New Titles in American Studies

We are sad to miss out on meeting authors in person at the ASA Annual Meeting this year. We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new books at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a 50% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues with coupon code ASA20 until November 23, 2020. View our American Studies catalog below for a complete list of all our newest titles in the field and across disciplines. You can also explore all of our books and journals in American Studies on dukeupress.edu. Since we cannot take photos of authors with their new books in our booth, this year, we instead offer an album of book selfies they have taken from home.

We hope you’ll also watch the ASA Freedom Courses event series along with us, especially this Saturday, November 14 at 2:00PM EST as we celebrate the one year publication anniversary of Ronak Kapadia’s Insurgent Aesthetics. Panelists include Keith P. Feldman, Kareem Khubchandani, Jodi Kim, and Sara Mameni. You can register on the event website.

Editors Elizabeth Ault, Courtney Berger, and Ken Wissoker offer their virtual welcome and their recommendations for the latest books in American Studies.

Editor Elizabeth Ault

Each fall I so look forward to gathering at ASA with mentors and colleagues across my intellectual, professional, and personal genealogies–from graduate and undergraduate degrees in American studies to my last 8 years here at Duke Press. It’s particularly hard to not be together this year because there are so many wonderful new books that we should be celebrating in person.

 I’m sure Courtney and Ken will have a lot more to say about the landmark new books on their lists from Jack Halberstam, R.A. Judy, Jane Bennett, Chris Freeburg, Samantha Pinto, and more. And, of course, the long-awaited new work from José Esteban Muñoz!! I can’t wait until we can celebrate this book, and the rest, together. Here are some of the books I’m raising a virtual glass to:

First, speaking of celebrating in person, if you are missing going OUT, I can’t recommend Xavier Livermon’s Kwaito Bodies highly enough. Livermon puts Africa and the diaspora in close conversation, vividly recreating nights out in Johannesburg, soundtracked by kwaito, the music that ushered in the post-apartheid era and the role of femininity, conspicuous consumption, and more often-derided forms in envisioning new kinds of freedoms. Hannah Appel’s The Licit Life of Capitalism also draws attention to connections between the U.S. and Africa, here exploring how a U.S.-based oil company creates and recreates the apparent seamlessness of resource extraction and capital flows in its Equatorial Guinea outpost. If you saw Hannah and Karen Ho together last year in Hawai’i, you know how important her analysis is for rethinking global political economy and US imperialism.

Pivoting to the online world we’ve all been inhabiting recently, Anna Watkins Fisher’s The Play in the System allows us to think through what happens when we all become users invited onto platforms by supposedly generous hosts. Applying this logic from Amazon to performance art to the academy itself, Fisher develops an important model of parasitism that involves leveraging one’s access/privilege into a limited but VERY EFFECTIVE tactic for resisting totalizing logics. She also doesn’t shy away from what happens when these engagements get messy.

Erica Fretwell’s Sensory Experiments is a beautiful new book that’s part of a vibrant cohort of C19 books on this fall season. Fretwell centers the 19th-century science of psychophysics as a crucial part of the transition from sentiment–knowing through feeling–to perception–knowing through bodily experience. Each of the five senses became its own genre of feeling through which the meanings of human difference could be calibrated. The book’s chapters interweave sense specific chapters with synaesthetic intervals, revisiting canonical works by James Weldon Johnson and Kate Chopin as well as introducing readers to some wonderfully bizarre ephemera including Japanese-German artist Sadakichi Hartmann’s attempt to take Carnegie Hall audiences on a perfume tour of Japan. Fretwell attends carefully to how these distinctions in sense perception came to shape ideas about race, gender, and ability.

I have a couple of books about disease that seem particularly important right now, too. There have been lots of conversations about Jih-Fei Cheng, Alex Juhasz, and Nishant Shahani’s AIDS and the Distribution of Crises, which came out just as the reality of COVID was setting in and people were beginning to draw comparisons to the ongoing HIV epidemic. Don’t miss the conversations the editors and contributors had about the relevance of their book in this moment, linked on our website. The book itself explores how HIV/AIDS continues to be a reality shaping so many communities’ narratives, cultural production, and lives. Too, as debates about vaccines, prevention, and treatments continue to baffle some of us, Abigail Dumes’s new book about Lyme disease, Divided Bodies, shows how norms of “evidence-based medicine” have opened up new realms for debate and what counts as evidence. 

Next year in San Juan, friends!


Executive Editor Courtney Berger

Four years ago, I was reluctantly boarding a plane to Denver to attend ASA. Reluctant, not because I don’t love ASA. I do. It’s almost always the highlight of the fall conference season for me. But I felt downtrodden after the election, and I wasn’t eager to see people and to be social. But as soon as I arrived at the conference hotel I realized my mistake. There was the usual line up of provocative scholarly panels and book celebrations, of course.  But there was also community. People hugged (when will we get to do that again?). They organized. They cried. And they danced. That’s what I am missing this year, fellow ASA-ers: the chance to be with you as a community. So, while we won’t be together in person. We won’t be setting up a book exhibit (and unpacking a lot of boxes). And we won’t be talking and laughing in the hotel bar and in the corridors outside panels. I will still find community with you. I will be attending your Zoom talks, following your social media posts, and raising a virtual glass to all of the authors who had books come out during the past year. And I will be alongside you working for a more just and equitable world.

Here are a few of the books that I’d be eagerly recommending to you in the exhibit hall. (Bonus, you don’t have to wait for the last day of the conference to get the 50% discount.)

Samantha Pinto, Infamous Bodies: Early Black Women’s Celebrity and the Afterlives of Rights. Check out this conversation between Samantha Pinto and Jennifer Nash that will be held on November 12th.

Soyica Diggs Colbert, Douglas A. Jones, and Shane Vogel, Race and Performance After Repetition. You can also listen to a conversation among the volume editors and contributors Joshua Chambers-Letson, Tavia Nyong’o, and Elizabeth Son.

978-1-4780-0828-6Cait McKinney, Information Activism: A Queer History of Lesbian Media Technologies. Check out my interview with Cait.

Robert Nichols, Theft Is Property!: Dispossession and Critical Theory. Here is the author discussing his book along with a great discussion of the book hosted by University of Alberta.

Bo Ruberg, The Queer Games Avant-Garde: How LGBTQ Game Makers are Reimagining the Medium of Video Games. (Look for a conversation between Bo and some of the game makers coming soon!)

Jane Bennett, Influx and Efflux: Writing up with Walt Whitman. Did you see the fabulous conversation between Jane Bennett and Jack Halberstam on their new books (hosted by Intellectual Publics)? So inspiring. The recording isn’t yet available, but well worth watching when it is. And we hosted a great event last week with the author in conversation with Peter Coviello, Derek McCormack, Kathy Ferguson, and others (link forthcoming on the DUP blog).

Louise Amoore, Cloud Ethics: Algorithms and the Attributes of Ourselves and Others

And hot off the presses, the latest book in the ANIMA series: Joseph Pugliese, Biopolitics of the More-Than-Human: Forensic Ecologies of Violence.

Stay well and safe, friends. I look forward to seeing you next fall.


Senior Executive Editor
Ken Wissoker

It’s sad looking at my calendar and seeing that I was going to be on the way to Baltimore for ASA yesterday.  I have great memories of the last time ASA was there, and powerful ones of last year’s meeting in Honolulu, such an important political moment in many ways. I’m grateful to my marketing colleagues for arranging the 50% off sale to happen at this time. It’s not the same as raving about the many, many great new books in person – no less getting to dance in celebration of them – but it’s still fabulous.

It’s really been a blockbuster season, needed brilliance at a tough political and pandemic moment.  There are a lot of new books just out including Maureen Mahon’s fabulous Black Diamond Queens, Maya Stovall’s Liquor Store Theatre, and genius artist Lorraine O’Grady’s Writing in Space, all released last week!  My fall highlights have been the long-awaited publication of José Esteban Muñoz’s The Sense of Brown, written alongside Cruising Utopia, and just as essential, Jack Halberstam’s Wild Things.  Ricardo Montez’s Keith Haring’s Line is right there with them.

I’m also excited about Emily Lordi’s beautiful The Meaning of Soul and the start of the Writing Matters! series edited by Lauren Berlant, Saidiya Hartman, Erica Rand, and Katie Stewart, which begins with Lesley Stern’s moving Diary of a Detour.

Over the fall I’ve spent a lot of time thinking with Arlene Dávila’s much-needed Latinx Art and Diana Taylor’s ¡Presente!: The Politics of Presence. I recommend both along with the amazing Aesthetics of Excess by Jillian Hernandez on Black and Latinx girls in Miami and Vanessa Díaz’s Manufacturing Celebrity on Latinx paparazzi and white women reporters as necessary but disposable parts of the Hollywood star system.

You also will not want to miss R.A. Judy’s profound and important Sentient Flesh, Erin Manning’s For a Pragmatics of the Useless – working with Black theory and neurodiversity – and Ian Baucom’s History 4° Celsius, thinking the Black Atlantic, colonialism, and the Anthropocene.  Along the same lines I would recommend Laura Hyun Yi Kang’s Traffic in Asian Women, and Brigitte Fielder’s Relative Races.

Most of you probably already have seen Ashon Crawley’s The Lonely Letters, Shana Redmond’s Everything Man, Savannah Shange’s Progressive Dystopia, Alexis Gumbs’s Dub, Wadsworth Jarrell’s Africobra, Matt Brim’s Poor Queer Studies, John Szwed’s Space is the Place, but if not, please pick them up!

If you’re still missing the action of the in-person ASA conference, you can find conversations with our authors about their books in our In Conversation series on YouTube.

If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth Ault, Courtney Berger, Ken Wissoker, or another of our editors about your book project at ASA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s