So much fun on the first day!
I was struck as I always am by the diversity of approaches at an American studies conference. As I was remarking to another participant, some panels you learn about things you didn't know (or refine ideas you already did) and other times you learn approaches.
The four panels or events I was able to attend give a good example of the discipline's intradisciplinary approaches. The plimoth/plymouth panel looked at both the town and the site from a visual standpoint in Holly Markovitz Goldstein's talk about the visual components of Plymouth, through an experiential and theoretical idea in Michael Millner's explication of the experience of bringing his college class to Plimoth Plantation, and Karyn Goldstein's talk on the way plymouth has been invoked over time. The discipline often does well when it explores a common text through multiple disciplines, and the audience was engaged by the panel as they were by the plenary speakers. The speakers all approached Plimoth/Plymouth from different disciplines or perspectives--from members of the Wampanoag tribe, Joan Tavares Avant and Linda Coombs, historian Joseph Contori, Archeologist Kevin McBride, and anthropologist Cathy Stanton.
The panel I chaired was one was tied together by the world's relationship to American culture. And the showcase of Native American artists last night at Pilgrim Hall emphasized in many ways the same point as the plenary speakers about the diversity of perspectives both in terms of Plymouth and in American Studies.