Founded In    1959
Published   quarterly
Language(s)   English

Fields of Interest



ISSN   0026-3079
Affiliated Organization   Mid-America American Studies Association
Editorial Board

Anderson, Crystal
Augst, Thomas
Baldwin, Davarian
Delaney, Kate
Domer, Dennis
Earle, Jonathan
Enstad, Nan
Early, Gerald
Fiorentino, Daniele
Fischer, Iris Smith
Friedensohn, Doris
Graebner, William
Habell-Pallan, Michelle
Hebel, Udo
Hulsether, Mark
Kent, J. Robert
Knobloch, Frieda
Kwolek-Folland, Angel
Lester, Cheryl
Linkon, Sherry
Mason, Carol
Nagel, Joane
Porter, Eric
Roediger, David
Sandeen, Eric
Seago, Alex
Van Arragon, Elizabeth
Wajda, Shirley Teresa
Whaley, Deborah
Yokoyama, Ryo

Submission Guidelines and Editorial Policies

Format and style of submissions: Manuscripts need to be in a Word file.  Manuscripts (including endnotes, tables, and references) should be double-spaced with one-inch margins on all sides. All manuscripts should be between 20 and 30 pages, not including endnotes. All footnotes/endnotes should use Arabic numerals, not Roman numerals. All figures should be places at the end of the manuscript. All manuscripts not meeting these standards will be returned to the author for reformatting. Because American Studies uses a double-blind review process, contributors are asked not to put their names on manuscripts; only the title should appear on the manuscript. Contributors agree upon submission that manuscripts submitted to American Studies will not be submitted for publication elsewhere while under review by American Studies. Manuscripts should be prepared following the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition, or MLA.
We strongly encourage authors to submit their work using the journal’s online submission system. We encourage authors to submit manuscripts (with a 300 word abstract) electronically. For questions regarding submissions or the online submission system, please contact Chris Robinson at
Photographs and other imagery often enhance the text and the journal considerably; the Editors encourage authors to provide illustrations with their submissions. We do, however, require the following: Electronic images are preferred. Our printer has specified they prefer halftone and color images be at minimum 300 pixels per inch (ppi), while line art should be scanned at 1200 ppi. If possible, images in .PNG or .TIFF are preferred. As nearly all images downloaded from the Internet are in .JPEG or .GIF format and will be 72 dpi, they are rarely acceptable to be printed. Sizing these images to fit the page can cause pixelation, rendering them unrecognizable or warped. If you have trouble finding an image of acceptable quality, please feel free to check online sources such as Flickr. Many images on Flickr are available to the public under a Creative Commons license. If sending physical photographs, please send us good quality, glossy prints or camera-ready line art, ready for press. We will not be able to use images/figures inserted in Word documents. If your submission is accepted, please send us original copies of all images included, along with captions, as well as notes indicating an estimated location for page layout. If we need to edit captions, we will of course check back with you during the proofing process. *Please note that authors are responsible for obtaining permission for any images they wish to use. If permission to reproduce the image is needed, we require the appropriate documentation granting that permission. Where necessary, the appropriate wording granting permission, which will be placed under the photograph or at the end of the article (“Reproduced by permission of . . . .,” etc.) should also be included. Please mail physical images to:
Chris Robinson, Assistant Editor
American Studies
The University of Kansas 1440 Jayhawk Blvd., Room 213
Lawrence, Kansas 66045-7590

American Studies publishes reviews of books, films, or exhibits that deal broadly with American culture and that blur traditional disciplinary lines. We also hope to bring attention to discipline-specific texts with topics or themes that may interest scholars in a variety of fields.
Reviewers are professors, independent scholars, and professionals who hold a PhD or terminal degree in their field.  We assign some books to reviewers as they come in to our office, if we suspect the scholar would offer an insightful review of a particular book.  We also recruit reviewers by publishing a list of new books available for review on our blog, in our e-newsletter, and on social media sites.
Reviews should indicate the nature of the book’s themes and the quality of its scholarship. The review may mention other texts in order to situate the work being reviewed into the debates and conversations in which it takes part; however, we expect that the review focus on the particular book itself.  Reviews are generally 500 words in length, unless otherwise requested by the editors.
In addition to book reviews, we also publish book review essays that frame texts within the context of scholarly patterns and directions.  These are often assigned to specific reviewers by the journal’s editorial team, though individual scholars may propose review essays as well.  We publish review essays in most of our quarterly issues and in our summer reading issue.
At the top of the review, please cite the book as follows: TITLE: Subtitle. By Author Name. City: Press. Year. If you quote from the book, please include a page citation in parenthesis immediately following the quote. Try not to use footnotes. Instead, embed the information in the text. At the end of your review, state your name and institutional affiliation. If the institution is outside the United States, please include the country. If the institution has several campuses, include yours after the institution name.
Reviews should be submitted by e-mail to Justine Greve at


American Studies


American Studies is a quarterly interdisciplinary journal sponsored by the Mid-America American Studies Association, the University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Department of American Studies, and KU Libraries. With an editorial staff from a number of areas of study, the journal offers provocative perspectives on a variety of issues. Frequent special sections and special issues create a space for a broad discussion on a single topic. Articles on pedagogy inform the American Studies classroom. The book review section aims at keeping readers conversant with contemporary scholarship. American Studies first appeared in 1959, and has 1,000 current subscribers. In 2005 it merged with American Studies International, and welcomes submissions with an international perspective. This electronic edition provides free access to the back issues of the journal. The most recent three years are available via print subscription only.
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Spring 2007, Vol. 48, No. 1

Black Artists and Activism:  Harlem on My Mind (1969)

At the end of the Civil Rights Movement, the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized Harlem on My Mind: Cultural Capital of Black America, 1900-1968, an exhibition that sought to explore the history and value of the predominantly Black community of Harlem, New York. In organizing one of the most controversial exhibitions in United States history, the Metropolitan decided to exclude Harlemites from participating in the exhibition planning and to exclude artwork by Harlem's thriving artist community from the exhibition. The museum justified this decision by arguing the Harlem itself was a work of art and the inclusion of artworks in Harlem on My Mind would only detract from the overall exhibition. Public unrest led to boycotts of the exhibition before it even opened. This article details the struggles of Harlem-based artists to confront and challenge the unethical machinations of the institutional epicenter of the postwar international art world. This discussion addresses the critical appropriations of the event forged by black visual artists, photographers, and visitors who brought a competing set of political and emotional investments in the documentary works on display. It also demonstrates that the surge of Black activism spurred by the Harlem on My Mind controversy eventually pushed mainstream art institutions to feature black art exhibitions and launch community-based initiatives in support of black talents. The response of Black visual artists to the exhibition was an important part of the nascent Black Arts Movement's development of an institutional infrastructure necessary to nourish Black art production and exhibition, and to redefine the political and aesthetic dynamics of the moment.

Appropriating Universality:  The Coltranes and 1960s Spirituality

During the sixties, Americans increasingly rejected mainline denominations in favor of alternative, eclectic, and non-Western spiritual paths. For African Americans, such pursuits contributed to the goals of challenging racial and religious cultural hegemony. These spiritual explorations have had a lasting impact on jazz music. Many jazz musicians were exposed to the sounds and musical processes they discovered in the foreign cultures from which these traditions emerged. Though less audible, non-Western spiritual traditions also exerted a more abstract philosophical influence, inspiring artists to dissolve formal and stylistic boundaries and produce works of great originality. Contextualizing the spiritual explorations of John and Alice Coltrane within the American religious culture and liberation movements of the sixties, this essay explores the way that their eclectic appropriation of Eastern spiritual concepts and their commitment to spiritual universality not only inspired musical innovation, but also provided a counter-hegemonic, political and cultural critique.

Harriet Martineau's Exceptional American Narratives: Harriet Beecher Stowe, John Brown, and the "Redemption of Your National Soul"

This essay argues for British writer and reformer Harriet Martineau's importance to mid-nineteenth century American cultural and literary history. Martineau maintained long and deep relationships with key American figures during this period, especially those surrounding the abolitionist movement. Using her writing about John Brown and Harriet Beecher Stowe as a catalyst, I will analyze Martineau's importance to this period, especially her influence on anti-slavery writing and her efforts to define a particular kind of American exceptionalism. Martineau's commentary on Stowe and Brown reveals the key elements of her methods as an abolitionist writer and serves as an example of how she encouraged her readers on both sides of the Atlantic to come to a particular understanding of America itself. My analysis of this commentary can serve as a model for additional consideration of Martineau's valuable contributions to American studies.

“Ribbons of Steel and Concrete”: A Cultural Biography of the Buffalo Skyway (1955)

The Buffalo Skyway, a mile long and 110 feet high, opened in 1955 in an atmosphere of triumph and celebration, city planners certain that the enormous structure would invigorate the area's economy by eliminating troublesome rail and automobile bottlenecks between the city's downtown core and lakeshore plants and factories to the southwest. Today, the bridge is the whipping boy for politicians and regionalists, who view the structure as a concrete dinosaur, astride waterfront land that might otherwise be productively developed, ala Baltimore. This essay examines the cultural forces that produced the Skyway and many similar structures of the era. It contextualizes Buffalo's high-level bridge not just as an instrument of efficiency and commercial renewal, but as an icon of size and power, speed and mobility, movement and flight--a piece of 'structural art' in the mode of biomorphic, vital forms modernism, built and engineered for those who loved to drive, in the golden age of the American automobile.

Talking Books, Selling Selves: Rereading the Politics of Olaudah Equiano’s Interesting Narrative

Olaudah Equiano's Interesting Narrative (1789) has often been seen as being ambiguously implicated in the emergence of liberal modernity, with Equiano's self-purchase and free-trade proselytizing marking out both the promise and the danger of economic individualism. This essay, while paying close attention to these arguments, also seeks to move beyond this conceptual paradigm by exploring how Equiano's autobiography connects with the wider political complexities of the Revolutionary era. In particular, I use recent historiographical debates about the values of the Founding Fathers to reframe the Interesting Narrative within an ideological universe where classical republicanism and modern liberalism existed as forces that were both antagonistic and inseparable. When considered in relation to the social theory of figures as diverse as Adam Smith and Benjamin Rush, Equiano's pioneering slave narrative can be seen as engaging not only with competing models of liberalism but also with the possibilities and problems of civic humanism. Moving rhetorically between print and profit, self-interest and disinterest, virtue and commerce, the Interesting Narrative stands revealed as a deeply conflicted text which uses a patchwork of political ideas to negotiate the minefields of African-American bondage.

Other Issues

Fall/Winter 2008, Vol. 49, No. 3/4
Spring/Summer 2009, Vol. 50, No. 1/2
Aaron Douglas and the Harlem Renaissance, Vol. 49, No. 1/2
Winter 2007, Vol. 48, No. 4
Fall 2007, Vol. 48, No. 3
"Homosexuals in Unexpected Places?", Vol. 48, No. 2
Fall/Winter 2006, Vol 47, No 3/4
Summer 2006, Vol 47, No 2
Indigeneity at the Crossroads of American Studies , Vol. 46, Nos. 3/4
, Volume 52, Number 2