Courses

Summer Term 2017

In the summer term 2017 NamLitCult is offering the following courses:

VL Women's Voices in AmeriCan Literatures
Thu, 4 - 6 p.m.
B 3 2, lecture hall 003

This lecture course examines the tradition of women's writing in North America, introducing the ways in which the study of sex/gender and sexuality as social categories have transformed our 
understandings of culture, history and society. Topics of analysis include the social construction of gender, 
the gendered division of labor, production and reproduction, intersections of gender, race, class and ethnicity, 
and the varieties of sexual experience. Looking at diverse bodies of women's writings, ranging from Anglo-American and Anglo-Canadian women writers to women of color writers, and covering a long tradition from colonial times to the present period, we will look at the ways in which women have used their voices in order to launch their criticism against gender subordination and define their experiences.

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

VL Foundations of Cultural Studies
Tue, 12 - 2 p.m.
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 p.m.
C5 3, room 119

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 October 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 presentation. This colloquium will meet on Monday, April 3, 2017.

Please sign up for the Blockkolloquium via email by March 27, 2017 (amerikanistik[at]mx.uni-saarland.de).

2)  Workshop for those students who will write/or are working on their BA-, MA- or Staatsexamensarbeit.  A major goal of this course is also to guide students through the process of writing a research paper. All candidates in NamLitCult who are working on a written thesis are therefore encouraged to attend regularly.
This colloquium starts on April 18, 2017. 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 p.m.
C5 3, room 119

This research colloquium offers writers of Ph.D. dissertations a forum for presentation of their work-in-progress. It will start on April 18, 2017.


HS A History of Violence: Canadian Literature and the Representation of Social Conflict
Blockseminar

Tuesday, 6 June 2017, 4 - 5 p.m. (C 5 2, room 1.10.1)
Friday, 9 June 2017, 4 - 6.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Saturday, 10 June 2017, 10 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Monday, 12 June 2017, 4 - 6.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Friday, 16 June 2017, 10 a.m. - 12.30 (C 5 3, room U 13) Please note: different time slot!
Saturday, 17 June 2017, 10 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Monday, 19 June 2017, 4 - 6.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Friday, 23 June 2017, 4 - 6.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Saturday, 24 June 2017, 10 a.m. - 12.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Monday, 26 June 2017, 4 - 6.30 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)

Canada is not commonly perceived as a violent country. Nonetheless, as in all societies, acts of violence at both the individual and societal level occasionally disrupt the social peace calling forth responses in an attempt at understanding if not explanation. Likewise, Canadian literature is not generally characterised by depictions of violence. And yet, here too, individual depictions of violence are to be found in works of literature inviting closer investigation of the sources of their prompting.
    In this Hauptseminar, we will examine a selection of works of Canadian literature which feature acts and forms of violence. Our goal will be to analyse these texts in the attempt to discern the source and motivation of the violence. We will begin under the assumption that the literary representation of violence in Canadian literature is motivated by analytical, investigative ends: e.g. that violence is presented not in the resolution of a (social or individual) conflict, but as a strategic means of broaching the discussion of societal concerns. As the course proceeds, we will test the hypothesis of the analytically purposefulness of literary violence while also examining the treatment of the various social issues raised in the texts.

Tentative List of Required Reading:
Leonard Cohen, Beautiful Losers, 1966
Timothy Findley, The Wars, 1977
Margaret Atwood, The Penelopiad, 2005
Eden Robinson, Traplines (short stories), 1995

N.B. Course Requirements: Presentation on a relevant topic of the student's choice and final essay of approximately 15 pp.


PS Imaginary Wests: Representations of the American West from the 19th Century to the Present
Thursday, 12 - 2 p.m.
C 5 3, Room 120
Ersatzraum während Bauarbeiten: C4 3, Hörsaal 0.17 (Bernd Eistert-Hörsaal)

"No other nation has taken a time and place from its past and produced a construct of the imagination equal to America’s creation of the West. And having created it, America promptly and successfully exported it" (Murdoch, David Hamilton. The American West: Creation of a Myth).

The American West has been one of the most powerful concepts for the construction of American identities. Dreams, phantasies and images of the American West as an area of freedom, individualism and progress have been shared by people inside the U.S. as well as abroad, and the process of "going West" has become synonymous with crossing borders and boundaries, geographical as well as metaphorical. This seminar will look at (literary) representations of the American West and introduce students to the imaginary quality of the West as well as to important foundational myths connected to the West, like frontier, Westward Expansion, exceptionalism and Manifest Destiny. Students will be introduced to selected theoretical concepts from critical regionalism and Gender Studies. Our readings will range from excerpts from Lewis and Clark's journal about their expedition to map the area West of the Mississippi and Bret Harte's "The Luck of Roaring Camp" to contemporary fictionalizations of the West as, for example, Claire Vaye Watkin's short story "Diggings" and Pete Dexter's novel Deadwood, which we will discuss in connection with the HBO TV series Deadwood. Our textual analyses will focus on recurring motifs and themes in these texts and will pay attention to the respective social, historical, political and cultural contexts.

Please buy Pete Dexter's novel Deadwood in the following edition:
Dexter, Pete. Deadwood. New York: Vintage, 2005. [ISBN: 9781400079711]

The shorter texts and a selection of secondary material will be made available in form of a reader.

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


PS Writing the Past: Canadian Metafictional Historical Novels
Thursdays, 2-4 p.m.
C5 2, Room 128

Canadian novelists often revert to writing about the past, and often do so by combining metafictional narrative features that draw attention to the constructedness of both the narrative and the historical accounts of the past. In the late 1980s, Canadian literary theorist Linda Hutcheon coined the term "historiographic metafiction". According to Hutcheon, in A Poetics of Postmodernism, works of historiographic metafiction are "those well-known and popular novels which are both intensely self-reflexive and yet paradoxically also lay claim to historical events and personages". In this class, we will reflect about theoretical aspects and look at different Canadian novels.

Tentative List of Required Reading: George Bowering's Burning Water (1980), Joy Kogawa's Obasan (1981), Michael Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion (1987). Information about the texts which are to be bought will be given in the first session; additional material will be provided in Moodle.

Requirements: Class participation, including reading assignments and discussion, and a seminar paper.


UE Introduction to Media Studies: Geek Feminism and American Television
Wednesday, 2-4-pm
C 5 2, room 110.1
Ersatzraum während Bauarbeiten: C4 4, Seminarraum 0.01

"There's a revolution going on. We're seeing some of the loudest and most violent of its battles inside a seemingly strange place: fan and creator communities of science fiction and fantasy media" (13). This is how Kameron Hurley begins the introduction to her collection of essays titled The Geek Feminist Revolution. In the introduction as well as throughout the rest of the book, Hurley draws attention to the fact that some of the most intense negotiations of female representations and feminist agendas currently happen within contexts associated with the idea of geekdom. In this course, we will zoom in on these negotiations and the various ways in which they are being carried out in North American television. While doing so, we will consider and critically engage with both of the main meanings attached to the concept of geekdom: the love of the popular and the love of the scientific (in Stephen H. Segal's words, "the love of myth stuff" and "the love of math stuff"). We will look both at the representations of women and geekdom in American cult television as well as at the American cult TV as a geek space where feminist issues are being discussed and negotiated. While this will be the overarching theme of the course, its main aim is to provide students with a set of tools for an informed analysis of television texts, as well as with an understanding of basic principles and dynamics which define television as a medium and a field of cultural production.

Following TV shows will serve as our primary material:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003, created by Joss Whedon)
Dollhouse (2009-2010, created by Joss Whedon)
Orphan Black (2013-present, created by Graeme Manson and John Fawcett)
Jessica Jones (2015-present, created by Melissa Rosenberg)

In order to receive credit for this course, you will have to present a case study of relevant aspect(s) of one of the TV shows. Participation in class discussions and regular attendance will be expected. If you are not familiar with the TV series on the list, please make sure that you start watching well in advance of the course, as some of them are quite long.


UE CS II: Bodyslamming Reality: Pro Wrestling And American Culture
Blockseminar

Please note: the sessions on Thursday and Friday will take place on Campus in Dudweiler!

Thu, 27 April 2017, 12 - 7 p.m. (Campus Dudweiler, Hörsaal Zeile 5)
Fri, 28 April 2017, 12 - 7 p.m. (Campus Dudweiler, Hörsaal Zeile 6)
Sat, 29 April 2017, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)
Sat, 1 July 2017, 9 a.m. - 2 p.m. (C 5 3, room U 13)

"Pro Wrestling has always been ingrained into American culture. It was one of the first things that was ever on television, so everybody watched it."                  Phil Brooks, a.k.a. CM Punk

The roots of professional wrestling reach as far back as the early 20th ct. After being a very popular form of sports entertainment, as it defines itself these days, both on TV and especially in live venues in the South, the emergence of Hulk Hogan in the mid-80s turned it into a popular culture phenomenon. Soon, people from all other kinds of entertainment, from Cyndi Lauper and Alice Cooper to Mohammed Ali and current US president, Donald Trump, wanted to be a part of this 'soap opera for men.' In the 90s, the 'Attitude Era,' led by characters like 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson, gave voice to a frustrated American working class and achieved ratings records on TV. Nowadays, wrestling is a global sensation, has its own on-demand TV network, is watched by 15 million viewers on average a week in the United States and Monday Night Raw, the flagship show of World Wrestling Entertainment, is the longest-running episodic show in American TV history. Wrestling is more than just two oily men in shorts throwing their bodies around in the 'squared circle,' with a predetermined result, it has become a mirror of American society and culture.

In this course, we will discuss instances from American history and politics, from slavery, the Gulf War against Iraq to the aftermath of 9/11 and the founding of the ultra-conservative Tea Party, and how they have been picked up in wrestling storylines. Furthermore, we will look at aspects of American culture and society, i.e. the struggle of ethnic minorities or the working class, and also aspects of gender studies, and see how they were used in wrestling programs. In addition, we will also investigate the influence of professional wrestling on American pop culture and society, since wrestling has i.e. enriched the English dictionary, brought forth governors and senators, and gave Hollywood one of its biggest superstars in recent history and furthermore look at the role of professional wrestling in the global process of 'Americanization.' Finally, we will look at the history of wrestling, how it developed in the U.S., from its territorial beginnings to the current 'monopoly' of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Requirements:
There will be an exam at the end of the course.

This course is (not exclusively) based on the following texts:
Beekman, Scott. Ringside: A History Of Professional Wrestling In America. ABC-Clio.2006.
Mazer, Sharon. Professional Wrestling. Sport And Spectacle. Performance Studies. 1998.
Morton, Gerald W. Wrestling To 'Rasslin: Ancient Sport To American Spectacle. University of Wisconsin Press. 1985.
Sammond, Nicholas. Steel Chair To The Head: The Pleasure And Pain Of Professional Wrestling. Duke University Press. 2005.
Tyson Smith, R. Fighting For Recognition: Identity, Masculinity And The Act Of Violence In Professional Wrestling. Duke University Press. 2014.

 

UE CS II: Surfin' USA: Media Representations of America, Past and Present
Blockseminar

Please note that this course will take place on Campus in Dudweiler.

Wed, 26 April 2017, 8 a.m. - 1 p.m. (Campus Dudweiler, Hörsaal Zeile 5)
Tue, 2 May 2017, 12 - 7 p.m. (Campus Dudweiler, Hörsaal Zeile 5)
Wed, 3 May 2017, 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. (Campus Dudweiler, Hörsaal Zeile 5)
Fri, 30 June 2017, 1 p.m. - 7 p.m. (Campus Dudweiler, Hörsaal Zeile 6)

"When you're born, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat."                                           George Carlin

This course will discuss the principle of representation, and apply to several areas dealing with the USA. It will feature a survey of selected items from American history, such as slavery or prohibition, examine them and investigate how they have been translated to the TV screen, e.g. by looking at shows like Roots, Boardwalk Empire or Underground. Furthermore, we will look at current American politics, especially at the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election. With Donald Trump as president, representations of the US have changed, both in national and international media, and we will try to explore those changes and analyze them.  In addition, events that happened in the recent past, like 9/11, and were dealt with by Hollywood, and the American music industry are going to be targets of our discussion. Finally, significant aspects of American life and culture will be discussed, and their representation on TV and in music will be analyzed, the focus being on ethnicities and how they are represented in these two forms of mass media. All in all, general introductions to TV and music studies, as well as a look at key issues in American history and culture, will be offered.