Announcement: “Archives Against Annihilation: Imagining Otherwise,” A Talk by Michelle Caswell

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Please join us today at 11:00 AM in the Prothro Theatre in the Harry Ransom Center for a talk by Michelle Caswell entitled Archives Against Annihilation: Imagining Otherwise.

The talk, sponsored by the UT Chapter of the Society of American Archivists, is described below:

In the 1970s, feminist communication scholars first proposed the term “symbolic annihilation” to describe the ways in which women are absent, underrepresented, or misrepresented in mainstream media. Taking this concept as a starting point, the first part of this talk will examine the ways in which mainstream archival practice has symbolically annihilated communities of color and LGBTQ communities through absence, underrepresentation, and misrepresentation. In the face of such symbolic annihilation, marginalized communities have formed their own independent community-based archives that empower them to establish, enact, and reflect on their presence in ways that are complex, meaningful, and substantive. Based on interviews with dozens of community archives founders, staff, and users, this first act will propose a tripartite structure for assessing the impact of such archives on the individuals and communities they serve: ontological impact (in which members of marginalized communities get confirmation “I am here”); epistemological impact (in which members of marginalized communities get confirmation “we were here”); and social impact (in which members of marginalized communities get confirmation “we belong here”). In the second part, this talk will examine the relationship between symbolic and actual annihilation using the state-sponsored mass murder of Black people by the police in the U.S. as a prime example. Symbolic annihilation both precedes and succeeds symbolic annihilation in that communities are rendered nonexistent, invisible, or expendable before they are subject to violence, and then, after violence, such acts are often rendered invisible or expunged from the record, magnifying and mimicking the violence itself. Finally, this talk will end with a proposition for archivists to “imagine otherwise,” that is, to conceive of and build a world in which communities that have historically been and are currently being marginalized due to white supremacy, patriarchy, capitalism, gender binaries, colonialism, and ableism are fully empowered to represent their past, construct their present, and envision their futures as forms of liberation.

After the talk, we hope you join us for the American Studies Undergraduate Thesis Symposium, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM in Burdine 436A. We hope to see you at both events!

The World in American Studies Today Keynote: Dr. Anita Mannur

 

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We are pleased to announce that the keynote lecture for our biennial graduate conference, The World in American Studies Today, will be given by Dr. Anita Mannur at 6 PM on Thursday, March 20th in CLA 1.302B. Dr. Mannur is Associate Professor of English and Asian/Asian American Studies and Director, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Miami University. She is the author of Culinary Fictions: Food in South Asian Diasporic Culture and the co-editor of Eating Asian America: A Reader and Theorizing Diaspora: A Reader.

In this talk, Dr. Mannur explores how the figure of the “enemy” is constructed in public culinary sites by examining social media, cook books and food trucks that are devoted to the dissemination of culinary knowledge. The spaces she examines are Michael Rakowitz’s performance art installation “Enemy Kitchen” and Conflict Kitchen, a take-out restaurant in Pittsburgh, PA. In juxtaposing these sites and exploring the performative politics deployed within each context, Dr. Mannur explores what it means to turn to the tactile, olfactory and consumptive to reflect on questions of US diplomacy and foreign policy that have taken on particular forms of cultural xenophobia, directed at the Islamic
subject, in the wake of the war on terror and 9/11. By focusing in particular on the use of “radical hospitality,” Dr. Mannur asks how meals are staged as spaces to provide a counternarrative to xenophobia and the discourse of the
enemy combatant.

Announcement: MARCH ON! Gallery Reception and Conversation with Rep. John Lewis

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MARCH ON!, curated by Rebecca Giordano, is a show of original art from the March trilogy of graphic novels written by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and drawn by Nate Powell. There are two events this week that are the part of the ongoing programming for the exhibition. First, starting at 5:30 PM on Thursday the 23rd, there is a opening reception in Jester A232A. The following day, Friday the 24th, at 11:00 AM in Hogg Auditorium, there will be a conversation with Rep. Lewis, Aydin, and Powell regarding their work. Tickets are required for the latter event and ticketing information is here.

Announcement: Tirza Latimer Talk on 3/9

1Tomorrow, 3/9, the Art History Lecture Series is hosting a talk by Dr. Tirza True Latimer, titled “A Manifesto of Eccentric Modernism.” The talk will be at 4 PM in ART 1.120. We’ve included the description of her talk, below. We hope to see you there.

Focusing on a case study from Eccentric Modernisms: Making Differences in the History of American Art (UC Press, 2017), Latimer presents a piece of ephemera she describes as a “manifesto of eccentric modernism” — a souvenir program for the 1934 opera Four Saints in Three Acts. The opera premiered in an eccentric venue, the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. An eccentric libretto, penned by Gertrude Stein, was set to music by the modernist composer Virgil Thomson, choreographed by the neo-romantic Frederick Ashton, with extravagant sets and costumes by the uncatagorizable artist Florine Stettheimer. Perhaps the most unconventional aspect of the production was its all African American cast. Within the frame of American modernism, the opera’s producers and performers challenged not only prevailing artistic heirarchies but also sex/gender codes and racial prohibitions to imagine daring social and cultural alternatives. The souvenir playbill presented this event in carefully calculated ways that enable us to speculate today about the collaborators’ vision(s) of modernism in America.

 

Five Questions with First-Years Returns…with Caroline Johnson!

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We roll into a new semester with another addition of “Five Questions with First-Years!” Today, we bring you Caroline Johnson, hailing from the the great Buckeye state of Ohio. Expert and enthusiast in the field of visual culture and media, Caroline talks with us about her academic origins, her research goals, and her love of travel, public intellectual work, and dogs.  Enjoy!

1) What is your background, academic or otherwise, and how does it motivate your teaching and research?

I received BAs in History and Anthropology, as well as my MA in History from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. In my Master’s program I worked primarily as a TA in the History Department and as a graduate assistant in the Miami University Archives. I enjoy perusing boxes of handwritten letters and miscellaneous artifacts, yet I also relish the opportunity to bring history to life in a classroom. Both, I believe, are necessary components for public scholarship. For me, the solitude necessary for deep inquiry combined with vast opportunity for intellectual engagement is part of the magic of academia.

In addition to my time in an archive or classroom, I have traveled a great deal (both personally and professionally). Such experiences have drastically shaped the way I approach teaching and research. Whether encountering sites of memory standing in Flanders Fields, living as a pilgrim on el Camino de Santiago, or simply meeting new friends at a hostel in London, travel has taught me to be aware of my cultural biases, to keep an open mind, and to allow people and places to inspire you. I find the ability to remain firm in one’s convictions while engaging with new ideas and perspectives is invaluable in this field. The passion for historical and cultural understanding infused by travel is something that cannot be taught. It has made me a better communicator and creative thinker, and those are learned skills I strive to bring into the classroom and my written work.

2) Why did you decide to come to AMS at UT for your graduate work?

When looking to apply to graduate programs, I realized I needed a space where I could bring together my love for both History and Anthropology. At the time, my MA advisor, Dr. Kimberly Hamlin (an alumna of the AMS program at UT) suggested I look into the program. Research-wise, I am interested in the relationship between language and visual sources, so the Harry Ransom Center and Briscoe Center for American History were extremely appealing, as they are known for housing some of the widest variety of photography and photojournalism collections in the world. Teaching-wise, I sought a university and program with faculty known for their teaching, and the AMS faculty at UT is second-to- none. The interdisciplinary nature of the program with its dedication to both the production of knowledge and quality teaching is truly what drew me to UT. I already know I will continue to hone the skills necessary to be a professional researcher, writer, and public scholar as a result of my time here.

3) What projects or people have inspired your work?

Where do I even begin? I have been lucky enough to work under brilliant professors who value not only producing strong, ethical work, but also quality pedagogy, and for that I will be forever grateful. Recently, I have been inspired by research of the Magnum Photo collection by Dr. Steven Hoelscher and the continuing conversations brought about by photography critics such as Susan Sontag, Susie Linfield, Robert Hariman, and John Lucaites. As I made the move from comics and visual art to photography and photojournalism, I owe a large credit to my conversations with Mr. Louis Palu during his fellowship with the Harry Ransom Center. It’s one thing to have an idea- it’s another for someone to encourage that idea and insist it’s a necessary area for research and discussion.

4) What projects do you see yourself working on at UT?

Seeing as I’m in the beginning stages of the doctoral program, it’s tough to say with any clear intention what shape future projects will take in the next several years. With that being said, I am currently interested in the ethics of captioning in photojournalism and the power relationships between photojournalists, the media, and American citizens. Who has the authority to make meaning of the visual past?

5) What are your goals for graduate school? What do you see yourself doing after you graduate?

Naturally I’ll be either a) living the dream with a tenure track position at the university of my choice or b) working full time in a museum or cultural center, either in the archives or in an educational outreach position. Either  scenario includes a lab or a puggle, name to-be-determined.

In all reality, I am passionate about both research and teaching, all while remaining realistic regarding the job market and the many directions life can take you while in pursuit of a doctoral degree. Regardless, I want my work to bridge the gap between the archive and public. I wish to share the excitement that comes with being able to hold history in your hands and to be transparent about the way in which knowledge is produced. Whether I do this through teaching or on staff at a museum is up in the air. I look forward to searching for this interview in four to six years and see how accurate it is.

Bonus: How would you define American Studies? 

Rain check 🙂

Jessica Swigger (PhD ’08) Talks About How Steve Hoelscher Inspired Her Career

img_4737In a short post featured on the Pearson website, Jessica Swigger (PhD ’08) describes how UT AMS Faculty Steve Hoelscher has inspired her in her career as a professor. We’ve included an excerpt below. Congratulations to Jessica and Steve!

“Steve informed everything about how I approach my job,” Jessie, an associate professor of history at Western Carolina University, said about her inspirational professor.

Jessie first met Steve when she took his Memory and Place course at the University of Texas (UT), Austin. “The point of the course is to examine how members within different cultures and societies do certain things to remember a shared past as well as to forget a shared past,” explained Steve, a professor of American Studies.

“I was really inspired by that class,” Jessie recalled. “Steve was studying the kind of things that I was interested in.” His enthusiasm for the subject was infectious, and it sparked her interest in public history, the way history is put to work in the world in fields like museum curatorship and historic preservation. Jessie eventually decided to specialize in this area of American Studies, writing her dissertation on the history of Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village and choosing Steve as her advisor.