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Fall | Winter | Spring | Program Director: Ivy Wilson


Fall 2015

Wednesday, October 7 ||  5:00-6:30pm  || University Hall 20 

Harilaos Stecopoulos: English, The University of Iowa
"Telling America’s Story to the World: THE LITERATURE of U.S. DIPLOMACY"[Event Poster]

Harilaos Stecopoulos is Associate Professor of English at the University of Iowa, and Editor of The Iowa Review. The author of Reconstructing the World: Southern Fictions and U.S. Imperialisms (Cornell UP, 2008) and the co-editor of Race and the Subject of Masculinities (Duke UP, 1997), Stecopoulos is finishing a book-length study of literary propaganda, “Telling America’s Story to the World: The Literature of U.S. Diplomacy.” His talk will consist of an overview of the project with special attention to the cultural diplomatic activities of Archibald MacLeish, William Faulkner, and Langston Hughes.

From the hemispheric cultural diplomacy of the Good Neighbor era to the current public relations campaign in the Middle East, the U.S. government has turned repeatedly to American literature to shore up the nation’s international image and promote U.S. policy. Drawing on archival sources—e.g., Salzburg Seminar syllabi, U.S.I.A. memos, International Writing Program publicity materials—“Telling America’s Story to the World” demonstrates that U.S. propaganda initiatives contributed to the “worlding” of American literature and affected domestic literary concerns in the process. From the 1940s through the 1980s, state propagandists became de facto literary gatekeepers who privileged first middlebrow, then modernist and, eventually, multi-ethnic American writing as the literature most valuable for U.S. diplomatic relations. By valuing literary modes for their perceived global appeal, state propagandists generated a complex imperial apparatus that continues to shape our national literature to this day. The current scholarly fascination with what Wai Chee Dimock has dubbed “American Literature in the World” should be read in part as a legacy of this imperial formation. Yet these officials also inadvertently prompted William Faulkner, Langston Hughes, Susan Sontag, and other literary ambassadors to trouble the American world order by offering them opportunities to forge new transnational bonds.


Winter 2016

Tuesday, Febuary 23 ||  5:00pm  || University Hall 201

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

Wednesday, Febuary 24 ||  5:00pm  || University Hall 019

American Studies Winter Warm-Up

Join us this winter season for an AMST get together. Come meet your peers and check out the new space.

This will just be a Get-Over-the-Hump/Mid-Year/Whew-We’re-Almost-There/Winter Warm-Up in the space of our beloved lounge. We’ll have dessert and hot chocolate and maybe iPhone karaoke.

Spring 2016

Wednesday, May 25 ||  5:00-8:00pm  || Harris Hall L07

2016 Senior Symposium

The Program in American Studies' graduating seniors presented the results of their yearlong research projects at our annual Senior Symposium. This year featured twelve presentations, showcasing a wide range of interdisciplinary work.

  • “Setting the Table: Roots of the 20th Century Ethnic Revival in American Cookbook 1960-1964” by Arielle Cooper
  •  “Arrested Development: The Purgatory of Adolescent Northwestern University, Since 1971” by Zachary Elvove
  • ” Rebuilding Dream Images: Nostalgia for the Home, the Family, and the Housewife in the Suburban Sitcom” by Molly Henderson
  • “Coming of Age in Contemporary American Cinema, and the New Nostalgia Mode” by Russell Kahn
  • “Reassigning Responsibility: How End Demand Illinois Discounts Female Agency in Prostitution” by Anastasia Kouimelis
  • “Race Traitor or Planned Parenthood Puppet: Making Sense of Obama in Pro-Life Black Genocide Argumentation” by Natalie Rotter-Laitman
  •  “Justice, Justice, Shall You Pursue: Jewish Criticism of Israel, 1967-Present” by Lily Goldstein
  • “Finding Democracy in the American Underground: The Influence of Dostoevsky on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man” by Ellis Lombard
  • “Syringe Exchange Programs in the United States: Uncertainty, Discourse, and the Federal Funding Ban, 1988-Present” by Scott Metzger
  • “True Complexions: Constructions of Black Female Beauty before 1865” by Emily Na
  • “We Still Have to Talk About Hot Guys: A Feminist Defense of Twilight Moms and Women’s Media” by Suzanne Swartz
  • “Gender Conflict as Narrative Strategy: How House Hunters Survived to 2007 Mortgage Crisis” by Tess Warzyn
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