The American Studies program at Kennesaw State University is the only American Studies program in the state of Georgia. The research produced by the students and faculty is both unique and ground breaking. The American Studies symposium is the showcase of this research. The symposium allows first year graduate students a chance to see the diversity of research topics available within the field of American Studies, and it allows second year graduate students a chance to present their research and receive feedback from other students and faculty. This process is not only important for furthering research, but it also is important to draw attention to the social changes happening in America.
The American Studies Student Organization is an interdisciplinary student organization, which welcomes all students to become engaged with contemporary issues in America. Students of English, history, anthropology, political science and even public administration all bring unique approaches to the research being supported by the organization. For future symposiums, the organization wants to encourage students of diverse academic disciplines to become involved.
The impacts of social changes can be seen in American Literature. Dr. Donald Pease, the key note speaker from the symposium and professor of English at Dartmouth College, outlined the shift American literature has taken from a nationalist perspective to a globalist perspective. He defines this shift as “planetary” because literature is a continuum that extends over space and time. Dr. Pease makes the argument that literature can become instrumental to the survival of the nation-state and of life itself because literature endures when life does not. Simplistically, all high schoolers studying Shakespeare are evidence to the truth of his argument.
Developing new perspectives about the social changes occurring in America and how those changes translate globally, is one of the many reasons that the American Studies program and the Symposium are valuable for students of every discipline. The breadth and depth of graduate student research within the program highlights the lofty standards that graduate students in the program uphold. As the symposium this year showcased themes of time and space, future symposiums will continue to shape these ideas as they develop in our society.
Posted: March 11, 2016