From 8 to 10 December 2021, the RIAS held its bi-annual PhD Seminar for current doctoral candidates pursuing research in American History and American Studies.

Building on the successes of previous seminars, the institute was again honored to host such a wide and wonderful range of scholarship. Due to COVID-restrictions, the seminar was conducted online. Nevertheless, the online format allowed the RIAS to include participants from a variety of backgrounds, a diversity that contributed to fruitful and wide-ranging discussions.

The RIAS PhD Seminar provides an opportunity to current PhD candidates to present their ongoing research projects. Composed of three panels, the researchers were grouped by theme – Political history, Race in American History, and Identity & Memory – displaying the breadth and depth of American Studies: from the work of public intellectual Irving Kristol on democracy to exchanges of the pro-apartheid movement in South Africa and the United States, as well as the construction of black female subjectivity in Gayl Jones’ Corregidora (1975).

On 10 December 2021, the PhD Seminar concluded with a keynote from Dr. George Blaustein, senior lecturer of American Studies and History at the University of Amsterdam, former president of the Netherlands American Studies Association, and founder of The European Review of Books. He delivered his keynote on the re-thinking of  the “beginning” of American History, inspired by his essay “A kayak in Zierikzee: On American discoveries of Europe” for the TheEuropean Review of Books. One of the important messages his keynote addressed is that studying history sometimes also means to challenge our certainties; as the power of a historical narrative can also lie, for example, in its ideological ambiguity.

We would like to thank all presenters, discussants, and guests for participating in the RIAS PhD Fall Seminar 2021. We hope to see you at our next edition in the Spring of 2022!

A copy of the program is available here.