Conference Review: ‘The Return of the Aesthetic in American Studies’, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, Institut für England- und Amerikastudien, November 29 – December 1, 2018

in the province of American Cultural Studies, the (re)turn to aesthetics is indeed more recent and takes a far more political perspective than seen in the ‘return’ of aesthetics within the more philological and less politically oriented quarters of the MLA since the late 1990s. The former is animated by the utopian desire that conference host Johannes Voelz (Frankfurt) described as a central characteristic of American Studies as practiced under the auspices of the American Studies Association. As speaker Lee Edelman (Tufts University) put it, what was at stake in the Frankfurt conference was really the ‘the progressive return of the aesthetic’. Continue reading

After Katrina: Race, Neoliberalism, and the End of the American Century

Over the last decade, Anna Hartnell has unofficially established herself as the UK’s leading academic on Hurricane Katrina. Her credentials include organizing a paired set of conferences in New Orleans and London on Katrina-related affairs, maintaining a Katrina-oriented blog, and writing multiple articles on visual/cinematic “Katrina texts”. Sadly, her full book-length study of Katrina falls short of its full potential. Continue reading

From Lemonade to the Louvre: Beyoncé and Jay Z’s Contestation of Whiteness and Showcasing of Black Excellence in Everything Is Love

On 16 June 2018, Beyoncé and her husband Jay Z released their latest and joint album, Everything Is Love, exclusively to Jay Z’s music streaming service, Tidal [1]. The album quickly became the subject of discussion among cultural commentators and mainstream media around the world, who largely saw it as the final… Continue reading

Book Review: The FBI in Latin America: The Ecuador Files by Marc Becker

While scholars have devoted considerable attention to CIA activities in Latin America during the Cold War, they have spent less time examining intelligence-gathering before 1947, when the CIA was created. Marc Becker, currently Professor of History at Truman State University and author of several books on Ecuador, argues in The FBI in Latin America that scholars need to study FBI operations in Latin America in the 1940s. Continue reading

Review: The British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies Biennial Conference: What Happens Now 2018

Review: The British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies Biennial Conference: What Happens Now 2018, Loughborough University, 10-12 July 2018 If the inaugural British Association of Contemporary Literary Studies (BACLS) conference is anything to go by, academics are a dedicated lot. Even persistent hot weather and a World Cup semi-final did not… Continue reading

Review: 2001: Beyond 50

Review: 2001: Beyond 50, Bangor University, 16 June 2018 2001: Beyond 50 – a commemoration and celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of Stanley Kubrick’s ground-breaking and influential science-fiction film 2001: A Space Odyssey – was no ordinary academic event. Organised by Professor Nathan Abrams (Bangor University) and hosted by the Centre… Continue reading

Review: The Half-Life of Philip K. Dick

Review: The Half-Life of Philip K. Dick, Queen Margaret University, 27 April 2018 Philip K. Dick is a strong candidate for serving as the twentieth century’s science fiction prophet—his novels and essays still resonate with audiences across the globe fifty years after they were written. Whether scholars are analyzing cinematic… Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: THE QUIET CONTEMPORARY AMERICAN NOVEL, BY RACHEL SYKES

Rachel Sykes’ much-needed monograph, The Quiet Contemporary American Novel (TQCAN) compellingly argues that there is a vein of quiet that runs through American literary canon and remains prevalent in contemporary US culture.
This book explores ‘quiet’ as a narrative concept in contemporary US fiction. In her thorough development of the term, Sykes gives us an idiom for a narrative aesthetic that is motivated by values of contemplation and characterised by its interest in the lives of introverted scholarly characters. Continue reading

BOOK REVIEW: HILLBILLY ELEGY: A MEMOIR OF A FAMILY AND CULTURE IN CRISIS, BY J.D. VANCE

Joe Bageant’s Deer Hunting with Jesus (2007) drew a global readership’s attention to underprivileged Appalachian communities. J.D. Vance replicates this with his memori Hillbilly Elegy. Published, like Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash, in 2016, Vance and Isenberg agree that despite constitutionally enshrined freedom, social mobility remains unattainable for many disenfranchised white working-class US citizens. Continue reading