Writing in the American Quarterly, the primary journal of the American Studies Association, former CENHS postdoc Matthew Schneider-Mayerson (now teaching at Yale-NUS college), reviews Ross Barrett and Daniel Worden’s Oil Culture (2014), Stephanie LeMenager’s Living Oil (2014), and Christopher F. Jones’s Routes of Power (2014). He calls for more engagement in american studies with climate change and oil politics, which have so far played only a small role in that field. Readers can access the article here or, if you lack a subscription to Project Muse, here.
“One might not know that we are in the midst of an unprecedented global crisis (in which we are, individually and collectively, deeply complicit) from reading American Quarterly or attending the American Studies Association’s annual conference, however. American studies, the academic discipline arguably most dedicated to progressive political engagement, social justice, and activism, has for the most part ignored climate change and the still-accelerating consumption of fossil fuels despite our awareness of the catastrophic environmental and human consequences. This lacuna is particularly surprising given the United States’ central role in extracting and consuming fossil fuels, developing and normalizing oil capitalism, and denying climate science. If climate change was once seen primarily as a scientific, technological, economic, or policy issue, and thus beyond the purview of the humanities, it is increasingly recognized as a problem deeply rooted in social, cultural, and political systems.”