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Dr. Kaplan: Kahn Endowed Term Chair in the Humanities

A. Kaplan

Dr. 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 University.

Dr. 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. 

A 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. 

Dr. 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.

In Foreign 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."

Her 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."

The 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.



  Almanac, Vol. 50, No. 21, February 10, 2004