Upcoming Events …

Upcoming events of interested to AMST students and faculty in Spring 2017:

Post for the film, The King's Speech


  • Tuesday, Jan. 17, 5:30 pm in Stout 050 (STW), the History Club will be screening the film The King’s SpeechAll are welcome and snacks are provided.



  • Friday, Feb, 3, 8 pm in the Student Union Theater, the Allied Arts Series will host Native artist Bunky Echo-Hawk for a live visual art demonstration. This event is FREE and open to the public, but seating is limited; arrive early.


  • Photo of Arigon StarrThursday, February 16, 7 pm at OSU Tulsa’s Auditorium, Kickapoomultimedia artist Arigon Starr will perform in concert.  The event is free and open to the public. For info on Starr visit her website. AMST is a co-sponsor of the event. Contact lindsey.c.smith@okstate.edu for more info.


  • Thursday, April 13 around 7 pm at the Backstage performance space (100 E 7th Ave, Stillwater, OK ), creative Writer Author Kevin Brockmeier will give a reading from his recent work. The event is sponsored by the Creative Writers Association (CWA) and cosponsored by AMST. It will be free and open to the public. Brockmeier is a writer of sophisticated genre fiction, so if your bag is horror or sci fi, you might be especially interested. More info on Brokmeier can be found at: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/3313/kevin-brockmeier

    Kevin Brockmeier



If you know of, or are planning, other events of interest to AMST students and faculty, please contact Dr. Takacs with the details <stacy.takacs@okstate.edu>

On Immigration and Nativism, some readings…

Those of you who have taken AMST 3252 Globalization and American Culture, or addressed the history of immigration to the United States probably know a little of the history behind Donald Trump’s appeal to “Make America Great” by “Build[ing] That Wall” between the US and Mexico. In case you want to do a little more reading on the issue, however, I’d recommend the following materials:

  • UVA Professor Hector Amaya’s recent post to UC Santa Barbara’s “Global-E” Blog, entitled “The Citizens Have Spoken.” He says, among other things,

The old Greek tension between racial nativism and egalitarianism is the unsolvable riddle on which we have built our political world. Trump is not an aberration. Neither is nativism. Racial nativism in the United States today is the dark side of citizenship and an expression of core-periphery relations within a state, showing how coloniality continues to shape the nation form.

  • Aviva Chomsky, Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal, which examines the historical, political, legal and social discourses that have made the notion of “illegal” immigration a prominent part of the way we think immigration. As she shows, “illegality is lot more complicated” than it seems.
  • Matthew Frye Jacobson’s, highly readable Barbarian Virtues: The US confronts Foreign Peoples At Home and Abroad, 1876-1917, which addresses the intersection of US colonialism and migration patterns at the turn of the 20th century–a pivotal moment in US immigration history and a high point of Nativism in the US (until now?).
  • Roger Daniels, Guarding the Golden Door: Immigration Policy and Immigrants since 1882, which traces the modern production of US national identity to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and moves forward from there…

Immigration policy in Daniels’ skilled hands shows Americans at their best and worst, from the nativist violence that forced Theodore Roosevelt’s 1907 “gentlemen’s agreement” with Japan to the generous refugee policies adopted after World War Two and throughout the Cold War. And in a conclusion drawn from today’s headlines, Daniels makes clear how far ignorance, partisan politics, and unintended consequences have overtaken immigration policy during the current administration’s War on Terror

  • Ruben Martinez, Crossing Over: A Mexican Family on the Migrant Trail, which follows one family’s journeys across the border…

The U.S.-Mexican border is one of the most permeable boundaries in the world, breached daily by Mexicans in search of work. Yet the migrant gambit is perilous. Thousands die crossing the line and those who reach “the other side” are branded illegals, undocumented and unprotected.

In Crossing Over, Ruben Martinez puts a human face on the phenomenon, following the exodus of the Chávez clan, an extended Mexican family with the grim distinction of having lost three sons in a tragic border incident. He charts the migrants’ progress from their small south-Mexican town of Cherán through the harrowing underground railroad to the tomato farms of Missouri, the strawberry fields of California, and the slaughterhouses of Wisconsin. He reveals the effects of immigration on the family left behind and offers a powerful portrait of migrant culture

Undocumented [book] Barbarian Virtues [book] The Golden Door [book] Crossing Over [book]




Internship Opportunity for Spring 2017

Those of you who took Dr Gray’s Tulsa Cultures course this semester may have visited with Ren Barger at Tulsa Hub. Ren is now looking for interns to help with The Hub’s social mission to “change lives through cycling.” If you are interested in non-profit work, social justice, and community organizing, this would be an invaluable opportunity to learn how those worlds work and contribute to the growth of a Tulsa community organization.

Tulsa Hub is a 9-year-old community cycling workshop and social justice enterprise, which provides community education, mechanical training, and, most importantly, transportation options to low-income, homeless, and other disadvantaged or marginalized individuals in the Tulsa community. They are in need of several interns to conduct programming (client-facing), assist with research, planning, and evaluation of programs (non-client-facing), or perform a combination of those tasks, depending on interest and skill level. Client facing activities include: education in cycling programs for adults and youth, or communication and resource coordination between clients and various social service providers in the Tulsa area. Non-client-facing activities include: conducting research on Tulsa transportation history and infrastructure, as well as  planning, assessment, and evaluations of programs. If you have bookkeeping skills, they need those too!

Workshop hours are 8:30am-2:30pm Tuesday through Thursday and 5:30pm-9:30 pm Tuesdays and Thursdays; additional times are available on Mondays, Fridays, weekends, and after public hours close. It would be great experience for anyone interested in a career in Social Enterprise, Social Work, Non-Profit Development and Management, or Social Justice.

If you think you might be interested:

  1. Read the Internship guide on the blog and check the resources on the Internship page for details about how to get course credit for your labors.
  2. Contact Ren Barger to set up a meeting to discuss opportunities and interests. Be polite and clear about why you are contacting her. If both parties agree the internship is a good fit, download and complete the Intern Agreement (in consultation with Ms. Barger) 
  3. Contact Dr. Takacs to set up a section of AMST4990 Internship in American Studies. 

More information about Tulsa Hub can be found on their website: http://www.tulsahub.org/  or see the video below


Re-take our poll…

Apologies for making you all do this again, but I just realized the software I used for the last poll did not allow you to see more than one question at a time. Thanks to all of you who responded to the initial poll, but could you please take a second and do it again. There are only 5 questions, and all are about additional scheduling options in Tulsa. If that concerns you, please participate. Here’s the new link



What’s Doing With The Faculty (1)

This is installment one in what I hope will become a series of blog posts featuring works by our faculty in American Studies. First up: Dr. Holly Karibo, History.

Dr. Karibo received her Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2012 and specializes in Border Studies with a focus on the North American Borderlands. She also teaches courses in Introductory American History, The History of the Present, and History and Gender (aka AMST/HIST 4553 Gender in America). In this piece she describes her first book, Sin City North: Sex, Drugs, and Citizenship in the Detroit-Windsor Borderland (UNC Press, 2015).

Holly Karibo, Sin City North [cover]

One of the prominent themes of the 2016 election has been the extent to which many Americans still hold deep-seated anxieties about their nation’s borders. These concerns are not new. Fears of ‘infiltration’ from the outside played a prominent role in American politics throughout the twentieth century. National boundaries, though, are not just sites that invoke heated political debates. To the people who live, work, and cross through border regions on a regular basis, they are also close-knit communities and sites of intercultural exchange. My book, Sin City North, explores these seemingly differing impulses: the desire to build economic and social bridges with our closest neighbors and the drive to build walls that further the divide between us.

Though ‘the border’ is often used as shorthand to describe the region that connects the US and Mexico, Sin City North highlights the history of the two northern bordertowns: Detroit, Michigan and Windsor, Ontario. As a Michigan native who grew up in close proximity to the Canadian border, I became fascinated by the long and rich history that united these two cities. In particular, I was interested in tracing the rise of underground economies that flourished in the border cities. Between the Prohibition era of the 1920s and the tourism boom of the 1950s, economies based on sex, booze, drugs, and gambling developed on each side of the national line. The very brazenness of these illicit economies prompted moral reformers and politicians to try to eliminate them from the border cities. The book traces the battles over the place of illicit industries in the social and cultural life of these northern bordertowns. The book makes clear that debates about bordertowns—and the goings on therein—are always political. They are at their heart about who does or does not belong in the nation—who does or doesn’t count as a productive and full citizen.

Enrollment for Spring 2017

American Studies students in Tulsa and Stillwater have a variety of course options available for Spring. You can download a complete list of all courses–with dates, times and instructors–here for TULSA and here for STILLWATER. Flyers for select courses are available in the carousel. I’m including a couple of English courses that may be of particular interest to Stillwater students, as they deal with issues of race in American culture. Happy hunting!

AMST3950-ENGL4450 The South in Film and TV
AMST3550-ENGL3813 Native Arts ad Cultures
AMST3743-ENGL3813 Harlem Renaissance
AMST3950-SOC4950 Death Penalty in America
AMST2103 Intro to American Studies
AMST4910 The 1960s!
ENGL3663 African American Performance
AMST3333 Crime, Law and Am Culture
AMST3823 US as Business Culture
AMST4973 Senior Seminar in AMST


Advice on Applying to Graduate Schools

Professors are often asked for advice about whether, where, and how to attend graduate school. Such advice is tricky to give in these times, as many of the graduate degrees most highly sought after by American Studies students are in fields with shrinking academic job markets. The high cost of graduate school and likelihood of success are factors that all students should consider before jumping into graduate study.

Resources: Thomas H. Benton (aka William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College) has famously–and repeatedly–advised graduates in the Humanities to “Just Don’t Go” while others, like Karen Kelsky of “The Professor Is In” fame, advise doing your homework and going in “With your Eyes Wide Open” (see also The American Historical Association’s position paper on the topic). Some may find Lingua Franca’s Real Guide to Graduate School a helpful source of advice on a variety of matters from early in the process to the point of acceptance.

I’d say, if you have both the passion and the aptitude, you can find a fulfilling career as a graduate of a Masters or PhD program in the Liberal Arts and Sciences; it just may not be the career you had in mind when you started. You may end up teaching in a University, but you may also find yourself bringing your knowledge and passion to the people in other ways (see Slate’s recent story on “Alt-Ac Careers and those who love them“). Today’s “information economy” needs people with the skills to translate mere information into meaningful knowledge and practical action. If you don’t know it yet, that’s YOU, humanities and social science geeks! If you want to go to grad school, then, I say (with begrudging credit to Nike) JUST DO IT!

Toward that end, we in American Studies have put together a handy reference page for those thinking of applying to graduate school. You can find it under the “Resources” tab of the AMST website (or click here). It includes advice on how to identify and evaluate your future school, how to prepare your application materials, and how to solicit letters of recommendation. You will find a list of graduate schools in American Studies, American History, Public History, and Gender and Women’s Studies, among others, plus a list of graduate degrees available at OSU and OU. If you have additional suggestions, please put them in the comments, and I’ll consider adding them to the list. Cheers and good luck to all of our future knowledge warriors. Go forth and conquer!

AMST Co-Sponsors Indigenous Shorts

Welcome back everyone! Before we leave summer for the excitement of the new semester, Lindsey Smith has this report on a recent event co-sponsored by American Studies and spearheaded by Lydia Cheshewalla (thanks, Lydia, for including us!) and Fire Thief Productions, an indigenous-owned and operated film production unit in Tulsa.

NDN Short Films at Circle Cinema

Sterlin Harjo and Lydie Cheshewalla introduce short films by Native Women.

OSU American Studies and Firethief Productions hosted a screening of short films by Indigenous women at the Circle Cinema last night. Sterlin Harjo (Creek/Seminole filmmaker) and Lydia Cheshewalla (Osage artist) organized and introduced the films. 

The screening featured five short films from Canadian Indigenous women filmmakers. The first, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers’s “A Red Girl’s Reasoning,” addresses the crisis of violence against Indigenous women in North America through a vision of vigilante justice. Within the context of the thousands of missing or murdered First Nations women in Canada (now spurring a national inquiry under the Trudeau administration), the film’s stark, film noir overtones emphasize the need for justice for victims of sexual assault. The other films, from Toronto’s Embargo Collective, included shorts by Tailfeathers, Caroline Monnet, Lisa Jackson, Zoe Leigh Hopkins, and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril. These films, with characters negotiating issues of sexuality, parenthood, grief, and a need for connection within colonized Indigenous communities, all represent new challenges for the filmmakers, who as part of the Collective agree to push themselves in new filmmaking directions.  

Dr. Smith will be teaching “A Red Girl’s Reasoning” in her ENGL 3153 class this fall. There’s still time to sign up!

See the Facebook event for more details on what you (and I) missed: https://www.facebook.com/events/1032184780162758/


Smithsonian Launches Learning Lab

For those of you who have been itching to use more primary sources materials in your classes and to do so in an interactive way, Smithsonian has launched a new app called “Learning Lab,” which allows you and your students to search The Smithsonian’s digital Screenshot of Smithsonian's new Learning Lab appcollections, create tailored albums of artifacts related to a subject you are investigating, and even annotate, share and publicize the materials. I foresee such projects as addenda to the classic research paper and will be testing the app in my Theories and Methods of AMST course in fall (fair warning to all students enrolled in that course!). If you’re interested in seeing what the resource can do, check out the link: https://learninglab.si.edu/.

If you have great ideas for how to utilize the tool in a class, comment below! If you end up using the the tool in class and the results are something you want to share with the rest of us, let me know. We’ll have you and your students do a profile on this here blog!

How Can I Complete an Internship in American Studies?

As Director of American Studies, the question I am asked most frequently is “Are there any internships available in American Studies.” The follow up is: “If so, how do I go about getting one?”

American studies does offer an internship course on a case-by-case basis under the designation AMST 4990 Internship in Am Studies. Students can take up to 3 credit hours of 4990 per semester and 6 hours total during their tenure at OSU. The trick is that second question: How do I go about getting an internship?

The first step is to go to the “Internships” page of this website and look through the options listed there. We have some semi-regular relationships with organizations like the Tulsa Historical Society, the Guthrie Green, and the Tulsa Public Defender’s Office, or you can find a list of institutions and ideas for places to target. It is the student’s responsibility to identify and secure the internship; we are here to assist you and make sure you receive credit for your work. Start by calling the institution you are interested in to see if they need interns. Be professional, courteous, and clear about why you want to complete an internship at that institution or organization. What are your goals? What skills are you trying to learn or hone? What services or added-value can you bring to them as an intern?

Once you have identified a possible sponsor, arrange a meeting with the would-be supervisor, download the Intern Agreement form and bring it with you to the meeting. Ideally, you and your supervisor will hash out the details of the internship at that meeting, including working hours, responsibilities and expectations. Don’t worry, the Intern Agreement walks you through the process. Then, bring the Agreement to me (Dr. Takacs), and I will work with your advisor to get a section of AMST4990 set up for you, according to your specifications (1, 2 or 3 credit hours, as needed). Evaluation for the internship consists of a 5-10 page Work Report, a self-evaluation, and a supervisor evaluation.

Complete details can be found in the Internship Guide. Or, you can always email me. Internships are a great way to apply the research, writing, and critical thinking skills you’ve learned in your American Studies courses, and sometimes they even turn into careers, as AMST grad Debbye Scroggins, now a lawyer, can attest!