Courses

Winter Term 2011/12

Vorlesung (Lecture)

From P-Town to P. Diddy: Introduction to American Studies

Di, 12-14 h, C 5 1, Musiksaal

This course provides an introduction to the discipline of American Studies and engages the prevailing theoretical approaches to the study of American literatures and cultures. Emphasizing key texts and methods for critically understanding the term "American," this class offers an interdisciplinary investigation into American literature, history, culture, and identity.

On the one hand, we will follow a "classic" American Studies approach and identify a series of foundational myths and scenarios that have contributed to the making of the nation and we will trace them through the centuries. We will, for instance, look at the arrival of the Puritans in Provincetown in 1620 (now often called P-Town by its citizens) as one of the first foundational scenarios and look at the ways in which some of the myths that emerged in early America play out in the cultural figure of Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs. On the other hand, we will also show how a focus on such foundational myths is limiting, as it is dictated by a national, and nationalist, narrative of the US. Addressing the important shift in its focus and method of analysis of American literature and culture from a nation-state based type of area studies to a transnational American Studies, we will show how recent re-conceptualizations of the field of American Studies have contributed to a remapping of American literature that pays attention to the multi- and transcultural realities of the United States.

Texts:

A course reader will be made available for purchase.

 

 

Hauptseminar Literatur (Graduate Seminar)

New York City: In the Shadow of No Towers

Do, 10-12 h, C 5 3, Raum 1.20

In light of the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, this class focuses on the literary and cultural responses to "9/11," asking whether there is such a genre as post-9/11 fiction and film. Exploring the ways in which novels and stories by recent American writers and dramatists such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Don DeLillo, Deborah Eisenberg, and Neil LaBute have reflected on the terrorist attacks of 9/11, we will analyze how their texts have re-imagined life in the aftermath of 9/11. Drawing on theories of trauma and memory, we will study the visual and intermedial literary strategies these writers have used to write about New York City "in the shadow of no towers" (to borrow the title of Art Spiegelman's graphic narrative). We will also look at some 9/11 films, focusing on the challenges of representing traumatic history.

Throughout this class, we will explore both the ways in which literature and film have attempted to convey 9/11 as well as how 9/11 has changed American literature and film.

Required Texts (please buy)

Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel (2006)

Don DeLillo's Falling Man (2008)

Neil LaBute's The Mercy Seat (2002)

Selected stories by Deborah Eisenberg will be made available in the Course Reader.

Films:

Oliver Stone's World Trade Center (2006)

Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 (2004)

 

 

 

Examenskolloquium (Exam Colloquium)

Di 16-18h, C 5 3, Raum 1.20

 

Das Examenskolloquium besteht aus 2 Teilen:

  1. einem Block im Oktober für KandidatInnen, die im November zur mündl. Staatsprüfung antreten wollen und
  2. einem regelmäßig während des Semester stattfindenden Kolloquiums, in dem ExamenskandidatInnen, die im WS 2011/12 eine schriftliche und/oder mündl. Magisterprüfung absolvieren wollen oder ihren Fachaufsatz schreiben wollen, sich auf diese Prüfungen vorbereiten können. Die genauen Termine für dieses Kolloquium werden auf der Webseite und am schwarzen Brett in der FR bekanntgegeben.

 

In jedem Fall bitte ich um eine Anmeldung per e-mail bis 10. Oktober (amerikanistik(at)mx.uni-saarland.de)

 

ad 1) Block für StexkanditatInnen

Dienstag, 18. und 25. Oktober ab 16h

 

Die Kandidatinnen und Kandidaten für die Staatsexamensprüfungen im November 2011 werden gebeten, sich bis zum 10. Oktober anzumelden, um Themen für das Blockseminar absprechen zu können. Studierende haben die Möglichkeit ihr Thema im Rahmen dieses Examenskolloquiums zu präsentieren und Probleme zu diskutieren.

KandidatInnen für die mündliche Staatsexamesprüfung werden auch gebeten ihre Leselisten bis spätestens 2 Wochen vor der Prüfung bei Frau Lau abzugeben. Die formalen Anforderungen der Leseliste können bei Frau Lau und auf der NamLitCult Homepage eingesehen werden.

 

 

 

Research Colloqium

Di 18-19h, C 5 3, Raum 1.19

Das Research Kolloquium richtet sich an alle Kandidatinnen und Kandidaten, die gerade bei Prof. Fellner für eine schriftliche Arbeit (BA-Arbeit, MA-Arbeit, Magisterarbeit und Stex-Arbeit) angemeldet sind. Während dieses Kolloquiums können schriftliche Arbeiten präsentiert werden, Probleme (inhaltlicher Natur, strukturelle und Style Sheet Probleme) erläutert werden und Informationen ausgetauscht werden. Um eine Terminübersicht erstellen zu können, bitten wir Sie, sich für dieses Kolloquium bei Frau Lau bis zum 10. Oktober anzumelden. Bitte informieren Sie sich während des Semesters auf der NamLitCult Webseite, am schwarzen Brett bzw. bei Frau Lau, bezüglich der Termine des Research Kolloquiums.

 

Prof. Bert Hornback

Hauptseminar Literatur (Graduate Seminar)

American Drama: Wilder, Williams, Miller, Hansberry

Wednesdays, 12-14 h, C 5 3, Raum 1.20

Four great, award-winning American plays:  Thornton Wilder's Our Town (1938), Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman (1949), and Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun (1959).  Our first class meeting will be on Wednesday, 19 October. We will spend three or four class sessions on each play, and will schedule viewings of movies or telecasts of all four.

Wilder's Our Town is a play about life in a small town in New Hampshire, early in the twentieth century. Various stories and character stories are intertwined with the aid of a "Stage Manager" or narrator. It is one of America's most-often performed plays; the version we will see has a young Hal Holbrook as the Stage Manager.

A Streetcar Named Desire is set in New Orleans. Marlon Brando made his Broadway debut in it "brilliantly" as Stanley Kowalski, opposite Jessica Tandy as Blanche DuBois.  New Orleans isn't small-town New Hampshire, and Williams's play is sometimes raw, sometimes brutal, always sympathetic and beautiful.

Death of a Salesman is Miller's tale of the American Dream, of lies and self-delusion, of ambitions and frustrations.  Willy Loman is the salesman, originally played by Lee J. Cobb. The play is poignant, and rises sometimes toward tragedy.

A Raisin in the Sun-its title comes from a Langston Hughes poem-is set in Chicago's South Side. It is a powerful play about frustration, ambition, and a strong woman.  The movie features a young Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee.

 

You will be expected to read carefully and thoughtfully-and to watch and listen, carefully and thoughtfully.  All four plays were "controversial" when they were first produced-which in American theatre terms, means that they were probably very good.

 

Requirements:  serious reading, attendance, participation, weekly "scribbles," and a well-written, thoughtful seminar paper on one or more of our plays.

Please use the following editions of the plays.  We will be talking close to their texts, and need to be on the same page with each other as we talk.

 

Thornton Wilder, Our Town. Penguin Modern Classics (ISBN 978-0-141-18458-6)

Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Names Desire. Penguin Modern Classics  (ISBN 978-0-141-19027-1)

Arthur Miller, The Death of a Salesman. Penguin Modern Classics  (ISBN 978-0-141-18274-1) 

Lorraine Hansberry, A Raisin in the Sun. Vintage Books (ISBN 978-0-679-75533-0)

 

Jennifer Moos, M.A.

Proseminar Literatur

19th-Century American Short Story

Mon 16-18 h, C5 3, Raum 4.08

The Irish writer Frank O'Connor has called the American short story "a national art form," and critic Alfred Bendixen has claimed that the short story is "an American invention, and arguably the most important literary genre to have emerged in the United States."

Why then was the short story a particularly appealing literary form for American writers of the 19th century? In order to answer this question, we will trace the emergence and development of the American short story throughout the 19th century by primarily focusing on the work of major writers, including Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, and Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

In our analyses, we will put special emphasis on the discussion of generic questions, literary movements (local color, realism, naturalism etc.), and recurring themes - all of which will be examined in connection to the social, historical, cultural, and political circumstances under which the relevant short stories were produced.

Selected Short Stories:

Texts:

A course reader will be made available for purchase.

Course requirements:

Regular attendance, active participation, reading and writing assignments, short oral presentation, graded term paper/ final written exam (depending on your Studienordnung).

 

Dr. Arlette Warken

Proseminar Literatur

American Drama

Do 14-16, Geb. C5 2, Raum 1.28

This course is intended to give an overview of some of the key texts of American drama. We will consider the genesis and development of a distinctive American theatrical tradition from a historical perspective.

The main emphasis, however, will be on 20th century texts. We will explore the various dramatic techniques and recurring themes as well as the political and cultural developments that inform the texts. Plays to be discussed will include Royall Tyler's The Contrast, Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, and Tony Kushner's Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches. The texts will be made available before the beginning of classes.

Mag. Payman Rezwan

Übung

Cultural Studies: "It's going to be legen - wait for it....": An Introduction to U.S. TV Studies

Blockseminar:
Friday 18th Nov. 2011, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday 19th Nov. 2011, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.;
Friday 16th Dec. 2011, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday 17th Dec. 2011, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m;
Friday 3rd Feb. 2012, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday 4th Feb. 2012, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

This course will offer critical approaches in the analysis of television and television shows in the U.S. In the first part of this course, we will survey the historical development of television in the U.S., before we focus on the defining genres in the American TV landscape, such as sitcoms, drama shows or reality television, and investigate how the mechanisms of genre diversification function and how audiences make meaning from these programs. We will also look at some productions in detail, such as Friends, Dallas or Oprah and look at their impact on popular culture.

Mag. Klaus Heissenberger

Proseminar Literatur

Doing Masculinity Studies, Doing Cultural Studies:  Traveling with Popular Culture

Blockseminar:
Friday 18th Nov. 2011, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday 19th Nov. 2011, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.;
Friday 16th Dec. 2011, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday 17th Dec. 2011, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m;
Friday 3rd Feb. 2012, 2-7 p.m. and Saturday 4th Feb. 2012, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

This course aims at providing critical approaches to the construction of masculinities by  focusing on the link between cultural representations and their "uses" in everyday contexts, as exemplified in a range of British and American cultural studies work that has focused on popular culture and gender.

We will look at the active audience paradigm, which assumes that cultural texts offer the materials and resources with which consumers of popular culture construct their (gender) identities in a field of tension between "structure" and "agency." In this framework, doing masculinity (as a form of doing gender) can be understood as a creative practice within the limitations and restrictions imposed by the "culture industry": As consumers, we adapt, negotiate and reject constructions of gender that cultural products provide; we reaffirm or adapt and change them.

After establishing this theoretical context, concrete examples will be taken from the following areas:

Throughout these examples, we will look at concepts such as poaching, cut and paste, sampling, pastiche, bricolage, or DIY, which can help us understand the creative productive tension within which consumers shape their gendered identities in consuming popular culture.

Furthermore, we will investigate the notion of "traveling": As most of our examples "travel" across the Atlantic, we will discuss the implications of such cultural transfers from one context into another one-both on the concrete level of specific cultural practices, and on the theoretical level. How can notions such as radical contextualism (e.g. Lawrence Grossberg), traveling cultures (James Clifford), (g)localization (Roland Robertson, Kathleen White), and positionality (Donna Haraway) help us understand how, in the wake of e.g. TV series and pop music, notions of gender "travel" across the Atlantic, too?

NOTE: The course will be organized as a "Blockveranstaltung" on six days.

Readings: A selection of relevant essays and excerpts from books will be made available either in a reader or on CLIX.

Course requirements: attendance, active participation, completion of reading and writing assignments, short oral presentation, and a term paper (Hausarbeit).

 

 

 

Heike Mißler

Proseminar Literatur

North American Feminist Music Cultures from the 1960s to the Noughties

Di 10-12 h, C 5 3, U13

 

"When I was a young girl, I fell into trouble." (Patti Smith)

 

In this course we are going to study contemporary feminist music (sub)cultures by looking at the artists' self-stylizations, iconicity, their song lyrics, music videos and popular and critical reception in the contexts of their time.

In order to do this, you will be required to read core theoretical texts from the fields of cultural, feminist and gender studies in preparation for each session. They will be made available to you in a reader at the beginning of the term. We are going to start the course by discussing Patti Smith's memoir Just Kids (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010, ISBN 978 0 7475 6876 6) which I expect you to have read for the second session.  The list of artists covered in this course is necessarily selective.

There is a focus on alternative and DIY artists, most of them emerging from different strands of punk music, such as Patti Smith, Kim Gordon (of Sonic Youth) and various offsprings of the Riot Grrrl and queercore scene. However, we are also going to consider the gender performances and interpretations of feminism by artists such as Ani DiFranco, Madonna, Missy Elliott, Tegan and Sara and Lady Gaga.