The IAAS Prizes Sub-Committee are delighted to announce the winner of the Early-Career Travel, Research, and Conference Bursary. The prize has been awarded to Dr Cathal Smith, who is based in the History Department in NUI Galway. The bursary supports his attendance at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting in Washington, D.C. in January 2018, where he presented a paper entitled “Irish Immigrants and American Slavery in the Late Antebellum Era: Irish Landlordism, the Great Potato Famine, and the Roots of the American Civil War.” The IAAS Committee would like to extend their warmest congratulations to Dr Smith.
Annette Skade was the recipient of one our IAAS bursaries to assist with attendance at the postgraduate symposium.
As a researcher into allusion in the poetry of Anne Carson, the scope of my PhD naturally extends beyond the boundaries of the School of English, flowing into all areas of the Humanities, and so the IAAS Postgraduate Conference was of particular interest to me. The IAAS Call for Papers for the Postgraduate Symposium “A More Perfect Union” had also grabbed my attention by posing the question “What is the state of this “more perfect Union” today? This was a Call For Papers very much for our times and called to mind Carson’s poem “Clive’s Song” which had appeared in The New Yorker early in 2017. I wrote the paper as a response to the call and the wide brief and time constraints allowed me to do one of the things I enjoy most: a close reading of a piece of poetry.
It was also a chance for me to read a paper before my post-graduate peers which was invaluable to me at this early stage of my PhD. I had given a paper in the DCU School of Humanities seminar series in September, and was due to give another at a The Politics of Space and the Humanities Conference in Greece in December. The opportunity to speak at the IAAS symposium between these two events was a great help to me- a lesson in controlling my nerves and honing my skills in a more familiar environment before my first full Conference.
The day started with Sarah McCreedy’s thought-provoking paper on Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and continued to fascinate, giving me insights into American History, Literature, Film and Politics. Some papers, such as Shane Morrisy’s which responded to “the Visual rhetoric of the WPA Posters” were of interest because they tied in with aspects of my own research, others revealed the political chicanery underlying American Politics in the twentieth century and at the present time. William O’Neill’s paper “Backyard Alliances: An examination of the US foreign policy relationship with El Salvador during the civil war 1977-1992, and the impact of migration to the US” was a particularly pertinent examination of that period and context, while bringing us right up to date by showing the same rhetoric at play in the Trump era. Many of the concerns of this paper were also touched on in Anne Carson’s poem, which was the subject of my paper. Just one example of how academic boundaries are blurred at Symposiums such as this.
Of course, the conversations between papers as well as those at the Symposium dinner were an important part of the day and added greatly to my enjoyment of it. I was pleased to meet other postgraduates and academics working in the field of American Studies throughout Ireland.
I would like to thank the organisers of the conference, James Hussey and Sarah Cullen, for doing such a great job, Ciaran O’Rourke, who chaired my panel so well, and the IAAS Committee for awarding me a bursary to attend. I look forward to the IAAS conference in April.
– Annette Skade
As a blossoming researcher occupying the void between MA graduation and the beginnings of a PhD, I was particularly grateful to be the recipient of this year’s IAAS Conference Bursary, which allowed me to present my research at the 2017 IAAS Postgraduate Symposium, held in the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute on 25th November. I would like to extend my thanks to the Prizes Sub-Committee for awarding me this bursary of €50 towards my travel costs.
Bright and early on the cold morning of Saturday 25th November, choice of caffeine in hand, the Early Career Researchers and Postgraduates attending this year’s Symposium, “A More Perfect Union?” convened. After some opening remarks from the organising committee, the first panel, “The Public Life of Post-Truth” got underway with an opening paper from Sarah McCreedy (UCC) discussing naturalistic false consciousness in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. With The Road bringing back fond memories of my undergraduate degree at QUB, I was fascinated to hear Sarah’s new, exciting take on what is arguably McCarthy’s most recognisable – if not quotable – novel. Okay? Okay.
The morning’s second panel, chaired by Jennifer Daly, examined the state of health in the union, with Matthew O’Brien (UCD) and James Doran (UCD Clinton Institute) both forwarding new frameworks within which to understand the muddied waters of healthcare in the USA, the former examining the Chicago Black Panther Party and Health Care and the latter exploring presidents, their rhetoric, and health care policy. Particularly interesting was Matthew’s claim that the mistreatment of poor, black patients indicated that medical attention was for “wealth not health”– a mantra which sounds frustratingly familiar in Trump’s America.
Rounding off the morning’s panels was “Imperfect Union in Postmodern Society,” with Rebecca Murray (UCC), Anne Mahler (UCC), and Eva Burke (TCD) all presenting papers. A personal highlight of this panel was Anne’s paper, which focused on the Columbine Perpetrators and literary constructions of the hypermasculine school shooter. Taking Todd Strasser’s Young Adult novel Give a Boy a Gun (2002) as a starting point, Anne read this epistolary tale through the lens of R.W. Connell’s theories on hegemonic masculinity to put forward the idea that, in the high school setting, the masculinity celebrated is that of physical dominance. She also noted the fusion of hypermasculine entities through co-operative nature of the planned Columbine shooting – a fragile union. With my primary research interests lying in contemporary American YA fiction, as well as the representation of gender, masculinity, and femininity in those texts, Anne’s paper sparked new ways of thinking about my own work – thank you!
After a leisurely lunch, kindly provided by the committee, came my own panel, “Trauma on Screen,” chaired by Dara Downey. Here I presented alongside two UCC scholars: Sean Travers and Caroline Schroeter. Sean, whose work I always look forward to hearing, gave a paper entitled “’You’re not alone’: Trauma, Communal Healing and America in Contemporary Science Fiction,” focusing on the notions of metanarrative and the ‘flashes between’ two narratives in Netflix series Sense8. Caroline’s interesting paper on representing African Americans in cinematic slave narratives gave particular precedence to the ways in which trauma often confounds these kinds of narratives.
Finally, as the nerves almost became too much, it was time for my own paper. Entitled “’Welcome to your tape’: Union and Disunion in Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why,” this paper used the work of scholars such as Jason Mittell and Roberta Seelinger Trites to explore the various strands of union and disunion woven throughout Thirteen Reasons Why, both in its literary and televisual forms. In particular, I addressed the united front formed by the other recipients of Hannah Baker’s tapes. All the while, protagonist Clay actively resists this union, instead forming a complex, problematic one with Hannah. My paper examined the ways in which these unions highlight and intersect with issues of power, and also considered the role that the blurring of temporality and perspective plays. Finally, I asked how we can situate Thirteen Reasons culturally, particularly in the wake of its mixed critical and online receptions. The Q&A session after the panel was particularly helpful, allowing me to draw interesting parallels between the other two panellist’s work and my own, particularly in regard to the notion of duality upon which all three papers seemed to draw.
The last panel of the day, “Man on Stage: Masculinity and Performance,” was also of great interest (and help!) to my own research. Ciaran Leinster (University of Seville), Natalia Kovalyova (UCD Clinton Institute), and Catherine Casey (UCD) all provided interesting means of reading and understanding (hyper)masculinity in America, with Catherine’s paper offering readings of Trump through traditional theories of (American) masculinity, from the ‘self-made man’, to the ‘man’s man’, and beyond.
And with that, equally excited, inspired, and depressed, the symposium came to a close. We then retired to the upper level of the Long Room Hub for the presentation of the WTM Riches Essay Prize, some conference bursaries, and some well-earned drinks and nibbles.
I would once again like to extend my thanks to the IAAS for awarding me this bursary, as well as to Sarah Cullen and James Hussey for organising such a wonderfully successful symposium.
The IAAS Prizes Sub-Committee have extended the deadlines for all conference-related and travel-and-research bursaries that are currently due by 31st December. Applications will now be accepted for these bursaries up until Monday 15th January 2018. Please see our Funding Opportunities page for further details.
To facilitate attendance at the EBAAS conference in King’s College London (4-7 April 2018), the IAAS Prizes Subcommittee are pleased to announce that we are offering 4 bursaries of €100 each, for postgraduate and early-career IAAS members who are presenting at the conference.
EBAAS is a joint event, combining the annual British Association for American Studies conference with the biennial conference held by the European Association for American Studies. The event brings together scholars from Britain, Ireland, and across Europe, and the IAAS is therefore delighted to be able to support scholars from Ireland whose papers have been accepted by the conference organisers. Please note that we will not be offering separate BAAS conference bursaries this year, as EBAAS comprises both events.
To be eligible for these bursaries, applicants must:
- complete and submit the application form by January 15th, 2018
- be current members of the IAAS
- have been accepted to present a paper at EBAAS 2018
Applications and supporting references should be emailed to Dara Downey at dara.p.downey@gmail. com by January 15th.
Incomplete applications will not be considered.
The Prizes Sub-Committee is delighted to announce that it has awarded two bursaries for attendance at the annual Postgraduate Symposium.
The bursaries have been awarded to Jennifer Gouck (independent scholar) for her paper, “‘Welcome to Your Tape’: Union and Disunion in Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why,” and to Annette Skade (DCU) for her paper “Clive’s Song by Anne Carson: Pushing the Limits.” The Prizes Sub-Committee and everyone at the IAAS would like to extend their sincere congratulations to the winners.
The 2017 IAAS Postgraduate Symposium is hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub in Trinity College Dublin, on 25th November. This is an annual event designed to foster and promote the work currently being undertaken in American Studies by postgraduate students and early-career scholars, throughout Ireland and beyond.
For information on the range of other bursaries and prizes on offer from the IAAS, please see our Funding Opportunities page.
The Prizes Subcommittee of the IAAS is delighted to announce the winner of this year’s WTM Riches Essay Prize. Colin Wheatley of the School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin has been selected as the overall winner for his essay entitled “Detecting Ethnicity: Lieutenant Columbo’s Hunt for Italian Heritage in ‘Any Old Port in a Storm’.”
The Subcommittee also awarded Honorable Mentions to Cait Neylon (Gender, Sexuality, and Culture, UCD) for her essay “The Alterity of Cuteness in Two Contemporary US Sitcoms” and Freyja Simone Quigley (School of Languages, Literature and Culture, UCC) for her essay on “Pat Mora and Poetic Curanderisma: Recovering Chicanisma through Poetry.”
The WTM Riches Essay Prize is awarded annually for outstanding work in any area of American Studies by undergraduate students and students in the first year of postgraduate studies. More information, including past winners, can be found here.
When I reviewed Mark Twain and Youth, edited by Kevin MacDonnell and Kent Rasmussen, for the Irish Journal of American Studies I never anticipated that it would lead to an invitation from those editors to attend their quadrennial conference on the “State of Mark Twain Studies: The Assault of Laughter”, August 3-5 2017. Attendance at this conference was, in truth, a privilege. As one speaker stated, for anyone who has written on the work of Mark Twain, or used Twain’s writing to support their own argument, this conference “was like being in a room filled with your bibliography”. Recent Twain scholars and those analysing his work for decades descended upon Elmira College this past August and proved that Twain is as relevant in the 21st century as he was in the 19th. As the conference title suggests Twain and laughter predominated at the many parallel seminars. However, in a manner similar to Twain’s own work, the humour tended to reflect the U.S. political world, and this idea seemed paramount to most of the significant discussions that weekend. Comparisons between Twain’s challenging argument during the Spanish-American War (1898), Philippine–American War (1899-1902) and the present-day volatile situation were noticeably at the root of many presentations. While the session “Twain, Politics, and the Power(lessness)of Satire” was of direct interest to me, nearly all the panels had a section addressing the present-day U. S. political agenda.
While Twain’s political voice is the one I most often listen for, I was invited to Elmira to discuss any connections the iconic American writer may have had with Ireland. To that end I had done some research on possible links between the author and the place, and found an intriguing lead which I shared with the editors of The Mark Twain Journal. Their very positive response to my proposal leads me to hope that they will look favourably on my article when I submit it for their next edition. While at the conference I had the opportunity to access Elmira College library, complete with their extensive Mark Twain Archives. I also visited Mark Twain’s Study which has been relocated to Elmira College from its original location near Quarry Farm. Quarry Farm, Twain’s summer home where the author wrote much of his important work, was the location of the festivities on the final evening of the conference. While we were at the farm the conference organisers suggested that I promote their “Quarry Farm Fellowships” to scholars working on Mark Twain related research in both Ireland and Europe. These fellowships allow for a unique academic opportunity. They provide the scholar with the ability to visit and work in an appropriate and most stimulating atmosphere, one which allows the researcher to benefit greatly from both the archival richness available at Elmira College and the motivating atmosphere offered at Quarry Farm. For further information on the application process visit: http://marktwainstudies.com/2018-quarry-farm-fellowships/
Although Twain was, and still is, particularly noted for his humour, there were many humourists during his lifetime who have not remained in the public consciousness. Twain, it would appear from the papers presented, remains such an important figure to twenty-first century American scholars because his wit and commentary was primarily focused on American politics and policy. I had the good fortune to meet and discuss this premise with retired U.S. Ambassador, Donald Bliss, author of Mark Twain’s Tale of Today. Bliss’s forbearers were Mark Twain’s publishers and this is where his original interest in the author began, however, his experience in Washington politics made Twain’s voice resonate for him during his long career. This combination made his work on Twain of great interest to me. Bliss’s presentation at Elmira offered a candid attempt to employ Twain’s commentary to help explain the Trump presidency. Bliss spoke with me later and took a great interest in my own work on Post-9/11 American literature. He encouraged me to apply Mark Twain’s philosophy to my own area of interest and present it at the next conference to be held at the “Mark Twain Boyhood Home” in Hannibal Missouri in 2019. His invitation was seconded by the Executive Director of that project, Henry Sweets.
Overall, my experience at the Elmira Conference was one of the most positive of my time as a researcher. I networked and became familiar with many people in both academia and publishing whom I feel confident would be happy to connect with me again, and more than happy to engage with other IAAS scholars. Personally, it has motivated me to rethink my approach to American novelists and how they engage with U.S. politics in their writing. It has also prompted me to consider restructuring my previous work for publication in-light of the recent changes in the political atmosphere in the United States. I want to express my gratitude to the Irish Association for American Studies for their generous bursary and to the Irish Journal of American Studies for publishing my review of Mark Twain and Youth, a small piece of work that made this great trip possible.
Congratulations from everyone at the Irish Association for American Studies to Dr Clair Sheehan, from the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Limerick. Clair has just been awarded the IAAS Early-Career Travel, Research, and Conference Bursary, to support her recent trip to Elmira College in New York, where she attended the Eighth International Conference on the State of Mark Twain Studies: “The Assault of Laughter” as part of her research for a forthcoming article entitled “Innocents Abroad–Mark Twain Studies in Ireland.” Dr Sheehan also took the opportunity to visit the archives and library at Elmira College and Quarry Farm. The IAAS is delighted to have been able to support her on this very worthwhile and fruitful trip to the US.