Faculty and Staff

Atalie Gerhard, M.A.

DFG-funded IRTG researcher

Building A 5.3, room 2.08
E-mail: atalie.gerhard[at]uni-saarland.de

Phone: +49 681 302 2214

Dissertation Project

Diversifying Containment: Cultural Discourses of Prison Narratives in North America

(Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Astrid M. Fellner, Universität des Saarlandes)

In my doctoral thesis, I analyze how prison narratives by North Americans or set in North America negotiate cultural ideas of deviance associated with criminalization, conviction, and incarceration. Discourses legitimating such containment practices are informed by legacies of racism and sexism but also the Wars on Drugs and Wars on Terror. According to Angela Y. Davis’ current Critical Resistance movement, prisons legally sanctify and perpetuate inequality in North American societies. First-hand accounts of containment represent translations of stigma into transcultural interventions with local relevance and universal political impact. Thus, H. Bruce Franklin considers the artistic products of African American slaves as part of the first North American literary genre, while Ioan Davies identifies the key motive to resist dehumanizing social conditions in the global genre of prison writing. I closely read how various markers of difference in North America, including race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, and political affiliation influence cultural producers’ perceptions and representations of prisons against the backdrop of historical Canadian and/or U.S.-American discourses that construct criminal deviance as such. By featuring autobiographical writings and documentary photography, my corpus material reflects the diversity of critical prison discourses in North America which are addressed by cultural producers that express a broad spectrum of perspectives in narratives, while mediating foundational ideals of liberty against penal realities of exclusion. Given the criticism of containment that they voice in North America, my subjects of analysis yield themselves to a timely and urgent comparative discussion of the national self-images of Canada and the U.S.A.



Beginn der Promotion in Amerikanistik, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Master of Arts in North American Studies: Culture and Literature, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Bachelor of Arts in English and American Studies/Frankoromanistik, Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Work Experience


Studentische Hilfskraft, Lehrstuhl für Amerikanistik, insbesondere nordamerikanische Kultur- und Literaturwissenschaft (Prof. Dr. Heike Paul), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Sekretariatsleitung zur Überbrückung, Lehrstuhl für Amerikanistik, insbesondere nordamerikanische Kultur- und Literaturwissenschaft (Prof. Dr. Heike Paul), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg


Studentische Hilfskraft, Lehrstuhl für Amerikanistik, insbesondere nordamerikanische Kultur- und Literaturwissenschaft (Prof. Dr. Heike Paul), Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Awards and Fellowships


Ehrenamtsnachweis Bayern für ehrenamtliches, freiwilliges und bürgerschaftliches Engagement als Ehrenamtliche im Bereich Flüchtlingsarbeit des Bayerischen Staatsministeriums für Arbeit und Soziales, Familie und Integration, 29/011/2016.



“The Monstrous Return of the Commodified Female: How Zombie Strippers (2008) and From Dusk Till Dawn (2014) Transgress Foundational U.S. Cultural Values”, in: Rachid M’Rabty (ed.), The Dark Arts Journal. New and Emerging Voices in Gothic Studies 4.1: Transgressive Femininity and Contemporary Gothic.


“Creepypastas: How Counterterrorist Fantasies (Re-) Create Horror Traditions for Today’s Digital Communities”, in: Ina Batzke/Eric Erbacher/Linda Heß/Corinna Lenhardt (eds.), Exploring the Fantastic: Genre, Ideology, and Popular Culture (Bielefeld: Transcript), 239-268.


“Bricolage of Protest: Unveiling the Multicultural Dimensions of the Chicano Movement through its Murals of Protest”, in: Sämi Ludwig (ed.), American Multiculturalism in Context: Views from at Home and Abroad (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing), 371-386.


“African American Corporeality: Repossessing the Nobility of Africa”, in: Hayes Peter Mauro (ed.), The International Review of African American Art 26.3: Race and Labor in American Art, 12-18.

Conference Presentations


“Self-Representation Behind Bars: On the Redemptive Potential of Narrative in Inner Lives: Voices of African American Women in Prison (Ed. Paula C. Johnson, 2003)”
Writing Her/Self in Text and Image in Anglophone Women’s Life Writing - International Conference on Women’s Life Writing Organized by Paris Nanterre’s FAAAM group, Femmes Auteurs Anglo-Américaines (FAAAM), Université Paris Nanterre, 28-29/09/2018.


“Traumatic Interventionism in the Alternative U.S.-American Historical War Narratives Blue Ravens (Gerald Vizenor; 2014) and Redeployment (Phil Klay; 2015)”
Erotema – A Conference on Rhetoric and Literature, Kulturvetenskapliga Forskargruppen (KuFo) vid Karlstads Universitet, Karlstads Universitet, 14-16/09/2017.


“Empowerment and Containment in Compassionate Representations of Female Wars on Terror Witnesses by Helen Benedict and Lynsey Addario”
2nd Biannual European Association for American Studies (EAAS) Women’s Network Symposium: Transnational Feminism and/in American Studies, Université de Lausanne, 31/03/2017.


“Critiques of U.S.-American Counterterrorist Communities of Virtue Through its Pop-cultural Individualizations in the TV-Series Homeland and Generation Kill”
2016 Biannual Conference of the Swiss Association for North American Studies (SANAS): American Communities: Between the Popular and the Political, Universität Bern, 04-05/11/2016.


“Fantasies of ‘Knowledge’ (De-)formation in Selected Creepypastas of the U.S.-American Counterterrorist Culture”
7. Jahrestagung der Gesellschaft für Fantastikforschung (GfF) e.V.: The Fantastic Now: Research in the Fantastic in the 21st Century, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, 22-24/09/2016.