As co-editors of Keywords for American Cultural Studies, we have several reasons for developing this site. As we stress in our introduction to the book, we understand keyword projects not only as mapping existing fields of knowledge, but also as generating future work. The trouble with books is that they tend to be read as summaries of knowledge made by their authors, not as provocations to further research and reflection. The advantage of interactive websites like this one is that they can house, archive, and inspire new inquiries and collaborations.
Raymond Williams emphasized the ongoing importance of reflection and collaboration by including blank pages at the back of his Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture and Society, the earlier book that prompted us to create our volume. Williams thought of those blank pages as a sign to readers that the inquiry contained in his book remained open. We think of this site as a technologically updated version of those pages. As new interactive technologies emerge, we have no doubt that over time our gesture will seem as antiquated as Williams’s does today.
This site, like the book, contains essays by scholars working in literary studies and political economy, cultural anthropology and ethnic studies, African American history and preformance studies, gender studies and political theory. Some entries are explicitly argumentative; others are more descriptive. Throughout, readers will find clear, challenging, critically engaged thinking and writing. Keywords for American Cultural Studies provides an accessible A-to-Z survey of prevailing academic buzzwords and is a flexible tool for carving out new areas of inquiry. It is useful for college students who need more context in their studies and for researchers and general readers who want to know what's new in scholarly research.
The design and administration of this site began as a result
of a partnership between New York University Press and the University of Washington’s Simpson Center
for the Humanities. In January 2011 the site migrated to Fordham University and became a part of the school's digital humanities initiative. In addition to acknowledging these organizations for their support,
we also want to thank Deborah Kimmey, the first keywords project coordinator, and Elizabeth Cornell, the current coordinator, as well as the many other individuals who
have worked with us as we have conceptualized and reconceptualized
the design and redesign of this project and site.
We look forward to reading and hearing about the results of your inquiries.
Bruce Burgett and Glenn Hendler
Elizabeth Cornell is the current Project Coordinator for the Keywords Collaboratory. She is also a PhD candidate in English at Fordham University, where she teaches composition and rhetoric as well as American literature. She is at work on her dissertation, entitled "The Einstein Phenomenon: Modern Literature and the Popularization of Einstein's Relativity Theory." One of her teaching interests is encouraging students to use technology in the classroom as a means to reinforce and sharpen rhetorical writing skills and as a critical tool for thinking and writing about literature. Ms. Cornell received a BA from Bard College and an MA from Hunter College. In 2011 she participated in the Digital Humanities + American Studies NEH Summer Institute at the University of Southern California.
Bruce Burgett is Professor of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Bothell, and graduate faculty in the Department of English at the University of Washington Seattle. He is the author of Sentimental Bodies: Sex, Gender, and Citizenship in the Early Republic.
Glenn Hendler is Associate Professor of English
and Director of the American Studies Program at Fordham
University. He is the author of Public Sentiments:
Structures of Feeling in Nineteenth-Century American