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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

September 30, 2015: AMST Colloquiums: Defining the Field

[This past weekend, we held the fifth annual New England American Studies Association (NEASA) Colloquium. So this week I’ll share some responses to each of the five colloquia to date, leading up to a special weekend post on AmericanStudies in 2015!]
On three big questions we raised at 2013’s third annual NEASA Colloquium.
In that linked follow up post, I highlighted three interconnected, defining questions about AmericanStudies as a field and discipline around which we structured the 2013 conversations. That post requested input from all my fellow AmericanStudiers out there, and got one extended, really rich comment, from University of Maine Augusta Professor Sarah Hentges. But I’d love to get more perspectives and voices in the mix, so here I’ll ask brief and (I hope) invitingly broad versions of the three questions, and request (nay, implore) that you share your answers, whether here in comments or by emailing them to me. Thanks in advance!
1)      Teaching AMST: If you teach AmericanStudies (at any level and in any way), what does that mean? How do you teach it? What do you include? What do you hope your students will learn or do or take away from the experience? What is AmericanStudies at the classroom and program level?
2)      AMST Scholarship: If you consider yourself or your scholarship as part of or related to AmericanStudies, why? What is AmericanStudies scholarship, and how does it compare and contrast with other fields such as History, English, and Cultural Studies? What does it mean for a project or piece to be doing AmericanStudies work?
3)      Selling AMST: None of us (well, nearly none of us) like to feel as if we have to sell the work we do, as educators, scholars, or in any facet of our careers. But as we talked about a good deal in 2013, we have to do just that—and the situation certainly hasn’t improved in the two plus years since. So how do we make the case for AmericanStudies, do you think? How do we argue for courses, departments and programs, minors and majors, funding and grants, and other kinds of support for this discipline?
Inquiring AmericanStudiers want to know! Next follow up tomorrow,
PS. What do you think? How would you answer any or all of these questions?

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