American Studies @ Virginia was a project of the American Studies Group at the University of Virginia that lasted from 1995-2006. This group included participants in graduate and undergraduate American Studies Programs in the English and History Departments, related interdisciplinary programs in other departments, and the Electronic Text Center at Alderman Library.

Our primary objective was to pursue the study of American culture(s) across temporal, spatial and institutional boundaries. In this sense, AS@UVA was partly an exercise in community building, creating a virtual community of students and teachers here at UVA who would teach and learn together, working collaboratively to provide information about American Culture on the web and for the general reader.

Over more than a decade, the American Studies Group increased significantly the amount of high quality electronically accessible materials in American Studies by creating digitized texts, hypertexts and large, integrated projects like The 30s site. This seemed an important step in developing the new technology's potential for enhancing teaching and learning. We wanted to make widely available lost texts that had -- whatever their original power and significance -- become invisible in our own time. In some instances, these were print texts that had sunk below the horizon of awareness and slept in library special collections. In other instances the texts were not to be texts in the conventional sense of the word at all, but the images, sounds, structures, objects, or events that make up the macro- and micro-narratives of our culture(s).

Whatever kinds of text we worked with, we wanted to make them available as true hypertexts, as enhanced texts that recovered in some measure the context out of which they were originally produced and received, the context that would allow them once again to speak with that fuller range of implication they had for their original audiences.

Finally, we believed that the production of hypertexts could itself be an important, powerful, and valuable part of the learning process. It seemed to offer a real opportunity for something like case method study for the Humanities, study focused on highly specific and concrete phenomenon but requiring broad general knowledge of the contexts out of which the phenomenon arose as well as a larger understanding of the interpretive models through which the phenomena are examined. In addition, hypertext construction offered opportunities for both individualized and group learning, for active rather than passive learning, and for authentic inquiry rather than passive reception of conventional wisdom.

For a fuller discussion of this site, its methods and objectives, go to

AS@UVA: Virtual Space -- Actual Learning

Last update: September 1, 2009