Announcement: New issue of The End of Austin released

Summer’s here, which means that the latest issue of The End of Austin, has been published. Here’s what editor and American Studies professor Randy Lewis had to say about this issue:

The big summer issue of our award-winning website is here: hipster hate, disappearing bees, unaffordable housing, exploited sex workers, weird slogans, dreams deferred, the fate of Barton Springs, rapidly changing neighborhoods, festival blues, documentary photography, Borges in Austin, and much more. The new issue features 25 original pieces from writers, photographers, and activists who are talking about life in the fastest growing city in the US. Check it out and share us on social media (nothing helps us more than that simple act).

For more information, check The End of Austin on Facebook and on Twitter.

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)

5 Questions: Dr. Simone Browne, Associate Professor, African and African Diaspora Studies

Browne Picture

Today we share with you an interview with Dr. Simone Browne, Associate Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies department and affiliate faculty member of the American Studies department. Dr. Browne and American Studies senior Rebecca Bielamowicz discussed teaching in the public school system, black feminist thought, the politics of creative expression, and her new book, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness (Duke University Press, 2015). And, you’re in luck: the conversation was so engaging that we expanded it beyond our usual five questions. Read on for a fascinating discussion!

 

What is your scholarly background and how does it motivate your teaching and research?

Oh that’s a good question – nice – and I like that you put teaching first because that’s so important to me. So my scholarly background, I grew up in Toronto and I went to school at the University of Toronto for undergrad, master’s degree, and PhD. In between that I got a teaching degree, and so I actually have background teaching kindergarten and the second grade as well, too. And so one of the things that was important in my graduate studies was that in the program that – so I’m a sociologist, but the program that I was in was sociology and equity studies, and so it wasn’t like an add on, it was something that was really important to the department’s political project, and I think that comes in to how I think about how we can see the world sociologically, it’s also about equity as well, so I think that kind of influences my teaching.

After I did the teaching degree, I wanted to go into a master’s in education in the field of education. I was interested in pursuing those issues around social justice and equity in the public school system and so – but when I went there, sometimes you get a little sidetracked with some things, and I was kind of interested in those same things but as well as a cultural studies approach to looking at sociology and so that’s how I ended up in more of the, I guess more of the academic track as opposed to public schooling.

How was teaching the younger kids?

It’s hard. That was the hardest job I’ve ever had. A different type of hard because you’re on every day, there’s so much prep work to do, of course there are always, and I’m sure it’s changed a lot now where it’s been ramped up, but there’s always these metrics and benchmarks and testing and everything that you have to do. There’s oftentimes that you have to create spaces for them to learn through play or other things, and so it was tough, I’ll tell you that. My mother was a teacher, so I have a great – she was actually teaching at the same school as me for one time – but it was a great appreciation for the labor that they do. It’s no joke. They are really putting it in and they’re often not given the respect they deserve and the schools are not given the money they need. It is the toughest job but so important. And they’re great – to see the students, some of them are finished with university now, you know, that was such a long time ago.

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Faculty and Graduate Research: An Evening of Pecha Kucha Presentations

by Cole Wilson

The American Studies Department tried out a new style of presentation this Friday the 6th, a PechaKucha Night. Designed by “Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture” The first PechaKucha Night was held in Tokyo February, 2003 and consisted of seven minute presentations consisting of 20 slides lasting for 20 seconds each.[1] The Austin adaptation took place on the fourth floor of Burdine Hall in the American Studies conference room and featured seven varying, thought-provoking, and engaging presentations by AMS faculty, Ph.D. candidates and masters students. Like the original invented in Japan, UT Austin’s PechaKucha Night presentations were limited to 20 slides, lasting for 20 seconds each. The topics varied from American students in Vienna, Austria to modern day interpretations of Tiki drinks and its allusions to cannibalism. Every presentation was jam packed with information that both captivated the attending audience and propagated a lively discussion following the event. Here’s a recap:

Masters student Kerry Knerr connected the contemporary constructs of tiki with cannibalism through her argument that “consumption [of the contents of the iconic tiki cup] inhabits the being of the cannibal” while also carrying out the act of “consume[ing] the cannibal” itself. Knerr offered a glimpse into the history of Tiki as a physical artifact and as a romantic notion constructed by western entrepreneurs “Trader Vic” and “Don the Beach Comber.”

Following Knerr was Department Chair, Dr. Steve Holescher who presented on his bi-annual maymester course in Vienna. Dr. Hoelscher outlined his course objectives: understanding memory, the city’s adaptive reuse, and the cultural norms that have grown out of Vienna complicated past. He went on to discuss how he goes about reaching these objectives. Dr. Holscher pointed to Nazi era anti-aircraft towers standing stories above the tallest buildings in the city’s center, which are impossible to remove due to the dense urban landscape, and poses the question: how does the city of Vienna deal with this permanent reminder of the past? During his class students visit sites like the Jewish Monument against fascism, the Nameless Library,[2] and Mauthausen Gestapo camp. As a former participant of Dr. Holescher’s Viennese course I can safely say each and every day is filled with impactful and insightful lessons all revolving around the city and its concept-of-self. Dr. Holesher states that students in his course are constantly prompted to answer the question: how is Viennese memory displayed and interpreted at these location.

Ph.D. candidate Andrew Gansky presented a portion of his dissertation titled “Apple helps those that help themselves” next. He opens with a provocative question: “why do teachers love Apple?” Gansky goes on to argue that the answer lies somewhere in Apple-funded educational grants, a teacher-centric acknowledgement campaign, and a business model that made “people feel good consuming.” Gansky states that Apple continued their marketing techniques from the early 1970s through the 1990s, each year gaining more clout in the world of educators through their marketing grant-based, publicity-driven, education-focused business model.

Next, Dr. Lauren Gutterman presented on the case of Jeannance Freeman, a lesbian woman who charged with the murder of her two children in 1960, with the aid of her lover, and mother of the children, Gertrude Nunez Jackson. Freeman was the first woman sentenced to death in the history of Oregon’s penal system; however, the sentence was reduced to life in prison four years later. Dr. Gutterman argues that Freeman was considered a villain but later became a victim in the public’s eye. Dr. Gutterman touched on Freeman’s transition from villain to victim and how that change relates to her sexual orientation. She also explored how capital punishment was distributed unto the LGBTQ community in the 60s and sheds light on Oregon’s LGBTQ population’s progress throughout the decade. For more information check out Gutterman’s synopsis through the University of Michigan here.[3]

Dr. Jeff Meikle was next to present, and he did so on G.I. Pitchford’s iconic 4×6 inch portraits of the American southwest. Dr. Meikle explains that Pitchford sold (in bulk), captured, colored, and altered the post cards that would later create Americas notions of the “open road,” perhaps anticipating Jack Kerouac’s widely read On the Road. From his iconic, almost generic, sunset, to his incorporation of blossoming American technology like the automobile, highway, city center, or, in one famous instance, Hoover Dam, Pichford’s work has captivated the American imagination and instilled a picturesque romanticism of the continental southwest unlike any other artist before him or scene.

Masters student Josh Kopin presented on portions of his thesis concerning Charles M. Schulz’s Peanuts gang and their allegorical ode to adulthood. Kopin argues that Charlie Brown counters the American nuclear family by presenting an allusion to the American worker, similar to Charlie Chaplin’s “Industrial Man.” By becoming consumers, fulfilling parental roles, and their acknowledgement of finite American cultural minutia (as evident in the gangs interest in works like “War and Hate”) the Peanuts are both children, and adults, possibly more so than Chaplin’s Industrial Man.

Lastly, Dr. Randy Lewis’ centered his presentation around the artistic interpretation of modern day surveillance. Dr. Lewis remarked on how artist action is at its heart a cultural barometer and went on to discuss how contemporary artists like Zach Blas[4], Karin Krommes[5], and Josh Kline[6] have thus expressed an uneasiness surrounding the practice. From drones to street cameras, artists have taken on the task of digesting and presenting these surveillance practices.

If you missed out, that’s alright! There is a PechaKuch Night planned for the Spring you can catch next semester. Keep in touch with the blog, the UT AMS website, our Facebook page, twitter feed, or wherever you get your UT Austin AMS news for more info on the next PechaKucha Night.


 

[1] PechaKucha.org. “PechaKucha About” Klein Dytham Architecture. http://www.pechakucha.org/faq

[2] “Holocaust Monument a.k.a. Nameless Library (2000)” University of Florida school of Art and Art History, http://art-tech.arts.ufl.edu/~kecipes/whiteread/holocaust.html.

[3] Gutterman, Lauren “Saving Jeannace June Freeman: Capital Punishment and the Transformation of Homophobia in Oregon, 1961-1964.” University of Michigan. https://lsa.umich.edu/women/news-events/all-events/archived-events/2015/03/saving-jeannace-june-freeman–capital-punishment-and-the-transfo.html

[4] Blas, Zach. “Facial Weponization Suit” http://www.zachblas.info/projects/facial-weaponization-suit.

[5] Facebook. “Karin Krommes” https://www.facebook.com/karinsabinekrommes/

[6] Kline, Josh. http://47canal.us/main.php?1=jk&2=pics

Grad and Faculty Research: see UT AMS at ASA in Toronto

City of lights.jpg

City of lights” by paul (dex) from Toronto – city of lights
Uploaded by Skeezix1000. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

We have a slew of participants in the annual American Studies Association meeting in Toronto next week (October 7 – 11). Here’s a schedule of panels and papers from folks at the UT American Studies community – we hope to see you there!

Thursday, October 8

Carrie Andersen, “‘Dwell, Detect, Destroy’: Marketing the Drone in the Post-9/11 Era” (8:00 to 9:45am, Sheraton Centre, Chestnut West)

Emily Roehl, “Oil Landscape Photography and the Performance of Resistance” (8:00 to 9:45am, Sheraton Centre, Forest Hill)

Caroline Pinkston, “Katrina in the Eye of the Beholder: Hurricane Katrina Tourism and the Commodification of Disaster” (2:00 to 3:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Yorkville West)

Natalie Zelt, “Out of Africa? Race, Olmec Colossal Heads and Contested History at LACMA” (2:00 to 3:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Willow East)

Cary Cordova and Amanda Gray, dialogue, “Cultivating Communal Sites of Knowledge Production in the Critical Latin@ Studies Classroom” (4:00 to 5:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Chestnut West)

Kerry Knerr, dialogue, “Committee on Graduate Education: Precarious Resistance to the University of Austerity” (4:00 to 5:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Chestnut East)

Saturday, October 10

Janet M. Davis, dialogue, “Caucus Environment and Culture: How American Studies Scholars Can Address Climate Change” (12:00 to 1:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Linden)

Elissa Underwood, “Pop-Up Prison Kitchens: A Food-Based Challenge to the Prison Industrial Complex” (12:00 to 1:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Leaside)

Sunday, October 11

Lily Laux, “Public Schooling as Social Misery: Students, Disability and the School-to-Prison Pipeline” (8:00 to 9:45am, Sheraton Centre, Rosedale)

Irene Garza, “‘War is an Ugly Thing’ Sgt. Eric Alva, Queer Latinidad, and the Disfigurements of Liberalism” (12:00 to 1:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Maple)

Susan Quesal, “Devastating Optimism: Landscapes of Renewal from Ida B. Wells to HUD HOPE VI” (12:00 to 1:45pm, Sheraton Centre, Provincial Room North)

Grad Research: Natalie Zelt on The New Whitney

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Exhibition photo by Natalie Zelt

Over the summer, AMS grad student Natalie Zelt took a trip to New York, where she saw the opening exhibition, called America is Hard to See at the Whitney Museum of Art’s brand new building. Here’s her review. 

This spring, the Whitney Museum of American Art opened a new, eight-story building right off the Highline in New York’s meatpacking district. The museum has been dedicated to collecting art of the Americas since its founder, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, started a “Studio Club” in 1918 to exhibit some of her favorite artists. Until recently its collection has had a decidedly limited definition of what might count as “American” in American art.  Still, the inaugural exhibition in the new building, titled America is Hard to See, madee a distinct effort to acknowledge both the contested history of the Whitney’s collecting practices and the art history of the US more broadly.  The installation of over 600 artworks was organized across all curatorial departments; painting specialists worked with curators of drawing, film, sculpture, photography and education and public programs staff in an attempt to weave a semi-chronological narrative across the four major gallery floors of the building. The resulting installation was admittedly jumbled. But, with the goal of examining the entire history of art in the US since 1910, the visual conversation should not be cohesive. Each floor showcased a series of touchstone themes, or what the Whitney termed “chapters,” that centered on an artwork that might pull objects across media together. At times this method of orbiting the selections around a specific object worked.  For example, in the 1925-1960 galleries on the seventh floor, “The Circus” an installation of Alexander Calder’s Circus juxtaposed with George Bellow’s sizable 1924 painting Dempsey and Firpo, was an effort to suggest the ways artists were engaging with mass culture and spectacle in the era. Other chapters, though, proved to function more like containers, keeping like works from infiltrating other themes or time periods. “Guarded View,” which included a selection of objects from the now (in)famous 1993 Biennial and 1994 exhibition Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art, which specifically canonized the museum’s importance in art history.  The section, named after Fred Wilson’s installation of four headless black mannequins dressed in the uniforms of museum guards from the Jewish Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Museum of Modern Art, embraced artists’ acerbic institutional critiques as part of its evolution and asserted the importance of the identity politics in art, but kept the assertions of the artists bound to the early 1990s, rather than putting them in conversation with the histories they challenge.

IMG_6992

Exhibition photo by Natalie Zelt

With walls of salon-style hangs that integrated multiple media, thematic chapters bumped up into one another, as did viewers, crowding to read object labels and exhibition text that was too sparse or oddly placed to make real sense of what dynamic contextual conversation might be happening. Making my way through the exhibition I got the distinct sense that there was disagreement among the organizers as to the amount of contextual information that is necessary in the physical gallery space. The full record of the exhibition and its 23 chapters is available online, and therefore already in the pocket of each visitor with a smart phone. So why spend the money and wall space on repeating yourself?  Why try to keep eyes up on the wall away from the phone?  Often it was a challenge to see the artworks speak to one another behind so many hunkered down smartphone zombies. And selfies were rampant, with selfie sticks flying everywhere, folks posing in front of a Basquiat or Pollock, immediately distributing it on social media and moving on to the next most famous name.  As my companion and I made our way through each floor it became clear that the America on view was particularly hard to see, not just because of the complex discourse of visual art, but because, at times, it is physically impossible to see past each other.

Sweeping surveys, for all their flaws, create space for more specific conversations. They are always a starting point to dive deeper and make resources available.  The pointed acknowledgment of the infinitely complex history of American art discourse at the Whitney was encouraging. Hopefully the revamped exhibition space and website will allow for the pursuit of many tightly crafted dialogues in the future.

 

America is Hard to See

Now closed

The Whitney Museum of Art

 

For full exhibition record online see: http://whitney.org/Exhibitions/AmericaIsHardToSee

Announcement: Workshop with media artist Samuel Cepeda this Friday

This week we’d like to direct your attention to a workshop happening in the Department of Anthropology. The Intermedia Workshop will host Samuel Cepeda, a media artist from Mexico, who will offer a workshop on “Research and remediation techniques in the critical study of media.” Cepeda is currently a full time artist and researcher working on his dissertation at Tecnológico de Monterrey in the PhD program of humanities studies in science and technology.

Je2vCRXZCjuAe7h_hdPW5t2YZicHzK05bTEff7Lv5YFr-s5IOazFkHADhqQUgc30XGJSK_imHtnu5KhV9aBtBISoeEXjRyZ45fOtwB3JJsPIfG_t7RB9wjozJ4Go7OqaJl1A-TNBKRcxbsL_ZPBTiEbu_hxqT44RQWimEJYFCLs6f2cJMGfjuCK-8r9hDif5y_aQ5fl3IpxD_p0M_MbeaJxRkZl3SXh OLwNDF-UxNzXc6YTQK0FuIv0K7XA4Rn1OhC8y7I73pyU6D6Oe0NCtsqLC_LQpJFiwEUsopd-0jPzWcvVRJCBCHit3N3CEd1MUd9vPobBlSkDOIkhgoZC2sH32awlUkNtpmfQj2ZiVzg_pX8WRTrsYQRu2il1-KC3fGdBfxfht5Wh8aXWVKz4Zf06Z3tA-CXr_gJFQ_titxnFVHPlhYA71TRpDBzsE1SHere is some additional information on the workshop, which takes place this Friday, May 8 from noon to 2:00 in the Intermedia Workshop (SAC 4.120):

The research of contemporary culture frequently implies paying attention to the symbolic production in different media, as well as the material and semantic consequences of its remediation. The researcher, in order to understand the symbolic production within a group or culture, needs to deeply comprehend it as a creator too. In this workshop, through the practice of various remediation techniques we’ll approach a way of theorizing while producing.

The workshop is free and open to the public.