Documentary screening: C.L.R. James (Fri 3 March 2017)

The Centre for American Studies warmly invites you to a screening and discussion of a new documentary film about C. L. R. James: Every Cook Can Govern: The Life, Impact and Work of C. L. R. James.

The screening takes place on Friday, 3rd March from 1-4pm in Grimond Building, Lecture Theatre 3, University of Kent, Canterbury Campus. The film is approximately 2 hours long, and will be followed by a discussion with an invited speaker, Dr Nicole King (Reading University, author of CLR James and Creolization: Circles of Influence).

All are welcome at this free event. Watch the official documentary trailer to find out more.

The film: The ideas and works of Trinidad-born Marxist revolutionary and writer C.L.R. James come to life as exclusive never-before-seen footage of the man himself is interwoven with testimony from those who knew him along with leading scholars providing astute contextual and political analysis of his life and works. The result is a historical tour-de-force which grapples with James’ thoughts on culture, cricket and society and above all his politics, in particular his outspoken opposition to: colonialism, abolitionist myths, the Second World War and Stalinism and his belief in the capacity of us all to change the world.

Nicole King: Nicole King is a Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Reading and a leading expert on the work of C. L. R. James. She is the author of CLR James and Creolization: Circles of Influence (University of Mississippi Press, 2001), a study that calls attention to James’ internationalism as an articulation of creolization in multiple registers-spatial, temporal and cultural. She has also published research articles and book chapters on authors and topics such as Zadie Smith, Ida B. Wells, Earl Lovelace, gender, migration, identity and pedagogy. Her current research examines representations of American blackness.


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PhD Scholarships: January application deadlines

The Centre for American Studies invites applications for PhD Scholarships to commence in September 2017. These include a share of 75 AHRC scholarships offered by CHASE, the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England, and a University of Kent Vice-Chancellor’s Research Scholarship. All PhD applications received before the advertised deadlines will automatically be considered for the scholarships – please see information on how to apply.

Since its foundation in 1973, The Centre for American Studies has developed a strong research culture that matches the commitment of the University of Kent to interdisciplinary study, as well as the mandate of American Studies to explore the US experience in innovative, ground-breaking ways.

We actively welcome PhD proposals which fit within our four interdisciplinary areas of research:

  • Space and Environment
  • Migration, Borders and the Transnational
  • Race, Gender, Indigeneity
  • Cultural Forms, Cultural Politics

University of Kent Vice-Chancellor’s Research Scholarship

Qualification type:PhD
Location: Kent
Funding for: UK Students, EU Students, International Students
Funding amount: £14,296 scholarship at the current 2016/17 rate, plus Home-rate tuition fee.
Hours: Full-time
Closes: 30 January 2017

Administered under the Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) Scheme. The current 2016/17 rate for the scholarship is £14,296 plus Home-rate tuition fee. (Please note: this means that if you are an overseas student and you apply for a Vice Chancellor Research Scholarship you will have to fund the difference between Overseas and Home/EU fees.)
Scholarship rates and fees for 2017/18 are expected to be announced in March 2017.
Successful applicants will normally meet all of the following criteria unless both the research proposal and references are exceptional:

Candidates must hold a good Honours degree (First or 2i) or a Master’s degree at merit or distinction in a relevant subject or equivalent.
The scholarship competition is open to all new postgraduate research applicants.
Current Kent research students are not eligible for this scholarship.
UK, EU and overseas fee paying students are invited to apply. Please note that overseas students must have the appropriate documentation to evidence eligibility to work in the

UK Application requirements:

  • Personal data/curriculum vitae
  • Personal Statement
  • English proficiency certificate
  • Research Proposal
  • Transcript of records
  • References

AHRC PhD scholarship offered by CHASE

Qualification type: PhD
Location: Kent
Funding for: UK Students, EU students* (*fees only award)
Funding amount: For 2016/17, the funding consisted of a Fee Waiver at the Home/EU rate plus a maintenance stipend of £14,296 per year.
Hours: Full-time
Closes: 11 January 2017

The Centre for American Studies invites applications for an AHRC PhD scholarship offered by CHASE, the Consortium for the Humanities and the Arts South-East England. CHASE AHRC studentships are open to UK and EU students who meet the residency requirements set out in the RCUK Conditions of Research Council Training Grants.
For eligibility criteria for full awards please refer to the UK Council for International Student Affairs website.

Students from EU countries other than the UK are generally eligible for a fees-only award. To be eligible for a fees-only award, a student must be ordinarily resident in a member state of the EU, in the same way as UK students must be ordinarily resident in the UK.
At the current time, EU students are eligible for support from CHASE. Applicants from EU countries will be notified immediately of any change in status as a result of UK government policy.





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Why the U.S. is not a ‘Nation of Immigrants’

Taking place on Tuesday 6th December at 6pm in Keynes College, Lecture Theatre 6 this year’s Bolt Lecture will be given by Professor Maria Lauret of the University of Sussex.

Whereas in 1915 Theodore Roosevelt could proclaim with great conviction that there was no room in the United States for hyphenated (‘ethnic’) Americans, today it is common for Americans to identify precisely as people whose roots lay elsewhere and who are proud of their ethnic heritage. And whilst in recent years undocumented immigration is perceived to have reached crisis point, the US continues to project itself as a ‘nation of immigrants.’ These reversals and contradictions in American political discourse deserve further scrutiny. In an historical survey that moves from the Americanization movement of a hundred years ago to via John F. Kennedy’s Cold War immigration policy to the birth of multiculturalism in the 1970s and the War on Terror today, a change from the inculcation of ethnic shame to the proclamation of ethnic pride is charted, revealing both the long-term and paradoxical effects of Americanization as a programme of social engineering and the ideological work that the “nation of immigrants” concept continues to perform for American national identity today.

The Bolt Lecture is held in memory of Christine Bolt, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Kent, and her late husband Ian Bolt, who generously funded the University’s Christine and Ian Bolt Scholarships.

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U.S. Election Result: Round Table Discussion

President Trump or President Clinton? After arguably the most divisive, unpleasant, polarised and simply extraordinary presidential contest in a century, four experts on American politics meet to discuss who won and why, and where we go from here.

Join the debate on Thursday 10 November at 5.30pm in the Templeman Library Lecture Theatre. Dr Andrew Wroe, Lecturer in American Politics at the University of Kent will chair a discussion panel consisting of:

Professor Rob Singh, Professor of Politics, Birkbeck College, University of London; Professor Iwan Morgan, Professor of U.S. Studies, University College London and    Dr George Conyne, Lecturer in American History, University of Kent.

This is an open event and all students, University of Kent staff and members of the public are warmly welcome. Attendance is free, but we would ask you to register in advance at our Eventbrite page.

Image copyright: Cage Skidmore/ Wikimedia Commons

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AHRC Research Grant Award for Lecturers in American Studies and English

Dr Sara Lyons and Dr Michael Collins, of the University of Kent’s School of English, have been awarded a £240,000 grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for a project entitled Literary Culture, Meritocracy and the Assessment of Intelligence in Britain and America, 1880 – 1920.

The project investigates how British and American novelists understood, represented, and problematised the concept of human intelligence between 1880 and 1920. These forty years saw intense scientific debates about the mechanisms underlying biological heredity as well as the establishment of mass compulsory education systems in both Britain and America. The convergence of these developments galvanised a new drive to establish the fundamentally innate and measureable nature of mental ability. The rise of intelligence testing and the associated concept of IQ was highly controversial, but it nonetheless achieved a considerable scientific and cultural legitimacy in both countries, and encouraged a tendency to conceptualise intelligence in statistical terms, as a phenomenon that distributes itself predictably around a norm in a population.

This project compares how British and American novelists used the bildungsroman form — the novel of education and personal development — to grapple with the implications of the new drive to render intelligence an objectively knowable phenomenon. What did it mean, and how did it feel, to be classified as being above, below, or of average intelligence, at a moment when such judgments began to lay claim to scientific authority? To what extent did novelists in the period endorse or contest the IQ model of intelligence, and what alternative ideas about the evaluation of intelligence can be discovered in the bildungsroman, a form with roots in Romantic theories of education? What is the relationship between new efforts to conceive of intelligence as a testable and unitary entity in the brain and the shift toward more experimental modes of literary representation in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth centuries?

The project will also enquire into how shifting ideas about the nature of mental ability affected the discourses of literary criticism and conceptions of authorial identity in the period of transition from the nineteenth-century realist novel to the experiments of modernism. What impact did the rise of the notion of IQ have upon modern ideas of talent, creativity, and aesthetic value?

Finally, the project will explore how literary culture in this period can both clarify and enrich our contemporary debates about competitive examinations, meritocracy, and genetic determinism.

The grant will allow Drs. Lyons and Collins to appoint a post-doctoral researcher, conduct public-engagement events, conferences, and work towards the publication of a monograph on the topic.

Dr Sara Lyons is a Lecturer in Victorian Literature at the University of Kent; Dr Michael Collins is a Lecturer in American Literature and Deputy Director of the Centre for American Studies at the University of Kent.



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Canada’s Treatment of Indigenous People: Film and Q&A

The Centre for American Studies welcomes Canadian film maker and lecturer, Tasha Hubbard on Monday 11 July (1-3pm in GLT3) for a screening of her documentary Two Worlds Colliding.

Hubbard’s 2005 documentary chronicles the story of Darrell Night, an Indigenous man who was dumped by two police officers in a barren field on the outskirts of Saskatoon in January 2000, during -20° C temperatures. He found shelter at a nearby power station and survived the ordeal, but he was stunned to hear that the frozen body of another Indigenous man was discovered in the same area. Days later, another victim, also Indigenous, was found.

This film is an inquiry into what came to be known as Saskatoon’s infamous ‘freezing deaths’ and the schism between a fearful, mistrustful Indigenous community and a police force that must come to terms with a shocking secret.

Following the screening, Tasha Hubbard will discuss how Patrick Wolfe’s “logic of elimination” plays out in the prairie city of Saskatoon. North American settler colonialism is predicated on the disappearance of Indigenous peoples, both historical and on-going. The destruction of the buffalo allowed Canadian forefathers to use a starvation policy to clear Indigenous peoples from the land, specifically in the prairies. Despite being confined to reservations throughout the early part of the 20th century and forced into assimilative and abusive residential schools, Indigenous people continued to fight to exist. When some of these oppressive laws were eventually lifted, Indigenous peoples migrated to urban centres like Saskatoon in the 1960s and 70s to find work and pursue education. Settler colonialism adapted with new tactics, such as police taking Indigenous peoples to the outskirts of the city, often in the depths of winter.

The film Two Worlds Colliding (2005) chronicles the discovery of this practice in Saskatoon through interviews with the police themselves, the families left behind, and a lone witness. Also related to the notion of disappearance are the 1700 missing and murdered Indigenous women in Canada. While activists and communities have called for action by governments and police forces, their cries were met with willful deafness until this past year.

Hubbard’s earlier short film 7 Minutes (recent recipient of Best Short Non-Fiction at the Golden Sheaf Awards) shows the atmosphere of potential harm that young Indigenous women on the prairies must live with on a daily basis.


Tasha Hubbard is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Saskatchewan. She teaches indigenous literatures, as well as classes in first-year English as part of the Aboriginal Student Achievement Program. Her current film and academic work focuses on Indigenous creative representation of the Buffalo and on recovering historic Indigenous stories. She is an award-winning documentary filmmaker; her solo writing/directing project Two Worlds Colliding (2004) won a Canada Award at the Geminis and a Golden Sheaf Award and she recently released the animated short film Buffalo Calling, 2013.

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American Studies student wins music award

Final year American Studies student, India Bottomley, has been awarded a University of Kent Music Prize this year, for her contribution to music-making at the University.

India (pictured front row left) is the recipient of the Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize, which is awarded annually to a student who has made a major contribution to organising music at the University. The award is made in recognition of her exceptional all-round behind-the-scenes organising and admin skills as Chorus Manager – the issuing and returning of chorus members’ vocal scores and deposits, staff and external membership and liaising closely with the Music Department. India also sings with the University Chorus and Cecilian Choir.

The award was made at a special prize-giving ceremony as part of the Music Scholars’ Recital in Colyer-Fergusson Hall on Tuesday 7 June. Said India;

My time at Kent would not have been the same without the input of the music department. I met my closest friends through our shared love of making music, I have grown in confidence and explored my musicianship more than I ever imagined I would whilst studying American Studies. My degree in American studies has allowed me to explore my passion academically too: my dissertation focused on the role of jazz in New York’s race relations, which meant that I spent a lot of time working on something I love, which I feel both very lucky and grateful for. My best memories of music making at Kent include annual concerts in the Cathedral and most recently my final concert as a UKC student which was a wonderful way to end my time here but it was also very emotional saying goodbye to everyone! The opportunities to make music at the University of Kent are second to none, our amazing Colyer Ferguson building, the dedicated staff of the music department and my fellow committee members made singing in the Chorus and Cecilian choirs the highlights of my time at Kent. I am now working in Intellectual Property legal recruitment and will start studying for a graduate diploma in law come September, with the aim of having a career in international music copyright law, with my focus being on the music industry of course!

Said Dr John Wills, Director of the Centre for American Studies at the University of Kent;

We at the Centre for American Studies, are exceptionally proud of India’s achievements – both a musician and as a student. It has been a pleasure to have India study with us, and we wish her the very best in her future career.

For more information about Music at Kent, please see the Music Department’s blog. For further details about American Studies at Kent, please see the Centre for American Studies website.


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Dr Michael J. Collins publishes on the American short story

Lecturer in American Literature at the University of Kent, Dr Michael J. Collins has published a new book The Drama of the American Short Story, 1800-1865 – a history of the origins of the American short story and its relationship to theatrical performance culture.

Published by the University of Michigan Press, the book argues that to truly understand the short story form, one must look at how it was shaped by the lively, chaotic, and deeply politicized world of 19th-century transatlantic theater and performance culture. By resurrecting long-neglected theatrical influences on representative works of short fiction, Michael J. Collins demonstrates that it was the unruly culture of the stage that first energized this most significant of American art forms. Whether it was Washington Irving’s first job as theater critic, Melville’s politically controversial love of British drama, Alcott’s thwarted dreams of stage stardom, Poe and Lippard’s dramatizations of peculiarly bloodthirsty fraternity hazings, or Hawthorne’s fascination with automata, theater was a key imaginative site for the major pioneers of the American short story. The book shows how perspectives from theater studies, anthropology, and performance studies can enrich readings of the short story form. Moving beyond arbitrary distinctions between performance and text, it suggests that this literature had a social life and was engaged with questions of circumatlantic and transnational culture. It suggests that the short story itself was never conceived as a nationalist literary form, but worked by mobilizing cosmopolitan connections and meanings. In so doing, the book resurrects a neglected history of American Federalism and its connections to British literary forms.

A pleasure to read…. Collins’ textual analyses are strong and persuasive and I was impressed by the energy and depth of knowledge evinced by the book.”—Sarah Chinn, Hunter College

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Slavery by Another Name documentary screening (11 May)

The Centre for American Studies will host a screening of the documentary, Slavery by Another Name (PBS, Feb 2012) with an introduction and post-film discussion chaired by visiting lecturer Dr Konstantinos D. Karatzas (University of Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain).

The screening will take place on Wednesday 11 May 2016 from 1.00-3.00pm in Marlowe Lecture Theatre 2. There is no entry fee and all staff and students are warmly welcome. Find out more by viewing the documentary trailer.

Slavery by Another Name (PBS, Feb 2012)

For most Americans this is entirely new history. Slavery by Another Name gives voice to the largely forgotten victims and perpetrators of forced labor and features their descendants living today.
Based on Douglas A. Blackmon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book, this 90-minute documentary illuminates how in the years following the Civil War, insidious new forms of forced labor emerged in the American South, persisting until the onset of World War II.
Slavery by Another Name challenges one of Americans’ most cherished assumptions: the belief that slavery in this country ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The film tells how even as chattel slavery came to an end in the South in 1865, thousands of African Americans were pulled back into forced labor with shocking force and brutality. It was a system in which men, often guilty of no crime at all, were arrested, compelled to work without pay, repeatedly bought and sold, and coerced to do the bidding of masters. Tolerated by both the North and South, forced labor lasted well into the 20th century.

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Masculinity and the Metropolis Conference

This interdisciplinary conference, hosted by the University of Kent from 22-23 April, will explore the range of complex and contradictory engagements between masculinity and the developing metropolis since the beginning of the twentieth century. Throughout this period the metropolis maintained a paradoxical status; simultaneously a place of liberation and possibility, whilst also a place of alienation and oppression. In the wake of industrialisation artistic reactions to modern urbanity were spurred on by the rapid growth of cities and the transition from rural to metropolitan living.

Through a selection of papers and engaging discussions, the aim of the two-day conference is to answer the following questions: What do responses to the modern city in visual art, film, and literature tell us about masculinity as it both asserts itself and registers its own anxieties, and subsequent representations of the city? How has masculinity been visualised with the construction of this modern cityscape and ideas of the urban? And later in the 20th Century, how did artists registering with ideas of deindustrialization or feminist and queer art forms affect or approach theories of masculinity and the urban?

The conference will bring together scholars from varying fields in order to examine the way in which theories of masculinity and the metropolis have developed in tandem, charting their evolution from the beginning of the 20th Century to the present day.

For the full programme, and details of how to register please see the conference website .To contact the organisers please email:

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