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:

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.

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 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.

The Prizes subcommittee of the IAAS is delighted to announce that Sarah McCreedy of University College Cork has been awarded the BAAS Annual Conference Bursary for 2017. Canterbury Christ Church University will be hosting this year’s BAAS Conference, and Sarah will be presenting a paper entitled “‘Rethinking decisions they’d already made’: New naturalism and Neoliberal identity in ZZ Packer’s Drinking Coffee Elsewhere.’ Full details of the BAAS 2017 programme can be found here.

More information about funding opportunities from the IAAS can be found here.

The IAAS have extended the deadline for submission to the Adam Matthew Digital Essay Prize. Submissions must be received on or before 15th March 2017. This is an excellent opportunity for one lucky IAAS member to avail of and explore these extensive online collections, which relate to 18th-, 19th– and 20th-century American history, culture, literature, and society.

The winner will be awarded €100 and one year’s access to an Adam Matthew digital primary-source collection, of the winner’s choice.

This essay competition is open to late-stage PhD candidates, early-career researchers (within 7 years of competing a PhD), and independent scholars working on any area of North-American Studies, including (but by no means limited to) history, literature, and popular culture, and normally resident in Ireland or Northern Ireland. The scope of the competition reflects the IAAS’s wide-ranging interests, and our commitment to developing and fostering the inter- and multi-disciplinary study of North America throughout Ireland.

Applicants MUST be members of the IAAS. You can join the Association here.

Essays should relate broadly to a topic covered by any one of Adam Matthew’s North American Collections which include topics such as

  • African-American Communities
  • American Consumer Culture
  • Everyday Life and Women in America c.1800-1920
  • Jewish Life in America c.1654-1954
  • The Nixon Years
  • World’s Fairs

It is not necessary for submitted essays to make use of these collections; however, should you wish to do so, a 30-day free trial is available. Details can be found here (


Submission Guidelines:

  • Essays must be between 3000 and 5000 words in length (including notes).
  • Essays must be written in English and submitted as PDFs.
  • Essays must be formatted in accordance with the MLA style manual.
  • The author’s name or institutional affiliation must not appear anywhere on the essay. These details should be included in the submission email.

The winner will be announced at the IAAS Annual Conference in Ulster University in April 2017, and may be considered for inclusion in The Irish Journal of American Studies.

Please send all submissions and enquiries to Dara Downey:

**NB – essays must not be submitted to Adam Matthew**

‌Association Française d’Etudes Américaines (AFEA) / French Association for American Studies

Call for Presentations

The French Association for American Studies invites doctoral students in American studies to take part in the Graduate Symposium (“Doctoriales”) specifically organized on their behalf during its annual conference. This year’s workshops will be held on Tuesday, June 6, 2017 (9am-5pm) at University of Strasbourg (France). The conference will take place on June 7 to 9, 2017. For further information, please check our website:

Since 2008, the AFEA has been encouraging the internationalization of its Graduate Student Symposium by offering grants (up to 500 euros each) for a maximum of ten European candidates (other than French) to help cover their travel expenses. All students are, in addition, invited to attend the whole conference free of registration charges. The symposium provides an opportunity for PhD students to present their research in a less formal session than that of a full conference panel, and present it to that of other European scholars. Doctoral students may be at an early or more advanced stage of their research. The proposals will be responded to by professors specializing in related fields. Candidates are invited to give their presentations in English within one of the two workshops offered: 1) American literature, or 2) American “civilization” (history, sociology, political science…). Proposals relevant to both fields (film studies, visual arts or music, for instance), or to another field (such as translation studies or linguistics) can be sent to either of the co-chairs.


Candidates must send a Curriculum Vitae and a 500-word abstract summarizing their dissertation proposal, plus an estimated budget of traveling expenses and funding otherwise available to them. They must mention when they began their PhD, and the name and affiliation of their advisor.

– Proposals in civilization must be sent electronically to Professor Romain Huret (

– Proposals in literature must be sent electronically to both Professors Françoise palleau-papin ( and Mathieu Duplay (

Deadline for application : February 15, 2017. The symposium organizers will respond to all applicants by March 15, 2017.