“Flu in the Arctic”: UT AMS PhD Student Coyote Shook Featured on Blog of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era

Flu in the arctic

Congratulations to UT AMS PhD student Coyote Shook whose graphic essay “Flu in the Arctic: Influenza in Alaska, 1918” was recently featured on the blog of the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE). Coyote’s work kicks off a timely series on the SHGAPE blog that examines “the lived experience of Americans during the 1918 influenza pandemic.”

As Coyote explains, the graphic essay “came from a combination of factors. Janet Davis shared the opportunity to write a post on the SHGAPE blog about the Influenza epidemic with the AMS community just as I was doing research on the Great Race of Mercy and how Balto became a vaudeville star. A big part of that story is that the vast majority of deaths from diphtheria in and around Nome in 1925 were Inuit children. I’d read several articles about how the Influenza epidemic in Alaska had wiped out about 50% of the Indigenous population around Nome, and so I expanded a bit on that research to focus on the absolutely devastating impact the 1918-1919 flu outbreak had on Alaskan Native people. There were obvious overlaps in narrative between Influenza and Covid-19, from the total ineptitude of public health officials to the disproportionate impact of the illness on Indigenous communities, all of which I tried to incorporate into my comics.”

You can find a full PDF of “Flu in the Arctic,” as well as the text with image descriptions, here.


UT AMS PhD Student Whitney S. May Published in Children’s Literature

Children's literature 48Congratulations are in order for UT AMS PhD student Whitney S. May whose article “The Lioness and the Protector: The (Post)Feminist Dialogic of Tamora Pierce’s Lady Knights,” was recently published Volume 48 of Children’s Literature. Whitney spoke to us about the inspiration for the article and the urgency of critical work on young adult fantasy. Read on!

Whitney: I’m especially pleased with how this article turned out because it was one of those rare labors of so much love that they never actually manage to feel much like labor at all. As a passionate fan of Tamora Pierce’s young-adult fantasy novels since I was a child, I’ve read all of her books several times over. This project on feminist dialogue in Pierce’s work emerged when I noticed that I always found myself getting choked up when I read a specific conversation between two women in one of her novels, Squire from The Protector of the Small quartet. I followed that observation into an early draft of this research, which was presented at the Mythopoeic Society’s 2016 conference in San Antonio, TX. The powerful response I received during and after that talk’s Q&A session made me realize that many women who read Pierce’s fantasy felt the same way when reading the same scene, and many were keen to read research that might put into clearer words why that might be.

This article pulls back the focus on the conversation in that scene, using it as a model by which to interpret the broader dialogical interventions at play between not just the two conversing characters in that moment, but between their entire respective quartets as these reflect Pierce’s broader, multidimensional feminist dialogic that observes the ideological shifts in feminism which occurred between the quartets’ respective eras of publication. Ultimately, the article finds that, “[r]eflecting the self-critical relationship of postfeminism to previous feminisms, The Protector of the Small (1999-2002) critiques and engages the problems of The Song of the Lioness (1983-88) and generates a comprehensive understanding of the evolution of the feminism as we have known it, as well as a vision of what it might look like in the future. In so doing, Pierce offers, by way of her fantastic postfeminist dialogic, a successful model of how to diligently engage with the past and responsibly project its ideological lessons into a critical, better-equipped future” (52-53).

As we have seen in global headlines just this month, authors of fantasy for young adults are uniquely positioned to not just reflect, but encourage the momentums of social change—or not. This article details one of the many ways in which Pierce’s feminist fantasy has taken great care to hold itself accountable to its readers by not merely recognizing weaknesses when they appear, but actively seeking to correct them. In so doing, her work encourages feminists across almost five decades to do the same.

What I Did On My Summer Vacation: Gaila Sims

After finishing my first year of graduate school, I was most looking forward to relaxing, swimming, and reading for fun. I was able to do all three of those activities this summer, but I actually spent the majority of the summer working at Austin’s Asian American Resource Center as an instructor for their summer camps. The Asian American Resource Center (AARC) opened in September 2013 and serves Austin’s Asian American and Pacific Islander communities with programming, resources, and community spaces. Among the center’s many educational offerings is summer camp, which usually runs June-August, and includes a number of themed camps meant to teach kids about Asian and Asian American cultural traditions.


Photo Courtesy of the City of Austin Asian American Resource Center

The first of this summer’s camps was “Game Master,” where kids learned coding basics and about traditional Asian games, including Yut Nori, Mah Jong, and Tuju Tins. We also made our own mancala sets and played a lot of ping pong. The second of the summer’s camps was “Art and Mindfulness,” during which campers were taught methods of mindfulness and meditation, all stemming from Asian and Asian American cultural practices. We learned about zen gardens, about sand mandalas, and did a lot of yoga. After “Art and Mindfulness” came “Tall Tales and Traditions,” which focused on storytelling, theatre, and oral history. This camp was especially interesting for me, since I had not previously known a lot about Asian storytelling traditions. We taught the kids about Kamishibai, a form of Japanese street theatre, as well as the Ramayana, an ancient Indian epic poem. The summer ended with “Asian Adoptee Camp,” which provided education and resources to adoptees, and allowed for community building among campers of various ages and from various cultural backgrounds. We talked about the history of Asian adoption in America, had great discussions about some of the challenges involved with being adoptees, and actually met adult Asian adoptees and got to learn about their experiences.

AARC Kids Yoga

Photo Courtesy of the City of Austin Asian American Resource Center

I was one of three instructors for the camp, and spent most of my time with some of the younger campers, ages 5-8. The kids were wonderful, and had such unique perspectives, and it was awesome to be able to learn from my fellow instructors, both of whom have backgrounds in education. It was great to be able to spend time doing work totally different than what I do during the semester—teaching younger kids, learning about cultural traditions different from the ones I study, and working in a community center environment instead of on a university campus. While working at summer camps has its challenges, it was really nice to be able to spend time with kids and engage my brain in different ways. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do interesting and engaging work, and am looking forward to settling back into the semester, although I might see if some of my fellow graduate students are interested in playing some Mah Jong this semester, now that I finally know how to play.

Gaila Sims

Announcement: The World In American Studies Today Graduate Conference Hosted By UT AMS


We are very excited to announce this year’s iteration of the biannual graduate conference in American Studies, entitled: The World in American Studies Today: Nationalism in American Studies, to be held Thursday and Friday March 30th and 31st at The University of Texas at Austin. There will be a keynote, given by Dr. Anita Mannur, on Thursday the 30th at 6 PM. We hope to see you there.

More information on the keynote, and the conference schedule, to follow.

Announcement: Congratulations to our newly minted Ph.D.s!

UT tower lit entirely in orange

Enormous congratulations to the following graduate students who are now, as of this weekend’s commencement festivities, official Ph.D. recipients. We are so proud of them!

Sean Cashbaugh
“A Cultural History Beneath the Left: Politics, Art, and the Emergence of the Underground During the Cold War”
Supervisor: Randolph Lewis

Brendan Gaughen
“Practices of Place: Ordinary Mobilities and Everyday Technology”
Supervisor: Jeff Meikle

Josh Holland
“Kurt Hahn, the United World Colleges, and the Un-Making of Nation”
Supervisor: Julia Mickenberg

Lily Laux
“Teaching Texas: Race, Disability and the History of the School-to-Prison Pipeline”
Supervisor: Shirley Thompson

Susan Quesal
“Dismantling the Master’s House: The Afterlife of Slavery in the Twentieth-Century Representations of Home”
Supervisors: Shirley Thompson and Stephen Marshall

Kirsten Ronald
“Dancing the Local: Two-Step and the Formation of Local Cultures, Local Places, and Local Identities in Austin, TX”
Supervisor: Steve Hoelsher

Jackie Smith
“Black Princess Housewive and Single Ladies: Renee Cox’s Housewife Enactments and The Politics of Twenty-First Century Wealthy Black Womanhood”
Supervisor: Shirley Thompson

Grad Research: Ph.D. students Kerry Knerr and Elissa Underwood inaugural recipients of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter Endowed Presidential Fellowships in American Studies

Steve Hoelscher; Mary Kimbrough*, Susan Auler*, Kerry Knerr, Elissa Underwood, Tracey Evers*, Marvin Bendele (Executive Director, Foodways Texas). * member of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter

Steve Hoelscher; Mary Kimbrough*, Susan Auler*, Kerry Knerr, Elissa Underwood, Tracey Evers*, Marvin Bendele (Executive Director, Foodways Texas).
* member of Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter

A hearty congratulations to Ph.D. students Kerry Knerr and Elissa Underwood, who have been named the 2016 recipients of the Les Dames D’Escoffier, Dallas Chapter Endowed Presidential Fellowships in American Studies. Les Dames D’Escoffier of Dallas have offered their generous support of American Studies graduate scholarship at UT on topics relating to food studies.

Kerry Knerr’s project, “Cocktails, Class, and Conspicuous Consumption in the Progressive Era U.S.,” examines the early history of the American cocktail and its entanglement with American cultural imperialism. The project will build upon her master’s report, “In Search of a Good Drink: Punches, Cocktails, and Imperial Consumption,” currently under review at Global Food History. In it Kerry argues that understanding the material aspects of alcohol consumption (what people are doing), through close readings of recipe collections and material cultures of public and home bars, can ground otherwise nebulous discourses (what people are saying) of social movements, gender politics, or class formation. Kerry will conduct research at the National Food and Beverage Foundation in New Orleans, which houses both the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and the Museum of the American Cocktail. There she will analyze menus, published cookbooks or bar manuals, private recipe collections, newspaper clippings, and photographs.

Elissa Underwood’s project, “Women and Food in Carceral Spaces,” will explore women’s understandings of and experiences with food and foodways, including specific nutritional needs and distinct relationships with food, during and after incarceration by conducting oral histories with formerly incarcerated women in Texas. Elissa will interview women working and learning or perfecting skills in food-based industries, as well as women who have started their own food-based companies or non-profit organizations specifically aimed at combating recidivism and/or preventing incarceration.

The winners were announced at this year’s Foodways Texas conference, an organization now housed in the Department of American Studies. For more on the conference, check out this very in-depth, fascinating recap of the weekend of festivities.

Grad Research: INGZ Collective curator Natalie Zelt produces “Sampling,” March 31 – April 2

Exciting news from one of our graduate students: Ph.D. student Natalie Zelt, a curator for the INGZ Collective, has curated a performance series entitled “Sampling,” where artists Tameka Norris (aka Meka Jean), Brontez Purnell and The Younger Lovers, and Kenya (Robinson) CHEEKY LaSHAE adopt personae culled from tropes and representation of musicians- exposing pervasive norms, pressing the boundaries of everyday identity, and reflecting on the relations between personae play, embodiment and power.

All are invited to attend, to participate, to engage!

Thursday, March 31
  • 10-11:30 am: Tameka Norris Become Someone Else Workshop I (Location: GWB Multipurpose Room) Email info@ingzcollective.org to sign up.
  • 5:30-6pmSampling Opening Reception (In Winship Building)
  • 6-8pm: Screening of Free Jazz & Performance by Brontez Purnell and The Younger Lovers followed by a Movement Workshop open to the public (location: Lab Theatre)
Friday April 1, 2016
  • 2-3:30pm: Tameka Norris Become Someone Else Workshop II (Location: WIN 1.148) Emailinfo@ingzcollective.org to sign up
  • 4-4:30pm: CHEEKY LaSHAE gives a paper at New Directions in Anthropology Conference (Location CLA 1.302B)
  • 5:30pm-7pm: Meka Jean “Ivy League Ratchet” Happy Hour Performance (Location GWB Multipurpose Room)
  • 9pm-11pm: MONTH os SUNDAYS–CHEEKY LaSHAE Singes BLACK SABBATH with Meka Jean encore performance of “Ivy League Ratchet” and a opening act by The Younger Lovers (Location: Museum of Human Achievement)
Saturday April 2, 2016
  • 11am-12pm: Brunch Talk with Tameka Norris, Brontez Purnell and The Younger Lovers and Kenya (Robinson) (Location: CLA 1.302D)