The U.S: A Society Without Classes? Conference Review of “How Class Works”

“In an intense and moving talk, the young militant Saket Soni shared his experience as the organizer of the Indian underpaid imported workforce in the post-Katrina New Orleans and stressed the importance of abandoning old categories to analyse new circumstances: the globalization of the job market and the explosive request for flexible/temporary workers have revolutionized the reality of workers in the U.S. Soni closed his talk by underscoring the importance of theorizing and scientifically analysing the new circumstances. This, he maintained, is the starting point to create a truly transnational workers’ organization.” Continue reading

Report on the BrANCA Reading Group Session ‘Archival Pleasures’

“Following Garvey’s article, the group spent quite a while discussing the importance of the physical versus digital archive in regards to Carrie Hyde and Joseph Rezak’s piece, ‘The Aesthetics of Archival Evidence’ (J19, Spring 2014). They raise the importance of understanding the ‘aesthetics of the archive’, the need to encounter the ‘heft’ of physical material. In the group we asked does distance matter? Do we need to be able to touch and hold manuscript and original books if it is digitally available? There seems to be a ‘resonating aura’ from material text, a sensual need to have contact with the physical archive for some scholars. This sensual turn in literary studies is the last spatial turn, towards ourselves.” Continue reading

Historians at Play: American History in Modern Board Games

“Putting Freedom back into the spotlight, it offers a unique way to physically interact with the issue of slavery. The mechanics of the game are assigned to a real history and the slaves that the players cannot save represent the real slaves that were doomed a fate that the game leaves to the players’ imagination. Physically moving the slaves around the United States, represented by simple wooden cubes, makes it difficult not to treat the slaves as objects.” Continue reading

Review of ‘Myths in Culture’ Postgraduate Symposium 2014

“In his seminal Mythologies (1957), Barthes identifies myths as a type of speech, one that takes on universally acknowledged meanings which are rarely questioned. And although Barthes’ name was dropped only occasionally during “Myths in Culture”, a one-day postgraduate symposium at the University of Leicester, the spirit of his words were ever present.” Continue reading

Review of the “Alt-American” conference 2014

“Bell should be commended for convening a tremendous conference to do just that, challenging a distinguished group of critics, temporally and geographically dislocated from their subject at a conference in twenty-first-century England, to read the many implausible realities of nineteenth-century America.” Continue reading

Review of 25th Annual Conference of American Literature Association 2014

“What stood out from the conference was the breadth of American literary studies, both in terms of approaches, historical periods, and geography. There seems to have been no waning in Trans-American Studies (transatlantic, transpacific, transcontinental and more), with the borders of American Literature stretching ever further.” Continue reading

Book Review: Hidden in the Mix – The African American Presence in Country Music by Diane Pecknold

“Hidden in the Mix is an enjoyable, enlightening and captivating read that finally gives recognition to the African American presence within one of the most successful music genres in the world.” Continue reading

Review of “Created Equal?” IAAS Annual Conference 2014

“Conferences with specific themes can suffer from repetition, but the IAAS annual conference persisted in original thinking, valuable and creative research, and remarkable quality. I heard almost nothing negative about the proceedings and felt, from my own vantage, that so many issues of inequality – whether to do with race, gender, economy, or education – were discussed with such fine presentations that delegates left the conference invigorated, not wearied.” Continue reading