Spencer Oshita is a Ph.D. student.  His interests include identity formations, articulations, and performance; cultural studies and cultural theory; U.S. foreign relations and interdisciplinary diplomatic and transnational histories; U.S. legal history with an emphasis on American constitutional law and a specific focus on jurisprudential areas related to free speech, free exercise, establishment, due process, equal protection, privacy rights, Commerce clause jurisprudence, and public school/education-related cases; historiographical representations and methodologies in relation to and in the aftermath of the cultural turn; literary theory, with particular interest in biographical criticism, critical race theory, deconstruction, narratology, new historicism, postmodernism, and queer theory; the novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald; contemporary childrenʻs and young adult literature with a specialization in speculative fiction; contemporary literary adaptations of myths, fairly tales, and folklore; the graphic novel; utopia studies and queer utopic projects; religion in American public life, with specific focus on the issues of public commemorations and memorials as well as religious exemptions; American civil religion; notions and theories of spatial power relations, particularly in legal-geographical-social hierarchies and spheres; Marxism and racial/gendered critiques of Marxism; uses of poststructural, postcolonial, postsecular, posthuman, postmodern, and postempiricist theory; the global history of Communism; Shakespeare Studies, particularly Shakespearean comedies and romances and their film adaptations; Jane Austen and the long eighteenth century in British feminist literature; humor studies and contemporary American satire; video games and the biopolitical implications of (mis)representation and functional constraints; intellectual history and the history of American ideas and ideals; the Euro-American revolutionary period of the 18th century; the Cold War, with particular interest in orthodox and revisionist narratives of Cold War history; the history of American empire and settler colonial projects; traditional understandings of U.S. government and politics; U.S. electoral history in terms of political geography; representations of U.S. politics in American film, television, and media; and pre-20th century art movements in Europe, with specific interests in Renaissance, Rococo, Neoclassical, Romantic, and Impressionist art.

His research is particularly concerned with the Praxis of interdisciplinary of even postdisciplinary approaches, looking at case studies sprawled across disciplines to build a theoretical process for understanding and unveiling deeply embedded power structures involved in the creation, reinforcement, and articulation of American identities and citizen formation, which are often embodied through and negotiated by individual and groups at various intersections of varying configurations of power.  His current projects include:

  • Analyses of Court jurisprudence in public education beginning in the 1940s, reinterpreting the integral cases of Minersville School District v.Gobitis (1940) and West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) as the beginning of a new era in citizen-making.
  • Analyses of the genrefication of queer utopias in contemporary young adult literature and the violence of library classification systems and banned book lists in creating citizen-readers in the twenty-first century.
  • Analyses of contemporary American television and the quantum paradox of participatory satire as well as the politics of laughter, and audience identification in generating a politically-minded and -engaged citizenry.
  • A general-audience reader of Supreme Court jurisprudence.
  • A speculative fiction piece, blending theories of identity with a Shakespeare pastiche.

Courses Taught:

  • Fall 2019-Spring 2020: AMST 211: Contemporary American Domestic Issues (Power, Rights, and Space in Modern and Postmodern America)
  • Fall 2018-Spring 2019: AMST 150: America and the World (discussion sections only)
Current Graduate Students