MyAmericanFuture

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MyAmericanFuture

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 2014: NeMLA Follow Ups: Reading American Rivers

[About a month ago, I spent a wonderful weekend in Harrisburg for the 2014 Northeast MLA (NeMLA) Conference. As always, I came away inspired on a number of levels, and in this series I’ll share some of the conversations and voices that contributed to that inspiration. And in the weekend post, I’ll let you know how you can add your own voice and perspective to NeMLA as we move forward!]
On the three impressive young scholars who comprised my panel “We’ve Known Rivers: Reading the River in American Literature and Culture.”
1)      Steven Hodin: A recent AmericanStudies PhD from, and Writing Program lecturer at, Boston University, Steve started off the panel with a paper on Emanuel Leutze’s Washington Crossing the Delaware, Eliza’s flight in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and river crossings in antebellum American culture and mythology. Steve’s provocative link between the painting and novel (which both appeared in 1851) embodies the best kind of AmericanStudies scholarship, interdisciplinary and revelatory in what it helps us see about our past, community, and identity.
2)      Schuyler Chapman: Schuyler came to NeMLA a newly minted English PhD from the University of Pittsburgh, having just defended his dissertation on mariners and riverboatmen in 19th century American culture. For our panel he presented a compelling piece of that larger work, focused on Emil Klauprecht’s forgotten German American novel Cincinnati, or the Mysteries of the West (1854-1855), the Mike Fink legends, and the complex, liminal, vital identity of mid-19th century rivermen.
3)      Wyatt Phillips: Wyatt received his PhD from NYU’s Cinema Studies program in 2013, for a project on genre in the early American film industry, and has been moving into his career as a Cinema, Culture, and AmericanStudies scholar since. He rounded off our panel by bringing into the 20th century, presenting an inspiringly interdisciplinary paper on rivers and dams, cultural memory and forgetting, and (it just so happened) my favorite American film, John Sayles’ Lone Star (alongside Deliverance, Wild River, and more).
I look forward to seeing where these exemplary AmericanStudiers go next!
Next follow up tomorrow,
Ben
PS. Thoughts on these topics? If you were at the conference, other NeMLA follow ups?

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