American Studies across Borders: International Opportunities for PhDs and Postdocs
International experience has become a prerequisite for success in academia – but depending on how you look at it, this can be exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I’m launching a new USSO series about how to take your research across borders, talking to representatives of those institutions and programs that can help PhDs and postdocs build an international profile. The Terra Foundation for American Art is my first interview partner.
American Studies in Europe Roundup: U.S. Studies Online Special Series
Throughout December 2014 and January 2015 U.S. Studies Online has published a series of interviews with postgraduate and early-career researchers working in the broad field of American Studies across Europe. Dr Richard Martin spoke to scholars based in western Spain to central Turkey, via Copenhagen, Warsaw and Timisoara about their wide-ranging research interests and the state of American Studies in their countries. This is a round-up of the series all in one place.
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Constantijn Smith, University of Groningen
“No field of study should be mono-disciplinary, and the best way to comprehensively immerse oneself, especially when studying a region and a people, is to approach issues, events and phenomena from different perspectives, and to look for intersections. For example, one cannot simply take (or teach) a class on race without taking into account issues of class and gender. Similarly, since the United States is an immigrant nation with a rich colonial history, traces of which stretch the entire hemisphere, students do not solely study ‘America’, but rather ‘the Americas’.”
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Jack Thompson, University College Dublin
“As scholars such as Richard Pells have observed, the United States initially encouraged American Studies in Europe after the Second World War as a way to tie the Old World more closely to the New, and many Europeans were eager to learn about the new superpower. American encouragement and money combined with European curiosity to create a thriving field of study. Of course, over time, American Studies in Europe evolved in directions that early Cold War policymakers in the US could not have imagined, or would have necessarily always welcomed. However, the incredible richness of the field today emerged thanks to this close, if not always stress-free, post-war transatlantic relationship.”
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Gözde Erdoğan, Hacettepe University, Ankara
“In my own academic career, there has been a natural trajectory from more literature-based research towards popular culture. After the emergence of neo-Marxism, post-structuralism, semiotics and postmodernism, I think the boundaries are collapsing and popular culture is becoming more and more a legitimate field of sociological study. I am also aware of the need for an interdisciplinary approach no matter what the field of research. Again, from my own research, I think Gothic studies are becoming more and more relevant, and should be explored as a wide interdisciplinary field.”
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Angela Santese, University of Bologna
“The field of American history in Italy is experiencing a process of renovation in terms of both themes and methodological approaches, with scholars engaging in the same historiographical debates that are involving historians working abroad. There is a growing interest in the analysis of US history from a transnational perspective, focusing not just on the interaction between state actors. The study of the American state and American society, and its political system and culture, increasingly involves analysing the exchange between people, ideas, social and political sciences, and movements, in an attempt to combine a national and transnational analytical approach. “
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Francisco J. Rodríguez, University of Salamanca
RM: How would you assess the current state of American Studies in Spain?
FJR: It seems to me that American Studies is restricted to language and culture departments, and mainly those that are primarily interested in British Studies. In that sense, and in previous decades at least, American Studies was perceived as a “by-product” of British Studies. There are only a few historians interested in American Studies in Spain, and not many sociologists or political scientists, as far as I know.
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Cristina Cheveresan, West University of Timisoara, Romania
My study of the United States itself has inevitably included questions of language, particularly due to my special focus on ethnic and immigrant literature(s), which feature such issues prominently, as part of the intricate experience of self-articulation, self-adaptation, and self-definition. As an element of effective communication and as an essential marker of belonging, language shapes individual and communal experiences. In the context of literary and cultural studies, its importance becomes easily apparent, as it can equally unite and segregate, depending on the circumstances. It can serve noble and perverse purposes alike, it lies at the heart of both illumination and indoctrination, and therefore mastery of language is a most powerful tool.
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Dietmar Meinel, Freie Universität Berlin
[starbox] Richard Martin: Your postgraduate work was undertaken at the John F. Kennedy Institute in Berlin, which was founded in 1963. How would you characterise the approach to American Studies […]
American Studies in Europe: Interview with Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder, University of Mississippi
Elizabeth Rodriguez Fielder: I suppose I am of a generation who has only known American Studies as transnational. However, I realize many problems have yet to be resolved – especially the danger for U.S. scholarship to colonize the work of other foreign discourses into a Western or rather U.S.-centric tradition under the auspice of the transnational. For non-U.S. scholars, American Studies has always been conceived comparatively, so the idea of a “transnational turn” is in danger of being patronizing unless there are more evenly weighted conversations. My greatest concern with the “recent trend” is that it does not necessarily conclude in transnational relationships with scholarship from institutions beyond its borders.