British Association for American Studies


Olga Ackroyd

I am an independent researcher, graduated from Queen Mary, University of London, and University of Oxford, and I am currently gathering materials for a prospective PhD thesis on moral relativism and perception of evil as a social construct in a comparative analysis of USA and Russia in the 19th century. My key interests include USA-Russian relations from the antebellum period to the present day, presidential philosophy, and the life and works of Herman Melville.

“Exceptional Zombie Cannibals” – Antonia Bird’s ‘Ravenous’ (1999) and the discourse of American exceptionalism

In the last couple of decades, a conflict has emerged between the perception of exceptionalist rhetoric as a historical symbol of American patriotism and the much more harrowing visions pervading the present-day political stage. For a historian of the antebellum era, such as myself, “American exceptionalism” is synonymic with a post-War of Independence period when America rapidly transformed from a remote and largely unexplored land mass into a force to be reckoned with in the world arena (as noted by non-American observers at the time such as Alex De Tocqueville).

Review: Russia in American Literature

Marking the first centenary of the Russian Revolution, both the ‘Russian Revolution: Hope, Tragedy, Myths’ exhibition and the one-day symposium demonstrated painstaking research and showcased the most arresting highlights of that turbulent era.

Review: The Eleventh International Melville Society Conference

The eleventh international Melville Society conference was a leviathan of an event, demonstrated by its need for two reviews. Spanning four days, it offered an intensive and diverse range of panels, seminars and activities, which allowed the participants to engage actively with an impressive range of various aspects of current Melvillean scholarship.

Book Review: Cold War Anthropology: The CIA, the Pentagon, and the Growth of Dual Use Anthropology by David H. Price

David H. Price’s Cold War Anthropology is gripping and unusual. The author has previously explored the significant role anthropology has played in military strategies in his 2008 book, Anthropological Intelligence: The Deployment and Neglect of American Anthropology in the Second World War. This latest offering delves deeper underneath the surface in order to analyse the global post-war moment, and as such examines a cardinally different political context.

Book Review: Literature and the Law of Nations, 1580-1680 by Christopher N. Warren

It is a most intriguing business for an American Studies scholar to review a book that hardly mentions America at all.

Book Review: Legal Realism and American Law by J. Zaremby

At a first glance, the concept of realism appears somewhat dated, belonging to a particular epoch of legal scholarship. Being essentially a movement that had emerged during 1920s “out of a fundamentally progressive mood” [1] and gradually has fallen by the wayside since, it may appear as a quaint historic notion that a few dedicated academics grew to be fond of perusing, in a way reminiscent of an interest in pennyfarthing bicycles or silent film.

Book Review: Melville: Fashioning in Modernity by Stephen Matterson

Before we launch into discussing the academic and literary merits of Matterson’s work per se, it has to be said that even the cover of this particular book evokes a sense of either a deliciously tongue-in-cheek literary inside joke, or else an amusing attempt to make the book more appealing to a lay reader unfamiliar with Melville’s world.