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American History MPhil trip to London

IMG 3749To celebrate the end of Lent Term, Dr Emily Charnock and Dr Seth Archer organized a trip to London for the American History MPhils. We travelled together into the city and made our way to the Royal Academy of Arts where we saw the exhibition 'America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s.' The exhibit brought together paintings by Georgia O'Keeffe, Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Edward Hopper and more. The most well-known of the collection was Grant Wood's American Gothic, which is on display for the first time outside of North America. Overall 'America after the Fall' was an illuminating experience, and it was worthwhile to see how artists during the 1930s were thinking about the past, present and future of America. Half of our group had spent the term taking an option class titled 'Immigration, Race and American Nationality,' where we read a lot of primary sources grappling with the question of what it means to be American. It was interesting to see those same ideas being worked out through the paintings in the exhibition, and a useful reminder that it can be productive for historians to dip their toes in the realm of art history. The exhibition was organised by the Art Institute of Chicago in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and Établissement public du musée d'Orsay et du musée de l'Orangerie, Paris, and is on display until 4 June 2017.

After the exhibition we made our way to the British Library, where we got lunch in the café and ate outside on the patio to enjoy the sunshine and beautiful spring weather. We then had a session led by two members of the Eccles Centre for American Studies team at the Library. Some of our group had used the British Library collections before and others had not, but it was a useful session for all of us as they gave us a good overview of the kinds of materials in the Library's American collections, which are really very vast. We also heard about fellowships offered by the Centre, as well as additional events they run like lectures and workshops. After the presentation a couple people who wanted to had the opportunity to sign up for reader passes to the Library, and then we made our way back to Cambridge. Overall is was a very full and fun day, and it was nice to celebrate the end of classes while simultaneously taking a break from our essays and dissertations. Many thanks to Emily and Seth for organizing the trip - we all had a great time!