Affiliated with the Center for Cultural Analysis (CCA), the Americanist Seminar fosters interdisciplinary research in American literature and culture at Rutgers by providing a forum for the exchange of work-in-progress, sponsoring visits from distinguished scholars, serving as a liaison to area Americanist organizations, and encouraging experimental work in literature, criticism, and allied arts.
The Americanist Seminar hosted two major conferences intopic “War Genres After War, or, Endless Enemies.” In March, with the CCA’s Pragmatism Working Group, the Seminar cohosted the half-day conference “Humboldt, Darwin and Pragmatist Worldviews.” The event featured presentations by Laura Walls (Notre Dame), Jonathan Elmer (Indiana), Steven Meyer (Washington University at St. Louis), Joan Richardson (CUNY), and George Levine (Rutgers). The Seminar invited Emily Ogden (University of Virginia) to discuss her provocative new book, Credulity: A Cultural History of US Mesmerism (Chicago 2018), Leila Gómez (University of Colorado), a specialist in Latin American travel literature and empire, to lead a series of discussions on Alexander von Humboldt’s legacy in Mexico and Peru, and Jameson Sweet (Rutgers, American Studies), to discuss his new work on American Indian intellectual and political history, and Jameson Sweet (Rutgers, American Studies) to discuss his new work on American Indian intellectual and political history. In the Spring Semester, with the Drama Group, Sunny Stalter Pace (Auburn, Rutgers English Ph.D. 2007) returned to Rutgers for a talk on her new project, “Imitation Modernism: Gertrude Hoffman, Pirated Ballets Russes, and Its Relation to American Popular Performance.” The Seminar also cosponsored visits to Rutgers for graduate workshops by Elizabeth Maddock Dillon (Northeastern) and Gene Jarrett (NYU).
Upcoming Events for 2019-2020
Co-Sponsored with the CCA Working Group on Pragmatism:
Fall Mini Seminar—3 Meetings in 6 Weeks—"Pragmatism in the World”
Sept. 25, Discussion of selections from Thomas Alexander’s The Human Eros
Oct. 8, Discussion of selections from Inventing the Modern Self and John Dewey: Modernities and the Traveling of Pragmatism in Education (2005), Democracy as Culture: Deweyan Pragmatism in a Globalizing World (2009)
Oct. 23, Seminar with Scott Stroud (Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin) Dewey in South Asia (or India). On Social Justice in India: Bhimrao Ambedkar’s Brush with Dewey.
Co-Sponsored with the Seminar on Literature and Political Theory (CCA)
Jack Turner (University of Washington).Our meeting(s) with Turner will be concerned with democracy and kinship, and Whitman will be the main literary writer we’ll be studying. (Turner is writing a book on love, death, and politics in Whitman).
New Books in Focus
Nathasha Hurley, Univ. of Alberta, Circulating Queerness: Before the Gay and Lesbian Novel.Discussion of Hurley’s new book with her, Gretta LaFleur (Yale), Kyla Schuller (Rutgers), and Dana Luciano (Rutgers). Organized by Elizabeth Dean.
Professor Evans is a specialist in 19th and 20th century American literature and culture and the history of anthropology. He is the author of Before Cultures: The Ethnographic Imagination in American Literature (2005) and Ephemeral Bibelots: How an International Fad Buried American Modernism (forthcoming, 2019). He also co-produced the restoration of a silent feature film that premiered in 1914, In the Land of the Head Hunters, which was directed by the photographer Edward Curtis and starred an all-indigenous cast from the Kwakwaka’wakw community of British Columbia, Canada. The film is now listed in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Each of these projects has been quite different from the other, covering a broad range of media, but they were inspired by something the anthropologist Franz Boas wrote in 1911. In a major study of American Indian languages, Boas demonstrated that race, language and culture circulate independently and at remarkably different rates. Evans’s research has focused on historical episodes of uneven circulation—episodes that generated new thinking about the concepts of race and culture, the relation of art and anthropology, and the dynamics of artistic movements.