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American Quarterly Celebrates 60th Anniversary

USC has provided a platform for the American Studies Association's journal since 2002.

By Laurie Hartzell
March 18, 2009

George Sanchez, professor of American studies and ethnicity and history in USC College and director of College diversity, discusses American Quarterly on March 6. Photo credit Taylor Faust.

George Sanchez, professor of American studies and ethnicity and history in USC College and director of College diversity, discusses American Quarterly on March 6. Photo credit Taylor Faust.

“Mexican Nationalisms, Southern Racisms: Mexicans and Mexican Americans in the U.S. South, 1908–1939.”
 
“Why American Studies Needs to Think about Korean Cinema, or, Transnational Genres in the Films of Bong Joon-ho.”

These are just two of the many scholarly articles that have been published in American Quarterly since its move to USC in 2002. The flagship journal of the American Studies Association (ASA) is celebrating its 60th anniversary, having released its first issue in spring 1949.

On Friday, March 6 American Quarterly editor Curtis Marez, associate professor in the USC School of Cinematic Arts, hosted a reception and roundtable discussion to mark the occasion. The publication's editors and board members as well as former ASA presidents discussed the journal's many highlights and its development during the past six decades, including the changes since its move from Georgetown University to its current home at USC.

The opportunity to host American Quarterly has given USC College’s Department of American Studies and Ethnicity increased national visibility and allowed faculty and graduate students to benefit by editing the journal. Jeb Middlebrook, the journal's managing editor and a doctoral student in American studies and ethnicity, is one of the many members of the USC community to gain important experience from his time with the publication, and he acknowledges how the department as a whole has grown since 2002.

“The amazing diversity, and productivity, of faculty and graduate students in American studies and ethnicity is a testament to what can be accomplished when a university supports a scholarly vision for a better world with everyone at the table,” Middlebrook said.

The cross-country move has also advanced the journal itself. Having a home at USC within the vibrant and diverse culture of Southern California has facilitated conversation shifts within American Quarterly to topics such as race and visual culture. Examples include Korean cinema as well as photography and the civil rights movement.

In addition to a shift in content, the physical appearance of the publication has been reinvigorated, in order to communicate the importance of visual studies in the field of American studies. The September 2004 special issue titled “Los Angeles and the Future of Urban Cultures” featured the first color cover. Soon after, the journal was honored as runner-up for journal redesign award from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals in 2005.

According to George Sanchez, professor of American studies and ethnicity and history in USC College and director of College diversity, there is much in store for the collaboration between American Quarterly and USC.

Sanchez, a former ASA president, said, “I believe, as the journal has grown and expanded, that our physical location on the West Coast, and our commitment to American studies in its full diversity and potential, continues to provide a wonderful home for the comprehensive exploration of the field as we move forward.”