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  • Doctoral Dissertations in American Studies, 1995–1996

The following is a bibliography of completed doctoral dissertations in American studies. It is based on responses to announcements appearing in the American Studies Association Newsletter and on requests to American studies programs for lists of doctoral dissertations completed between 1 July 1995 and 30 June 1996. The Report contains one hundred and ten entries whose abstracts suggest the broad range of topics and diverse methodologies that American studies scholars are exploring.

Listings may be submitted at any time by writing Doctoral Dissertations in American Studies, Office of the Executive Director, American Studies Association, 1120 19th Street, N.W., Suite 301, Washington, D.C. 20036. Listings should provide the following information: Name, Title of Dissertation, Institutional Affiliation (Department or Program, University); Dissertation Supervisor; Date Completed; and a brief descriptive abstract (maximum 100 words). To facilitate follow-up for more complete information, please include a current address and telephone number.

Additional titles may be found in current volumes of other reference guides, including Dissertation Abstracts International (Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microforms Services); American Historical Association, Doctoral Dissertations in History (Washington, D.C.: AHA Institutional Services Program); Modern Language Association, MLA International Bibliography of Books and Articles on the Modern Languages and Literature (New York: MLA); and Sociological Abstracts (San Diego, Calif.: Sociological Abstracts, Inc.).

Ackermann, Marsha E. “Cold Comfort: The Air Conditioning of America.” American Culture Program, University of Michigan, June 1996.

This historical study argues that the “invisible” machinery of air conditioning has transformed daily life in 20th century America. The archives of advertising, mass media, business and engineering connect cooling with changing popular understandings of region, seasonality, and bodily comfort. Air conditioning arose at a time when traditional climatic theories “explained” national supremacy and racial achievement. By the Thirties, “utopians” were suggesting that it might perfect the American way of life. After World War II, air conditioning became a household commodity that created [End Page 751] new status and class distinctions. Since the Seventies, social critics and ordinary consumers have questioned air conditioning’s presumed economic, ethical, and health benefits.

Alexander, Eleanor.Lyrics of Sunshine and Shadow: The Courtship and Marriage of Paul Laurence Dunbar and Alice Ruth Moore; A Social History of Love, Sex and the African American Elite, 1870–1910.” American Civilization Program, Brown University, May 1996.

This historical investigation of the romantic practices of black aristocrats in the United States uses African American love letters, diaries, journals, autobiographies, newspapers and etiquette books a major sources. While the focus is on the Dunbars—a famous couple—the intimate experiences of peers are examined as well. The dissertation argues that these courtships and marriages and their attending social rituals, were shaped by romantic love, racism, class, inequitable gender power relations and the legacy of slavery. Moreover, the gender biased concept of separate spheres—touted as the perfect paradigm for loving relationships—was instead a flawed model.

Alvarez, Sally M. “Reclaiming the Public Sphere: A Study of Public Access Cable Television Programming by the U.S. Labor Movement.” American Studies Program, Emory University, December 1995.

This dissertation examines public access cable television programming by the U.S. labor movement as a productive example of the search by ordinary citizens for public space in the electronic media. “Access television” has generated a particular type of public affairs programming on local cable systems. Issues of class, marginalization, citizen participation, localism, and free speech intersect in this movement, which began with the expansion of the U.S. cable industry in the early 1970s. Data from all individuals engaged in labor access programming is used to construct a profile of the current movement and its history. Study includes textual analysis with suggestions for structuring a democratic telecommunications policy in light of the promises often made about emerging media technologies of their potential to offer more participation and interactivity for citizens.

Ambler, Cathy. “The Look of the Fair: Kansas County Fairscapes, 1854–1994.” American Studies Program, University of Kansas, May 1996.

Fairscapes are the visual essence of community values with regard to agrarianism. Landscapes are a form of human expression on a grand scale and when visual patterns change, community values are changing. This study is based...

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