Volume I, Issue 2 (Winter 2022)

Letter from the Editor

February 18th, 2022

Welcome to the second issue of Ampersand: An American Studies Journal, our humble humanities hearth for graduate students to gather ‘round. The concept for “Objects, Objections, Objectifications” stirred an excitement among our editorial team in 2021, promising submissions that would speak to some shiny new subjects and ideas. In addition to playing with words, this theme opens space for contributors and readers to reflect on material meaning, the ways that objects can confront the mainstream, and the function of rendering human beings into objects. 

In this issue, contributors approach various times, places, and media in their interpretations of these three “Os.” Their objects of analysis include a bronze Medusa sculpted by Evelyn De Morgan in 1876, Lizzo and Cardi B’s visual invocation of Black classicism in “Rumors,” the legal text of the Zong massacre and the poetry it inspired, Jack London’s The Iron Heel and its fictional manuscript, the taste of Florida in a souvenir bell, Royal treasures returned to Benin in light of the Black Lives Matter movement, and the Black and Indigenous seeds planted at a Boston museum. While diverse in their objects and subjects, the pages ahead collectively observe how objects carry the weight of our words and our worlds. These pieces highlight different modes of resistance as they witness objection to certain societal attitudes, including against the often deliberate and disturbing process of human objectification. 

We appreciate you turning these digital pages, which are products of the long research hours of early career scholars. These pieces are in keeping with the Ampersand mission in that they highlight interdisciplinarity, relationality, and material change––values we support in research and writing, as well as in the lives of graduate students.

Ampersand is a growing community. We invite you to reflect on the ideas put forward in these pages by writing to us and engaging with our online community. During this challenging time of growth––for graduate students and our world––we also welcome your contributions to upcoming issues, however nascent or experimental they may be. Thank you for arriving here. 

Marina Dawn Wells

Volume I, Issue 2 (Winter 2022)

Sarah Djos-Raph, Essay: “Objectifying and Objecting Objects: Looting to Rooting? How the American Black Lives Matter Movement Influences French Restitution in Benin”

Beatriz Marques Gonçalves, Essay: “Zong!: How to Un-tell the Story That Must Be Told”

Rachel Kirby, Essay: “Multisensory Material Culture: Tasting Place in Objects and Images”

Emily McConkey, Essay: “Women, Ovid, and Sculpture: Harriet Hosmer and Evelyn de Morgan’s Medusa Busts”

Grace McGowan, Essay: “The Fate of Medusa: Objectification and the Classical Tradition in Black Women’s Art”

Astrid Tvetenstrand, Exhibition Review: “Objecting Exhibitions: “Garden for Boston” Reimagines American Sculpture, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, June 22–October 12, 2021″

Liting Weng, Essay: “Objections upon Objections: Synthesizing Jack London’s Utopia in The Iron Heel”