Welcome to Issue 12 of IJAS Online, the official journal of the Irish Association for American Studies.

The articles and reviews in this issue were published on a rolling basis throughout 2023. They include fresh approaches to canonical literary and cinematic authors and texts as well as a survey of new monographs in literary and historical studies.

In “‘It was only the darkened house that could contain her’: Containing Forms in The Scarlet Letter,Georgia Walton reads Hawthorne’s novel in response to Caroline Levine’s call for “a new strain of criticism that recognises the political potential of form.” Here, Walton brings the long critical history of the novel into contact with the New Formalist attention to forms – literary, social, political – as containers for new modes of collectivity, showing how Hawthorne’s text articulates a contained yet contingent national identity.

This issue also presents two version of essays that were previously recognised by the Irish Association for American Studies essay prizes, which are aimed at supporting the work of early career scholars. Niamh Keating’s “Respectability Politics and the Culture of Dissemblance in Stanley Kramer’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and Jack Hill’s Foxy Brown” was awarded the 2021 Irish Association for American Studies Postgraduate Writing Prize. Here, Keating examines the shifting status of respectability politics and the culture of “dissemblance” (as theorised by Darlene Clark Hine) by comparing two movies from the immediate post-Civil Rights era, finding in both cases an attempt to deconstruct dominant representations of Black identity.

In “‘Her Happy Solitary Life’: Singleness and Queering the Norm in ‘Martha’s Lady’ by Sarah Orne Jewett and ‘A New England Nun’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman,” the winning essay in the 2020 WTM Riches Essay Prize, C. T. Power presents close readings of two nineteenth-century stories that represent the lives of single women. The representation of singleness, Power argues, presents a queer challenge to heteronormative relations by imagining fulfilment outside the prevailing notions of “true womanhood.”

This issue also includes reviews of several recent monographs presenting new research in American Studies, taking in new scholarship on individual authors as well as historical studies of the lives of free people of colour in the antebellum South, racial violence in 1930s Maryland, and Irish American Republicanism in the late twentieth century. Included here are reviews by Nik Ribianszky of Warren Eugene Milteer, Jr.’s Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the Antebellum South, by Guy Lancaster of Charles L. Chavis Jr.’s The Silent Shore: The Lynching of Matthew Williams and the Politics of Racism in the Free State, by Sebastian Tants-Boestad of Brian Yothers’s Melville’s Mirrors: Literary Criticism and America’s most Elusive Author, by Melissa L. Baird of Robert Collins’s Noraid and the Northern Ireland Troubles, 1970-1994, and by Ciarán Leinster of John Lahr’s Arthur Miller: American Witness.

This issue of IJAS Online was edited by Tim Groenland and Fionnghuala Sweeney (Co-Editors-in-Chief) as well as Reviews Editor Keira Williams. Our thanks to the peer reviewers whose expertise and advice informs the articles here, and to Oskar Gordon for assistance with copyediting and formatting. As always, the journal remains committed to publishing articles, interviews, and reviews on American Studies, broadly defined, which means publishing on all aspects of American life and culture, including literature, film, history, social studies, geography, music, art, architecture, and more.

We hope you enjoy Issue 12, 2023.

Tim Groenland

Fionnghuala Sweeney

IJAS Online Co-Editors-in-Chief