Community Building and Articulations of Race and Gender at Georgia Douglas Johnson’s 'Saturday Nighters': African American Theatre and The S Street Salon

This article is adapted from a presentation given at the London Arts and Humanities Partnership postgraduate conference, 21st January 2022 During the Harlem Renaissance period, 1461 S Street, Washington D.C., the home of Georgia Douglas Johnson (1877-1966), represented an important hub of creativity and community for African American women writers. ‘Saturday… Continue reading

Asian American Solidarities in the Age of COVID-19

  ‘The majority of Americans [regard] us with ambivalence… We [threaten] the sanctity and symmetry of a white and black America whose yin and yang racial politics [leaves] no room for any other color, particularly that of a pathetic little yellow-skinned people…’ -Viet Thanh Nguyen, The Sympathizer   “We don’t… 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

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

Book Review: ‘Hattiesburg, An American City in Black and White’ by William Sturkey

It is recollections such as Mr Conner’s that interlace the narrative of Hattiesburg – An American City in Black and White. William Sturkey, Assistant Professor of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has steadfastly dissected archives and recordings to bring alive the history of Hattiesburg, Mississippi, a Deep Dixie South lumber town, inviting the reader in through a page-time continuum. The skilful use of recorded interviews gives his narration a personal note, leading an alternating discourse through the experience of Hattiesburg’s white and black residents. Sturkey emphasizes the South’s survival being crucially tied to the growing number of African Americans settling in. The Hattiesburgers were exceptional citizens whose civil rights were severely and unlawfully abused and abandoned. Sturkey notes how the black residents of Mobile Street were examples of fortitude and perseverance, and how their “civil rights movement revolutionized race […] through countless of acts of individual resistance.” (295) Even when discussing the white experience, Sturkey’s emphasis remains on the inequality and brutality as directed toward the black residents of the lumber town, where the realities of the black and white citizens of Hattiesburg could not have been more passionately different and where “every component of Jim Crow was reinforced by the threat of violence.” (85) Not even the smallest racial oppression imposed upon Hattiesburg’s black citizens is left out; such as the recollection of Osceola McCarty, who at a young age of twelve had to “trade the pencils and paper of a student for the iron and washboard of a laundress” (83) as the young girl’s help home was needed more than her education. The weaning and waning of the city become more tangible as Sturkey entwines the history with memories of one black family in particular – the Smiths. Continue reading

For a Series so Concerned with Leaning into the Horror, The Handmaid’s Tale Utterly Fails to Address Race

Whenever the TV series or the new sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale are mentioned, the same question arises: do we really want to know what happens after Offred (pre-Gilead name June) steps “into the darkness within; or else the light”? This is June’s infamous last line, which finds its way into the first series with meticulous fidelity before the HBO adaptation continues her timeline. Until Atwood released The Testaments in 2019, critics have been asking whether the HBO adaptation ought to have done this – yet the original novel did play with such boundaries, giving readers glimpses of past lives and future conclusions about those lives in the academic conference provided in the “Historical Notes.” What makes Handmaid so appropriate for this golden age of television is that the political premise finds its place just as comfortably in the Trump era as it did under Reagan. Continue reading

Symposium Panel Review: ‘Visualising the Americas: Kent’s Third Annual Americanist Symposium’, The University of Kent, Keynes College, Monday 3rd June, 2019.

From pre-colonised American Indian art to contemporary graffiti murals, the Americas have a rich and varied visual history. This one-day symposium, co-organised by three PhD candidates at the University of Kent – Ellie Armon Azoulay, Sarah Smeed, and Megan King – invited panellists and speakers to focus on one particular image or object as a catalyst for exploring larger themes, trends and figures. Continue reading

Conference Review: ‘Women’s Transatlantic Prison Activism since 1960,’ the Rothermere American Institute, the University of Oxford, June 7, 2019.

This day-long conference explored a range of topics related to women’s incarceration, such as the often-overlooked history of women’s organising efforts within prison and especially art, print, and visual culture as forms of activism. Continue reading

Video Games and American Studies: Red Dead Redemption 2 and the Marketing of a More Inclusive West

The most influential and lucrative Western released in 2018 wasn’t a film or television series, but a video game. Red Dead Redemption 2 was released on 26 October 2018 and earned $725 million in the first three days, the best opening weekend in entertainment history. 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