Kaeten Mistry

At this week's Research Seminar, AMS's very own Kaeten Mistry will be talking about "Narratives of Intervention: The CIA and the Framing of Covert Action."

Arts 2.51, 3pm, Wednesday February 1st. See you there!

Monday 23 January 2012

Research Seminar: Jon Mitchell

At this week's Research Seminar, AMS's very own Jonathan Mitchell - author of Revisions of the American Adam: Innocence, Identity and Masculinity in Twentieth Century America (Continuum, 2011) will be talking about, "Cutting out the ‘I’s in American Psycho."

Wednesday 25th, Arts 2.51, 3pm. See you there!

Tuesday 17 January 2012

News: Liam Heffernan on the Golden Globes

For many, January is the start of an intense guilt-induced period of cutbacks, and as these people stress about their post-Christmas budget and waistline, the film buffs are stocking up their alcohol supply and bracing themselves for the start of another awards season. The Golden Globes is very much the opening ceremony, where Hollywood’s finest (and Stacy Keibler) descend on the Beverley Hilton Hotel for a night of heavy drinking and self-congratulation. Enter Ricky Gervais.
Back for a third year, Gervais gave an equally funny but slightly less scathing performance as host, but no doubt we can expect some to criticise for not being controversial enough, and for others to be predictably offended because he said the word penis on prime time NBC. Of course we Brits were resigned to staying up until 1am to see Ricky’s opening monologue. Or at least the first sentence, at which point E! chose to play an ad for Kim Kardashian’s new show. Again. And Again. And Again.
But let’s put aside the unfathomable incompetence of E! for a moment and look at the winners and losers. Predictably, current Academy Award favourite The Artist won Best Comedy or Musical, Best Actor – Comedy or Musical, and Best Original Score, although George Clooney’s The Descendants also picked up Best Drama and Best Actor – Drama, so the Oscars could be a close call. The TV awards saw a welcome return to the spotlight for 90s sitcom stars Matt LeBlanc and Kelsey Grammar, scooping awards for Episodes and Boss respectively. On the whole, this year seemed more about rewarding the veterans than recognising new talent (as in the previous couple of years) with Spielberg, Scorsese, Woody Allen, George Clooney, Kate Winslet, and Meryl Streep all winning. And with Michelle Williams getting the Globe for her critically-acclaimed performance inMy Week With Marilyn, it will be interesting to see whether the Academy favour that or The Iron LadyHomeland was the big TV winner with two awards and American Horror StoryModern Family, and Downton Abbey also won.
But how much do we really care about awards? In recent years we have only tuned in for the hosting, and here's a handy compilation of all the Ricky Gervais bits. Enjoy, and those of you with the money to see these films please comment with your thoughts and let the financially crippled students know what not to waste their overdraft on. Or just gloat, but do that anonymously for your own safety.

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Research Seminars: Spring Schedule

The new semester's approaching fast so, hot off the press, here's the compelling schedule for our Research Seminars this semester. See you there!