Announcement: Deborah Willis Lecture This Thursday

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On Thursday, September 18, Deborah Willis (NYU) will give a lecture as part of this year’s Flair Symposium at the Harry Ransom Center. The Flair Symposium theme for 2014 is Cultural Life During Wartime, 1861-1865, and Dr. Willis will discuss the early years of American photography alongside a reading of iconic moments in Gone With The Wind whilst examining the role black history played in producing such a controversial and celebrated cultural phenomenon. The lecture will take place in Jessen Auditorium in Homer Rainey Hall at 6:30pm.

Announcement: “The End of Austin” Named One of 2014’s Best Publications

Every year, The Austin Chronicle solicits readers’ and critics’ assessments of Austin’s best institutions: restaurants, bars, swimming holes, museums, publications, and more. This year, the publication lists the Department of American Studies’ own The End of Austin as one of 2014’s best publications, naming it the “Best Place to Rise Above the Old Austin vs. New Austin Fray.”

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Here’s what The Austin Chronicle had to say about the project:

“An online magazine originating in UT’s American Studies department, TEOA is an engaging mélange of written and visual material devoted to our city’s anxiety about itself. It’s also a hodgepodge of surprises: A meditation on the state surplus store and history of civic racism both suit it well. And while the quarterly’s contributors emigrated mostly after 1995, they’re more invested in the mythology than earlier cranks – see expatriate professor Barry Shank’s corrective, “Cities Do Not Have Souls” – who rein in the nostalgia and validate newcomers. That makes it a most interesting place to drop in on the dialogue – which, like Barton Springs, is eternal.”

Congratulations to the members of the editorial board for this honor, and see The End of Austin to learn more about “our city’s anxiety about itself.”


The End of Austin was founded in Fall 2011 as a pilot project within Dr. Randolph Lewis’s “Documenting America” graduate seminar. The site relaunched as an extracurricular digital humanities project in Winter 2013 and is currently collecting submissions for its sixth issue. In addition to Dr. Lewis, members of the editorial board include American Studies graduate students Carrie Andersen, Sean Cashbaugh, Ashlyn Davis, Brendan Gaughen, Julie Kantor, and Emily Roehl. For more information about the project’s development, see The End of Austin‘s press page.

For more information, contact the editorial board at endofaustin@gmail.com.

Announcement: Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández Serves as MALS Inaugural Chair

We are thrilled to announce that our very own Dr. Nicole M. Guidotti-Hernández will serve as the inaugural chair for the newly formed Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS) here at UT. Dr. Guidotti-Hernández is an Associate Professor of American Studies, and she holds the Alma Cowden Madden Centennial Professorship at the University of Texas at Austin. Her book, Unspeakable Violence: Remapping U.S.  and  Mexican National Imaginaries (Duke University Press 2011), was a finalist for the 2012 Berkshire Women’s History First Book Prize and won the Modern Language Association 2011-12 Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies.

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Just today over on NBCNews.com there is an article about the newly formed department, and Dr. Guidotti-Hernández had the following to say in the article:

This is a really important moment for us in the curriculum. This is a recognition of the Mexican-American population in Texas, as well as the immigrant community from Central and Latin America. Having the two disciplines together, for the first time in the nation, is a move to create a more inclusive, rigorous intellectual community.

Announcement: Ph.D. alumna Carly Kocurek to deliver lecture on video game arcades

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We’re thrilled that one of our recent Ph.D. recipients, Dr. Carly Kocurek (Illinois Institute of Technology) will be returning to the hallowed halls of Burdine to deliver a lecture about video game arcades. Please join us on Wednesday, September 10 at 4pm in Burdine 214 to hear more about her research.

A synopsis of her talk:

Over the past decade, the video game arcade has seen a small revival in the United States. Long-established arcades like New Hampshire’s Funspot have become destinations in their own right while new businesses like Austin’s own Pinballz and the growing number of bar-arcade hybrids scattered across the country draw a loyal, local clientele. This revival relies in part on a deep fascination with the video game industry’s early glory days. Arcades feature “classic” machines in meticulous repair or boast particularly exhaustive collections of rare games to distinguish themselves. In this talk, I excavate the nostalgia for the arcade’s “golden age” of the 1970s and 1980s and consider its position in contemporary narratives of American technological progress, entrepreneurship, and masculinity. Ultimately, I tie the nostalgia for classic arcades to multiple points of longing–for an imagined past that is defined by aesthetic style, by political positioning, by economic conditions, and by a particular kind of idealized young manhood.

Announcement: introducing the social media team

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We use only the most advanced technology in the American Studies department. Source: “Science museum 025 adjusted“. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

The beginning of the school year seems like an apt moment to introduce the editors/writers/internet gurus behind the Department of American Studies social media presence. So, without further ado, meet your American Studies internet team!

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My name is Carrie Andersen, and I’m a fifth year Ph.D. student and one of this blog’s original editors and founders. Aside from running the blog, I’m the manager of our Twitter account. My dissertation explores the cultural and political valence of the military drone in post-9/11 American society. Beyond my dissertation’s confines of technology studies, cultural/media studies, political theory, and gender studies, I hold interests in digital humanities and public scholarship, which also led to my position as a member of The End of Austin‘s editorial board and manager of its own social media presence. My inclination towards all things internet, however, developed much earlier than graduate school: by age 10, I was teaching myself HTML and creating homepages on – and I’m aging myself here – AOL and GeoCities (RIP). As such, I’m so grateful to our department for supporting and encouraging the development of projects that foreground engaging with individuals through digital media and pushing beyond the boundaries of the everyday – an interest that also nourishes my love of exploring strange, far afield places, as you can see above.

 

DE41F098-52DD-4797-B721-431274FDAC47My name is Josh Kopin, and I’m a second year Ph.D. student in the department of American Studies. My interests lie at the intersection of art, history, politics and commerce, and they express themselves with work on comics and American popular religion. At the moment, I’m preparing to write a master’s thesis on the place of religion, writ broadly, in Charles Schulz’s Peanuts comic strip. Other dream projects include work on the English rock band The Animals, the relationship between non-fiction comics and traditional journalism and academic history and the history of men’s style in the United States. I’m also dedicated, as both a student and a teacher, to writing as a way of thinking something through; I hope that my work for this blog will allow me to do that on a regular basis.

 

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I’m Emily Roehl, a fifth year Ph.D. student in American Studies. Carrie Andersen and I founded the AMS :: ATX blog back in 2011, and I manage the calendar. Have an Austin/UT event to promote? Let me know! My dissertation focuses on representations of contemporary oil extraction (hydraulic fracturing, oil sands, deep water drilling), and I share Carrie’s interest in digital and public humanities. I am a member of The End of Austin’s editorial board and the co-founder of Mystery Spot Books, an independent artist book publisher out of Minneapolis. As you can see from my picture, I’m a really bad vegetarian.  Texas has that effect.

 

Welcome back from AMS :: ATX!

We’re so excited that school is back in session this year. It was a long summer, and we’re chomping at the bit to kick off this year in the Department of American Studies. We say it all the time, but stay tuned for new features and new contributors to the growing American Studies social media world at UT Austin. It’s going to be a good year.

For now: welcome back, everyone! Enjoy this tune from the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian.

Grad Research: Eric Covey’s Intro AMS course creates photography Tumblr


It should come as no surprise that our department takes digital and new media very seriously. Many of our professors and instructors have integrated online tools into their research and in their teaching with fascinating and wonderful results. So, needless to say, we’re thrilled to share with you a photography project that emerged out of recent Ph.D. graduate Eric Covey’s summer introductory American Studies course, which centered on foodways in America.

Here’s what Eric had to say about the project in a blog post, the full text of which is available here:

This time around I decided to slightly refocus the course—engaging more closely with the field of American studies that has been my intellectual home for a decade now— but to still maintain an emphasis on US foodways. I would draw from many of my previous lectures, but each day’s class (this was a small lecture with about 40 students) would begin with a discussion of a selected keyword from  editors Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler’s collection of Keywords for American Cultural Studies (2007). The resulting course would be dubbed “Introduction to American Studies: Keywords and Key Foods.”

In practical terms, what this meant was that when I lectured about rice in West Africa and the Stono Uprising in South Carolina, students came to class having read African (Kevin Gaines). And when I lectured on barbecue and cotton culture in Central Texas, they read Region (Sandra A. Zagarell). Since this was a summer course, additional reading beyond keywords was light. Students read William Cronon’s “Seasons of Want and Plenty” from Changes in the Land alongside Colonial (David Kazanjian) the day I lectured on maize. My lecture on bananas was prefaced by Cynthia Enloe’s “Carmen Miranda on My Mind” from Bananas, Beaches and Bases and Empire (Shelley Streeby). I explained to students on the first day of class that what I expected was for them to develop a vocabulary that they could use in a variety of settings.

Of course I also expected them to demonstrate some mastery of this vocabulary in their coursework. Three exams asked students to identify material from the class and explain its significance using the language ofKeywords. I also assigned a photo project that required them to take a photo of a local food site and write a brief caption (450-900 words, also drawing on Keywords) to accompany the photo. These photos and captions were posted to a collective Tumblr at http://amskeywordskeyfoods.tumblr.com. When I initially described the project to my students, I suggested two approaches they might take: first, they could show how their photo illustrated a particular keyword; Or, second, they might use one of the keywords to analyze the photo. On the due date, students e-mailed me their photo and caption. Because Tumblr is mostly user friendly, it only took me a few hours to upload all the images and uniformly-formatted text.