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In lectures on April 9, 2014 at 12:00 am

The Water Cooler Runs Dry

by Frank Bruni

Op-Ed Column

New York Times, April 7, 2014


With so very much to choose from, a person can stick to one or two preferred micro-genres and subsist entirely on them, while other people gorge on a completely different set of ingredients. You like “Housewives”? Savor them in multiple cities and accents. Food porn? Stuff yourself silly. Vampire fiction? The vein never runs dry.

I brought up this Balkanization of experience with Hendrik Hartog, the director of the American studies program at Princeton, and he noted that what’s happening in popular culture mirrors what has transpired at many elite universities, where survey courses in literature and history have given way to meditations on more focused themes.

“There’s enormous weight given to specialized knowledge,” he said. “It leaves an absence of connective tissue for students.” Not for nothing, he observed, does his Princeton colleague Daniel Rodgers, an emeritus professor of history, call this the “age of fracture.”

Read the entire piece here.


Kornel Chang’s Pacific Connections receives

2014 Association for Asian American Studies Book Prize in History

Professor Kornel Chang’s Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands has received the 2014 Association for Asian American Studies Book Prize in History. His book will be recognized at the annual AAAS meeting in San Francisco, California on Saturday, April 19, 2014. More details here: http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/kornel-changs-pacific-connections-receives-2014-association-asian-american-studies-book-prize-histor. Chang also recently received  a ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship that will assist his new book project about the role of technocrats–engineers, economists, public health officials, and legal advisers–and expert knowledge in the U.S. Occupation of Korea, 1945-1948: http://www.acls.org/programs/ryskamp/.


How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement

by Ruth Feldstein

Published January 2014 (Oxford University Press)

[From the NY Times]: “Ruth Feldstein’s important new book, “How It Feels to Be Free: Black Women Entertainers and the Civil Rights Movement,” is an original exploration of the little-known but central role that black entertainers, especially black women, played in helping communicate and forward the movement’s goals. Lena Horne, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone, Abbey Lincoln, Diahann Carroll and Cicely Tyson — the black women entertainers in this book — were popular at the height of an organized global struggle for black freedom, from around 1959 till the mid-1970s. They were influenced by this movement, even as they helped shape it.” Read the rest of the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/16/books/how-it-feels-to-be-free-salutes-black-female-entertainers.html?_r=0


But Where is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac

By James Goodman

Published September 2013 (Schocken Knopf)

[From R-N History website]: “Goodman’s latest book, But Where is the Lamb? Imagining the Story of Abraham and Isaac, chronicles the 19 lines of Genesis 22 that have vexed theologians, philosophers and others for centuries, spawning questions such as: Why was Abraham so ready to follow God’s command that he kill his son, and why did Isaac agree to be bound on the altar? Goodman examines the varied explanations given by the major monotheistic religions, along with contemporary thinkers, across the sweep of history, looking at how theAbraham and Isaac story has morphed and the multiple contested meanings attached to it over time.” Read a Q & A session with Prof. Goodman here: http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/qa-history-professor-james-goodman-author-where-lamb


Fiction: “Mixipino” in Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America

Read the latest published fiction by R-N Doctoral Student Anna Alves in the recently released inter-disciplinary and cross-genre, Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America, edited by Mark R. Villegas, DJ Kuttin’ Kandi, and Roderick N. Labrador, and published by Cognella Academic Publishing. More info about the book here: https://titles.cognella.com/humanities-and-fine-arts/music/empire-of-funk-9781626612839.html. This fiction piece is also set to appear in a literary anthology in April 2014.


Remembering Amiri


By Sean Singer

Newark’s literary culture, in some ways the soulfulness for which a place is known, is great because Amiri Baraka made it so. As an iconic example of urban literature, Baraka made Newark the focus of much of his work, even though Newark is not thought of as a literary place. His literary oeuvre, among other things, is focused, almost obsessively, on remembering Newark, living Newark, and re-imagining Newark of his youth. His work, taken from a point of distance, is a love letter to Newark. To read the rest of this excellent tribute, go here: http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/remembering-amiri.


ASA Members Vote To Endorse Academic Boycott of Israel

The members of the American Studies Association have endorsed the Association’s participation in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. In an election that attracted 1252 voters, the largest number of participants in the organization’s history, 66.05% of voters endorsed the resolution, while 30.5% of voters voted no and 3.43% abstained. The election was a response to the ASA National Council’s announcement on December 4 that it supported the academic boycott and, in an unprecedented action to ensure a democratic process, asked its membership for their approval. The ASA website has a collection of supporting documents: http://www.theasa.net/from_the_editors/item/council_statement_on_the_academic_boycott_of_israel_resolution/.  A story about the controversy appeared in the New York Times on December 15: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/us/scholars-group-to-disclose-result-of-vote-on-an-academic-boycott-of-israel.html?_r=0.


Poetry: “Picking Up Branches After A Wind Storm”

in Guernica Magazine

Read the latest published poem by R-N Doctoral Candidate Sara J. Grossman at Guernica Magazine: a magazine of art & politicshttp://www.guernicamag.com/poetry/picking-up-branches-after-a-wind-storm/.


Kornel Chang’s Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands is Finalist for John Hope Franklin Prize

Kornel Chang was a finalist for the John Hope Franklin Publication PrizeThe annual award honors the previous year’s best-published book in American Studies.  He was nominated for Pacific Connections: The Making of the U.S.-Canadian Borderlands (University of California Press).  More details here:  http://www.ncas.rutgers.edu/history-professor-kornel-chang-finalist-john-hope-franklin-prize.


Sandy – A Reminder that human and natural history are inseparable

John R. Gillis is professor emeritus of history at Rutgers University and the author of The Human Shore: Seacoasts in History

FOR CENTURIES the coasts of Japan have been ravaged by deadly tsunamis. Local communities responded by erecting tsunami stones, not memorials to the dead but reminders of the highest points of inundation. In recent years, these stones have been displaced and forgotten. When the great tsunami of March 11, 2011, struck, local people had no way of knowing how far to flee. Almost 16,000 people died, and the number of missing remains at 2,652.

New Jersey might do worse than to erect Sandy stones to remind it of just how far the ocean can reach, but no doubt these would be objected to for the same reasons that Santa Barbara rejected painting a green line on its streets that would have marked projections of sea-rise levels. Critics objected that the line would lower property values and scare away tourists.

There was once a time when the traces of disaster, shipwrecks and ruined wharves were allowed to linger on beaches as reminders of the dangers of the sea. Today, sands are quickly cleansed, for beaches are the places we turn to forget the world, our chosen places for forgetting.

We live in an age of coastal amnesia.

- Read the rest of this excellent op-ed piece from the Sunday, 10/27/13 New Jersey Record: http://www.northjersey.com/news/opinions/gillis_102713.html?page=all.

American Studies and the Cornwall Center marked the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy with a lecture by John Gillis on Wednesday, October 30 at the John Cotton Dana Library, Rutgers-Newark.


In events on April 7, 2014 at 12:00 am

Avenues in American Studies: A Faculty-Student Symposium

AMS symposium flyer - Untitled Page (2)

SAVE THE DATE: May 2 2014
9:15 am-6:00 pm
Rutgers University
Newark, New Jersey

RSVP requested



Teaching Workshop for American Studies: A faculty-student dialogue

Monday, April 7, 2014

Conklin 245 & 233

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm

Hosted by the Graduate Program in American Studies

A workshop for graduate students and faculty on interdisciplinary teaching. Join faculty such as Fran Bartkowski and student peers including Asha Best, Julian Gill-Peterson and Molly Rosner to strategize about how to make syllabi, how to generate student discussions, and how to use digital resources in the classroom productively. For those new to teaching and for those who wrestle each semester with the question of how to make the classroom successful—please join the conversation!


“Created Equal: America’s Civil Rights Struggle” 

A Festival of Film and Community Discussions

Billy Johnson Auditorium, Newark Museum

Throughout Spring

Films include:

The Loving Story 

Thursday, April 10, 2014 

6:00 pm 

Randall Kennedy, Harvard Law School

Freedom Riders 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014 

7:00 pm 

Junius Williams, Rutgers University

A part of the Newark Black Film Festival

The Abolitionists (Part I) 

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 

6:00 pm 

Deborah Gray White, Rutgers University

The Abolitionists (Part II) 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014 

6:00 pm 

John Stauffer, Harvard University

and Ulysses Dietz, Newark Museum

The Abolitionists (Part III) 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014 

6:00 pm 

James Oakes, The Graduate Center, CUNY

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. For more information: http://www.newarkmuseum.org/FilmAndPerformance.html. The Created Equal Film series is sponsored by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as part of its Bridging Cultures initiative in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History. The Newark Museum received a project grant from the New Jersey Historical Commission, a division of the Department of State.



Writers At Newark: Matthea Harvey and George Saunders

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

5:30pm – 7:00pm

Paul Robeson Gallery 

The Rutgers-Newark MFA Program’ Writers at Newark Reading Series brings nationally prominent writers of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to campus. The Reading Series provides the opportunity for a diverse audience of students, faculty, staff and the public to hear and interact with these writers in an intimate and dynamic setting. Admission is free and open to the public.

Matthea Harvey is the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine (Graywolf, 2004) and Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form (Alice James Books, 2000). Her third book of poems, Modern Life (Graywolf, 2007) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Cirlcle Award and was named a New York Times Notable Book. Her first children’s book, The Little General and the Giant Snowflake, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel, was published by Tin House Books in 2009. An illustrated erasure, titled Of Lamb, with images by Amy Jean Porter, will be published by McSweeney’s in 2010. Matthea is a contributing editor to jubilat, Meatpaper and BOMB. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence College.

George Saunders is a New York Times bestselling American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and GQ, among other publications. A professor at Syracuse University, Saunders won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and second prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1997. His first story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, was a finalist for the 1996 PEN/Hemingway Award. Pastoralia, his second story collection, was published in 2000; a novella, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, appeared in 2005. In 2006 Saunders received a MacArthur Fellowship and won the World Fantasy Award for his short story “CommComm.” The Braindead Megaphone, essays, was published in 2007. His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007. In 2013, he won the PEN/Malamud Award. His most recent book is Tenth Of December: Stories.



Premiere of Amiri Baraka’s long-lost documentary film

“The New-Ark”

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Paul Robeson Campus Center

Free admission

Amiri Baraka’s long-lost documentary film recently rediscovered in the Harvard Film Archives. Written and directed by Baraka (as LeRoi Jones), The New-Ark documents the political and cultural ferment centered at the Spirit House community center in 1968. The long-lost film covers political organizing, urban public theater, and black education at a crucial moment in Newark’s and the nation’s history. The 25-minute film will be followed by a commentary and discussion.

For more info: Marisa Pierson at mpierson@rutgers.edu or 973-353-3896. Also, http://ethnicity.rutgers.edu.


Nourishing Newark Farmers Markets

Various daily dates & locations around Newark:


The Brick City  Development Corporation (BCDC)’s Farmers Market Initiative was implemented to increase both number and frequency of markets, to reach communities outside of the downtown core.  Nourishing Newark is uniting the collective efforts of the community to create a comprehensive farmers market network between downtown farmers’ markets and farm stands outside of the downtown. Nourishing Newark is an initiative of the Brick City Development Corporation in conjunction with the City of Newark’s Office of Sustainability.


In lectures on April 6, 2014 at 12:00 am

 Essex County College Hip Hop Education Week 2014

Tuesday, April 8 to Saturday, April 12

All day panels, literary and music performances and talks. For more info and details: https://www.facebook.com/events/225637354306577/?source=1.


NYMASA Salon Talks Spring 2014

All talks at 6:30pm in the Faculty and Staff Lounge

8th floor of the West Building

Hunter College (Lexington Avenue and 68th Street)

 The New York Metro American Studies Association series of Salon Talks for Spring 2014. Once again, they have a terrific array of scholars talking about their recently-published books.  Salon Talks are an opportunity for local American Studies scholars to share their published work with an intimate audience.  They tend to be small, lively, and informative; light refreshments are served. For directions, more information, or to rsvp, contact Sarah Chinn at sarah.chinn@hunter.cuny.edu

Thursday, April 10th

Elizabeth Abele (Nassau Community College, SUNY)

Home Front Heroes: The Rise of a New Hollywood Archetype, 1988-1999 (McFarland)

This book traces the effects of the feminist and civil rights movements in the construction of Hollywood action heroes. Starting in the late 1980s, action blockbusters regularly have featured masculine figures who choose love and community over the path of the stoic loner committed solely to duty. The American heroic quest of the past 25 years increasingly has involved a reclamation of home, creating a place for the Hero at the hearth, part of a more intimate community with less restrictive gender and racial boundaries. The author presents pieces of contemporary popular culture that create the complex mosaic of the present-day American heroic ideal. Hollywood popular films are examined that best represent the often painful shift from traditional heroic masculinity to a masculinity that is less “exceptional” and more vulnerable. There are also chapters on how issues of race and gender intersect with the new masculinity and on subgenres of 1990s films that also developed this postfeminist masculinity.

Thursday, May 8th 

Jennifer Wingate (St. Francis College)

Sculpting Doughboys: Memory, Gender, and Taste in America’s World War I Memorials (Ashgate)

Redressing the neglect of World War I memorials in art history scholarship and memory studies, Sculpting Doughboys considers the hundreds of sculptures of American soldiers that dominated the nation’s sculptural commemorative landscape after World War I. To better understand these ‘doughboys’, the name given to both members of the American Expeditionary Forces and the memorials erected in their image, this volume also considers their sculptural alternatives, including depictions of motherhood, nude male allegories, and expressions of anti-militarism. It addresses why doughboy sculptures came to occupy such a significant presence in interwar commemoration, even though art critics objected to their unrefined realism, by considering the social upheavals of the Red Scare, America’s burgeoning consumer and popular culture, and the ambitions and idiosyncrasies of artists and communities across the country. In doing so, this study also highlights the social and cultural tensions of the period as debates grew over art’s changing role in society and as more women and immigrant sculptors vied for a place and a voice in America’s public sphere. Finally, Sculpting Doughboys addresses the fate of these memorials nearly a century after they were dedicated and poses questions for reframing our relationship with war memorials today.


Photography and Race in the Americas: Beyond Fixity

Friday, April 18, 9:45 am

Aaron Burr Hall, Room 219

Princeton University

A one-day conference (free and open to the public)

Photography and film have long been understood as important technologies for creating, framing, and distributing racialized thought in the Americas and beyond. Recently, however, new approaches to this history, fostered by important theoretical, political and technological trends in image-making, use, and analysis, have led a number of scholars from a variety of approaches and fields to return to early photography and cinema, revisiting the relations between race and image beyond any reductive or preordained position. This conference brings together scholars from Brazil, Colombia, the US and Canada whose works have provided innovative insights in the relationship between race and visual technologies. The Conference is sponsored by the Global Collaborative Network on Race and Citizenship in the Americas, a Princeton University–Universidade de São Paulo Partnership (RACA). Co-sponsored by: Program in Latin American Studies, Department of Spanish and Portuguese Languages and Cultures, American Studies Program, Center for Human Values, Department of Anthropology, Center for African American Studies, Lewis Center for the Arts, Department of Art and Archeology, Department of English. More info: https://www.princeton.edu/plas/events/viewevent.xml?id=161.




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