Dr. Randolph Lewis Interviewed in National Geographic Cover Story, “They Are Watching You..”


Dr. Randolph Lewis, Professor of American Studies at UT Austin and author of the recently published book Under Surveillance: Being Watched in America, was interviewed for the most recent cover story in National Geographic magazine, entitled “They Are Watching You–and Everything Else in America.”  The article is about the expansion of surveillance technologies and practices over the past few decades, and Dr. Lewis specifically discusses the detrimental effects of surveillance’s “constant badgering” of the American populace–especially for those “who really feel its undertow.”  Give it a read!

Dr. Steven Hoelsher to Give Gallery Talk at Blanton, 12/14, 12:30 P.M.

U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21, 1973

Stephen Shore. US 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon. 7/21/1973.  © Stephen Shore, 303 Gallery, New York.

Dr. Steven Hoelscher will give a Gallery Talk on the Blanton Museum’s blockbuster photography exhibition entitled “The Open Road:  Photography and the American Road Trip.”  The talk will occur on Thursday, December 14th at 12:30 P.M. in the First Floor Temporary Exhibition Gallery at the Blanton.


More information about the talk can be found here: https://blantonmuseum.org/events/perspectives-hoelscher/

More information on the exhibition itself can be found here:  https://blantonmuseum.org/exhibition/the-open-road-photography-and-the-american-road-trip/


Dr. Randolph Lewis interviewed in The Texas Observer

13886310_10210158601392113_7405547236068912077_nCongratulations to UT AMS PhD and current faculty Dr. Randolph Lewis who was interviewed this week in the Texas Obserabout his new book, Under Surveillance: Being Watched in Modern America. We’ve included an excerpt below, and you can read the whole interview here:

You introduce the concept of the Funopticon, or the lighter side of surveillance — from hobby drones to surveillance cameras designed to look like cuddly animals. Why did you want to write about how surveillance can be fun?

The Panopticon, from Foucault, was the dominant metaphor in surveillance studies in the last 100 years — thinking about how we’re going to internalize the gaze of the warden in all these senses. It’s a powerful metaphor, but it tends to be deployed in a sinister, scary, Orwellian way. And I was looking for a way to account for the lighthearted, voyeuristic and sexual side of surveillance. What do you do with the fact that people like to download apps that let them see random CCTV footage from around the world?

So much of surveillance culture is driven by men looking at women in objectifying ways, sometimes called “perveillance.” For example, a lot of casino CCTV operators and shopping center parking lot operators are young men who are using the equipment maliciously as a form of sexual harassment. There’s pleasure in there, and some of it’s dark and disturbing.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Lewis!

Five Questions with Randolph Lewis, Author of New Book “Under Surveillance”


Dr. Randolph Lewis, Professor of American Studies at UT-Austin, has recently published his newest book entitled Under Surveillance:  Being Watched in Modern America.  AMS : ATX sat down with Lewis to discuss the inspiration for the new book, the relationship between surveillance and democracy, the interaction between Lewis’ scholarship and teaching, and much more.   Please read on!

Can you tell us a little bit about your book Under Surveillance, and how you came to the project?

The book looks at what I call the “soft tissue damage” of surveillance culture—the ethical, aesthetic, and emotional toll of living with ubiquitous CCTV, big data, drones, TSA scanners, and other surveillance technologies in the contemporary US. After all, we’ve moved into an unprecedented state of visibility in which our secrets—what we say, what we buy, what we want—are constantly laid bare to various systems of social sorting with long memories. I find this disconcerting to say the least, especially because we haven’t really had a thoughtful conversation about what it means for our democracy.

That’s where the book comes in, I hope. A few years ago I looked around and was surprised there wasn’t a good American Studies book on contemporary surveillance culture. So I jumped into a new field with both feet, feeling quite passionate about exploring the impact of these new surveillance technologies on our lives.

What projects or people have inspired your work?

I learned so much from the emerging field of Surveillance Studies, which has an excellent journal called Surveillance and Society. The work of many contemporary visual artists was also important—some of them set the tone for what I am doing. I also loved the personal tone of the work I heard in the Public Feelings workshop in Austin over the past five years. Finally, I got important encouragement from my editor, Robert Devens, to write in my organic voice, which is more accessible and somewhat more literary than what is sometimes found in academic journals.

How do you see your work fitting in with broader conversations in academia and beyond?

The book is smack between academia and “beyond,” I think. I’ve stood on the shoulders of many previous scholars, added my own experiences and excavations, and tried to clearly explain what I learned. I certainly tried to write the book in a way that was careful, vivid, and accessible. Some chapters were rewritten 20 times to get the writing to where I was happy.

How do you think your research has affected your teaching at UT?

I often craft new courses from my research interests, but I’m just as happy doing them from scratch. In fact, my favorite courses are often ones that take me into new directions that I haven’t yet written about. For instance, my urban studies course for first year students comes out of running the End of Austin project, while my new seminar on popular music comes out of my experiences as a musician and fan as much as my cultural studies training.

Conversely, how do you think your teaching has changed your research?

The conversations with students are always clarifying—you can test out ideas and see what really works, and are alerted to things that you might have overlooked. It’s one of the great benefits of working at a research university—you get to toggle productively between teaching and research.

Finally, do you have any advice for students in our department about how to get the most out of their experience at UT?

Really get to know people. After all, we have a fairly lively and welcoming cast of characters on the fourth floor of Burdine Hall. But we’re just a starting place. Especially in the case of our own grad students, I would say that American Studies is a great creative community, but don’t forget that UT is a vast universe of potential collaborators. Meet people outside of the department whenever you can–that nurtures the deep interdisciplinary spirit that is possible in American Studies. Frankly, it’s a spirit that infuses my book, which couldn’t really exist in any single discipline, but is very much the product of ranging widely across multiple fields and looking for new connections and insights.


ASA 2017 Annual Meeting: List of UT AMS-Affiliated Presenters

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From Thursday, November 9th to Sunday, November 12th, the American Studies Association will hold its Annual Meeting at the Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Chicago, IL.  Below is a list of the members of the UT-Austin American Studies community, including graduate students, core faculty, and affiliated faculty, who will be presenting papers and serving on panels at the conference.   The list is in chronological order.

Thursday, November 9th

Carrie Andersen: “War Games: Virtual Drones and the Production of American Empire”
The Imperial Dynamics of Counterinsurgency Warfare
Thursday, November 9th, 8 – 9:45 A.M.
Soldier Field, Concourse Level West Tower

Christine Capetola: “Gimme a Beat!: Janet Jackson, New Musical Technologies, and Vibrationally Breaking the Silences on Black Life in 1980s America”
Black and Latinx Musical Resitances
Thursday, November 9th, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
Atlanta, Ballroom Level West Tower

Cary Cordova – Panelist
Program and Site Resources Committee: Public Art and Activism in US Cities
Thursday, November 9th, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
Comiskey, Concourse Level West Tower

William H. Mosley: “Fugitive Genders and Performed Dissent in Alexis De Veaux’s Yabo.”
Reinventing the Black Literary
Thursday, November 9th, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
Dusable, Third Floor West Tower

Simone Browne – Panelist
Power and Authority in the Era of Trump: A Roundtable on the New American Empire
Thursday, November 9th, 12 – 1:45 P.M.
Regency B, Ballroom Level West Tower

Snehal Shingavi – Panelist
Defying Erasure: Imagining a Palestinian Future
Thursday, November 9th, 12 – 1:45 P.M.
Haymarket, Concourse Level West Tower

Lisa B. Thompson – Chair
Aesthetics in/and African American Cultural Formations
Thursday, November 9th, 2 – 3:45 P.M.
Addams, Third Floor West Tower

Elissa Underwood: “Creative Pedagogies: Storytelling as Revolutionary Practice”
Critical Pedagogies: Storytelling as Revolutionary Practice
Thursday, November 9th, 2- 3:45 P.M.
Gold Coast, Concourse Level West Tower

Nicholas Bloom: “Off Your Asses and Into the Gas Fields: Lessons in Citizenship for Poor White Men.”
Troubling White Nationalism and Whiteness
Thursday, November 9th, 4 – 5:45 P.M.
McCormick, Third Floor West Tower

Janet Davis – Panelist
Rethinking History and Methods in the American Studies Classroom
Thursday, November 9th, 4 – 5:45 P.M.
Wright, Third Floor West Tower

Natalie Zelt: “The Feeling is Real: LaToya Frazier, The Photograph and Fact.”
Alternative Views: Photography, Self-Representation, and Fact in Contemporary American Art and Culture
Thursday, November 9th, 4 – 5:45 P.M.
Gold Coast, Concourse Level West Tower

Friday, November 10th

Christine Castro: “Busters and Beats: Negotiations of Confinement, Public Space, and Identity in Nuestra Familia Music”
Liner Notes on Soundscapes of Memory
Friday, November 10th, 8 – 9:45 A.M.
McCormick, Third Floor West Tower

Briyana D. Clarel: “An Exercise in Unapologetics: Centering Black Queerness as Self-Care and Pedagogy.”
Radical Self-Love as Decolonial Education
Friday, November 10th, 10-11:45 A.M.
San Francisco. Ballroom Level West Tower

Anne Cvetkovich – Panelist
Avery F. Gordon’s The Hawthorne Archive: Letters from the Utopian Margins: A Roundtable
Friday, November 10th, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
Gold Coast, Concourse Level West Tower

Joshua Kopin: “Leave It to Linus: Charles Schulz’s Peanuts and Parents as the Children of the Fifties”
Artifacts of Dissent: Comics and Emotions in Dark Times
Friday, November 10th, 10 – 11:45 P.M.
Hong Kong, Ballroom Level West Tower

Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez – Panelist
Dissenting Documents: A Roundtable on Teaching with Special Collections
Friday, Nov. 10th, 2-3:45 P.M.
Wright, Third Floor West Tower

Amanda Gray – Panelist
The Work that Makes All Other Work Possible: The Pedagogies and Solidarities of Care Work
Friday, November 10th, 4 – 5:45 P.M.
Hong Kong, Ballroom Level West Tower

Saturday, November 11th

Omi Jones: “Resonant Frequencies/Physics and Embodiment”
Dialoguing Physics and Blackness
Saturday, November 11th, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
Addams, Third Floor West Tower

Emily Roehl: “Anti-Pipeline Performance and the Mise-en-scene of Environmental Justice Struggle”
Race, Environmental Justice, and Public Lands
Saturday, November 11th, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
McCormick, Third Floor West Tower

Julia Mickenberg – Panelist
The Russian Revolution at 100: Lessons, Lineages, and Legacies for Radical Practice Today
Saturday, November 11th, 4 – 5:45 P.M.
Skyway 260, Skyway Level East Tower

Robert B. Oxford: “Fracking, Social Justice and Assembling the Eco Counter Archives: Documenting Environmental Activists in Houston”
Teaching Environmental Justice at the Intersections of Activist Practices and Critical Analysis
Saturday, November 11th, 12 – 1:45 P.M.
Field, Third Floor West Tower

Caroline Pinkston: “Remembering Ruby: Akili Academy, Civil Rights Memory, and the Remaking of New Orleans Public Education”
Remembering the 1960s
Saturday, November 11th, 2-3:30 P.M.
Dusable, Third Floor West Tower

Sunday, November 12th

Sequoia Maner: Reviving Tupac Shakur in the #BlackLivesMatter Era: Kendrick Lamar, G-Funk, and the Performance of Dissent”
Three Generations of Funk: Performances of Dissent in Kendrick Lamar, Jessica Care Moore, and Sarah Webster Fabio
Sunday, November 12, 10 – 11:45 A.M.
Skyway 260, Skyway Level East Tower

Shirley E. Thompson – Chair
Visibility, Visuality, and Incarceration
Sunday, November 12th, 12 – 1:45 P.M.
McCormick, Third Floor West Tower


UT AMS’ Randolph Lewis Speaks on His New Book at Texas Book Fair This Weekend


Dr. Randolph Lewis, Professor of American Studies at UT-Austin, will speak twice on his recently released book, Under Surveillance:  Being Watched in Modern America at this weekend’s Texas Book Fair in Austin.  On Saturday, Lewis will take part in a panel called “Knowledge Matters:  Books and Publishing in the Age of Fake News,” and on Sunday Lewis will be interviewed on his own about Under Surveillance.  You can find complete details for Lewis’ panel and interview, including the specific dates and times, here.  You can also find the full description and listings for the Texas Book Festival at:  www.texasbookfestival.org.

UT AMS Grad Amy Nathan Wright Pens Essay on MLK’s Vision for Economic Justice for National Civil Rights Museum


A half-century after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4th, 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee, the National Civil Rights Museum–also in Memphis–has commissioned a series of fifty essays to mark the fifty years since King’s death.  Dr. Amy Nathan Wright, a graduate of the UT-Austin American Studies doctoral program, published one of those essays on October 10th, 2017, specifically considering Dr. King’s revolutionary vision for economic justice.  Please read the essay, entitled “Dr. King’s Dream Deferred: Poverty, & Economic Human Rights,” and learn more about the National Civil Rights Museum, here.