The Promise and Threat of Black Detroit in the Age of the Great Migration: The People v. Ossian Sweet

In the first decades of the twentieth century, no northern city drew more southern migrants than Detroit, ‘City of Tomorrow’.[i] As one Free Press reporter noted in 1917, ‘Detroit’s unexampled prosperity is the lodestone that is attracting thousands of Negroes’.[ii] Between 1910 and 1920, Detroit’s Black population increased almost eightfold,… Continue reading

Book Review: Doris Derby: A Civil Rights Journey by Doris Derby

Sharecroppers labouring in Mississippi fields. African American women organising cooperatives to support their communities. Members of Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The Free Southern Theatre, and the potential for theatre to be a catalyst for change. The centrality of Farish Street to Black life in Jackson, Mississippi. Medical clinics. Schools. Liberty House cooperative. Woodstock. Churches. Houses. Murals. Shootings. Funerals. Speeches. Families. Continue reading

Book Review: The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution by Eugene Victor Wolfenstein

The Victims of Democracy: Malcolm X and the Black Revolution (2021) is a new rendition of Eugene Victor Wolfenstein’s 1981 The Victims of Democracy. It constitutes a biographical study of Malcolm X’s life, heavily drawing from the model that Alex Haley utilised in his 1965 The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Wolfenstein is in conversation with the fields of psychoanalysis, Marxism and critical race theory. He draws on Malcolm X’s published speeches and a number of different historical materials to support his main arguments. Continue reading

Book Review: We Are An African People by Russell Rickford

In We are an African People, historian Russell Rickford attempts and succeeds to define an era within African American culture where new models of pedagogy and identity were being explored by African Americans. Rickford researches the establishment and ultimate redundancy of Pan African, Afrocentric schools within the USA during the period post-Civil Rights era; where the ‘freedoms’ of African Americans were celebrated, and a ‘post racial’ ideology set. There were many, within the African American community, grappling with their racial identity and equality in a system that was underwritten by the White majority. Continue reading

Book Review: Forging a Laboring Race: The African American Worker in the Progressive Imagination by Paul R. D. Lawrie

The Progressive Era (1890-1920s) was a time of intense social, economic, and political reform largely carried out by the middle class. Most scholars of Progressivism, including David Thelen and Daniel T. Rogers, argue that Progressivism is not monolithic and there has never been a coherent definition. Paul Lawrie has chosen to focus on one particular aspect of the Progressive Era: the deepening inequalities that occurred due to an industrial and economic boom, causing a rise in racism and racial policy. Continue reading

WRAP for USSO – Serena Williams: Race, Representation and Feminism

Each year the University of Winchester invites undergraduate students to apply to participate in the Winchester Research Apprenticeship Programme (WRAP). An extra-curricular scheme, WRAP provides students with the opportunity to work with academic staff on ‘live’ research projects lasting up to four weeks. This reflective piece shares a case study WRAP project from our American Studies programme which aimed to contribute to the enhancement of an existing final year module, entitled: ‘African American History and Culture’. Continue reading

Review: HOTCUS Work-in-Progress Meeting 2019

Review: HOTCUS Work-in-Progress Meeting 2019, University of Oxford, 17 October 2019. At the second annual work-in-progress session, two developing articles were discussed: Liam O’Brien’s (University of Cork) paper, ‘Winning Back the Peace: The George H.W. Bush Administration and the Creation of Operation Southern Watch, 1992’ and Dr. Meghan Hunt’s (University… Continue reading

Book Review: The Captive’s Quest for Freedom: Fugitive Slaves, the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and the Politics of Slavery by RJM Blackett

In his new book The Captive’s Quest for Freedom, Richard Blackett isolates the Fugitive Slave Law as not merely a prerequisite for Southern agreement to the compromise but one of the most crucial political and legislative decisions in US history. The Fugitive Slave Law nationalized the recapture of escaped slaves and clearly implicated Northerners in the institution of slavery. He shows how the law politicized the escape of enslaved people to the North. Continue reading

Social Disorder: Publics, 1968, Amateur photography and Vivian Maier

This essay is the fourth in our series, ‘Literature, Visual Imagery and Material Culture in American Studies’. The series seeks to situate literature, visual imagery and material culture at the heart of American studies, and will explore the varying ways in which written and non-written sources have been created, politicised, exploited, and celebrated by the diverse peoples of the United States and beyond. You can find out more information here. Continue reading

Mexican Migration in the Fiction of William Attaway

This essay is the first in our series, ‘Literature, Visual Imagery and Material Culture in American Studies’. The series seeks to situate literature, visual imagery and material culture at the heart of American studies, and will explore the varying ways in which written and non-written sources have been created, politicised, exploited, and celebrated by the diverse peoples of the United States and beyond. You can find out more information here. Continue reading