Courses

Summer Term 2016

In the summer term 2016 NamLitCult is offering the following courses:

VL Representing "The" American People 2016
gem. mit Dr. Sebastian Weier
Wed, 4-6 pm
B3 1, HS I


In the run-up to the United States presidential election that will take place on November 8. 2016, the lecture series Representing ‘The’ American People 2016 will look at representations of ‘the’ American people in the arts, literatures and politics of North America. The series will consider representations both in the political sense of a “government of the people, by the people, for the people”–as Abraham Lincoln put it in his Gettysburg Address–and in the artistic and cultural sense of imagining a body politic through expressive modes of identity and community formation and contestation. Facets of the American political system will be considered side by side with examples drawn from literature and other arts to offer an understanding of how modes and models of representing ‘the’ American People and its long trajectory of excluding specific groups such as women and ethnicities considered minorities have and still do shape American political and aesthetic practices to the present day.

Course Readings:
There will be a course reader, which you can order through NamLitCult and pick up at our offices.

UE/VL Foundations of Cultural Studies
Tue, 12-2 pm
Musiksaal


This course is intended to make students familiar with the various theoretical approaches and practices common to the study of culture. It should introduce students to the intellectual roots and contemporary applications of Cultural Studies, focusing on the theoretical bases for the analyses of meaning and power in the production and reception of texts. While this class will offer various approaches to the study of cultures in the English-speaking world, it should also provide students with an opportunity to do Cultural Studies. In our analyses we will therefore draw on a wide range of cultural material (literature, television, films, and commercials) and explore the ways in which questions of representation are interrelated with issues of identity, in particular racial/ethnic, sexual, class, and regional differences.

Texts:
A course reader will be made available for purchase.


Exam Colloquium/Examenskolloquium
Tue, 4-6 pm
C5 3, room 1.19


This workshop-like colloquium allows written- and oral-exam candidates (BA-students, MA-students and Stex-students) to talk about the topics of their theses and the topics for their oral and written exams.

This colloquium consists of two parts:

1)    "Blockkolloquium" in April for those students who will participate in the oral state exam (LAG, LAR, LAB). All topics can be presented and discussed. Please bring handouts for your brief presentations.

Please note:
This "Blockkolloquium" will take place on Monday, April 11, 2016 (starting 4 p.m.).


Please sign up for the Blockkolloquium via email by April 4, 2016 (amerikanistik@mx.uni-saarland.de).


2)    Workshop for those students who will write/or are working on their Magister-, BA- or Staatsexamensarbeit or those who will take a written or oral exam. A major goal of this course is also to guide students through the process of writing a research paper. All exam candidates are therefore encouraged to attend regularly.
This colloquium starts on April 19, 2016. The exact dates will be published on our website and on the notice board of the department.

Please sign up via LSF.


Research Colloquium
Tue, 6-8 pm
C5 3, 1.19


This research colloquium offers writers of Ph.D. dissertations a forum for presentation of their work-in-progress. It will start on April 19, 2016.


HS "Contemporary Canadian Novels of Refugee Experience"

Blockseminar:
Friday, 10 June 2016, 12.00-2.30
Saturday, 11 June 2016, 10.00-12.30
Friday, 17 June 2016, 12.00-2.30
Saturday, 18 June 2016, 10.00-12.30
Friday, 24 June 2016, 12.00-2.30
Saturday, 25 June 2016, 10.00-12.30
Friday, 01 July 2016, 12.00-2.30
Saturday, 02 July 2016, 10.00-12.30
Friday, 08 July 2016, 12.00-2.30

Saturday, 09 July 2016, 10.00-12.30
Friday, 15 July 2016, 12.00-2.30
Saturday, 16 July 2016, 10.00-12.30

C 5 3, room 408

The refugee’s flight has been a recurrent theme in literature at least since Virgil’s depiction of Aeneas escaping Troy in the Aeneid. As in Aeneas’s experience, the refugee is compelled by catastrophic events to undertake a journey which is at once physical and existential. The flight from “home” to a sought-after space of refuge necessarily entails psychological transformation which is potentially as momentous as the physical journey of escape. While flight from immediate danger and “arrival” in a safe haven may remove the explicit threat of harm, the journey of social and psychological adjustment is fraught with conflicting measures of peril and hope. Transformed in the process is more than the individual refugee. The refugee’s experience also reverberates with social and political implications extending from “home” to the place of hoped-for refuge.
Canadian literature has long reflected and been shaped by refugee experience, albeit frequently subsumed within representation of a more amorphous immigrant experience. More recent world-historical events, however, have thrust the issue of refugees to the forefront of socio-political and literary consideration. This course proposes a wide-ranging treatment of refugee experience on the basis of selected contemporary novels from Canada. Our concern will be with assessing universal traits of the refugee experience – impressions that Aeneas would recognize – while honouring the specificity – personal and socio-historic – of individual refugee experience. As a subsidiary issue, we will also consider the ways in which Canadian society is depicted from the perspective of refugees.

The course will be conducted as a block seminar.

Tentative List of Required Reading:
Selected Poems and Short Stories (provided by the instructor)
Hill, Lawrence, The Illegal, 2015
Jamal, Tasneem, Where the Air is Sweet, 2014
Nasrallah, Dimitri, Blackbodying, 2004
Thien, Madeleine, Dogs at the Perimeter, 2011


PS "From Tombstone to Deadwood: (Post-)Western Film and Fiction"

Thu, 12-2 pm

This seminar serves as an introduction to the genre of Western film and fiction. Students will be introduced to conventions of the genre as well as developments from "traditional" Western over so-called "Spaghetti Western" to Neo- and Post-Western. We will discuss the relevance of changes within the genre, especially with respect to representations of sex/gender or ethnicity but we will also look at the representation of "imaginary Wests" in places from Tombstone to Deadwood. Reading and discussing a selection of theoretical texts will enable students to analyze for example representations of the American West or the construction of identities within the films / texts. Questions for discussion are for example how sex/gender or ethnic groups are represented in Westerns, but also how American history is represented.

We will read (excerpts from) Pete Dexter's novel Deadwood and Patrick De Witt's The Sisters Brothers and discuss the following films:
The Searchers
Once Upon a Time in the West
Unforgiven
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Homesman
Django Unchained

A selection of secondary material and excerpts from the primary texts will be made available in form of a reader.

Please note: Students are required to attend screenings of films. Details to be announced.

Requirements: Class participation, including reading assignments and discussion, a short presentation in class and a seminar paper.


Dr. Sebastian WEIER

UE CS II "Sound and Listening From Early to Modern America"

Thu, 10 am - 12
C 5 3, room 120

The seminar will introduce students into American Cultural Studies research concerned with sound and listening in the time period from Early to Modern America. More than just music, sound will be considered “as a cultural form with a material force” whose study “occasion[s] examination into the sonic and aurality as processes of economic, social and political negotiations” (Banet-Weiser in Keeling & Kun). Due to the historical period in focus, such processes cannot be considered through audio-documents but will require close engagement with “in-audible” archives such as literature, documents of public oratory or the socio-sonic effects of public space. Engaging both the intellectual and experiential dimension of Early to Modern America, the seminar will thus offer students historical knowledge as well as the conceptual and methodological tools necessary for researching non-contemporary cultural phenomena and their socio-political significance.

Literature:

Bosco, Ronald A. “Lectures at the Pillory: The Early American Execution Sermon.” American Quarterly 30.3. (Summer 1978): 156-176. Print.

Bull, Michael & Les Back. “Into Sound … Once More with Feeling”. The Auditory Culture Reader. 2nd. Ed. By Bull & Back. New York & London: Bloomsbury, 2015. pp. 1-20. Print.

Cruz, Jon. Culture on the Margins. The Black Spiritual and the Rise of American Cultural Interpretation. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1999. Print. (Extracts)

Flegelman, Jay. Declaring Independence: Jefferson, Natural Language and the Culture of Performance. Stanford: Stanford UP, 1993. Print. (Extracts)

Lipsitz, George. “Listening to Learn and Learning to Listen: Popular Culture, Cultural Theory and American Studies”.  American Quarterly 42.4. (Dec. 1990): 615-636. Print.

Lorenzkowski, Barbara. Sounds of Ethnicity: Listening to German North America, 1850-1914. Winnipeg: U of Manitoba P, 2010. Print. (Extracts)

Naeem, Asma. “Splitting Sight and Sound: Thomas Dewing’s A Reading, Gilded Age Women, and the Phonograph.” Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies. Eds. Kara Keeling & Josh Kun. Baltimore: John Hopkins UP, 2012. pp.17-42. Print.

Rath, Richard Cullen. How Early America Sounded. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 2003. Print. (Extracts)

Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2002. Print. (Extracts)

Smith, Mark E. Listening to Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2001. Print. (Extracts)

Stern, Jonathan. “Sonic Imaginations”. The Sound Studies Reader. By Sterne. New York & London: Routledge, 2012. pp. 1-18. Print.

Thompson, Emily Ann. The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900—1933. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2002. Print. (Extracts)


PS "Utopia Americana: American Utopian Literature"

Thu, 2-4 pm
C5 2, room 1.28

Utopian literature envisions news ways of living together in a society that is inherently better than one’s own. From the time of settlement, America has been perceived and represented as a Utopian space and experiment. In this course we will explore some of the positive visions of North America, including for example ecological, feminist and Native American ones, and address of the skeptical, dystopian ones. While the focus will be on the literary genre tradition, we will also look at other representations of utopian rhetoric and critique e.g. in documentaries and films. Texts to be discussed will include Ernest Callenbach’s Ecotopia and Marge Piercy’s Woman on the Edge of Time. The complete reading list will be provided at the beginning of term.


CS: Introduction to Media Studies
Culture / Media / Images: Visuality in Contemporary Media
Block: tba

In this course, we will focus on visual media (film, TV, music videos, visual art, digital media) to explore standard critical tools which can help us analyze how these produce the meanings that their viewers find pleasurable, interesting, convincing, repulsive, compelling, etc.

- Visuality and genre in film
- Visuality vs. narrative in film
- Visual language of film-making: framing, diegesis, shots, editing, etc.
- The (male?) gaze
- Practices of looking: Similarities and differences across different media
- Gazes and looks in the new media

Goals:
Students will know about and apply independently a selected range of critical theories & methods to analyze different forms and examples of visual media.

Methods:
Team-based presentations and discussions, self-study readings, blended learning.

Assessment:
Attendance, team presentations, discussions, readings, a final written essay (individual) or video clip (team) plus critical analysis, and an exam (‘Klausur’).

Materials:
A selection of relevant essays and excerpts from books will be made available either in a reader or via Moodle, and video samples will be provided online.

e-Learning:
Depending on the number of participants, there will be a Moodle courseroom with materials and activities.