Upcoming Events:

“Crime Scenes: Fictions of Security and Jurisprudence,” a lecture by Dr. Caleb Smith presented by the Departments of English and American Studies

Friday, February 28
Parlin Hall 203
3:30pm – 5:00pm

Caleb Smith, Professor of English and American Studies at Yale University, will be joining UT faculty and students to discuss his recent work on law and literature, focusing especially on the popular literature that emerged from the struggle over Cherokee “removal” between the 1830s and 1850s. the minister Samuel Worcester’s letters from a Georgia prison; the lawyer-novelist William Gilmore Simms’s “border romances”; and the Cherokee writer John Rollin Ridge’s Joaquín Murieta, sometimes known as the “first Native American novel.”

American Studies Graduate Student Symposium

Thursday, March 27

Past Events:

Academy Fight Song: A Conversation with John Summers and Thomas Frank, editors of The Baffler

Free and open to the public.

College is the best thing in the world; college is a complete ripoff. How are these two statements compatible? How do they differ? How can we assess the campus battles of this era, which are more focused on money than the niceties of Western Civ and Great Books? And what are we to make of the fact that a college education, which was essentially free for the World War II generation, serves today to fasten the bonds of inescapable indebtedness to an entire generation of students?

Hosted by the Department of American Studies. Cosponsored by the Department of English, Plan II Honors, the Department of Radio-Television-Film, UGS, and the History Department Course Transformation Project.

Wednesday, October 30
Avaya Auditorium (POB 2.302)
Reception at 4:30pm
Conversation at 5:00pm

JOHN SUMMERS is the editor in chief of The Baffler and founder and president of the Baffler Foundation. He’s the author of an essay collection, Every Fury on Earth, and editor of three collections of cultural criticism: The Politics of Truth: Selected Writings of C. Wright Mills, Dwight Macdonald’s Masscult and Midcult, and James Agee’s Cotton Tenants. He received his PhD in intellectual history from the University of Rochester in 2006. From 2000 to 2007 he taught social studies at Harvard University. He still lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

THOMAS FRANK is the founding editor of The Baffler and the Easy Chair columnist at Harper’s. He is the author of five books, including What’s the Matter with Kansas? and Pity the Billionaire, both national bestsellers. He has been a columnist for the Wall Street Journal and a guest columnist for the New York Times. In 2004 he was awarded a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Nonfiction. He received his PhD in history from the University of Chicago and now lives in Bethesda, Maryland.

American Studies Graduate Student Conference

Thursday, April 4 – Friday, April 5 / The Texas Union

Full details and schedule here.

American Studies Film Series

Saturday, April 6, 6:30-8:30 p.m. / CAL 100

This month, the American Studies Film Series will host a FREE screening of “Grey Gardens,” directed by Albert and David Maysles. The film depicts the everyday lives of two reclusive socialites, a mother and daughter both named Edith Beale, who lived at Grey Gardens, a decrepit mansion at 3 West End Road in the wealthy Georgica Pond neighborhood of East Hampton, New York.

American Studies Professional Development Workshops, 2012-2013

Archival Research Workshop with Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa and Jeannette Vaught

Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 4pm-5pm / Burdine 436B

AMS students at all levels are welcome to attend this workshop about archival research methods.

Workshop leaders:
Ellen Cunningham-Kruppa, Doctoral Candidate in American Studies
Jeannette Vaught, Doctoral Candidate in American Studies

Conference Strategies Workshop with Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez

Monday, Nov 12, 2012, 5pm-6pm / Burdine 436B

This workshop will cover the process of conference presentations from start to finish: strategies for assembling an abstract, assembling a panel, the actual conference paper, presentation strategies, and accompanying powerpoint presentation. We will also discuss the difference between a conference presentation and a job talk. AMS students at all levels are welcome to attend the workshop. Please RSVP to Ella Schwartz.
Workshop leaders: Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, Associate Professor of American Studies and Associate Director of Center for Mexican American Studies

Grants and Fellowships Workshop with Nhi Lieu and Melanie Morgan

Tuesday, October 2, 2pm – 3pm / Burdine 436B

Interested in applying for grants but don’t know where to start? This workshop covers the basics: what kinds of funding graduate students are eligible for, where to find opportunities, and how to organize your application process. Also to be discussed, questions about grant writing and the role of grants in your professional development. AMS students at all levels are welcome to attend the workshop. If you have materials that you would like to workshop, or particular concerns you wish addressed, please contact Nhi Lieu at and Melanie Morgan at Please RSVP to Ella by Friday, September 21st.

CV Workshop with Randy Lewis

Monday, October 22, 11am – 12pm / Burdine 436B

AMS students at all levels are welcome to attend the workshop. Dr. Lewis is leading this as a CV workshop, so please bring a copy of your CV and be ready to discuss/share with the group. Workshop leaders: Dr. Randy Lewis, Associate Professor, American Studies. Please RSVP to Ella by Friday, October 12.

American Studies Film Series

Reel Injun

Tuesday, March 19, 6:30-8:00 p.m. / CAL 100

Big Fish

Thursday, September 27, 6:00-8:00 p.m. / WCH 1.120

The Cabin in the Woods

Thursday, October 25th,  6:00-8:00 p.m. / CAL 100

2012-2013 American Studies Kick-Off Lunch

Tuesday, August 27, 2012

American Studies Honors Symposium

Thursday, April 19, 2012

This symposium showcased the remarkable research of our undergraduate honors thesis writers in the Department of American Studies. During the first part of the event, three papers were presented that explored diverse topics related to Texas and its borderlands, including research on hydraulic fracturing; state educational standards in the social studies curriculum; and an analysis of the drug war in Mexico and local efforts to resist violence with art and social activism. The second part was comprised of four papers that examined various modes of creative expression, ranging from expatriate African American novelists in Paris; rock-and-roll and its unlikely alliance of Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg, and Walt Whitman; boy choir schools and coming of age narratives in American culture; and sport, Jack Kerouac and the creative process.

Spring Lecture: Dr. Joel Dinerstein, “Hip vs. Cool: Delineating Two Key Concepts in American Popular Culture”

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Graduate Student Events Committee was pleased to sponsor a lecture by UT American Studies alum Dr. Joel Dinerstein, professor of English and director of American Studies at Tulane University. The title of his talk was “Hip vs. Cool: Delineating Two Key Concepts in American Popular Culture.” Joel Dinerstein is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Tulane University where he also directs the American Studies program. He is the author of Swinging the Machine: Modernity, Technology, and African-American Culture Between the World Wars (2003), an award-winning cultural study of the relationship between jazz and industrialization. He is currently working on a cultural history of the concept of cool in American culture, The Origins of Cool: Jazz, Film Noir, and Existentialism in Postwar America (forthcoming, University of Chicago Press). In a related project, Dinerstein is a co-curator of a photography exhibit entitled American Cool at the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution. (Opening: March 2014.) He has also been a consultant on jazz and popular music for Putumayo Records, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the HBO serial drama, Boardwalk Empire. Dinerstein received his Ph.D. in American Studies from UT-Austin.

In brief, the African-American concepts of “hip” and “cool” arose in the late 1930s during the Great Migration and have since permeated global popular culture. These terms are now often conflated but were once distinct. “Hip” was synonymous with awareness, and a “hip cat” was both streetwise and a first responder to new artistic and cultural trends. Hip stood for a vibrant urban energy that has since been commodified into a quality of superficial edginess. In contrast, cool was associated with equipoise and emotional self-control, with a certain stylish stoicism. I will analyze the origins of hip and cool in postwar American culture and then the redirection of these terms first, by the Beat Generation and the counterculture, and second, through their commodification by corporate advertising a generation later. Finally, I will discuss how cool, in particular, has retained its ethnic value within African-American masculinity.

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