Kaplan: Kahn Endowed Term Chair in the Humanities
Amy Kaplan, professor of English, has been appointed
to the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Endowed Term Chair
in the Humanities, SAS Dean Samuel H. Preston has announced. Dr.
Kaplan earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University
after completing her B.A. summa cum laude at Brandeis
Kaplan joined the department of English last year from
Mount Holyoke College, where she was a professor of English
and chair of the American Studies Program. At Penn, she
teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses including
a seminar on The Politics of Mourning and Memory in
American Literature and Culture for students in the Benjamin
Franklin Scholars program. In addition to her
current appointment in English, Dr. Kaplan is a member
of the history graduate group and is helping to initiate
an interdisciplinary faculty seminar in transnational
approaches to American studies. She also serves
as president of the American Studies Association.
scholar of American literary and cultural studies, Dr.
Kaplan is currently working on the uses of language and
history in the contemporary political debates about the
American empire. She has received several grants
for her research, including an NEH Fellowship.
Kaplan's latest book, The Anarchy of Empire in the
Making of U.S. Culture, published by Harvard University
Press, explores how imperialist expansion abroad--from
the era of "Manifest Destiny" to the "American Century"--has
profoundly shaped American literature and culture at
home, in the work of figures such as Catherine Beecher,
Mark Twain, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Orson Welles.
Affairs, Walter Russell Mead wrote that Dr. Kaplan "has
a big and important idea: the outside world mattered
intensely and intimately to Americans from the nineteenth
century onward," and praised her discussion of "the
contradictory impulses in American culture."
commentary on United States imperialism and the "war
against terror" has recently been featured in the International
Herald Tribune and the Los Angeles Times.
Dr. Kaplan is also the author of The Social Construction
of American Realism and co-editor of Cultures
of U. S. Imperialism with Donald Pease. In 1998,
she received the Norman Forster Prize for the best essay
in American literature for her "Manifest Domesticity."
Kahn Endowed Term Chairs were established through a bequest
by Mr. and Mrs. Edmund J. Kahn. Mr. Kahn,
a 1925 Wharton graduate, had a highly successful career
in the oil and natural gas industry. His wife, a
graduate of Smith College, worked for Newsweek and
owned an interior design firm. The couple supported
many programs and projects in the University including
Van Pelt-Dietrich Library, the Modern Languages College
House, and other initiatives in scholarship and the humanities.