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

Announcement: Dr. Heather A. Williams, “The Emotional Violence of Slavery”

We would love to draw your attention to a series of events transpiring on campus TODAY (Tuesday, March 29) at 4:00pm and tomorrow (Wednesday, March 30). Dr. Heather A. Williams (The University of Pennsylvania) will be delivering two Littlefield Lectures: today’s is entitled “The Emotional Violence of Slavery” and tomorrow’s is “Murder on the Plantation.”

The events will take place in the Glickman Conference Room in the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Building, and they are sponsored by the UT History Department.

For more information about Dr. Williams, see her faculty page here.

Announcement: Dr. Maurie McInnis appointed UT Provost and Professor of American Studies

Maurie McInnis

Earlier this week, University of Texas at Austin’s President Greg Fenves announced the appointment of Dr. Maurie McInnis as the University’s executive vice president and provost. In addition to her duties as the provost, Prof. McInnis will also be appointed as Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities #1 in the Department of American Studies.

Prof. McInnis has long taught undergraduate courses in American Studies and Art History, including an innovative multi-disciplinary lecture class focused on the history and culture of the slave South. A former Chair of University of Virginia’s American Studies program, her interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on the relationship between politics and art in early America. Prof. McInnis’s most recent book, Slaves Waiting for Sale: Abolitionist Art and the American Slave Trade, was awarded the Charles C. Eldredge Book Prize from the Smithsonian American Art Museum for outstanding scholarship in American Art and the Library of Virginia Literary Award for non-fiction. Her scholarship has been long engaged with public history, and she has worked regularly with museums and historic sites. More details on Professor McInnis’s scholarship, research and accomplishments are available on her website.

We are delighted to welcome Maurie McInnis to both the College of Liberal Arts, and the Department of American Studies!

Announcement: core and affiliate American Studies faculty explore relevance of ‘Gone With The Wind’

Gone With The Wind title from trailer

Mark your calendars, everyone: on Wednesday, October 1 at 4:00pm, professors Daina Ramey Berry, Jacqueline Jones, Randolph Lewis, Thomas Schatz, and Coleman Hutchison will be participating in a panel discussion exploring Gone With The Wind’s contemporary relevance, 75 years after its premiere in Atlanta.

Dr. Lewis is a member of our core faculty, while Jones, Schatz, and Hutchison are American Studies faculty affiliates.

The panel, held at the Harry Ransom Center, is a part of a series of events this semester occurring alongside the center’s impressive and comprehensive Gone With The Wind exhibit, open until January 4, 2015.

For more information, see the event announcement here.

5 Questions with Dr. Shirley Thompson

Today we bring you a new entry in one of our favorite series of AMS :: ATX: an interview with Dr. Shirley Thompson, associate professor of American Studies and Associate Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. Dr. Thompson was also recently awarded a Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship for her research on property, economics, and law.

Photo by Marsha Miller

Photo by Marsha Miller


What was your favorite project to work on and why?

I have to say my favorite was everything relating to my New Orleans project, which was my dissertation, and turned into my first book, Exiles at Home: The Struggle to Become American in Creole New Orleans.  First of all because I’m someone whose native constitution is more conducive to more quiet, solitary, archival research, and the New Orleans archival situation is just amazing.  Because New Orleans was so long a French colony, governed by civil code, there’s a different bureaucracy in place, which means that a lot of the transactions that would fall under the radar in another kind of space, an Anglo-American space, had to be attended by a notary, had to be heavily detailed, recorded and filed for future reference.  It was also really litigious on the civil side: you had neighbors bringing suit against neighbors for civil infractions.  It was a highly contestable, really rich culture of recording disagreement and recording interactions.  The logic of the archives is really interesting too, to trace people, who while I was working I thought of as characters, through their various material interactions, to witness them buying and selling property, interacting with their families, their neighbors – it brought history alive and made me feel really intimate with the people I was studying. The archival situation was really rich for me, and I could spend hours in a room, totally engrossed, in the historical events that were unfolding.

But beyond that, when I came out of those archives, the place itself was completely engaging.  New Orleans opened me up to something I’ve always been interested in, which is maps, and thinking about various ways of experiencing and representing space, and marking the overlapping projects of placemaking – how these projects come together or fail to come together within a city, or town, a geographical unit.  It’s not hard in New Orleans because it wears its history on its sleeve, but I began to really pay attention to how the city itself is a palimpsest, and use that as a kind of guide for thinking about how to tell the stories that I thought were important.  And New Orleans, in terms of its placement, pulled me into a transnational perspective that I found really transformative for my way of thinking about US history, thinking about African American history and its relationship to a broader stream of African diasporic thought.

The New Orleans project opened all that up for me.  I’ve also done some more creative pieces on New Orleans recently. I find that it’s a city that stokes my creative imagination.

I love going back and talking to people in New Orleans.  One thing about the city is that the people who are from there and live there are, a lot of them, historians – not formally, but they’re really engaged with the history of their families, the history of their communities, how other people represent them. They’re very savvy about representations of New Orleans, what their city might mean, what their culture has given to the world, and all the consequences of that.  They’re very articulate about it, and very willing to engage you on all of those levels. I see it as an ongoing project.  Every time I go back, I’m thrown back in the midst of these broader questions about the city, race and the city, and questions of representation.

Continue reading

Announcement: Dr. Shirley Thompson Awarded Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship


Dr. Thompson’s first book, winner of the 2010 Robert W. Hamilton Book Award

We are delighted to share with you the news that Dr. Shirley Thompson, Associate Professor of American Studies and Associate Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, has been awarded a Mellon Foundation New Directions Fellowship. These fellowships “assist faculty members in the humanities, broadly understood to include the arts, history, languages, area studies, and zones of such fields as anthropology and geography that bridge the humanities and social sciences, who seek to acquire systematic training outside their own areas of special interest.”

Dr. Thompson says she will use the fellowship to study economics and law more systematically and to confront the theoretical and methodological challenges of her current book project, “No More Auction Block for Me.” Here is a little more from Dr. Thompson on her current research:

An interdisciplinary scholar trained in cultural history, literary criticism, critical race theory, and cultural geography, I have been inspired by my previous research on nineteenth century New Orleans, the largest slave market in the U.S. South, to ask broader questions about the gruesome intersections of race, law, and economics. I believe that this avenue of research can illuminate the history of racial disparity and also help us understand wider, seemingly unrelated macro- and microeconomic processes. In the past decade and a half, many historians and cultural studies scholars have detailed the connections among slavery and other capitalist ventures, particularly within the FIRE industries of finance, insurance, and real estate. As an important foundation of local, national, and global economies, the slave market, according to Walter Johnson, Stephanie Smallwood, Ian Baucom and others, has also shaped individual and collective identities in powerful ways. I will explore the accounts and critiques of capitalist logics issuing from the knowledge and experience of those subjects who had functioned as capital—the enslaved and those persons whose blackness has continued to serve as a “badge of slavery” even after formal emancipation. In other words, I aim to ask Karl Marx’s rhetorical figure, the “speaking commodity,” what she knows about the vagaries of the capitalist economy in general and the property relation in particular.

Congratulations, Dr. Thompson!

Announcement: Dr. Shirley Thompson Participates in Roundtable on “12 Years a Slave”

The John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies and the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies (TILTS) invite you to a roundtable discussion of 12 Years a Slave on Thursday, February 6, at 5pm in the Santa Rita Suite (3.502) of the Texas Union. The film, directed by Steve McQueen from an adapted screenplay by John Ridley, tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1841, and it has been nominated for 9 Academy Awards. 12 Years a Slave has sparked national and international debates about slavery, American history, the representation of American history on film, and the experiences of African and African diasporic actors and filmmakers in Hollywood.

12 Years

The roundtable will be moderated by Helena Woodard of the Department of English. Panelists include UT professors Daina Ramey Berry (History), Eddie Chambers (Art and Art History), Mark Cunningham from the Department of Radio, Television, and Film at Austin Community College, and our very own Shirley Thompson (American Studies).