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Fall | Winter | Spring | Program Director: Kate Baldwin


Fall 2014

Monday, October 13 ||  5:00-6:00pm  || University Hall 20

American Studies Invites you to our Welcome Back Reception

* Meet the new Director, Faculty, and new majors
* Discover Great Classes & Events Offered in 2014-2015
* Visit our Office Space

Friday, October 24  ||  4:00-5:30pm || Harris Hall 108 || reception to follow

WILLIAM MAXWELL: English, Washington University, St. Louis
"F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature"

William J. Maxwell is associate professor of English and African American Studies at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of the award-winning book "New Negro, Old Left: African American Writing and Communism between the Wars" and the editor of Claude McKay's "Complete Poems." In January 2015, Princeton University Press will publish his book "F.B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature." Maxwell has served on the editorial boards of "American Literature" and "African American Review." Currently, he is a contributing editor of "American Literary History" and a member of the executive committee of the MLA division on 20th-century American literature.

description: Few institutions seem more opposed than African American literature and J. Edgar Hoover’s white-bread Federal Bureau of Investigation. But behind the scenes the FBI’s hostility to black protest was energized by fear of and respect for black writing. Drawing on nearly 14,000 pages of newly released FBI files, "F.B. Eyes" exposes the Bureau’s intimate policing of five decades of African American poems, plays, essays, and novels.  Starting in 1919, year one of Harlem’s renaissance and Hoover’s career at the Bureau, secretive FBI “ghostreaders” monitored the latest developments in African American letters. By the time of Hoover’s death in 1972, these ghostreaders knew enough to simulate a black literature of their own. The official aim behind the Bureau’s close reading was to anticipate political unrest. Yet, as William J. Maxwell reveals, FBI surveillance came to influence the creation and public reception of African American literature in the heart of the twentieth century. [EVENT POSTER ]

co-sponsorship by: african american studies,  english, gender and sexuality studies, radio/television/film, and rhetoric + public culture

Friday, October 31  ||  11:00am-12:30pm  || University Hall 201 || light refreshments will be available

American Studies Invites you to our Informational Panel Session

To best inform students of a range of opportunities available to them during and after their time at Northwestern, we decided that an annual panel session with a representative from each of the following units in one space would be ideal: the Office of Undergraduate Research, the Office of Fellowships, the Study Abroad Office, Student Career Advising/Alumni Relations, and perhaps the Dean of Students Office.  ALL STUDENTS WELCOME.

The 2014 panel includes the following offices:

  • Peter Civetta, Undergraduate Research
  • Jason Roberts, Fellowships
  • Alicia Stanley, Study Abroad Office
  • Maggie Heffernan, University Career Services
  • Amy Mynaugh, Student/Alumni Engagement

Monday, November 3  ||  5:00-6:00pm  || University Hall 20

American Studies Group Advising Session

meet and discuss as a group the upcoming courses for the next quarter

providing interesting insights about classes, coursework, and professors

Tuesday, November 11  ||  4:00-5:30pm  || University Hall 201 || reception to follow

ALAN NADEL: English + American Studies University of Kentucky
“Singin’ in the (HUAC) Rain: Job Security, Stardom, and the Abjection of Lina Lamont”

Before the talk, join us for a speacial graduate job workshop from 10:00am to 12:00pm on November 11 in the Hagstrum Room, University Hall 201.

Alan Nadel is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Kentucky. His is concerned by twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and culture. In Containment Culture: American Narratives, Postmodernism and the Atomic Age (1995) he uses a wide range of documents such as movies by Walt Disney and Alfred Hitchcock but also issues of Playboy Magazine to highlight national narratives of containment. Nadel shows this issue to be crucial as containment operated around gender axes and was partially fueled by discourses around atomic power which lay at the heart of the American cultural agenda during the Cold War period. [EVENT POSTER ]

Winter 2015

Monday, March 2 ||  5:00-6:00pm  || University Hall 20

American Studies Informational for Prospective Majors

* Stop by with your questions about the application process, or just to learn more about the program.
* Faculty + current majors will be available to answer questions.
* Visit our Office Space

Spring 2015

Monday, April 27 ||  4:30-6:00pm  || Harris Hall 108

SCOTT SAUL: English, UC Berkeley

The talk will be something on the order of "Living with Richard Pryor: A Biographer's Tale” including a discussion about the challenges and rewards of building the book's digital companion, which was just named by Slate as one of the 5 best digital history projects of 2014. The talk will be on Monday 27 April at 4:30pm in Harris 108. A reception will follow.

You can find lots of info on the book at, and lots of links to reviews etc. here.

Bio: Scott Saul is a historian and critic who has written for The New York Times, Harper's Magazine, The Nation, Bookforum, and other publications. The author of Becoming Richard Pryor and Freedom Is, Freedom Ain't: Jazz and the Making of the Sixties, he is also the editor-publisher behind Richard Pryor's Peoria, an online archive and an experiment in the digital humanities. He teaches courses in American literature and history at UC-Berkeley, where he is an Associate Professor of English. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and son.

co-sponsorsed by: african american studies, history, performance studies + radio/tv/film

reception to follow

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