reed magazine logosummer2007

header

Selected Theses in American Studies, 1966–2007
Waxy yellow buildup: the unveiling of the consumer housewife myth in I Love Lucy and Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman
Amy Rudzinski 93
Tradition, conflict and social change: an historical examination of Native American fishing rights on the Columbia River
Rebecca Kay Bear-Schiesser 94
The colorful rebosas and tapolos vanished: Chicana-Anglo intermarriage in New Mexico
Lilia Raquel Duenas Rosas 94
Freedom now to black power: the civil rights movement in consensus and conflict from 1954 to 1968
Moloy Kumar Good 95
April Heideman Merleaux ’95 majored in history, and wrote a thesis on African American child labor in the early twentieth-century South. She then earned an M.S. in agriculture, food, and environment from Tufts. Merleaux now studies the political and cultural aspects of farming and food. Her dissertation research in American Studies at Yale examines the cultural politics of sugar in the early twentieth-century United States empire. She notes that her Reed thesis was actually the inspiration for her current project. “In a research seminar (with Glenda Gilmore) here at Yale, I decided to revisit the rural child labor reformers I had studied at Reed because I was still fascinated by the intersection of race, changing labor processes, women’s activism, and the industrialization of agriculture in the 1920s and 1930s,” Merleaux says. “I stumbled on these amazing connections between the contentious sugar tariff debates in the 1920s and the child labor reformers’ campaigns around children working in sugar beet production. Cuban lobbyists played up the child labor angle, beet sugar boosters called for independence for the Philippines, there were massive ad campaigns about women and children eating candy, and Congress was simultaneously debating immigration restriction. The coalescence of domestic issues and imperial politics caught my attention.” Merleaux’s work on the transnationalism in U.S. food and agriculture illustrates the current interdisciplinary and international preoccupations of the
field.

Miriam Posner ’01 is also at Yale, in a joint graduate program in film and American Studies. Her Reed thesis examined female audiences and movie stars in Depression-era mass culture. Her current research focuses on depictions of the body in early medical films, and in particular on bodily metaphors of industrial capitalism. She is working as the associate curator in the collections department of the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York, while she mulls over her dissertation. Posner says she finds American Studies to be an innovative and flexible field, one that allows her to understand consumer culture, suburban sprawl, and “the things that have defined my life.”

As we move further into the twenty-first century, critical study of America in the world is an urgent necessity, not only to understand our own lives but to help us understand the continuing evolution of American cultures and policies. Reed’s American Studies majors, and their friends and allies, will continue that endeavor.

View Reed's American Studies program's webpages