This weekend Toronto will host the annual meeting of the American Studies Association, where academics will share their latest research and participate in conversations about the same. While usually held in the US, the ASA decided to come to Canada this year, which is also the 50th Anniversary of the first conference of the Canadian Association for American Studies–perfect! In recognition, I decided to round up those department members who work in the area, and have them describe their latest research. From brothels and female cowgirls to the rhetoric of the radical labor movement and environmentalism, read on to find out what UWaterloo English people are up to! -JLH
Frankie Condon is currently working on a SHRCC-funded research project tracing the history of colorblind rhetoric in the U.S. Her work has taken her to archives in Detroit, Boston, Atlanta, Birmingham, and New York City, where she is examining organizing documents of the radical labor movement, speeches and articles drafted by its leaders, and responses to labor’s organizing efforts by community leaders and workers of color. This work follows from her 2012 book, “I Hope I Join the Band”: Narrative, Affiliation and Antiracist Rhetoric.
Jennifer Harris After co-editing the Norton Critical edition of The Coquette, Jennifer Harris began working on a second critical edition of another early American text, which is now under contract. She’s also researching several understudied 19th and early 20thC African American writers, and has essays forthcoming on several of the same (African American Review; Legacy). This research includes an African American novelist who shot a man, wrote her novels in one of the nation’s most notorious brothels, and may have based some characters on the brothel’s madams–information which was unknown before Harris’ archival excavations. She also just stumbled across some unknown early American broadsides, and now feels obligated to write about them.
Sara Humphreys studies how oppression and resistance operate in digital spaces. Along these lines, she is currently finishing a manuscript “Manifest Destiny 2.0: Genre Trouble in Video Games,” (under contract at the University of Nebraska Press) in which she studies how the myth of the American frontier/west is remediated in video games to support white triumphalism and further neocolonial ideals. She will be presenting at MLA 2016 on a panel entitled, “Where Is the Nation in Digital Humanities?” Her paper is drawn from a chapter from her manuscript, in which she argues that forms of “Indian Removal” occur consistently in digital games and must be resisted. This chapter has led to her most recent project to create a social knowledge edition of Mourning Dove’s Cogewea (1927). Sara’s work has been published in Western American Literature, book collections, and won the essay of the year for an article published in the Canadian Review of American Studies.
Victoria Lamont is completing a book about popular westerns written by women between 1880 and 1940, which will be published by University of Nebraska Press in 2016. Her discoveries include the first novel to feature a cross-dressing sentimental-heroine-gunfighter; and the pulp-series character Sheriff Minnie, a forty-something androgynous crime-fighter. Her future research plans include a study of readers of early-20th century pulps.
Kevin McGuirk writes: Most of my work has been on American poetry after the second world, including, most recently, a large editorial project (An Image for Longing: Selected Letters and Journals of A.R. Ammons, 1951-1974, ELS 2013). I’m currently finishing up some essays on Ammons and the ‘sixties as I develop a new interest in the novel, film, and sound, which I expect to occupy me for some time.
Andrew McMurray’s work focuses on the way everyday habits of thought and practice contribute to broader patterns of human arrogance, Pollyanism, and magical thinking. He is completing a book for Texas A&M Press’s Seventh Generation series entitled Entertaining Futility, which is part polemic, part memoir, and part literary and cultural history. A second project, Usable Transcendentalism, repurposes the classic figures and writings of the American Renaissance to do work in contemporary debates on animals, ecology, and climate change.
Gordon Slethaug is keenly interested in globalization, semiotics and advertising, contemporary American film and literature, international teaching and learning, and cross-cultural learning and have written widely in these areas. His latest book is Adaptation Theory and Criticism: Postmodern Literature and Cinema in the USA (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014).
Chad Wriglesworth recently edited Distant Neighbors: The Selected Letters of Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder and is currently working on another edition of correspondence between Jane Kenyon, Alice Mattison, and Joyce Peseroff. Wriglesworth is interested in ways that contemporary American literature intersects with conversations in environmental studies, material culture, and religious thought. He has a forthcoming book chapter on theological aesthetics and ecological design in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, as well as an essay on the overlap between indigenous spiritual practices and Catholicism in Sherman Alexie’s poetry about salmon—part of a larger project on the literary, environmental, and labor history of the Columbia River watershed.