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

Teaching Stories: Featured Fall 2016 Course Offerings, Part I

Being an interdisciplinary department, American Studies has a history of offering fascinating courses about American culture, politics, and history that you cannot find anywhere else on campus. Today, we feature four of those courses taught by our stellar Ph.D. students, to be offered in Fall 2016 and Spring 2017, about fascinating and timely topics like conservative politics in America, public education, energy and oil, and the image of the American Indian. We’ll feature more of our courses over the next few weeks, so stay tuned!

Each of these courses is a lower division course and will fulfill your writing flag requirements.

AMS 311s: The Culture of the Right

Unique # 30555
Instructor: Carrie Andersen
MWF 11am – 12pm

The moniker “conservative” can apply at once to fiction authors like Ayn Rand, political theorists like Alexis de Tocqueville, Renaissance men like Henry David Thoreau, television writers like the creators of South Park, and preachers like Jerry Falwell. How? What does it mean to be conservative? How has that definition transformed over time? And how are those ideologies expressed, reimagined, and critiqued in not only political texts and speeches, but also a variety of different cultural forms, from film to television shows to music to videogames?

In this class, we will explore those cultural forms to understand the changing politics of the Right in America from the 19th century through the 2016 election cycle, emphasizing in particular the relationship between the history of the Right and current events in culture and politics. In tracking the historical development of the Right, we will also attend to the interplay between conservative ideology and race, gender, sexuality, class, and religion.

This course will draw upon a variety of primary source texts (including films, television shows, fictional stories, essays, videogames, and music) as well as secondary source analyses of those cultural works.

Finally, a key question will subtly guide many of our discussions, readings, and assignments: how did we get from Thomas Jefferson to Donald Trump?


Oil Well -- Bradford Oil fields, oil metropolis of the world (69693)

AMS 311s: Cultures of American Energy

Unique # 30560
Instructor: Emily Roehl
MWF 12pm – 1pm

Sources of energy are all around us—deep underground, blowing in the wind, stored in muscle and bone, mined and refined. The way we work, move, eat, and play is deeply connected to the histories and cultures of these energy sources. For this reason, energy is an important topic not only to engineers and economists but to humanities scholars as well. In this course, we will consider the histories and cultures of energy in North America from the mid-19th century to the present. We will dig into the question of energy by focusing on four themes: energy frontiers past and present, energy disasters fast and slow; energy in cultural memory; and energy media. We will look at representations of various energy sources (fossil fuels, human and animal power, wood, water, and wind) in film, television, literature, art, photography, museums displays, and industry archives while considering the role of energy in our everyday lives.


Integrated classroom at Anacostia High School

AMS 311s: Imagining Public Education

Unique # 30565
Instructor: Caroline Pinkston
MWF 1pm – 2pm

The last sixty years have been a remarkable and tumultuous period for American public education. From the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision to desegregate schools to the more recent controversies over charter schools and high-stakes testing, public education has spent much of the last half-century right in the middle of national debates about equality, justice, and democracy. A recurring narrative in these debates is that our public schools are failing, and that fixing them is crucial to solving other longstanding issues of poverty and racial injustice.

Where does this narrative come from?  What stories and images contribute to the way we understand the importance of public schooling and its apparent failures? What’s at stake when we imagine a “failing” public school – or, for that matter, a successful one?

This course will examine contesting representations of public school in American culture from the 1960’s to the present day.  This will not be a course in the history of American education. Our main purpose, instead, will be to investigate cultural perceptions of the state of public education, in pop culture, in the news, and beyond. What’s the relationship between the stories we tell about public education, the policy that determines what happens in schools, and broader cultural anxieties about race, childhood, and social justice? We will consider sources including film and television, policy briefs & journalism, nonfiction texts & memoir, children’s literature & school curriculum.

Potential texts (excerpts): Up the Down Staircase (Kaufman, 1964); Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools (Kozol, 1990); Bad Boys: Public Schools and the Making of Black Masculinity (Ferguson, 2000); Whatever it Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America (Tough; 2009)

Potential films (excerpts): The Breakfast Club (1985), Dangerous Minds (1995); Freedom Writers (2007); Waiting for Superman: How We Can Save America’s Failing Schools (2010)


American Indian stamp 14c 1922 issue

AMS 311s: The Mythic Indian in American Culture

Unique # 30570
Instructor: Eddie Whitewolf
MWF 9am – 10am

American culture is replete with images of the “Indian.” From the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition to professional sports team mascots, and from the packaging on Land ‘o’ Lakes butter to Walt Disney animated feature films, the “Indian” remains a pervasive yet enigmatic figure, but also, in the words of Vine Deloria, “unreal and ahistorical.” This course will interrogate the image of the mythic Indian in American popular culture, as seen through a variety of media, including American history, world’s fairs and expositions, public museum exhibits, literature, and film.

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)

Faculty Research: Designing History’s Future with Karl Hagstrom Miller

Teach

It should come as no surprise that we at AMS :: ATX headquarters love projects that delve into the digital world. One of our faculty members, Dr. Karl Hagstrom Miller, is working on the ever-fascinating Course Transformation Project with the UT History Department to “reimagin[e] what it means to teach and learn history.” The project includes a blog with content from Karl’s graduate seminar in the department, “Designing History’s Future,” a compendium of online resources about history pedagogy and research, an extensive bibliography, and a series of Friday afternoon workshops.

Here’s an excerpt from a write-up about the endeavor from Karl – the full post can be found here:

Penne Restad and I, in consultation with other history faculty, developed the basic plan for the project. But we have no idea how it is going to turn out. That is by design.

One of our major goals is to re-imagine the way we teach our US history survey courses. “United States, 1492-1865” and “United States Since 1865” are the backbone of the UT history department. These two courses enroll about 4,500 students annually. That’s a lot of students. It’s also a lot of faculty and a lot of graduate teaching assistants. Our goal is to develop ways for these students to learn more and learn better. For us, that means moving away from the lecture format towards more active and collaborative learning, designing a course in which students engage in doing history rather than watching it done by others. We don’t know what that is going to look like yet. We’ve got a load of ideas, but we will be developing, refining, and implementing them over the coming year. Keep posted.

We also hope to foster a broader conversation about teaching and learning history among our faculty, our students, and anyone else who is interested. The issues facing those who take and teach the US survey are far from unique. They resonate across the department and the university. Many, of course, resonate across the field of higher education. From student engagement and success to the paradoxes of systematic assessment in the humanities, from debates about active and situated learning to the existential challenges and exciting opportunities offered by digital technology, from graduate funding and placement to faculty research and retention: we often find ourselves working on contested and congested terrain. It is not always clear which way to travel or whether the paths we forge today will still be viable routes tomorrow. We do think that practicing teachers are in the best position to work out solutions to these complex issues while preserving and improving the quality of student learning. We hope that the history CTP will provide faculty and graduate students opportunities to debate these issues and collaborate on new designs for teaching history well into the future.

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Announcement: Today! The Baffler Joins Us for a Conversation on Higher Ed

This afternoon in Avaya Auditorium (POB 2.302), Thomas Frank and John Summers, editors of The Baffler, join us for a conversation on the future of higher education. A reception will begin at 4:30pm and the conversation starts at 5:00pm. Brave the rain and take part in a great discussion!

BafflerLogoNewOld1
Here are some of the topics Frank and Summers will discuss:

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?

Many thanks to our co-sponsors: the Department of English, Radio-Television-Film, Undergraduate Studies, the History Course Transformation Project, and Plan II Honors.

Alumni Voices: Adam Golub Writes on High School and College Teaching

Classroom in Fort Christmas

Our alumni continually impress us with the work that they do after leaving UT. Today, Ph.D. alumnus Adam Golub, now an associate professor of American Studies at California State University – Fullerton, has published an inspiring and useful essay in Hybrid Pedagogy on how teaching high school prepared him to teach at the college level. We’ve posted an excerpt below and the full article can be found here.

Teachers in higher education who may be frustrated with an institutional culture that does not always promote formal training or even encourage informal dialogue about pedagogy might helpfully turn to our K-12 colleagues as a resource. The mentoring and instruction I received as a high school teacher provided me with a conceptual vocabulary and a habit of mind with which to approach university teaching and curriculum design. This essay focuses on the pedagogical convergences between secondary and higher education, drawing from my own experience as someone who has taught high school students, college students, and future high school teachers. In the process, I make the case that discussions about pedagogy can constitute a common ground — a way to bridge the university/secondary divide and engender more productive discourse and collaboration among teachers in both settings. Such dialogue could, I believe, generate more expansive definitions of what teaching means in higher education, definitions that move beyond lecture, discussion, and the use of technology.
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