Calendar of Events

Fall 2011

Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Donald Pease (English, Dartmouth College)
Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies
Third Annual New American Studies Lecture
2:00 pm Curtin 175
Co-sponsored by UWM Cultures and Communities Program, the College of Letters & Science, and the Vilas Trust

The "transnational turn" in American Studies has effected the most significant re-imagining of the field of American Studies since its inception. It has been either the explicit topic or subtext of the last seven presidential addresses at the American Studies Association, the basis for innumerable conferences, and the term responsible for the founding of several new journals and book series.

"America" remains the commonly accepted self-representation in American Studies Associations. But the term "transnational" is the most frequently invoked qualifier. In acquiring this status, the "transnational" has exercised a monopoly of assimilative power that enabled it to subsume and replace competing spatial and temporal orientations to the object of study—including multicultural American studies, borderlands critique, postcolonial American studies, and the more general turn to American cultural studies—within an encompassing geo-politics of knowledge.

Transnational perspectives have changed the way Americanist scholars imagine their relationship to their work, their objects of study, their disciplinary protocols, as well as the field in which they conduct their research. But vexing questions attend the import and purpose of Transnational American Studies. Does the newly configured field foster an expanded sense of injustice and a cosmopolitan ethos? Is it a form of disciplinary imperialism designed to re-fashion social relations and cultural practices after the US neoliberal model? Does the transnational framework foster an alternative to US cultural and economic hegemony or embody the standpoint that Americanization assumed in the present conjuncture?

While their responses to these questions vary, scholars agree about two significant matters: that Transnational American Studies scholars dismantled the foundational tenets and premises informing the methodology, periodization, pedagogy and geographical locations of U.S. Americans Studies, and that transnational Americanists had not as yet added a coherent order of intelligibility to the field.

In an effort to arrive at some semblance of intelligibility, Professor Pease will examine the geopolitical context in which Transnational American Studies became imaginable as well as the problematic sites of emergence, transformation, and reconfiguration that accompanied the transnational turn.

Brown Bag Lunch with Donald Pease
Monday, October 3
12 noon Curtin 939
Background reading: Donald E. Pease, "Antigone's Kin: From Abu Ghraib to Barack Obama," chapter 6 in The New American Exceptionalism (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009), 180-213.

Donald Pease, professor of English and the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professor in the Humanities at Dartmouth, is an authority on nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and literary theory. He is the author of Visionary Compacts: American Renaissance Writings in Cultural Context (1987), The New American Exceptionalism (2009), and Theodor Seuss Geisel (2010).

Pease is the co-editor of American Renaissance Rediscovered and the editor of nine other volumes including The Cultures of United States Imperialism (1992), The Futures of American Studies (2002), and "Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies" which will be published in November, 2011 by Dartmouth Press. He is general editor of a series of ninety volumes by Duke University Press called "The New Americanists" that have transformed the field of American Studies.

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