School of Interdisciplinary Studies American StudiesCollege of Liberal Arts


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Welcome to the website of the American Studies Graduate Student Organization (ASGSO) at Purdue University. Here you will find information about who we are and what we do as graduate students in the program and beyond as well as an overview of upcoming events!


The American Studies Graduate Student Organization (ASGSO) is a student-run organization dedicated to promoting the needs, interests and ideas of graduate students in the American Studies Program at Purdue University.  More specifically, it strives to foster interdisciplinary graduate education and dialogue, establish a community within American Studies and beyond – with the ultimate objective of improving the quality of life for graduate students.  While enriching student life through academic development, ASGSO seeks to foster strong community among our members through social activities and gatherings.  

Contact ASGSO here!

Current ASGSO Officers

Maria Mears

President:  Marie Mears

Maria Mears is a second year PhD student in American Studies. She obtained a Bachelor's degree in History and Sociology from Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin and a Master's Degree in Historical Administration from Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. Her research focuses on collective memory and how the act of collecting artifacts and images promotes narratives of white supremacy, patriarchy, and colonial ideology. She is particularly interested in communities built around controversial images, artifacts, and memorials. Maria is originally from Champaign , Illinois and enjoys playing and watching tennis, going to museums, and cooking for people. 

Ariel Smith

Vice-President: Ariel Smith

Ariel Smith is a second year PhD student in American Studies from Birmingham, AL. She received a BS in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Collat School of Business and a M.Ed in Learning, Diversity, and Urban Studies from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education. Ariel’s current research explores the social, cultural and economic capital of Black-owned food trucks.

Esme Barniskis

Treasurer: Esmé Barniskis

Esmé Barniskis is a second-year master’s student in American studies. Her research topics broadly look at urban public spaces, housing, community-based urban design, and everyday life. Her current research project looks at marginal, interstitial urban spaces that offer potential sites for public reclamation through actions of trespass and transgression. In arguing against viewing left-over and nonproductive spaces as voids in the urban fabric, Esmé seeks to stake out how people reclaim marginal spaces through their everyday actions. As treasurer, Esmé would like to assist all American Studies students with funding-related issues. Please feel free to contact her if you have questions or suggestions for ASGSO. 

Megan Williams

Social and Events Chair: Megan Williams

Megan is a Ph.D. student in American Studies.  She received her Bachelor's degree in English, with a concentration in African American Studies, from Tuskegee University in Tuskegee, Alabama and her Master's degree in American Studies from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.  Her research explores the intersections of Food Studies, Critical Eating Studies, Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, and Feminist Thought.  Her current project is an interrogation of the cultural meanings of Pound Cake for Black women as it is encountered in cookbooks, literature, and popular culture.

Library and Secretarial Chair: Malik Raymond

Malik Raymond is a second year MA student. He received his BA from Georgia Southern University in 2017, majoring in History and minoring in Writing. His current research intersects with conceptions of nature, racial identity/ies, gender and colonialist rhetoric in the fields of Environmental History, Literature, Ecology, Human Geography, (among other things).


PGSG Representative: Paige Frazier


Incoming Students

Hello and welcome to American Studies at Purdue, 

 On behalf of the American Studies Graduate Student Organization (ASGSO), I would like to welcome all incoming students to Purdue. Thank you for choosing our program! We are so excited to get to know all of you over the course of the year.

ASGSO is designed to help you as you transition to life at Purdue and is a resource for all graduate students in the American Studies Program. ASGSO aims to fulfill the following objectives: 1) to foster interdisciplinary graduate education and dialogue; 2) to develop mentoring relationships between current and incoming students; 3) to improve the quality of life for graduate students; and 4) to assist in establishing a community within American Studies and beyond. Additionally, we provide and coordinate social activities, volunteer opportunities, and professional development. ASGSO also serves as the liaison between students and faculty. We strive to advocate for all graduate students in the American Studies department.

Please let me know if you have any questions about American Studies at Purdue, living in Lafayette and West Lafayette, or any other questions that may come up as you get oriented with the program. Feel free to email me at or ASGSO at

Thank you,
Maria Mears
President, ASGSO

ASGSO Events

2018-19 Events: TBA

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