Reality Check or Business as Usual? COVID-19 and the Future of U.S. Capitalism

“Even Gordon Gekko now agrees that Wall Street is a fraud.” This caption marks the conclusion to a debate that started in 1987 between economist and soon-to-be labor secretary Robert Reich and Asher Edelman, a New York financier who inspired the character of Gordon Gekko in Oliver Stone’s film Wall… Continue reading

Book Review: Nathanael T. Booth, American Small-Town Fiction, 1940-1960

From Disneyland’s ‘Main Street, USA’ to the historical living-history museum of Colonial Williamsburg, the small town has always held a mythic allure in the American cultural imaginary. For purveyors of commercial and cultural ideology, such as Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Norman Rockwell, it is a sacrosanct place of American innocence. For other artists and social commentators, however, such as Sherwood Anderson, Sinclair Lewis, and H. L. Mencken, the small-town is an enclave of conservatism, insularity, and backwardness. In his new publication, American Small-Town Fiction, 1940-1960, Nathanael T. Booth assesses these ideological vagaries through the focalised study of mid-twentieth century American literature, arguing that the small-town is vital to ‘America’s self-fashioning’ (1) of a democratic centre that is characterised through changing modalities of nostalgia, utopia, isolation, and melancholy. Continue reading

University of Essex: Review: BAAS PG Conference 2017 – Post-Truth and American Myths (Day One)

Rounding off 2017 (the year of ‘fake news’ and ‘alternative facts’), this year’s British Association for American Studies postgraduate conference was a timely, enlightening scholarly event, centred on concepts of ‘truth’, myth-making, and cultural fact and fiction in American society. Continue reading

British Association for American Studies Annual Conference 2017, Day One

While the programme jokingly suggested ‘Trump group therapy’ as a potential feature of the conference, a more serious assessment of the value of American Studies research suggests that multidimensionality and critical interrogation of cultural myths are more important than ever, given the current political climate in the US. The conference demonstrated the value of transnational and transcultural perspectives which do not uncritically accept a limited definition of ‘Americanness’, and instead acknowledge, explore and celebrate the crossing of borders through interdisciplinarity. Continue reading