Welcome back from AMS :: ATX!

We’re so excited that school is back in session this year. It was a long summer, and we’re chomping at the bit to kick off this year in the Department of American Studies. We say it all the time, but stay tuned for new features and new contributors to the growing American Studies social media world at UT Austin. It’s going to be a good year.

For now: welcome back, everyone! Enjoy this tune from the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian.

Happy summer!

We’re officially shifting to summer vacation here at AMS :: ATX, so we’ll be publishing content at a more leisurely pace than we do during the school year. We will have new content for you, however, so keep checking back, dear readers.


“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Stories from Summer Vacation: Emily Roehl in the Digital Stacks

This week’s story from summer vacation comes to us from Ph.D. student Emily Roehl, who is beating the heat in Austin by resting in the shade of very tall stacks of books.


In addition to working as a Public Services Intern at the Harry Ransom Center this summer, I am finishing my preparations for oral exams. What this means is that when I am done retrieving books and manuscripts for patrons in the reading room each day, I hop on over to the PCL or Fine Arts Library to do the same thing for myself. There’s nothing like plopping down at a big, clean desk with a stack of books and a sore arm and getting down to work. But I’ll be honest–I could do without the sore arm, so I like to keep my books on campus and avoid the long, hot walk home with pounds and pounds of paper. So instead of stacking up my books on my desk so I can look at them fondly, I put them all here: in a Tumblr site that uses the Otlet’s Shelf theme to organize links from Amazon. It’s nice to be able to see all my books in one place, and I can add tags to organize the titles by theme. I haven’t yet mastered the art of Zotero or Omeka, which are other great digital archiving tools, but I love my Tumblr and would recommend the Otlet’s Shelf theme to anyone who would like to organize their own stacks of books online (and save themselves a sore arm).

Stories from Summer Vacation: Andrew Friedenthal’s Summer of Teaching and Comic-Con

Here’s how AMS Ph.D. student Andrew Friedenthal will be keeping busy this summer:

Comic Book And Animation Fans Flock To Comic-Con

Visions of Comic-Con

Aside from teaching the AMS 310 “Introduction to American Studies Course” this summer, focusing on the importance and history of popular culture in US history, I’m going to be attending the annual ground zero for upcoming popular culture – San Diego Comic-Con.  Rather than dressing up as Batman or Iron Man, though, I’ll be in a suit and tie, as I’m presenting a part of my dissertation at an academic conference there!  The annual Comics Arts Conference runs congruent to Comic-Con every year, and is the top annual conference for comics studies, since it allows for academics and culture-makers to forge a joint conversation about the history and future of comics and popular culture in general.  I’ll probably find time to switch into an Avengers t-shirt, though.

Announcement: summer is upon us!

We’re very happy that, following a few final exams and papers, summer vacation is nearly upon us. Like last summer, we’ll be blogging at a more leisurely pace. But you will see the return of a popular feature that we began back in summer 2012: Stories from Summer Vacation. Stay tuned for reports from the UT American Studies community about how folks are spending their well-deserved months of respite (or, in reality, a few months to catch up on work, prepare for fall classes, polish up drafts of books and articles, read for qualifying exams, write dissertations – and occasionally relax!).

The Grotto

Summer afternoon—summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.

– Henry James

Stories from Summer Vacation: A View from the Desk of Katherine Kelly

This story comes our way from the desk of doctoral student Katherine Kelly:

Hello from my desk! This July I’m taking a month away from my job at the Longhorn Network for a fabulous rendezvous with my doctoral dissertation on home organization. The view here is really nice: I see coffee cups, frantic and unintelligible post-it notes, and piles of books that seemed important at one point, but that I have now forgotten why I even checked out of the library, left behind in my writing like so many fallen soldiers. I can’t go back for you, secondary sources!! Your chapter has already been written!!

The ability to have a month off to work on my project is extremely lucky–by mid-August I will be back at a job that I really enjoy, but that keeps my attention divided (the scales are tipped back again because they pay me; the dissertation, on the other hand, makes me pay and pay again). During this time, I’ve been able to conduct a number of interviews with professional organizers, who have all been very gracious and whose shared experiences will make my work a lot better. I’m really grateful for their time, and for the uninterrupted time here at my desk, and, incidentally, for the exercise ball chair I just bought to sit on, which has really been an unexpected boon in all this.

In my spare time I’m training for an Olympic-distance triathlon I’m doing with another Ph.D. candidate (Anthropology) on Labor Day. There’s not much to say about that except it’s very sweaty and I will probably finish.