Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

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  • ams masthead summer 2014

Greetings from the Department Chair

  • Dennis Deslippe
  • Dennis Deslippe

It’s been an extraordinary year in American Studies, with several notable successes for faculty, students and alumni. As I take over the helm as chairperson from Alison Kibler I am pleased to note the strong state of the department.
Our 2014 graduating class was one of the largest in recent history. For the second consecutive year, one of our students received the prestigious Williamson Medal. The department was buzzing with activitiy throughout the year. Students in Dan Frick's As Seen on TV and  Alison Kibler's Rights and Responsibilities courses participated in an excursion to the Newseum in Washington, D.C.; two of our students traveled to Chicago to present their research papers at the Popular Culture/American Cultural Association Annual Meeting; and AMS sponsored Macalester College's Jim Dawes in his campus-wide Common Hour talk, "Making Monsters: War Crimes and Ordinary Men." Our regular "AMS Road Shows" continued to provide a mix of social and educational events throughout the year. (The "pizza and movie night" was especially popular.)
As noteworthy as these department events and accomplishments are, we take special pride in following the lives of our students once they leave Franklin & Marshall. American Studies majors have charted unique paths in their professional and civic lives. I was reminded of this in July when I read a Wall Street Journal article about Becky Fawcett '92 and her organization, This organization provides much-needed grants to couples in search of funds to help cover the costs of adoption.
I want to take this opportunity to invite our many alumni to send us your news to include in a section planned for future newsletters, "AMS News & Notes." Please send them to me at . Of course, we'd also love for you to visit third-floor Stager Hall as well. Drop by to reconnect with your old professors and introduce yourself to the rest of the department!
Best wishes,
Dennis Deslippe
Chair and Associate Professor of American Studies

American Studies Major Wins Prestigious Williamson Medal

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  • Michael Haines

After four years of serving as a mentor to his classmates and local high school students, providing tremendous leadership in the classroom and on the football field and pursuing with dynamic intellect and insatiable curiosity a major in American studies, Michael Haines can say he got the most out of his F&M experience. At the College's Commencement ceremony May 10, his contributions as a scholar, leader and athlete earned Mike the 2014 Williamson Medal, the College's most prestigious award for student achievement. Mike also won the Sener Prize, which is awarded for outstanding work in American Studies, and was selected for the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Of his American Studies coursework, he says, "Those classes just opened my eyes to the structural and cultural inequalities in our society. It kind of gave me a grounding, a solid reason to go into medicine." Mike will be attending medical school in the fall. 

This is the second consecutive year that an American Studies major has won the Williamson Medal. In 2013, the honor went to Alexis Teevens, who also won the department's Sener Prize. 

Feature articles about both Mike and Alexis, which include reflections from their AMS professors, are available on the College website. Click on their names to read more.

Congratulations to AMS Grads, Class of 2014!

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  • What's next for some of our graduates:

    • medical school
    • paramedic training
    • trial preparation assistant, Manhattan DA's office/Cold Case Unit
    • English teacher in Israel
    • program assistant, Hillel, Vanderbilt University
    • College Advising Corps
    • Teach for America
    • financial analyst, Merrill Lynch
    • sports marketing internship
  • Lucia Beltran*
  • Daniel Burke
  • Daniel Cafiero
  • Zachary Calahan
  • Andrew Crawford
  • Shanni Davidowitz*
  • Michael Freedman
  • Katherine Gentles
  • Matthew Gibbons
  • Michael Haines*
  • Katherine Hollander
  • Dana Kaufman
  • Spencer Lussier
  • Patrick Mallon
  • Mary Mitchell
  • Mark Rossman
  • Samuel Rubin
  • Malorie Sassaman*
  • Lauren Silverman
  • Kara Stanley
  • Aaron Velasquez
  • Molly Winik*

* denotes member of the Eastern American Studies Association Honor Society

Looking Forward to a Fruitful Academic Year

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  • AMS Professors Louise Stevenson (second from right) and Dennis Deslippe (right) pose with a group of newly declared American Studies majors at the Declaration Dinner for the class of 2016. This marked the second year for this annual event, which gives sophomores who have recently declared a major the chance to interact with faculty from their discipline as well as students with similar interests.

AMS Majors, Class of 2015
(Rising Seniors)

  • William Ballantyne
  • Leah Brenner
  • Sara Fitts
  • Daniel Freeman
  • Katherine Keating 
  • Samuel Lane
  • Marcus Lee
  • Bryce Loebel
  • Julian Rivas-Firpi
  • Mary Robison
  • Genevieve Spears
  • Emily Turitzin

Schuyler Reflects on Writing, Teaching about American Culture

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  • David Schuyler

By Peter Durantine

For 35 years, Professor David Schuyler has challenged his Franklin & Marshall College students to view the subjects of culture and history from multiple perspectives.

He takes that same approach as a researcher and writer, a scholarly method that has earned Schuyler the Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in New York from the New York Academy of History at Columbia University, his alma mater. The honor recognizes Schuyler's 2012 book Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909, and is the third prize garnered by the volume.

Named for the governor who served the Empire State in the 1930s and early 1940s, the award aligns with the New York Academy’s mission to "promote and honor outstanding historical research and writing." The academy's director, Kenneth Jackson, presented the award this spring at a dinner at Manhattan's Century Club.  

"It's especially touching because he was co-director of my dissertation and has been a close friend for many years," Schuyler said of Jackson. "It was great to share that moment with him."

Schuyler, F&M's Arthur and Katherine Shadek Professor of Humanities and American Studies and a founding trustee of the academy, is a native of the Hudson Valley city of Newburgh, N.Y. He grew up on tales of the subjects of his book: Hudson River School painter Thomas Cole, writer Washington Irving, and landscape gardener Andrew Jackson Downing.

"Many have written of these figures, but Mr. Schuyler brings them to life in engaging ways and with fresh insights," reads the Lehman Prize citation. "He never loses sight of the fact that these artists and writers not only rendered the Hudson River Valley for generations of Americans but also shaped their perception of it."

Schuyler remains committed to the Empire State's most prominent river region, serving on preservation boards as well as on the Hudson River Valley Review editorial board.

In a recurring feature called "Three Questions," Schuyler discusses the valley's significance to the United States, why landscape histories matter and the evolution of teaching and learning in F&M's American Studies program. Click here to read the full article.

American Studies Faculty Updates

Joseph Clark

2013-14 was an eventful year for me. After arriving at Franklin & Marshall last fall, I spent much of my time getting familiar with Lancaster and the surrounding area, not to mention the great students and faculty at F&M. I’m so glad to be back again this year.

In February, I was invited to share my dissertation research on American Newsreels at the Visual Studies Research Institute at the University of Southern California as part of the seminar series, Getting the Picture: The History and Visual Culture of the News. The seminar was held in conjunction with the publication of Getting the Picture: The Visual Culture of the News edited by Vanessa Schwartz and Jason Hill (Bloomsbury), which includes my chapter ““Public Forum of the Screen: Modernity, Mobility, and Debate at the Newsreel Cinema.”

This summer has been a busy one. In June, I spent two weeks in New York participating in the Advertising Education Foundation’s Visiting Professor Program.  As a Visiting Professor at JWT – America’s oldest advertising agency – I was able to get a glimpse inside the advertising industry. Students who take my American Advertising class next spring can expect to enjoy the benefits of my experience as I have plans for guest speakers, new lectures and group projects based on real world scenarios. Since getting back to Vancouver from New York I have been prepping for teaching African American Studies in the fall and working on new research on documentary images of Martin Luther King.

In other news, my wife, Andrea, and I spent much of the summer gardening, laying a new patio and creating a backyard cinema. We recently held our first open air screening: Hitchcock’s Rear Window seemed an appropriate choice. 

Dennis Deslippe

The 2013-14 academic year started with a research sabbatical. I visited archives in Boston, Detroit and Washington, D.C., to research my new project on "Economic Citizenship in Reagan's America." With my return to the classroom in the spring semester I taught three courses, including Studying America, a required course for juniors on AMS methods and theory. It was rewarding to work with our very capable students as they developed their understanding of our discipline and demonstrated intellectual maturity.

Just before resuming teaching in the spring semester I served on a roundtable marking the 40th anniversary of the founding of "9-to-5," a prominent working women's organization, at the American Historical Association's annual meeting. This past spring Johns Hopkins University Press published a paperback edition of my 2012 book, Protesting Affirmative Action: The Struggle Over Equality after the Civil Rights Revolution. This summer I am completing my work on an edited volume on the challenges of "engaged scholarship" in a higher education system increasingly under political scrutiny and financial hardships. The book, to be published by the University of Illinois Press, originated in a 2011 conference in honor of my graduate school advisor and labor historian, Shelton Stromquist. Finally, in addition to my service on various College committees, I finished a term as co-president of the F&M chapter of the Association of American University Professors.

Daniel Frick

During the past year, I developed a new AMS course, As Seen on TV: History as Media Event, which explored the network news coverage of such key moments in U.S. history as the Vietnam war, Watergate and the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. In April, four of my AMS students from the fall semester (Maria Guarisco, Courtney Rinden, Erin Moyer and Gabi Woods) presented a panel on the first hours of the live TV coverage of the JFK assassination at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association national conference in Chicago. And most recently, I've been working with two Hackman Scholars (Courtney Rinden and Erin Moyer) as the first researchers to have access to the 28.5 hours of unedited video footage of Richard Nixon's 1977 interviews with David Frost. [Editor's note: Click here to read more about the Nixon/Frost project.]

Alison Kibler

In June I completed the copyediting on my book manuscript, Censoring Racial Ridicule: Irish, Jewish and African American Struggles Over Race and Representation, 1890-1930 (UNC Press). The book is due to appear in January 2015. For the second half of the summer I worked on a research project about the history of integrated swimming pools in Lancaster. The campaign to desegregate Lancaster's swimming pools involved several F&M faculty in the 1960s. Years ago, American Studies students did some of the early research with me and in the spring semester Shanni Davidowitz '14 wrote a draft of the essay with me, so it has been a collaborative American Studies project. I also spent time in New York City; Washington, D.C.; and Montreal. 

David Schuyler

David Schuyler spent 2013-2014 completing The Frederick Law Olmsted Papers, vol. IX: The Last Great Projects, 1890-1895, which will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press in late December 2014 or early January 2015. He is grateful to his collaborator, Greg Kaliss, and to seven F & M students who have been Hackman Scholars and who contributed enormously to the work on the volume. The summer 2014 team included Leah Brenner, Erin Moyer and Shannon Ricchetti. His most recent book, Sanctified Landscape: Writers, Artists, and the Hudson River Valley, 1820-1909 (2012), was awarded the New York Academy of History’s Herbert H. Lehman Prize for Distinguished Scholarship.

Louise Stevenson

Just returned from China. Learned so much and saw some of our terrific students in Beijing, Shenyang, Nanjing, and Shanghai. The students had taken the first-year seminar Civil War Fictions or American Empire. The experience in China let me think of a new course possibly to be called The U.S. in the Pacific. Amazed to see museum exhibits in Beijing that emphasized the recent expansive foreign policy initiatives of China in the South China Sea. We visited Bright [one of the F&M students] in Shenyang. I assumed that he lived in a small provincial city. Wrong. It had 15 million people. Had a terrific, new and beautifully designed museum telling of the Sept. 18, 1939 incident that the Chinese think was the start of WWII in the Pacific. It's as important to the war as the better known Rape of Nanjing.  
On the community front, I continued on the board of the League of Women Voters and will serve a term as vp.  Also gave a talk to the Lancaster Women's Alliance in May called from "Attics to Archives: Saving Women's History."
On the scholarly front, my contribution to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library exhibit 2013-2014 commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address will be published in a forthcoming collection of the contributions.  It was called, "The Global Meaning of the Gettysburg Address."  And, very excited to report that my Lincoln ms. still entitled LIncoln Thought Globally will be published by Cambridge Univ. Press sometime in the academic year 2015-2016.  
Spending the summer preparing for course on WWI and tidying up the Lincoln ms.  

Carla Willard

I think the visit by Randy Wilkins '01 was the highlight of last year, and, in addition to writing on the "political figures" of Phillis Wheatley, Randy's visit encouraged me to open a research project about the impact of new financing models (crowd-sourcing) for Randy's Docket 32357 in particular and for "Black Independent Film" in general.
Randy's visit was a huge success in terms of the connections made by the general student population between interesting AMS, ENG, TDF and AFS courses of study. Randy's "big" talk in Stager Hall filled the house, gathered over 50 members of the "multicultural" students visiting the College through MODE, encouraged majors from all contributing departments to connect with him beyond the visit -- and encouraged me to explore the potential of crowd-sourcing for Black film. He also visited my classes in the form of an "open lunch" to which we invited many, many students (about 75 turned up), and made visits to Dirk Eitzen's TDF "career seminar" as well as Michael Penn's Foundations course. Because it was Randy's first return "home" to F & M since his graduation over a decade ago, his visit also gave him a chance to see the changes in the college community during his absence, and he was "mightly inspired" by what he saw both of the diversifying curricular development and also in the growing diversity of our campus student communities.
Otherwise, the other notable thing about my year were discoveries of new archives at the Library Company (poets who were contemporaries of Phillis Wheatley).  On the personal end, I was lucky enough to celebrate my 60th in the form of a trip north of the Arctic Circle in Sweden and Norway, hiking and climbing and, finally, sailing down the entire Norwegian coast on a refurbished mail boat. Wow.
The fact that I have sabbatical this year is a wonderful thing. I plan to spend it primarily on Wheatley (Library Co) but also on Randy and on some mnemonic (memoir) writing that I'm doing in poetry and prose.