Salon Talks

The New York Metro American Studies Association is delighted to announce its series of Salon Talks for Spring 2016.                         


Once again, we have a terrific array of scholars talking about their recently-published books.
Salon Talks are an opportunity for local American Studies scholars to share their published work with an intimate audience. They tend to be small, lively, and informative; light refreshments are served. This semester all Salon Talks will be held at 6:30pm in the Faculty and Staff Lounge, on the 8th floor of the West Building, Hunter College (
Lexington Avenue and 68th Street).


For directions, more information, or to rsvp, contact Sarah Chinn.


Thursday, February 11th

Timothy Stewart-Winter (Rutgers-Newark)

Queer Clout: Chicago and the Rise of Gay Politics (University of Pennsylvania Press).

Tracing the gay movement's trajectory since the 1950s, from the closet to the corridors of power, Queer Clout is the first book to weave together activism and electoral politics, shifting the story from the coastal gay meccas to the nation's great inland metropolis. Timothy Stewart-Winter challenges the traditional division between the homophile and gay liberation movements, and stresses gay people's and African Americans' shared focus on police harassment. He highlights the crucial role of black civil rights activists and political leaders in offering white gays and lesbians not only a model for protest but also an opening to join an emerging liberal coalition in city hall. The book draws on diverse oral histories and archival records spanning half a century, including those of undercover vice and police red squad investigators, previously unexamined interviews by midcentury social scientists studying gay life, and newly available papers of activists, politicians, and city agencies.


Wednesday March 9th

Sara Rzeszutek Haviland (St. Francis College)

James and Esther Cooper Jackson: Love and Courage in the Black Freedom Movement (University Press of Kentucky).

James Jackson and Esther Cooper Jackson grew up understanding that opportunities came differently for blacks and whites, men and women, rich and poor. In turn, they devoted their lives to the fight for equality, serving as career activists throughout the black freedom movement. Having grown up in Virginia during the depths of the Great Depression, the Jacksons also saw a path to racial equality through the Communist Party. This choice in political affiliation would come to shape and define not only their participation in the black freedom movement but also the course of their own marriage as the Cold War years unfolded.


In this dual biography, Sara Rzeszutek Haviland examines the couple's political involvement as well as the evolution of their personal and public lives in the face of ever-shifting contexts. She documents the Jacksons' significant contributions to the early civil rights movement, discussing their time leading the Southern Negro Youth Congress, which laid the groundwork for youth activists in the 1960s; their numerous published writings in periodicals such as Political Affairs; and their editorial involvement in The Worker and the civil rights magazine Freedomways.


Thursday April 14th

Melanie Bush (Adelphi University)

Tensions in the American Dream Rhetoric, Reverie, or Reality (Temple University Press)

Could the promise of upward mobility have a dark side? In Tensions in the American Dream, Melanie and Roderick Bush ask, “How does a ‘nation of immigrants’ pledge inclusion yet marginalize so many citizens on the basis of race, class, and gender?” The authors consider the origins and development of the U.S. nation and empire; the founding principles of belonging, nationalism, and exceptionalism; and the lived reality of these principles.

Tensions in the American Dream also addresses the relevancy of nation to empire in the context of the historical world capitalist system. The authors ask, “Is the American Dream a reality questioned only by those unwilling or unable to achieve it? What is the ‘good life,’ and how is it particularly ‘American’?”


Wednesday May 11th

John Gronbeck-Tedesco (Ramapo College of New Jersey)

Cuba, the United States, and Cultures of the Transnational Left, 1930–1975 (Cambridge University Press).

This book examines the ways in which Cuba's revolutions of 1933 and 1959 became touchstones for border-crossing endeavors of radical politics and cultural experimentation over the mid-twentieth century. It argues that new networks of solidarity building between US and Cuban allies also brought with them perils and pitfalls that could not be separated from the longer history of US empire in Cuba. As US and Cuban subjects struggled together towards common aspirations of racial and gender equality, fairer distribution of wealth, and anti-imperialism, they created a unique index of cultural work that widens our understanding of the transition between hemispheric modernism and postmodernism. Canvassing poetry, music, journalism, photographs, and other cultural expressions around themes of revolution, this book seeks new understanding of how race, gender, and nationhood could shift in meaning and materialization when traveling across the Florida Straits