- Editor’s Note
This issue of American Quarterly marks the transition from one editorial team to another. As the new editor of AQ, I am deeply indebted to Curtis Marez for his impressive stewardship of AQ for four productive years. The previous managing editor, Jeb Middlebrook, is a model of careful and thoughtful organization, and I am fortunate to have inherited an editorial operation that runs so smoothly. During the past several years, Curtis and the editorial branches of AQ have been a part of an ongoing project of American studies that involves a reimagining of the field and of “America” itself through transnational, global, and hemispheric inquiries. It is my hope to continue this project of reimagination, and to include other articulations of the “America” in American studies. This might include seeing “America” as a series of migratory and mobile circuits, markets, cultures, and connections that complicate conventional maps of state boundaries and the geography of disciplines. In part, a networked American studies requires our attention to the travel of “America” within contexts of global marketing and flows that intersect with more traditional understandings of national identity, so that categories such as the “nation,” “race,” “gender,” and the “global” are increasingly unsettled, as well as rewritten, by shifting flows of culture and capital. It also means, in somewhat more material terms, that we are going to attempt to implement a multimedia component to supplement the print version of AQ, so look forward to that in upcoming issues.
In this issue, we feature a forum that critically considers the travel of particular understandings of America to other transnational contexts. The forum, “From La Frontera to Gaza: Chicano-Palestinian Connections,” organized by Laura Pulido and David Lloyd, emerged from a symposium held at the University of Southern California on March 30, 2009, César Chávez Day, a holiday adopted by California in 2000. The activists and scholars represented in this forum ask important questions about the connections between pursuits of justice and the organization of bodies and nations. Following the precedent set by the selection of the 2009 ASA John Hope Franklin prize for best published book, Ussama Makdisi’s Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East, this forum explicitly addresses the complicated and critical geographies of American studies—what counts as “America” and therefore what counts as American studies. [End Page v]
The essays in this volume address, from different vantage points, some of the intersections of race and the state, of cultures and borders. Ira Wells analyzes the coinciding discourses of Richard Wright’s Native Son and the legal invention and institutionalization of “terrorism,” arguing that Wright’s invention of Bigger Thomas as a particular kind of figure of terror forces us to confront our own cultural investments in the production of terror at the state, cultural, economic, and political levels. Randy Ontiveros looks at the supposed “Golden Age” of television in the mid-twentieth century, and focuses attention on the dearth of media coverage of the Mexican American civil rights movement, a lack of media visibility that occurred simultaneously as the Black civil rights movement was increasingly broadcast into American living rooms. Finally, Katherine Grandjean examines crime literature of the mid-eighteenth century, and in particular, sermons and confessions regarding the execution of Native Americans, arguing that a close examination of the intersections between Native Americans, clergy, and English communities in New England allows us a unique glimpse at developing notions of race. Aside from book reviews and an event review, in this issue we also include a call for contributions to the September 2012 special issue, “Race, Empire, and the Crisis of the Subprime,” guest-edited by Paula Chakavartty and Denise Ferreira da Silva.
Key to AQ’s role in the field of American studies is the journal’s extraordinarily diverse scholarship and its steadfast commitment to interdisciplinarity. As has been true in the past, American studies, as a discipline, a body of scholarship, and a community, faces a critical and exciting juncture as we try to make sense of and engage with the parameters of the changing technological, academic, and political-economic environment. Always an...