Saturday, September 14, 2013

Message from the New Director

Welcome back, American Studies Majors and Minors!

Dr. Micki McGee, 
Director, American Studies

I am thrilled to have been elected to direct Fordham’s Program in American Studies and looking forward to an exciting year ahead. I want to thank the American Studies affiliated faculty and the Executive Committee for their confidence in my leadership and for this honor.

As those familiar with the American Studies Program know, I am stepping into a position previously filled, in turn, by three remarkable scholars: Dr. Oneka LaBennett, Dr. Glenn Hendler, and Dr. Kirsten Swinth (and others before them!). Professor LaBennett recently accepted a position as Associate Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. Congratulations to Dr. LaBennett, whose contributions to American Studies during her tenure were significant. LaBennett organized important programs on racial formations and forged alliances with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, and with the African and American American Studies Program here at Fordham. We are fortunate that Professors Hendler and Swinth continue with us at Fordham, chairing the Departments of English and History, respectively. These three leaders have developed and sustained a remarkable program that is well-respected throughout the field for its interdisciplinary rigor and commitment to social and economic justice.

In the coming year, I plan to follow in the direction instituted by our previous leadership, continuing to raise the regional and national prominence of Fordham’s American Studies Program. I come to this position with a rich work experience as a curator and cultural critic and as an Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology, with an emphasis on the sociology of culture. My scholarly work includes research on artists communities, autism, and American self-improvement culture. I draw on theories and methodologies from sociology, digital humanities, media studies, cultural studies, women’s studies, American studies, curatorial studies, and art and aesthetic theory. As an instructor, I have taught numerous courses crosslisted in American Studies, among them Popular Culture (SOCI-2960), Art and Society (SOCI-3003), and Art Worlds (SOCI/ANTH-3004), and have advised countless graduate and undergraduate students working on American Studies topics. I have found the American Studies students enrolled in my courses at Fordham to be exemplary in both their intellectual curiosity and engagement in contemporary social issues.

Under my direction, American Studies students can expect that we will maintain the rigorous, supportive, and dynamic program that Professor LaBennett cultivated. This course of study will continue to prepare you to engage with the world beyond Fordham. I will draw on my years of experience in curatorial work at the New York Public Library, the Whitney Museum, and New York City's Artists Space, and my research as a Draper Fellow at New York University, to continue the University’s mission of studying and serving New York City communities. We will also continue our tradition of collaboration with other departments and interdisciplinary programs including African and African American Studies, English, Theology, Women’s Studies, History, Latin American and Latino Studies, and Anthropology and Sociology, to name only a few.

This year I'll be teaching the Approaches to American Studies junior seminar, previously taught by Professor Hendler. Our work in that course will continue Professor Hendler's vision of dynamic interdisciplinary engagement and will focus on the topic of technology. We'll be using the Keywords Collaboratory for much of our research, and exploring some of the new techniques of analysis available through other advanced digital technologies. Our Senior Seminar will be directed by the remarkable team of Dr. Christiana Peppard (Theology) and Dr. Dennis Tyler (English), who will focus on the theme of "American Icons and Religiosity." (Check out Dr. Peppard's appearances on MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show). Last, and possibly most important of all, our dedicated Graduate Assistant, Jamie Bolker from the Department of English, will play a vital role in keeping everything running smoothly for the Program.

I invite American Studies majors and minors, and those interested in learning more about the Program, to visit me in FMH 405D. You can stop by to chat. Or, better yet, if you want to be sure we'll have a relaxed time to talk, sign up for an appointment by visiting my office hours schedule online.

And be sure to make a note of our exciting upcoming September events: a lecture by Dr. Philip Deloria, on "American Indians in the American Popular Imagination," sponsored by the Phi Beta Kappa Society and co-sponsored by American Studies, English, History and Latin American and Latino Studies, will take place on Wednesday, September 25, 1:30, in the Butler Commons of Duane Library. 

And our Open House for Majors and Minors will take place Thursday, September 26th from 3:30-5:00pm with Dr. Deloria as our honored guest.  Refreshments will be served, conversation will be lively, and all are welcome!  Mark your calendars and join us for a wonderful afternoon.

For more detailed information on both of these events, visit our Program News and Announcements Page.

I look forward to meeting each of you, to many wonderful conversations, and to an exciting year ahead.


Dr. Micki McGee
Director, American Studies
Associate Professor, Sociology and Anthropology

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