American Studies Association of Texas to Celebrate 50 Years

Nov. 14, 2006

by Katie Brooks, student newswriter, (254) 710-1961

Baylor University will host the 50th anniversary of the American Studies Association of Texas conference Nov. 16-18.

Dr. Shelley Fisher Fishkin, world-renowned Mark Twain scholar and Stanford University's American Studies program director, will give the keynote address titled, "Which Twain Do We Claim?" Nov. 17 at 7:30 p.m. in Castellaw Communications 101.

Fishkin edited the "Oxford Mark Twain" and the "Prentice Hall Anthology of American Literature," according to Maxey Parrish, editor of the Journal of the American Studies Association of Texas (JASAT).

She is a former American Studies Association president and has authored or edited more than 40 books and published more than 80 articles, essays and reviews.

"Dr. Fishkin is widely regarded as the leading scholar in her field. People who study Twain consider her to be among the greatest experts on him," Parrish said.

Part of the first class of women to graduate from Yale College, she also earned her masters degree in English and a Ph.D in American Studies. She was director of the Poynter Fellowship in Journalism at Yale, according to Parrish.

Fishkin was chair of the department of American Studies and taught American Studies and English at the University of Texas.

The conference lectures, held at the Mayborn Museum Complex, are free and open to the public. About 100 professors and other scholars from universities across Texas are expected to attend, Parrish said.

"Students will be exposed to top-flight scholarship in a setting that's quite different from the traditional classroom. To hear someone speak on a topic they've poured hours of research into is quite interesting," Parrish said.

The ASAT strives to "bring an interdisciplinary approach to the study of history, literature, popular culture, critical theory, technology, race and ethnicity and the arts with an emphasis of Texas, the South or Southwest," Parrish said.

In addition to an annual conference, Parrish said the JASAT publishes manuscripts on various aspects of American culture, preferably those with an emphasis on Texas.

Fourteen professors from Texas universities created the ASAT in 1956. The late Dr. E Hudson Long of English and former Journalism chair Charles D. Johnson, both Baylor professors, were influential founding fathers of the organization, Parrish said.

For more information, contact Parrish at (254) 710-6346 or call Dr. Doug Ferdon at (254) 710-6350. Ferdon is the director of Baylor's American Studies program and associate professor of journalism.

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