Black Girl Magic, Community and Celebration in Contemporary American Culture

This article is adapted from the keynote presentation given at BAAS Postgraduate Symposium, 4th December 2021. The ‘Black Girl Magic’ movement is an opportunity both to celebrate what is means to be a Black woman and also challenge the oppressional practices and contemporary issues that affect them and their community…. Continue reading

Book Review: Infamous Bodies: Early Black Women’s Celebrity and the Afterlives of Rights by Samantha Pinto

In Infamous Bodies: Early Black Women’s Celebrity and the Afterlives of Rights, Samantha Pinto thinks about the ways in which black women come into political view by interrogating the premises of the female celebrity genre. She carefully considers what it means to be a political figure and situates the discourse of vulnerability at the centre of politics. Infamous Bodies consists of five chapters, each of which deals with a celebrity of the eighteenth or nineteenth century. Pinto thinks through five case studies, the private and public lives of Phillis Wheatley, Sally Hemings, Sarah Baartman, Mary Seacole, and Sarah Forbes Bonetta, and the ways in which they reverberate across different political moments and are taken up again in the following centuries. Continue reading

USSO statement on American uprisings

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The editors of USSO stand unequivocally in support of the uprisings taking place across the United States. We support the efforts of our friends and comrades to abolish the police, to dismantle the carceral state, to end imperial violence and militarisation, to overturn racial capitalism, and to destroy white supremacy…. 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

The Death Dance: the Pickwick Club Disaster in Boston, 1925

Investigations would later reveal that the Pickwick was structurally unsound, but in the immediate aftermath of the disaster city officials, the media, and residents speculated over the cause, with many concluding that jazz music and jazz dancing were responsible. Continue reading

Review of Historians on Hamilton: How a Blockbuster Musical is Restaging America’s Past, edited by Renee C. Romano and Claire Bond Potter

This collection of fifteen essays brings together a range of specialist academic perspectives on the remarkable cultural phenomenon that is Hamilton: an American Musical. It will be of interest to a wide range of people: fans of the show; professional scholars from a range of disciplines; and the general reader. It is an essential library purchase for anyone considering teaching courses which include this musical. Continue reading

Northumbria University: BAAS PG Conference 2018: Keynote Review

USSO Keynote Competition Winner – James West, ‘Write Me In: Dick Gregory and the 1968 Presidential Campaign’, BAAS PG Conference 2018, 3rd Nov. 2018 Available at: https://northumbria.hosted.panopto.com/Panopto/Pages/Viewer.aspx?id=9082ec92-31b2-4771-921e-a98d00a2fbb9 James West (University of Northumbria) opened 2018’s USSO Keynote speech with a list of Dick Gregory’s occupations: ‘activist, author, artist, conspiracy theorist, nutritionist,… Continue reading

The State of the Discipline Series: Part II: Book Review: The Lives of Frederick Douglass by Robert S. Levine

The Lives of Frederick Douglass is a fascinating collage of images that recreate various facets of the life of Frederick Douglass. Robert Levine demonstrates insight in delving into the complexity of racialised identities and the changing contours of self-definition in a collection that spans the most popular of Douglass’s writings, The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Written by Himself (1845), as well as his lesser known My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) and The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881), along with letters, articles, and speeches. Continue reading