Over the next few weeks, first-year students taking an Intro to American Studies module at Northumbria University will be posting a series of short commentaries on local examples of the relationship between the US and the North East of England. Later commentaries will reflect British student responses to the American Icons – and the readings of those icons – featured on this fascinating site. It is good to be able to contribute and thanks to Bryant Simon for the invitation to join the discussions.
Of course, one obvious recent example of those transnational connections is Northumbria’s decision to launch one of the most ambitious initiatives in American Studies in Europe for over a generation (see: http://www.northumbria.ac.uk/americanstudies/), but there are plenty of other historic and contemporary, cultural, economic, demographic, and political links to explore.
For example, the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, where Northumbria University is located, was (briefly!) once home to Jimi Hendrix; Frederick Douglass technically got his freedom on Tyneside in the 1840s; in 1967, Martin Luther King came to town to accept an honorary doctorate, Jony Ive, Apple’s main designer responsible for most of what look cool from that company, did his undergraduate degree at Northumbria; Jeremiah Dixon (the surveyor partially responsible for the Mason-Dixon line) was born nearby in Cockfield, not far from Hilary Clinton’s ancestral home; Muhammad Ali had his wedding vows blessed just south of the River Tyne in South Shields; the local Wallsend club won the national British baseball championship in 1896; countless US poets, including, Allan Ginsberg and Robert Creeley, have read at the historic Morden Tower venue; the kitchens at the historic Belmont Mansion in Nashville proudly boasts a huge urn made in Newcastle upon Tyne…and Krispy Kreme have recently opened a slew of shops and a factory in the area!
What else can you add to this list of US-North East connections?
Brian Ward, Northumbria University