The Centre for American Studies dates back to 1973 and over more than forty years we have developed a strong research culture that matches the commitment of Kent University to interdisciplinary study as well as the mandate of American Studies to explore the US experience in innovative, ground-breaking ways. Our team of scholars maintain close links with a number of US research institutions, and includes several alumni of the Fulbright programme. Kent University's Templeman Library features impressive collections on slavery, Native American culture, and photography/visual materials, as well as an extensive archive of historical newspapers. For postgraduate researchers, we offer the Christine and Ian Bolt Scholarship that covers the expenses of one year of research in the United States.
In recent years, members of the Centre for American Studies have received research funding from various bodies, including the Leverhulme Trust, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Wellcome Foundation and the Fulbright Commission. Our students have been funded through the AHRC by CHASE (Consortium for the Humanities and Arts, South-East England), and by internal studentships such as the Vice-Chancellor’s scholarship scheme.
The research of the Centre for American Studies falls into four overlapping clusters:
Space and Environment
This research cluster addresses questions of space and identity in the Americas by asking how particular environments, from parks and urban spaces to reservations, regions and states, shape cultures and are represented by them.
Examples of current and recent research projects in this cluster include John Wills’ work on environmental catastrophe in the United States, Karen Jones’s on the cultural history of hunting, and their collaborative work on the West. In 2016-17, the Centre is hosting an honorary research fellow, Monica Manolescu, whose current research examines the mapping of urban space in post-war U.S. literature, art and culture. Two Leverhulme-funded research networks also contribute to this area, led by Natalia Sobrevilla Perea on war and nation in South America and by David Stirrup on the Canada-US border.
Migration, Borders and the Transnational
The Centre has become a major interdisciplinary hub for transnational American Studies, with many of our scholars examining the movement, circulation and exchange of people, objects and cultural practices across borders.
Recent and forthcoming research monographs in this cluster include Ben Marsh’s Unravelling Dreams: Silkworms and the Atlantic World (Cambridge University Press, 2017), and Will Norman’s Transatlantic Aliens: Modernism, Exile and Culture in Mid-century America (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2016). David Stirrup’s Leverhulme-funded research network on “Culture and the Canada-US Border” has also made an important contribution to this work. Patricia Novillo-Corvalan’s research on the transnational reception of James Joyce and Jorge Luis Borges, Martin Hammer’s on the transatlantic art world after 1960 and Andrew Wroe’s on the politics of immigration further strengthen this area.
Race, Gender, Indigeneity
The Centre for American Studies has long been known for its scholarship on race and ethnicity in the Americas, a tradition currently evident in Stella Bolaki’s co-edited volume on the black feminist Audre Lorde, Audre Lorde’s Transnational Legacies, and in Natalia Sobrevilla Perea’s recent work on racial and ethnic identities in twentieth-century South America. The Centre carries strong interests in questions of indigeneity, and is host to the journal Transmotion, which is dedicated to the study of Native and First Nations writing. It is also dedicated to exploring the cultural formation and politics of gender and sexuality, for example in Tamar Jeffers Macdonald’s work on Doris Day as cultural icon, and Sean Grattan’s scholarship on queer theory.
Cultural Forms, Cultural Politics
This cluster represents the wide variety of work in the centre that is focused on questions of cultural forms, aesthetic and politics in North and South America, from literature and film to video games. Indicative recent publications in this area include Michael Collins’ 2016 book The Drama of the American Short Story 1800-1865 (Michigan University Press, 2016) and Peter Stanfield’s The Cool and the Crazy: Pop Fifties Cinema (Rutgers University Press, 2015). Will Rowlandson’s work on literature and film related to the Cuban revolution add to our strengths in this cluster. John Wills’ scholarship on video games and leadership of the Games Studies Network also complements this area.