Grad and Faculty Research: UT AMS at ASA!

It’s that time of year again–time for the American Studies Association Annual Meeting, which will be held from November 6-9 in Los Angeles. This year’s theme is “The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain in the Post-American Century,” and the program features a number of UT AMS folks. Here’s a snapshot of what grad students and faculty from UT American Studies will be presenting at this year’s conference:

THURSDAY, November 6

Anne Gessler, “Second Lines, Creative Economies, and Gentrification: Music Cooperatives in Post-Katrina New Orleans” (Thu. Nov. 6, 4:00-5:45pm, San Pedro). Part of a panel called, “Alternative Economies of Pleasure in Contemporary Southern Working-Class Cultures.” Gessler’s paper examines the ways in which New Orleans’ black, working-class participatory culture uses music and performance as tools of social critique: second lines parades, for example, have become forums for protesting gentrification of black residents’ communities. Specifically, she will argue that contemporary cooperatives have used their city’s long tradition of innovative, egalitarian cultural production to empower working-class New Orleans citizens to alleviate the effects of structural inequality and poverty.

FRIDAY, November 7

Julia Mickenberg, “Child Savers and Child Saviors: Horror, Hope, and the Russian Famine of 1921” (Fri. Nov. 7, 8:00-9:45am, Santa Anita). Part of a panel called, “Other World(s): Childhood, Nation, and the Price of Feeling Good.” Dr. Mickenberg’s paper considers the way in which the Russian child became a focal point for humanitarian relief efforts (typically gendered as feminine) and thus offered a socially acceptable vehicle for American women to enter Soviet Russia, through agencies like the American Friends Service Committee. Alongside widely disseminated images of starving Russian children were tales of rosy-cheeked, self-governing, artistic, and socially engaged children to whom the Soviet Union’s bright future belonged; “child savers” in Russia were thus, in part, motivated by the notion that the Russian child rescued from starvation might go on to become a child savior.

Jennifer Kelly, “Blueprinting Post-Return: Tourism, Pedagogy, and the Work of Imagination in Palestine” (Fri. Nov. 7, 2:00-3:45pm, San Anita). Part of a panel called, “Political Imaginings of Palestine Beyond the Here and Now.” Kelly will explore the collaboration between the Israeli organization Zochrot and the Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a Palestinian organization in the West Bank, as they respectively and collectively use tourism to expose Israel’s displacement of Palestinians and imagine futures of decolonized space in Israel/Palestine.

Andrew Hamsher, “Controlling Fantasyland: Surveilance and Freedom in Transmedia Storyworlds” (Fri. Nov. 7, 4:00-5:45pm, Santa Monica B). Part of a panel called “We’re Listening: Surveillance Technologies and Non-Private Publics.” Hamsher’s paper explores how entertainment conglomerates are seeking to exploit the proliferation of branded storyworlds to dramatically expand and normalize datavalliance practices.  He focuses on Disney World’s new billion-dollar MyMagic+ initiative.

SATURDAY, November 8

Elizabeth Engelhardt, “Appalachian Food Studies: A Tale of Belgian Waffles and Cast Iron Fried Chicken” (Sat. Nov. 8, 8:00-9:45am, San Gabriel). Part of a panel called, “The Invention of Authenticity: Troubling Narratives of the “Real” Southern Foodways.” Dr. Engelhardt will discuss the impossibility of “Appalachian Chicken and Waffles” as well as the usefulness of such an impossible term.

Kerry Knerr, “Institutionalizing the Bon Vivant: Reading Empire through Jerry Thomas’s Cocktails” (Sat. Nov. 8, 10:00-11:45am, San Gabriel). Part of a panel called, “Commerce of Pleasure.” Knerr will consider early cocktails, mainly punch, as a form that moves through various European colonial contexts. In her paper, she offers a close reading of a particular punch from Jerry Thomas’s How To Mix Drinks: Or, The Bon Vivant’s Companion (1862) to demonstrate its imperial inheritance through to the American context.

Elissa Underwood, “Food” (Sat. Nov. 8, 2:00-3:45pm, Beaudry A). Part of a Critical Prison Studies Caucus panel called “Keywords in Critical Prison Studies I.” Using a lively format of words and visuals, the panelists will explore sixteen terms – some ordinary, some unexpected – related to critical prison studies.

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