GASF: Galway American Studies Forum
A considerable amount of research is currently being undertaken at NUI Galway in the field of American Studies. This project established the Galway American Studies Forum (GASF) to bring together NUI Galway researchers in the field of American Studies for the first time, in a regular forum, to discuss emerging research and promote inter-disciplinarity. Through regular meetings, presentations, guest speakers and an annual conference, the GASF provides an outlet for researchers in this field to learn from others, network, and explore new avenues of research. The forum also regularly hosts practical information sessions of relevance on topics ranging from Fulbright Scholarships to research trips in the US.
The forum is informal, collaborative and supportive. The emphasis is on encouraging post-graduate researchers to interact with established academics. Meetings are peer-led, thematic, and encourage informal debate and full participation. The GASF will help post-graduate students build the required confidence to disseminate their research further afield, and enable the promotion of NUI Galway as a centre of excellence for the field.
Since the project launch the Galway American Studies Forum has gotten on its feet. The last two weeks have been about building up a mailing list of American Studies Researchers in NUI Galway and setting a date for our inaugural meeting later this month. As this project is all about the people involved, we have been trying to accommodate as many schedules as possible.
In the meantime, Synergy announced that their Poster Presentation Event for the College of Arts would be on 13 March. As Synergy’s ethos so wonderfully compliments our own, aiming to bring researchers from different departments together, we decided this would be our debut.
A logo for the forum is in design, and will be used on Posters etc.
A blog for the forum has been set up and the European Association of American Studies has granted the Galway American Studies Forum permission to share their releases, so that members of the forum can be updated on upcoming publications, calls for papers, conferences et cetera. The blog can also be used to announce GASF events, and as the project develops members can post about methodological problems (and hopefully solutions!), book reviews, conference reports and much more.
Following an exciting month of American Studies Conferences in the UK and Ireland, the GASForum hosted its inaugural meeting on April 30th, with students attending from the Departments of English, History and Spanish. Full minutes of the meeting can be viewed on the GASF Blog but in brief we discussed:
- What American Studies has mean historically, and what it has come to mean in recent years: the influence on inter-disciplinarity, and how this can benefit us in Galway.
- The background to the formation of the forum, the EXPLORE project, the NUI Galway Bright Ideas Initiative, and the Student Projects Fund.
- We introduced ourselves and our research, and discussed what we hoped to gain from the forum. These expectations included: helping to fill out gaps in each others knowledge; looking to scholars concerned with the U.S. to inform aspects of research on South American topics; seeking information on funding available for travel; publication and conference opportunities. Furthermore the members expressed an interest in working together to host American Studies Conferences in NUI Galway.
The Irish Association of American Studiesis very keen to rekindle links with NUI Galway, which has not been the case for several years. At the British Association for American Studies Conference in Manchester I met Philip McGowan, chairperson of the Irish Association. He was very excited to learn that American Studies is alive and well in NUI Galway, and that the GASF has been formed. This benefits members of GASF in that we can disseminate our research further afield through visiting speakers, participation in IAAS organised conferences, and publication in the IAAS and BAAS journal. Members of the GASF were interested to learn more about the community of American Studies Scholars in Ireland and Britain, so our next priority will be to schedule visits from postgraduate and early career representatives from each of these Associations.
A common concern of the members present was the issue of funding overseas travel for research. GASF had planned to host information sessions on the Fulbright Scholarship in September/October ahead of the November deadline. As this is such a primary area of interest for our members we will endeavour to organise other events along this theme, such as talks from students returning from research trips, advice on archives, and other funding sources.
The GASF Blog has had over 1,000 views since its creation in February.
On June 5th the Galway American Studies Forum hosted its first guest speaker, Gavin Wilk a Visiting Lecture in History at the University of Limerick. Gavin’s paper, entitled “Destroying the ‘Silver Linings’: The American Media and the Vietnam War, 1968 – 1971” demonstrated the American Media’s unfiltered and subjective reporting during the Vietnam War. The talk was followed by a lively discussion with scholars from the English Department, Huston School and the Cairnes School.
The Forum has adopted a logo, designed by Michael Anthony of MEJA Design. Typically American Studies Associations have used brash ‘Americana’ imagery in their design including cowboys, flags, national monuments or more often all of the above. Michael and I wanted something that humorously echoed this trend, but with a cleaner, pared back result. Over the next few weeks this logo will drive the redesign of the blog, aiming for a more dynamic feel. The blog’s views have surpassed 2,000 in only a few short months, and we have decided to take advantage of this to disseminate our members’ research. The Forum is in talks with CELT to co-organise a Blogging Seminar with guest speakers and web link-ups to some of the most well-known academic writers in the blogosphere. If successful, the blog will not only promote individual members, but will raise the profile of the Galway American Studies Forum in the American Studies Community.
In the meantime the Forum will be hosting the postgraduate representatives of the Irish Association of American Studies next month who will talk about opportunites for postgrads to contribute to the IAAS Journal, their annual conference, and a number of new funding opportunites for research travel.