“Your Name is Safe”: The Ladder as lesbian literary community

This article is adapted from a presentation given at BAAS Postgraduate Symposium, 4th December 2021. In the second issue of the Ladder – the San Francisco-based lesbian literary magazine that circulated between 1956 and 1972 – Ann Ferguson published an article intended to reassure nervous subscribers, titled ‘Your Name is… Continue reading

MA Graduate Teaching Assistantship Award in Southern Studies at University of Mississippi: Lily-Pearl Benn’s testimony

As the deadline for BAAS’s MA Graduate Teaching Assistantship Award in Southern Studies at University of Mississippi nears, read the testimony from Lily-Pearl Benn about her time at the University of Mississippi.  I first heard about the BAAS award via email when I was an undergraduate in English and American… Continue reading

Book Review: Fictive Fathers in the Contemporary American Novel by Debra Shostak

‘Why is it’, Debra Shostak asks at the beginning of Fictive Fathers in the Contemporary American Novel, ‘that so many works of fiction of the last fifty years, especially those centring on relation within middle-class white families, are haunted by the figure of a father who […] fails his family or vanishes in actuality? […] What are the nature and sources of the originary image of paternal security and authority that cause disappointment, disruption, or trauma when an individual father falls short?’ (2). Powered by these questions, Fictive Fathers is centrally concerned with exploring the relationship that fathers have with fictionality. It explores the ‘double meaning embedded in the titular “fictive fathers”’: in one sense about the representation of fathers in recent fictional texts, but also how these texts narrate the ‘fathers for (and by) whom the pervasive construction of traditional white fatherhood in the United States is laid bare as illusory’. For Shostak, ‘this “fictive” fatherhood constitutes a myth, on the social plane, and a fantasy, on the personal plane’ (3). Continue reading

Review: ANZASA 2021 (Online)

As the Australia and New Zealand American Studies Association met for its biannual conference on November 24-25th, the conference’s key themes of ‘American Crisis’ and ‘American Renewal’ were kept in an incredibly fine balance. Hosted by the Macquarie School of Social Sciences, ANZASA 2021 was the Association’s first pandemic-era conference… Continue reading

Book Review: Revolutionaries for the Right: Anticommunist Internationalism and Paramilitary Warfare by Kyle Burke

By its very nature, the American New Right was destined to have an ambiguous relationship with the state. A movement fusing Cold War hawks, social conservatives, and economic libertarians, it on the one hand called for handing over considerable amounts of money and authority to the state for ‘national security’ while on the other demanding that same state be severely restricted in its control over any aspect of national life deemed ‘the economy.’ Kyle Burke’s fascinating and illuminating book, Revolutionaries for the Right, proves that this ambiguity went deeper than the mere results of coalition politics – and, in doing so, provides a window onto the origins of the political forces that have increasingly displaced the New Right following the 2016 US presidential election. Continue reading

Book Review: Black Paper: Writing in a Dark Time by Teju Cole

The breadth of Teju Cole’s oeuvre – novelist, essayist, photography critic, and photographer – has led many to describe him as a public intellectual. It’s a label Cole has expressed his discomfort with[1], in spite of his knack for presenting innovative work through social media, amongst them his Twitter short story Hafiz, and his consistently oblique photographs that knowingly jar with the dominant aesthetic on Instagram. The publication in 2010 of his second novel, Open City, saw him heralded as a major new writer, despite his novel being subtle, ambiguous and, on the surface, largely plotless. He followed Open City with the wider publication of his debut novel, Every Day is For the Thief, previously only published in Nigeria. He has since gone on to publish a collection of essays, Known and Strange Things, and three photobooks: Blind Spot, Fernweh and Golden Apple of the Sun. Black Paper is his second collection of essays. Continue reading

Call for Reviewer: BAAS Postgraduate Symposium 2021

U.S. Studies Online are seeking conference reviewers for the upcoming PG BAAS Conference: Visibility / Invisibility: Representation and Community Formation in American Studies. USSO is the postgraduate and early-career website, network, and blog for the British Association for American Studies, committed to publishing new work in and related to the… Continue reading

Book Review: Wallace’s Dialects by Mary Shapiro

Mary Shapiro makes the case for Wallace’s Dialects clearly on the first page: Wallace’s ‘inventive and poetic uses of language have been frequently praised, but little studied from a linguistic point of view’ (1). Shapiro’s book is a welcome addition to the field of Wallace Studies. Positioned as it is, Wallace’s Dialects has two clear distinctions as a monograph. First, this book focuses very notably on Wallace’s texts (both fiction and not) at the micro level, at the level of sentence. Particular word choices, even letter choices, are scrutinised across Wallace’s oeuvre. This is distinct from other monographs that more readily examine the structure of Wallace’s writing at the macro level.[i] Second, and relatedly, this tight focus at the level of sentence means that Wallace’s Dialects operates at the juncture of textual analysis and biography – a way of mediating between the effects of the writing and the conditions of that writing’s composition. This monograph closely reads the language to make conclusions about both texts and author. Continue reading

Eyes on Events – Chris Dixon, ANZASA Annual Conference 2021

The next episode in our series Eyes On Events, this week we are interviewing Chris Dixon about the upcoming Australia and New Zealand American Studies Association Annual Conference 2021: American Crisis / American Renewal.  The event is taking place virtually via Zoom, on 24-25 November 2021. For further information and updates… Continue reading

The Afghanistan Effect: Isolationism in US Foreign Policy

On September 28th 2021, General Mark Milley, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testified before the US Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the end of US military involvement in Afghanistan. The general responded to Senator Hawley’s question on the evacuation of US citizens: “Strategically, the war is lost.… Continue reading