When I was completing a major in American Studies at the University of Colorado from 1970-1974, it was a serious interdisciplinary study that covered American history from Jamestown to 1960, American literature from the Mayflower Compact to John Updike, along with other fields such as political science and philosophy. Chemistry, physics, biology and math classes through advanced calculus and partial differential equations filled out the rest of my studies during those four years.
Today there is an American Studies Association which to my knowledge did not exist when I engaged in my studies. From all that I can find about this group, the whole idea of “American Studies” has become a farce of stupidity and political correctness. The group is having its annual meeting in Los Angeles next month. Here is an excerpt from the Presidential address of Lisa Duggan of New York University:
In alignment with the theme of this year’s conference, The Fun and the Fury: A New Dialectics of Pain and Pleasure for the Post-American Century, I am especially interested in tracing the impact of queer studies and queer of color critique, of performance studies and affect theory, of sexuality studies and the live arts, of new technologies and social media, on the interdisciplinary terrain of American Studies. I am interested in exploring how these approaches are interacting now with studies of empire and settler colonialism, analyses of the racial state and the history of work and capitalism. I am interested in the political implications of these interactions, and with their failures. Most of all, in the face of the brutal conditions of life and work so many humans and others on the planet confront, I am interested in exploring why we should care about the fun and the fury at all.
I wonder if Ms. Duggan knows which side George Washington fought on in the Revolutionary War.