Nashville is full of opportunities to practice American Studies outside the classroom. From its role in the development of the quintessential American music, to its important place in civil rights history, to continuing struggles over gentrification, the city itself can be seen as a sort of library. And cities encourage their own forms of reading – not the linear, chronological progress of a text or lecture, but instead a meandering walk through a built environment that consists of many different accumulated experiences and histories, and extends in all directions.
This map is meant to encourage this sort of reading. Here, we share resources related to American Studies at Vanderbilt, and in Nashville more broadly: student and faculty research, community resources, and records of journeys of exploration into the city. Wherever possible, we include audio resources and suggest possible routes so that you can experience guided tours led by local experts – but we also encourage you to explore at random, to seek connections, to look for the points that are not yet on this map and help us to fill in more stories from our city.
How to read the map. Each color represents a different theme across the city. Stars are sites with audio guides. Lines show the routes of past American Studies city walks and other outings.
Blue – cities and neighborhoods are always changing. Explore issues of segregation, urban renewal, displacement, gentrification, and more.
Navy – global Nashville: the Kurdish, Somali, and Latinx presence (with major contributions by the American Studies Global Nashville course, spring 2019).
Green – parks and recreation! Nature is never just natural – it always has a deeper history – and even sports can be windows into important academic themes like race, class, and gender.
Orange – what is remembered? What is forgotten?
Pink – classic icons of Music City. Learn the histories of the places that make Nashville unique.
Have a Nashville story you want to tell? American Studies takes an interdisciplinary approach to the city and to the many people, struggles, forces, institutions, and cultures that inhabit it. We can work with you to add your story to the map using text, images, video, or audio. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.