Book Review: The Absence of America: The London Stage, 1576-1642 by Gavin Hollis

In Absence, Hollis discusses the picture of America circulated, he theorizes, by London theatres via “theatergrams” and “theatermemes”. Respectively, these terms comprise elements of character, scene, and situation; and shared allusions, ideas, catchphrases, and the like [3]. More precisely, Hollis discusses and tracks across plays: the ‘meme of the craven adventuring Virginian colonist; the ‘meme of cannibalism; the ‘meme of the displaced Indian; and the theatergrams of European males disguising themselves as Indians [27-9]. Continue reading

Haiti’s “horrid civil war”: The 1791 Haitian Revolution and its Legacy in America

Following the success of the American colonies in gaining their independence from Britain, an endeavour in which he had played no small part, Thomas Jefferson hoped that people of other nations would follow his countrymen down the road to political revolution. But the black republic of Haiti and its citizens became a national nightmare at this foundational moment of American history, and in many ways have retained that identity for over two hundred years. Continue reading

Must-Hear Podcasts: A List for Students and Scholars of American Studies

In December 2014 we asked you what are the very best podcasts for students and scholars in American Studies. Here is the list we received!

Podcasts that made the list include the popular Serial, This American Life, Love+ Radio, Planet Money, Night Vale and BackStory to some surprising scientific recommendations, including NASA Science Casts and StarTalk! Continue reading

A Relatable Past? Early America on the Small Screen

Do readers need to relate to historical figures in order to understand Early American literature and history? Is it important to connect with the personalities encountered from the past?

Hannah Murray explores these questions in relation to the recent cluster of Early America-inspired television shows. Murray discusses Sleepy Hollow (2013), American Horror Story: Coven (2013), Turn: Washington’s Spies (2014) and Salem (2014). Continue reading

Review of American Imperialism and Identity Conference

American Imperialism and National Identity Conference, University of Durham 14 June 2014   With Iraq in turmoil and U.S. military involvement in the Middle East once again in the spotlight, the timing of the ‘American Imperialism and National Identity Conference’ on the 14th of June at St. Aidan’s College, University… Continue reading

Report on the BrANCA Reading Group Session ‘Archival Pleasures’

“Following Garvey’s article, the group spent quite a while discussing the importance of the physical versus digital archive in regards to Carrie Hyde and Joseph Rezak’s piece, ‘The Aesthetics of Archival Evidence’ (J19, Spring 2014). They raise the importance of understanding the ‘aesthetics of the archive’, the need to encounter the ‘heft’ of physical material. In the group we asked does distance matter? Do we need to be able to touch and hold manuscript and original books if it is digitally available? There seems to be a ‘resonating aura’ from material text, a sensual need to have contact with the physical archive for some scholars. This sensual turn in literary studies is the last spatial turn, towards ourselves.” Continue reading

Historians at Play: American History in Modern Board Games

“Putting Freedom back into the spotlight, it offers a unique way to physically interact with the issue of slavery. The mechanics of the game are assigned to a real history and the slaves that the players cannot save represent the real slaves that were doomed a fate that the game leaves to the players’ imagination. Physically moving the slaves around the United States, represented by simple wooden cubes, makes it difficult not to treat the slaves as objects.” Continue reading