Transatlantic Women 3:

Women of the Green Atlantic


Dublin, Ireland

Royal Irish Academy

21-22 June 2018


Sponsored by the Catherine Maria Sedgwick Society and the Harriet Beecher Stowe Society

“Since every wind that blows brings to our shores a fresh swarm of these people, who are to form so potent an element in our future national character, it behooves us to study them well, and make the best we can of them.”

Catharine Sedgwick, “The Little Mendicants” (1846)


The third meeting of Transatlantic Women will take place in Dublin, Ireland, on 21-22 June 2018 at the Royal Irish Academy. It will focus on Irish/American crosscurrents of the long nineteenth century, on the transatlantic stream of writers, reformers, and immigrants crossing over the Green Atlantic who were engaged in refuting but also perpetuating stereotypes and racist beliefs that troubled Irish-American relations. Such authors as Catharine Sedgwick, for instance, wrestled with contradictory conceptions created of Irish immigrants who appear in many of her writings, including “Irish Girl” (1842) and “The Post Office: An Irish Story” (1843).  In a different context, “An Affectionate and Christian Address of Many Thousands of Women” (1852) pointedly addressed American women as the “sisters” of women from both Great Britain and Ireland; although Harriet Beecher Stowe never traveled to Ireland, she met deputations from that country during her first visit to Europe (1853). In “What Is a Home?” (1864) and “Servants” (1865), she expressed concerns about the Irish in the United States similar to those of Sedgwick.


This transatlantic gathering will celebrate, and question, nineteenth-century women who crossed the Green Atlantic, wrote about it, or in other ways connected the United States with Ireland through networks, translations, transatlantic fame, or influence. As Peter D. O’Neill and David Lloyd demonstrate in The Black and Green Atlantic: Cross-Currents of the African and Irish Diasporas (2009), people from Ireland, as well as from Africa and the United States, crossed the Atlantic as slaves and servants, as cultural and political exiles or activists. Many women, active in travel writing, pamphleteering, writing fiction, newspaper articles, speeches, fairy tales, and ghost stories, were promoters of women’s rights and the figure of the New Woman, and were engaged in philanthropy, temperance, abolitionism, social commentary—and simply just in sightseeing and enjoying themselves. Among the most prominent figures to build bridges between the United States and Ireland around activism are such well-known Americans as Lucretia Mott, Susan B. Anthony (on the Irish Question), Frances Willard, Ellen Craft, Ida B. Wells, and the Irish Frances Power Cobbe; among those who have received less attention are, for example, the African American Sarah Parker Remond and the poet Frances Osgood. And the exchange went both ways: fiction by Irish writer Maria Edgeworth, for instance, influenced Sedgwick, among others.


The Transatlantic Women 3 conference brings together scholars representing various countries and disciplines to examine the ways in which these women and their ideas moved, how they resisted oppression and created new ways to conceptualize their identities and the reality surrounding them. We welcome presentations on any topic related to nineteenth-century transatlantic women but are especially interested in those dealing with women of the Irish-American nexus. Some of the key concepts include race, stereotypes, assimilation, immigrant reality; conceptualization of space, distance, and identity; movement, and memory—historical and personal.


Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • recovering voices of Irish-Americans, or American-Irish women
  • struggles of immigrant women
  • women pioneers, in professions, activism, innovation
  • female networks and sisterhoods—of writers, journalists, travelers
  • women activists (abolitionism, anti-lynching, temperance, women’s rights, peace, white slavery, reform, animal rights)
  • women travelers and their descriptive gaze
  • fictional and realistic descriptions of places, people, and societies
  • women’s articulations of transatlanticism and the Green Atlantic

Abstracts, which should be about 250 words, and a short bio, are due by 1 November 2017. They should be emailed to

We look forward to yet another stimulating transatlantic conversation with you!

Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact any of the organizers:

Beth L. Lueck ( ), Sirpa Salenius ( ), or Lucinda Damon-Bach (



James Hussey is a PhD candidate in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, and was recently elected as one of our Postgraduate and Early Career Representatives.

How did you end up where you are now?

I completed my B.A. (Hons) in Trinity College Dublin in 2013 and, after taking Prof. Stephen Matterson’s “Hawthorne and Melville” course during my final year, I decided that these ostensibly gloomy nineteenth century writers had a pretty good view of things. This inspired me to opt for Trinity’s MPhil in Literatures of the Americas. After trying desperately to stay within the confines of New England I realised there was only one thing for it, and, here I am, over three years later, working towards a PhD on the life and career of Nathaniel Hawthorne, for whom solitude, sherry and good cigars often took the place of companions or friends. Apart from the first of these I haven’t quite got the hang of the latter pair.

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’m in the penultimate year of a PhD that researches the influence of Jacksonian individualism on the work of Nathaniel Hawthorne. My contention is that Hawthorne’s career and writings were informed and influenced by a societal-acceptance of individualism that transcended mere ethical concerns, and took on identifying qualities for Americans of the era. I have published on Faulkner and Hawthorne respectively, and have contributed to a wide variety of panels, largely on nineteenth century American literature, at international conferences, including the MLA and ALA. Other interests include baseball literature and culture, Thomas Pynchon, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the lyrics of Hank Williams.

Favourite book/film/album?

My favourite book is The Sickness Unto Death by Søren Kierkegaard. I’m not a fancy, big city lawyer usually one for big claims or statements, but Kierkegaard is my vote for best prose writer of the nineteenth century. This work, quite apart from its philosophical implications, is written with wondrous dexterity. It’s a fascinating look at the self from an interesting, unique perspective.

My favourite film is Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I never get tired of Bill S. Preston Esq., Ted “Theodore” Logan or Rufus, not to mention the fact that “strange things are afoot at the Circle K”. Is it the best film ever? Absolutely not, but it’s unapologetically my favourite.

There are a couple of albums I could choose as a favourite (Ok Computer, Songs for the Deaf, Sea Change), but I’ll go against most critical belief and all sense of public taste or decency and say Be Here Now. Sure, “All Around the World” is nearly 10 minutes long and they probably should have eased up on the arguments (and cocaine), but it was initially considered the most ambitious British album since Sgt. Peppers, and we can all get behind ambition right?

Universities don’t exist. What job would you have instead?

A baseball writer. The “thrill of the grass” as W.P. Kinsella put it. The chance to get paid to do something you love is rare, so to be paid to watch something I love is unimaginable. A beat writer for the Yankees, couple of books on the historical tidbits that the game accumulates. I reckon I’d settle for that.

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

If I was to answer this seriously and ask for a sympathetic portrayal I would go with Casey Affleck. He’s been my favourite actor for years, and after Manchester by the Sea I feel like his next great acting challenge could be that of a PhD candidate/academic.

If Casey passed up on this opportunity to impress the Academy, then a mid-fifties version of Robert Mitchum would do just fine, maybe without the “Love” and “Hate” tattoos on his knuckles.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

Throughout my MPhil programme in Trinity, the IAAS was advertised as an excellent way to meet like-minded, academically-inclined postgraduate students at symposia, the annual conference, and various other occasions during the year. I, of course, promptly ignored all advertisements and spent the following year, the first of my PhD, wondering at my own foolishness. From the start of my doctorate onwards, I began to engage with the aforementioned events and learned that this organisation provided a friendly, not-at-all sarcastic view of academia, one that encouraged scholarship and participation within a community of emerging students and established professors.

In an alternate universe to question 4, you have somehow ended up establishing your own university. What’s the motto?

“There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.” I was tempted to quote Dante, but Melville will do fine – just to welcome the undergraduates on the right note.

We’re all going to call around this evening. What’s for dinner?

Chili con carne. Various dried and fresh chillies, lots of spice, and no kidney beans (blasphemy!).

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

I’ll go with Alessandro del Piero. The only time I have ever cried over a “celebrity” was when he injured his ACL against Udinese in November 1998. I can tell you where I was, what I had just eaten for dinner and other strange little details of which traumatic incidents tend to provoke remembrance. My 7 year old brain, attempting to process the Channel 4 commentary, genuinely believed that football was about to end.

Free space! You have about 200 words to plug something dear to your heart/announce plans to take over the universe/tell us about the grand plans you have as a member of the committee…

Well, apart from telling everyone to get on the Jackson-as-comparison train before Trump gets impeached/resigns/couldn’t be bothered, I would implore all students and teachers of American Studies to explore the heterogeneity of approaches that the IAAS brings to an already varied field.

Symposia, conferences, guest lectures, workshops, funding applications; not only is this a list of rejected 1960’s Batman sound effects, it is also an indication of the breadth of opportunity provided by this tireless association. I must also take this chance to ask people to visit and re-visit this website, which is updated regularly and is, truly, a one-stop shop for all things American Studies. It is a resource that cannot be underestimated.

Look out for news about upcoming postgraduate events over the next year, as your representatives, Sarah and I are looking forward to putting together an exciting, fruitful symposium that caters for the diversity of students applying themselves to the study of the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave. Of course, we also encourage study of South and Central America, I just got a little hyped there.

XVIII International Hemingway Conference
Hemingway in Paris: “Paris est une fête” . . .
Hemingway’s Moveable Feast
JULY 22-28, 2018

“The Feast in Motion: Paris 2018-Hemingway, nous voilà!
 Conference Directors: H. R. Stoneback & Matthew Nickel
“If you are lucky enough . . . then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”
George Plimpton, founding editor of The Paris Review and one of the early readers of the manuscript of A Moveable Feast remarked: “I can’t imagine sending anyone to Paris without suggesting that they read the book. It has the hard brilliance of his best fiction.” Consider that homework-to read or reread Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast as you prepare to attend the not-to-be-missed once-in-a-lifetime 18th International Hemingway Conference in Paris July 22-28, 2018. Plans for the Paris Feast are very much in motion. If we haven’t firmly convinced you yet that you really must be there in July 2018, what shall we say here? Come to the City of Light (not Lights; it’s about Enlightenment not Electricity-but the luminous lights of La Ville Lumiére are pretty spectacular, too). Come to La Capitale de la gastronomie, de l’art de vivre, de la mode, de l’amour; come to what is often called “the most beautiful and most visited city in the world”; or come because you just want to be there with Hemingway, in Paris, the place that he called “the city I love best in all the world.” Come, too, because the conference offers the opportunity to celebrate the Centenary of the End of The Great War. Come and say with Hemingway and over 4,000,000 Americans mobilized for that war: “Lafayette, we are here!” (No, General Pershing did not say it. The moving story of who first said it, when and where, is told in many books, on many websites.)  And now, some announcements and practical matters:
SpeakersWe are delighted to announce that Terry Eagleton, one of the world’s leading writers, literary critics and public intellectuals, author of more than 45 books, has agreed to be a featured speaker at the conference. We are also excited to announce that Adam Gopnik, leading writer for The New Yorker for decades and author of Paris to the Moon and many other works, will be a featured speaker.We await the resolution of our invitations to other potential featured speakers-from Milan Kundera to Jean Echenoz and Patrick Modiano. We will also have an all-star lineup in special sessions featuring the authors of new and recent books on Hemingway.
Conference Papers:  As the conference Call For Papers stresses, we invite not just papers that may deal with Hemingway and Paris or Hemingway and the World War(s) but also presentations on the widest possible range of topics. The deadline for abstract submissions is Aug. 30, 2017. We look forward to receiving your abstract soon.
Special Events: We are currently in negotiations regarding special events-the Opening Reception, the PEN-Hemingway event, the Closing Banquet-to be held at some of the world’s most spectacular venues. Watch for announcements soon. We will also hold special academic plenary sessions in one of the legendary amphithéâtres of the Sorbonne.
Location and Paris Site Coordinators: The American University of Paris (AUP) is our host institution and our Paris Site Coordinators are AUP Professors Alice Mikal Craven and William Dow. AUP is located in the 7th Arrondissement, often called the safest and most serene quartier in the heart of Paris.
Lodging:  We will shortly post on the website the AUP list of lodging in the 7th Arrondissement, within walking distance of our meeting spaces and with costs as low as around 130 Euros a night. As we’ve noted before, contrary to popular myth, Paris does not have to be an expensive city when you know the terrain, and a number of 2-Star and 3-Star hotels near AUP will cost less than lodging in Oak Park (2016) and Venice (2014).
American literature is inconceivable without Paris, without the feasts of Hemingway and all the others in the Capital of Modernism. Did Gertrude Stein say it best: “Paris, France is exciting and peaceful . . . Paris was where the 20thcentury was” (Paris France). Or did Hemingway say it better: “There is never any ending to Paris . . . Paris was always worth it and you received return for whatever you brought to it.” (A Moveable Feast).
See you in Paris next summer, where we will raise our glasses and proclaim: Hemingway, nous voilà-Hemingway, we are here!




 1-3 February 2018

Universidad de Córdoba, Spain


This three-day event—a two-day conference followed by a workshop on the third day—aims to interrogate the multiple and overlapping global processes underlying three emergent relational fields or modes of enquiry: precarity, populism and post-truth politics. As a network, we are committed to the pursuit of arguments and ideas that will foster articulation of research questions and positions and the construction of one or more interlinked, interdisciplinary projects. We seek to identify the interconnections between precarity, populism and post-truth politics in ways that will enable the development of cross-cutting thematic and theoretical approaches to these manifestations of global inequality, injustice and tension.

Judith Butler first introduced the concept of precarity in Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence (2004), defined as a type of precariousness by which human life can be understood from a collective, communal and interdependently political point of view. Whereas all lives are born precarious—i.e. vulnerable and hence finite—precarity refers to a “politically induced condition” (2009, 25) derived from (in)action on the part of social and economic systems, usually maintained by nation-states, which fail to protect human lives from physical impairment for reasons such as disease, poverty, starvation, or political violence. In a similar way poverty also has been reframed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum,[1] as not just material deprivation but a failure of the world system, due to social cultural exclusion, lack of agency and access to rights and capabilities.

In these contexts, a new form of populism has recently emerged, albeit not unprecedented in history, as a powerful social response, tainted by xenophobia, which emphasises the need for protection against perceived threats to national security, health and well-being, employment and living standards. More peripheral groups, often aided by Non-Governmental Organizations, independent associations, Refugee Councils or other transnational agencies, have traditionally been targets of populism; but recently more affluent social sectors have also begun to experience conditions of precarity, to demonstrate hostility towards immigrants, and to demand sovereignty, as with Brexit, or secession, as with Catalonia in Spain. Examples include the European austerity policies and the emergence of right wing political parties and pressure groups such as UKIP, the Front National (France), The Golden Dawn (Greece) and the Freedom Party (Netherlands), which both foster and are symptomatic of the opposition between the haves and the have-nots. This growing fracture entails the dehumanization and/or reification of the Other, rendering asylum seekers, illegal migrants or refugees—i.e. border subjects—considered outside national and ethnic boundaries, as unintelligible and unrecognizable.

This per se intricate situation of our contemporary moment is complemented by a third phenomenon, known as “post-truth”, a term which was awarded the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year in 2016.[2] Post-truth, usually associated with the noun “politics,” is described by the Oxford Dictionary of English (ODE) as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”. The complex interrelationship between precarity and populism is thus marked by the unparalleled mass media impact on our globalized era and the tendency towards distortion of the news in the press and social media. Factual events are set aside; emotional appeals are foregrounded. This implies that reality is multifarious, kaleidoscopic and that multiple overlapping and sometimes colliding “truths” co-exist. Global issues of poverty worldwide (regardless of whether those areas are classified as developed or developing countries) are in danger of being overlooked and political governments and agencies are faced with ethical and aesthetic issues of representation, concerning aspects of voice, agency and authenticity.

In taking up the critical concepts of this three-field intersection, we suggest precarity, populism and post-truth politics can be interpreted through the lens of racial, gender, or ethnic discrimination, silencing, censorship and marginalization on the part of governments, corporations or other forces, leading to violence and terror and ecological degradation in the context of fierce neo-liberal capitalism.

This International Conference also proposes to examine precarity, populism and post-truth politics through multiple research disciplines, ranging from sociology, economics, ethnography, anthropology, literary and comparative studies, visual and media studies, translation, among others, by focusing on individual or collective cases, imaginative responses, and theoretical or experimental approaches. The aim of this conference is to provide a multi- and transdisciplinary platform which will allow delegates to (un)settle, (re)frame, and analyse the global issues from multiple viewpoints as well as their cultural representation.

We invite abstracts that focus on, but are not limited to, the following:

* Global Health and Safety, starvation and housing

* National and transnational terrorism, war, and violence

* Subalternity, marginality, poverty, and economic inequality

* Gender, sexuality, poverty, and precarity

* Diasporas, immigration and global population trends and growth

* Mass media representations of economy, democracy and global conflict

* Depletion of natural resources, ecological degradation and the Anthropocene

* Imperialistic globalization of cultures

* Human Rights, refugees, asylum seekers, illegal migrants and social activism

* Populisms and aesthetics

* Global emergence of right wing ideologies

* NGOs, UN and other corporate stakeholders

* Racism, discrimination, and ontologies of the grievable

* The role of censorship in mass media and cultural representations

* Neo-liberal capitalism and human sustainability

* The role of science and technology in poverty, populism and the post-truth era

* The humanities and social sciences in the global world

* Truthiness,[3] Truth and Post-Truth Politics: political discourse and consciousness

* Scapes of poverty and precarity and its representational practices

* Contested representations of precarity, populism and post-truth phenomena

* Political separatisms, populism and Brexit

* Literary and visual representations of precarity, populism, post-truth politics

* Ethics and aesthetics in the representations of poverty



Elleke Boehmer (University of Oxford, UK)

Tabish Khair (Aarhus University, Denmark)


We invite abstracts of 300-400 words for 20-minute papers which can be either oral or virtual. If virtual this should be stated on the abstract as instructions about content and delivery will be sent on acceptance. Proposals for 90 minutes panels, with a 500-word justification in addition to individual abstracts of 300 words, are also welcome. Please include personal information (name, affiliation, contact information) with the abstract, and send it to the following:


Om Dwivedi, Sri Ramswaroop Memorial University, Lucknow, India (

Cristina M. Gámez-Fernández, University of Cordova, Spain (

Janet Wilson, University of Northampton, UK (


Deadline: 30 September 2017.

Notification of acceptance: 31 October 2017.


[1] See, for example, Amartya Sen, ‘Capability and Well-Being,’ in M. Nussbaum and A. Sen, The Quality of Life. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993); and Martha Nussbaum, Creating Capabilities: The Human Development Approach (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, 2011).




IAAS Vice-Chair Dara Downey and winner of the 2017 Book Prize, Dan Geary

The Winner

Daniel Geary, Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and its Legacy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015).

The book provides a detailed history of the Moynihan Report, The Negro Family: A Case for National Action, authored by Daniel Patrick Moynihan shortly after the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The report highlighted socio-economic inequalities facing African-American families, while also making controversial statements about the role of single mothers. As Daniel Geary argues in Beyond Civil Rights, the report’s considerable impact and ongoing relevance over the past fifty years has been considerable, while remaining critical of its gendered attitudes.

In his own words, “I am honored and delighted to receive the Peggy O’Brien Prize for my book, Beyond Civil Rights: The Moynihan Report and Its Legacy. I wrote this book as an American immigrant to Ireland, where I have lived since 2008. I believe the project benefited from my having lived here. Certainly it helped attune me to the ethnic identity of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who drew on his Irish-American heritage to claim authority about African Americans and their family life, the subject of his controversial 1965 report that made him famous and helped launch a long career that culminated in his four terms as U.S. Senator representing New York.

“Beyond that, however, living here gave me the courage and perspective to write on one of the most heated intellectual controversies in recent American history. To many of Moynihan’s critics, his report was a racist document that blamed African Americans for persistent racial inequality by highlighting the ‘instability’ of ‘matriarchal’ families. Moynihan’s defenders, however, view criticism of the report as political correctness run amuck. Though I tend to side with Moynihan’s critics, the point of my book was not to rehash the controversy but to explain how it came about and to treat all participants’ views fairly in order to show how discourse over persistent African American inequality has changed since the Civil Rights era. Working in Ireland gave me the necessary distance to tell that story.”


What Our Judges Said

“superbly and clearly written and structured […] an extremely topical book with major relevance for contemporary American politics. It brings the debates over the implications of Moynihan’s report The Negro Family (1963) up to date and provides an exhaustively researched but compellingly written summary and analysis of the report’s impact.”

“a very fresh, well-researched study of the Moynihan Report and its legacy. It alerts us to the Report’s continuing relevance and malleability. […] us[ing] primary sources, including archives and interviews […] it thoughtfully navigates several perspectives (e.g., black sociology, feminism) on the Report. […] The lucidity of the writing is one of the key rewards of reading this book.”

 “There is much to learn and reconsider in reading this book, not only about the politics of race but also about the intellectual limits of liberalism – provocative and timely lessons for today. […] a significant contribution to our understanding of American social and political history.”


Short-Listed Books

Steve Gronert Ellerhoff, Post-Jungian Psychology and Short Stories of Ray Bradbury and Kurt Vonnegut (Routledge, 2016) – reviewed by Miranda Corcoran here.

Clare Hayes Brady, The Unspeakable Failures of David Foster Wallace: Language, Identity, Resistance (Bloomsbury, 2016) – available for review.

Lee M. Jenkins, The American Lawrence (University of Florida Press, 2015) – reviewed by Gillian Groszewski here.

David Coughlan, Ghost Writing in Contemporary American Fiction (Palgrave, 2016) – available for review.

Sarah Cullen is a PhD candidate in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin, and was recently elected as one of our Postgraduate and Early Career Representatives

How did you end up where you are now?

I started my BA in English and Drama in UCD in 2009 and went straight into UCD’s American Literature Masters once I’d finished in 2012. At the end of my BA there were a few different areas I was interested in pursuing, but what pointed me towards American Literature was that it was the last year one particular individual would be teaching the course (need I say it? It was of course Ron Callan). During my MA the nineteenth-century class (taught by our own Dara Downey) tickled my fancy despite the fact that up till then I had been fairly set on twentieth-century fiction, and as a result I began thinking tentatively about a nineteenth-century PhD proposal even as I was handing in my twentieth-century MA thesis. Then, after a couple of years out in the real world (just enough time for me to realise what a cold, dead wasteland it is) I took the plunge in September 2015 and here I am, still technically alive, Trinity PhD candidate and IAAS Postgrad Rep in 2017!

Tell us a little bit about your current research interests?

I’m researching Night Studies in Nineteenth-Century American Literature. I’m examining ways in which representations of night were used to challenge ideas regarding race and gender, by focusing on authors like Charles Brockden Brown, Harriet Jacobs, Frederick Douglass, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Part of that is also looking at how the advent of electricity changed attitudes towards the night throughout the century. I’m also currently writing a chapter on Frederick Douglass for a collection entitled Surveillance, Race, Culture.

Favourite book/film/album?

I don’t know I have favourites, but I’m going to say Paradise by Toni Morrison. I feel like it’s a book I would never get tired of reading. (The fact that it was also the focus of my WTM Riches essay is…pretty nice, I suppose!)

My favourite movie might be Jacques Taiti’s Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot because who doesn’t want to holiday in a sleepy seaside French village in the fifties?

For favourite album I’ll just say anything by Fleetwood Mac because that’s my study soundtrack.

Universities don’t exist. What job would you have instead?

I would rather like to be an artist. I enjoy painting and it’s something that I hope I will be able to keep up alongside more academic pursuits!

Who would play you in the movie of your life?

I’ve been told I look like Julia Stiles a couple of times. Her heady mix of Shakespearean high school escapades and international espionage please me, so I say yes.

How did you get involved with the IAAS?

I was lucky enough to win the IAAS’s own WTM Riches Essay prize as a Masters student back in 2013, and they haven’t left me alone since! But seriously, the IAAS was my way into Ireland’s academic community even when I was between degrees, as they were always very welcoming at their conferences. Getting opportunities to present as an independent scholar was one of the key factors in encouraging me to return to start a PhD.

In an alternate universe to question 4, you have somehow ended up establishing your own university. What’s the motto?

Hmm, what’s the motto from Animal House?

We’re all going to call around this evening. What’s for dinner?

Oh good grief. Probably a roast? I feel like that’s achievable. And by achievable I mean I will burn it and you’ll all be disappointed and no one will ever call around again.

Who is your hero, academic or otherwise?

This is probably way too grandiose, but everything I’ve been reading about Frederick Douglass makes me very teary-eyed. Even the POTUS has noticed him now! I truly believe we can expect a bright future from Douglass.

Free space! You have about 200 words to plug something dear to your heart/announce plans to take over the universe/tell us about the grand plans you have as a member of the committee…

I recognise that James and myself have a lot to live up to in follow on after Rosemary, Katie and Kate as Postgraduate Reps, and we’re very much looking forward to the challenge! We’ve a few new ideas to incorporate into future postgraduate symposia while trying to maintain the high standard of excellence that’s come before. As a result I would of course encourage anyone who’s interested in American studies in any shape or form to join the association – the more diverse the interests the better! And on a slightly more personal note, I would particularly like to encourage anyone who is interested to enter the WTM Riches Essay competition. It’s a great way of getting involved with a great bunch of lads, and a wonderful way to start off your publishing career too!

Sarah McCreedy (UCC) was the recipient of an IAAS bursary to attend and present at this year’s annual conference of the British Association for American Studies, held at Canterbury Christ Church University in April.

As a first year PhD student struggling to make ends meet, I was extremely grateful to receive a bursary from the IAAS which allowed me to present a paper, entitled ‘‘Rethinking decisions they’d already made’: New naturalism and Neoliberal identity in ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere’, at the BAAS annual conference. I would like to extend my thanks to the committee who reviewed my application, as the comments were helpful and constructive, and particularly valuable considering the early stage of my research. This year, the conference was held on a pleasantly sunny campus at Canterbury Christ Church University, from the 6th-8th April.

Conference registration included free entry to Canterbury Cathedral

On Thursday afternoon, a panel on American history and culture in cinema and video games attested to the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of American studies. Esther Wright (University of Warwick) delivered a fascinating paper on L.A. Noire (2011) and Red Dead Redemption (2010), video games produced by Rockstar Games, and set in the unique contexts of 1940’s Los Angeles and the declining American frontier in 1911, respectively. Esther persuasively argued that these games were more representative of film than reality. American cinema, rather than American history, was promoted as a mark of authenticity to the target audience. The first day was rounded off with a wine reception sponsored by the upcoming joint conference of the EAAS and BAAS, (EBAAS) to be held in London between KCL, UCL and the British Library in 2018.

On Friday, it was nice to see a familiar face in IAAS Secretary Jenny Daly, presenting on Jonathan Franzen in a fascinating panel on ‘Troubled and Troubling Masculinities in the 21st Century’, where cult classic Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000) was also discussed. Although I was apprehensive to present on the final day, the interesting discussion following this panel, surrounding white male privilege, the complexity of suffering and justified victimhood, added some perspective to ideas I had been grappling with regarding my own paper.

Commencing bright and early on Saturday morning, my own panel, ‘Gender, Race and Religious Difference in the Short Story’ included a paper from Anna Girling (University of Edinburgh), addressing casuistry and anti-Catholicism in Edith Wharton’s early career. Anna argued that in ‘That Good May Come’ (1894), Wharton refuses to offer moral guidance, consequently placing the reader as a protestant parishioner. The House of Mirth (1905) introduced me to my PhD topic, American literary naturalism, so I was interested to consider this new perspective on Wharton’s earlier works. Stefania Ciocia, a reader on her home turf, concluded the panel with an engaging paper on Junot Diaz and Julia Alvarez’s short story cycles. The parallels in the three papers were surprisingly striking: in addressing narrative construction and how intentionally cohesive short story collections are, as well as more broadly, in considering the complex issue of determinism. In the discussion following, our chair Jenny Terry from Durham University asked me how consciously naturalistic and intertextually relevant ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere (2003) is. With other authors I explore in my thesis, which examines naturalism’s resurgence in the 21st century, the connection is more overt. Cormac McCarthy, who famously stated that ‘books are made out of other books’, invokes naturalist Jack London in The Road (2006), for example. But this conversation gave me a lot of new insight to go back to the drawing board with.

Having only ever studied on the island of Ireland, previously at Queen’s University Belfast and presently at University College Cork, it was exciting to meet new people working in American Studies from the U.K. and further afield. Conference participation offers a sense of community in an often isolating process, as well as an opportunity to discuss research in an accessible way that promotes further understanding. I left the conference feeling enthused and inspired, and I would like to reiterate my thanks to the IAAS for this productive and enjoyable experience.