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From The Chair

Dear American Studies Alumni and Friends,

This issue of Myriad marks many noteworthy passages in our department. We mourn the loss of longtime faculty member Roland Delattre in 2007 and note the retirement of our colleague Carol Miller, a faculty member who has for so long bridged our important relationship with American Indian studies. We also celebrate the selection of Professor Elaine Tyler May as a Regents Professor, the first core faculty member in American studies to receive the University’s highest honor.

David Noble’s retirement in May 2009 is perhaps the most significant of these events not only for our department, but also for the University of Minnesota. David has taught at the University for 56 years and has received nearly every teaching accolade available, and most of the scholarly ones as well. This magazine is simply the first in a series of ways we will mark his retirement; see the back cover for an announcement of two special events in October and April. We hope that you will join us in honoring David Noble, and also join with other alumni and friends to renew old acquaintances and reflect on our 65-year history as one of the first American studies programs in the nation.

In addition to marking these events, Myriad will give you a glimpse of our lively work as a department and the field of American studies. In these pages you will learn about one of our newest, and one of the College of Liberal Arts’ most important, courses, The United States Since September 11th. Professor Rod Ferguson reflects on teaching the course and includes a list of articles read by students and films that they viewed.

You will have an opportunity to learn about contemporary American studies scholarship in the essays of two of our outstanding Ph.D. students. Jason Ruiz, who recently completed his Ph.D., writes about his dissertation project, which explores travel literature about Mexico at the close of the 19th century. He analyzes the ways in which it provided a cultural foundation for the growth of the United States as an empire. Alumna Sharon Leon, now on the faculty of George Mason University, writes about her pioneering work to democratize the teaching of history through digital media and computer technology.

We express our heartfelt appreciation to our alumni and friends who have contributed generously to fellowships and scholarship for undergraduate and graduate students. Your gifts are crucial. We cannot do our work without them. We hope that you will continue to partner with us as we educate outstanding scholars and citizens for the 21st century.


Riv-Ellen Prell

Professor of American studies and department chair