A Message from the New President [October
Dear ANZASA member,
I am writing as the new President of ANZASA. Many of you
were at the Biennial Conference in Geelong in July and will
already know this but some may not. Over the next two years
I am looking forward to working with you to improve the position
of American Studies in Australia and New Zealand.
We have a very good platform left by the last executive and
at the conference I gave my thanks to Heather Neilson as outgoing
president, to Greg Bowen, who has served us so well as Treasurer,
and to all of the executive.
ANZASA produces a very good journal as you all know, but
now there is in addition an ANZASA official web site. We are
very lucky to have Stephen Robertson of Sydney University
in charge of the web page. A website newsletter is planned,
and the table of contents of AJAS and notices will be included
as well as links to other sites
This is a most important and interesting time to be involved
in American Studies. The events of September 11, which were
discussed at the Geelong conference, still influence us (and
will be the subject of a Symposium in the December AJAS).
These events and the response to them by the American government
and our own governments in the region show once again how
important it is to have a better understanding of the history
and cultural traditions of the United States.
The position of American Studies is strong as revealed in
the record of research and publication which our colleagues
have attained. Just recently it came to my attention that
a group of researchers at the University of Sydney headed
by Shane White have won a larger ARC grant for an in-depth
study of Harlem, one of the largest grants ever given in the
Humanities. This is an index of the kind of the regard with
which our researchers are held internationally.
But in the area of membership, the picture is mixed. As was
made clear at the conference session on the future of American
Studies in Australia and New Zealand, post graduate membership
has been healthy, but members of long standing are retiring
or soon to retire. The next few years will be crucial for
the future of American Studies in Australia. It is especially
important for individuals to seek to have American Studies
continued within their universities. It is all too easy for
administrations to cut faculty simply through attrition. This
would be strategically unwise for Australia and New Zealand
and we should tell administrators soŅand why. Not only is
the United State is more important than ever in international
affairs. Student demand for courses in American and American
related subjects is strong in many universities, and rising.
It would be interesting and important for us to hear of these
new developments in courses and demand for American content.
We should share this important information via the web site,
so as to make the case for American Studies as a vital and
sought after field.
One noticeable trend is that many people do study and teach
American topics, for example in film, drama, and cultural
studies, but are not currently and in some case never have
been members of the Association. Our Association has been
strong in history and literature, but has not reached out
effectively to include representatives of new media and cultural
studies, as well as to established fields such as law and
politics where American topics have long been done.
How we could make the membership and its activities more
inclusive is an important but difficult question. Any suggestions
would be welcome. However on each campus, it would be helpful
if members could recommend the journal as a source of publication,
and suggest membership in the Association to suitable people.
If you could bring colleagues in the under-represented disciplines
to the attention of member of the executive we would see what
can be done.
The next conference is about 20 months away; it is being
held in Auckland, New Zealand for the first time since 1996.
I am personally looking forward to this event, but in the
meantime we should seek to strengthen our Association and
our interactions in the ways that I have indicated.
Best wishes, Ian Tyrrell