New Alumni Publications

Julie Elman,Chronic Youth: Disability, Sexuality, and U.S. Media Cultures of Rehabilitation
From the publisher: "The teenager has often appeared in culture as an anxious figure, the repository for American dreams and worst nightmares, at once on the brink of success and imminent failure. Spotlighting the “troubled teen” as a site of pop cultural, medical, and governmental intervention, Chronic Youth traces the teenager as a figure through which broad threats to the normative order have been negotiated and contained."

David Kieran, Forever Vietnam: How a Divisive War Changed American Public Memory
From the publisher: "Four decades after its end, the American war in Vietnam still haunts the nation’s collective memory. Its lessons, real and imagined, continue to shape government policies and military strategies, while the divisions it spawned infect domestic politics and fuel the so-called culture wars. In Forever Vietnam, David Kieran shows how the contested memory of the Vietnam War has affected the commemoration of other events, and how those acts of remembrance have influenced postwar debates over the conduct and consequences of American foreign policy."

About Us

The Department of American Studies at The George Washington University is one of the nation's most rigorous and intellectually innovative departments devoted to the interdisciplinary study of American culture and society. Internationally recognized for its research, our faculty is also committed to fostering a dynamic learning environment where undergraduate and graduate students work together with faculty to better understand the culture, politics and history of the United States and its role in the world. 

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Faculty Getting Press

 Professor Elisabeth Anker recently participated in a great Q&A about her recently published book, Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Freedom. About the book: 

 "The images of 9-11 are seared into our collective consciousness: A clear September sky erupts in flames as planes hurtle into the World Trade Center. The towers collapse in a hail of smoke and debris. Thousandsof  loved ones are lost. An insidious villain claims victory. A wounded but determined hero vows to rise from the rubble and fight for freedom. To many observers, 9-11 seemed to have all the elements of a movie script,  and according to Elisabeth Anker, assistant professor of American studies and political science, it’s no coincidence. In her new book, Orgies of Feeling: Melodrama and the Politics of Freedom (Duke University Press),  Anker suggests that melodrama, a genre we associate with pulp paperbacks and Hollywood potboilers, has become a persistent and influential force in political discourse. The framing of world events—from a  politician’s histrionic language to TV’s explosive images—can be as melodramatic as an action blockbuster. Leaping from the silver screen to our real lives, Anker says melodrama can captivate nations, embolden      leaders and even change the course of world events."
 You can read the Q&A here

Spring 2015 Special Topics Course!

This course is a ONE TIME ONLY opportunity for our undergraduates! 
(for a full listing of our Spring course offerings, follow this link

AMST 3950.80– Humanitarians Without Borders
Megan Black
WF, 2:20-3:35
This course will consider the changing shape and trajectory of American humanitarian engagements in the long twentieth century. It will examine how Americans of a humanitarian orientation, broadly construed, crossed and collapsed boundaries—between disinterest and self-interest, public and private sectors, domestic and foreign policy, and the religious and secular, as well as those legislating race, gender, and class. Major course themes will be the emergence and impact of humanitarian sensibilities in relation to capitalism, imperialism, and governance. Throughout, the course will chart the historical emergence of international development—a political, economic, and cultural arrangement between global North and global South mediated by actors from diplomats to entrepreneurs and institutions from USAID to NGOs. We will assess diverse encounters wrought of Americans’ avowed desire to “help,” including civilizing missions toward Native Americans, formal imperialism overseas, development programs to fight poverty, hunger, and over-population, and contests to establish and define human and indigenous rights. Along the way, we will consider critiques—postcolonial, environmental, and Marxist—that arose to challenge the claims that such efforts were “helping” people. We will ask, how did humanitarian sensibilities propel U.S. global engagements and to what effect?