Summer Term 2013

In the Summer Term 2013 NamLitCult is offering the following courses:

Prof. Astrid FELLNER

VL "North American Borderlands: Cultural Mobility, Difference, and Border Thinking"

Tue 12-2pm, C 5 1, Musiksaal

This lecture course attempts to capture the rich cultural diversity of North American Borderlands, those zones of inter- and transcultural interaction on the North American continent that are characterized by multidirectional flows of people, ideas, and products. The encounters of peoples who had never before been in contact with one another had momentous consequences not only for the Native inhabitants in North America, but also for the settler colonists and the natural environment. This lecture traces the clash of cultures in the Americas, spanning the years from Columbus?s voyage in 1492 to the publication of Gloria Anzald?a?s groundbreaking book Borderlands/La Frontera (1987).

We will look at the writings of some of the early Spanish, French and English travelers to the ?New World,? examining the process of representation and history: Do the accounts of Columbus, Gaspar P?rez de Villagr?, Cabeza de Vaca, Cort?s, Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, George Vancouver, John Smith, John Winthrop, William Bradford, William Byrd, Sarah Kemble Knight, and others tell us more about the people and places they encountered or about their own cultures? To what extent were the Europeans in North America unwilling or unable to conceptually understand what lay before them? Apart from considering early sources, we will also look at recent borderlands texts that exhibit a transterritorial conception of space, such as the works of Thomas King or Karen Tei Yamashita.

Course Readings:

There will be a course reader, which you can pick up at the NamLitCult office.



UE/VL "Foundations of Cultural Studies"

Wed 10am-12pm; B 4 1, HS 0.18

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.


A course reader will be made available for purchase.



Exam Colloquium

Tue 4-6pm, C 5 3, 1.19

This colloquium allows written- and oral-exam candidates to present their topics. All exam candidates are therefore encouraged to attend regularly.

This colloquium consists of two parts:

1)      Blockkolloquium in April for those students, who will participate in the oral state exam (LAG, LAR, LAB) in May 2013. All topics can be presented and discussed.

The Blockkolloquium will take place on Fri 19, April 1-5 p.m. and Tue 23 April, 3-7 p.m.

Please send your reading list to our secretary (Ms. Lau) two weeks before your exam at the latest.

Please sign up for the Blockkolloquium via email until 1, April 2013 ()

2)      A colloquium which is offered regulary for those students, who will write their Magister-, BA or Staatsarbeit in the summer term 2013 or will have an oral exam.

This colloquium will start in May 2013, the exact dates will be published on our homepage and on the notice board of the FR.

Please sign up via email until 1, April 2013 ()



Research Colloquium

Tue 6-8pm, C 5 3, 1.19

This research colloquium offers writers of theses and dissertations a forum for presentation of their work-in-progress.


Prof. Paul MORRIS

HS "Within Canada across Cultures: Transcultural Canadian Literature"

Blockseminar: taking place in building C5 3, room 4.08

Mon 10/06/2013 (6-7pm) / Wed 12/06/2013 (6-9pm) / Fri 14/06/2013 (12-3pm)
Mon 17/06/2013 (6-9pm) / Wed 19/06/2013 (6-9pm) / Fri 21/06/2013 (12-3pm)
Mon 24/06/2013 (6-9pm) / Wed, 26/06/2013 (6-9pm) / Fri 28/06/2013 (12-3pm)
Mon 01/07/2013 (6-9pm) / Wed 03/07/2013 (6-9pm)

Please buy and read the following books before the course starts:
Wah, Fred. Diamond Grill.
Ackerman, Marianne. Jump.
Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach.
Grekul, Lisa. Kalyna's Song.
Brand, Dionne. What We All Long For.

Canadian literature is replete with texts that depict the myriad cultural forms and traditions that shape the lives of individual Canadians and, by extension, the Canadian society they comprise. Indeed, representation of the contrasting cultural forces specific to Canadians as individuals, and their society as a whole, is a significant marker of the very "Canadianness" of Canadian literature. Depiction of the culture influences that determine individual and societal identity are central to the Canadian literary project. Canada's is a literature of hybridity.

As a (post-) colonial society founded within previously inhabited aboriginal territory and subsequently marked by successive waves of immigration, the sources of cultural genealogy in Canada are many. Traditionally, these been conceived in collective categories of ethnicity, nationality, religion, language community and so. More recentlypartly as a result of literary probings into the very understanding of cultural identity the categories of cultural belonging have been expanded to include the influences derived from personal choice and affiliation: these include gender/sexuality, education, economic status, political beliefs and so on. Canadian literature reveals that, in the lives of Canadians and their society, it is rarely one cultural association or affiliation that shapes identity, but a mixture, a crossing of influences. Canadian literature like Canadian society is transcultural.

In this HS, we will examine several recent literary expression of transculturality. The course will not provide a totalising review of transculturality; nonetheless, the texts for the course have been specifically chosen with a view to discussing prominent points of cultural contact within and across Canada. In studying several of the most influential sites of cultural intersection as they are depicted in the works under discussion, we will note the various ways that these texts both question and confirm "at the level of the individual and of society" the abiding relevance of categories of cultural identification and how they reveal transculturality as the inevitable condition of Canadians and Canadian society.

Examination of each of the 5 core texts (below) will be accompanied by discussion of supplementary material related to the particular expression of interculturality and hybridity raised by the text (bibliography of required supplementary reading to be provided at a later date).

The course will be arranged as a block seminar presented over the course of a month beginning in the second week of June 2013 (tentative schedule).

Wah, Fred. Diamond Grill (1996)

Ackerman, Marianne. Jump (2000)

Robinson, Eden. Monkey Beach (2000)

Grekul, Lisa. Kalyna's Song (2003)

Brand, Dionne. What We All Long For (2005)


N.B.    Course Requirements:         Presentation on a text of your choice

                                                           Final essay of approximately 15 pp.



HS "American Short Stories"

Wed 4-6pm; C 5 3, U 10

The American short story tradition is a rich one:  Nathaniel Hawthorne, Edgar Allen Poe, Ambrose Bierce, Eudora Welty, Sherwood Anderson, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O'Connor, Shirley Jackson, Wendell Berry, Gayle Jones and many others.

This course will concentrate on three great twentieth century short story writers and we will read collections of their stories that are linked together in some way.  We will begin with Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, then read a book of stories by either Flannery O'Connor or Shirley Jackson, and end with Wendell Berry's The Wild Birds.

We will pay close attention to themes and their development, to characters and the way they are presented, and to the words and images that the story gives us.

Good close reading, weekly in-class "scribbles," and a well-written, thoughtful seminar paper will be required, and enjoyment of our reading and our conversations will be expected.


Dr. Simone PUFF

PS "Bi-Racial Beauties, Berries, and Blue Eyes: Colorism and African American Literature"

Tue 10am-12pm, C 5 3, E 20

This course allows students to read a selection of texts that offer understandings of the importance of skin color for the literary Black body. Together we will identify recurring literary "tropes of color," from bi-racial "tragic mulatto/a" characters who may be simultaneously "passing" for white and struggling with their sense of identity, to the plights of dark-skinned Black men and women in a society adhering to the slogan "white is right, black get back." Overall, this course will raise awareness for colorism as a specific form of racism within communities of color, putting a focus on representations of skin color in African American literature. Among the fictional texts studied are novels, short stories, poems, and plays by William Wells Brown, Pauline Hopkins, Nella Larsen, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, Langston Hughes, Toni Morrison, Dael Orlandersmith, and Danzy Senna.

Course Readings:

You have to purchase the following novels:
Larsen, Nella. Passing.
Morrison, Toni. The Bluest Eye.
Thurman, Wallace. The Blacker the Berry.

Additionally, there will be a course reader with shorter fiction, selected poems, and relevant theoretical readings which you can order at the NamLitCult office at the beginning of the semester.

Course Requirements:

Regular attendance, active participation in class, timely completion of reading and writing assignments, short oral presentation (discussion facilitation), graded term paper/final written exam (depending on your Studienordnung).



PS "De/Constructing Whiteness in 21st-Century Ethnic American Literature"

Wed 2-4pm; C 5 3, 4.08

In this course we will focus on "ethnic" voices from 21st-century American literature, which can be seen to mirror complex realities for people in today's multicultural United States of America. As literary scholar Emory Elliott maintained, "literature teaches us about dimensions of society and of ourselves in ways that often penetrate more deeply into our consciousness and our lives than other vehicles of knowledge" (2007: 3). Against this backdrop, we will read novels by contemporary ethnic American writers to study concepts such as family and identity, (in)visibility, power and privilege, and the eternal chasing of the American Dream. We will also look at notions of de/constructing whiteness beyond the black/white binaries that largely informed twentieth-century discussions of race and ethnicity in the United States. This includes an awareness of and sensibility for heterogeneity in nationality and religion, differences based on skin color, race, and ethnicity, and the complexities in identities that are bi- or multi-racial.

The focus of this class is on selected contemporary works of fiction which were published in the first decade of the 2000s, in a time when the concept of "whiteness" is ever more elusive, but possibly all the more persistent. Novels on the reading list will most likely include recent works by Danzy Senna, Gish Jen, Sherman Alexie, Matt de la Peña, and Jhumpa Lahiri (detailed information on the texts chosen will be announced soon).

Course Readings:

You are expected to purchase the following novels:
Senna, Danzy. Symptomatic.
Johnson, Mat. Pym.
Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.
de la Peña, Matt. Mexican WhiteBoy.

Additional secondary reading material will be made available as a course reader which you can buy at the NamLitCult office at the beginning of the semester.

Course Requirements:

Regular attendance, active participation in class, timely completion of reading and writing assignments, short oral presentation (discussion facilitation), graded term


Dr. Arlette WARKEN

PS "'Canadians Are Not Americans': In Search of Canadian Uniqueness"

Thursday, 2-4pm, C5 2, 1.28

Details soon.



PS "Style: Its origins, journeys, meanings and uses in 20th-century American culture"

Block: changed dates/times for the first two sessions!

Fri 17/05/13 (5-9 pm) in C 5 3, room 4.08

Sat 18/05/13 (2-6 pm) in C 5 3, room 4.08

Thu 06/06/2013 (1-5pm), room tba

Fri 07/06/2013 (1-5pm) in C5 3, 4.08

Wed 03/07/2013 (5-9pm) in C5 3, E20

Thu 04/07/2013 (1-5pm), room tba

Fri 05/07/2013 (1-5pm) in C5 3, 4.08

James Dean, 1950s bebop jazz, the Beat poets, Aretha Franklin, British punk, hip hop beats from the South Bronx, grrrl cultures, graffiti, and yes, more recently, snowboarders, Starbucks lattes, iPads, and probably even Facebook ... these are just a few examples that thrive on the notion of style - of having something uniquely and recognizably stylish about them. But what is "style," and how does it work?

Our working hypothesis in this course will be that across cultural phenomena as diverse as these examples, style can be understood as a sign of difference and distinction - style produces and marks difference, between those who are on the inside and those on the outside, those who are enlightened and those who are in the dark, the initiated and the uninitiated. As such a marker of difference, style is nowadays mostly associated with consumerism and the capitalist marketplace, where consumption of distinct products produces differences among us, the consumers. This consumerist function of style is in a tricky relation, however, to subcultures and cultures at the margin of the mainstream, where since the early 20th century style has often meant a politicized "aesthetic of the self": E.g. in jazz culture and in hip hop, in alternative literary movements, in British and American subcultures, including even in punk, style has been a key component in the individual's self-fashioning, often in a rebellious spirit, and against society's conformist pressures.

This course will offer a survey of some significant historical processes that gave birth to these seemingly paradoxical functions of style. We will come across numerous instances of transatlantic cultural exchange: Style turns out to be a concept that has blended and fused white European and African American cultural influences and concepts; despite many points of origin that point to the U.S.A., style most often turns out to be a "transatlantic" notion. The key course readings will reflect this: they will include e.g. excerpts from texts on historical transatlantic cultural processes, e.g. Paul Gilroy's The Black Atlantic; key Cultural Studies texts on style such as Dick Hebdige's Subculture: The Meaning of Style; background readings on cultural history in the 20th century, e.g. John Leland's Hip, The History; and historical literary and documentary examples, including film and music clips.

In your proseminar paper, you will be able to do some individual analytic work of your own by either studying some of the historical topics in more detail, or by investigating recent trends in your own culture, e.g. investigating audiences and consumers and arriving at your own conclusions about the contemporary uses of "style."

NOTE: The course will be organized as a "Blockveranstaltung" on five to six days; exact dates and times to be announced.

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). Paper/final written exam (depending on your Studienordnung).



Mag. Payman REZWAN

CS UE "Courtesy of the Red, White & Blue: Representations of American History, Society & Culture in Music and on TV"

Block: Fri 10/05/2013 (12:30-7pm), room tba

Sat 11/05/2013 (9am-3:30pm) in C5 3, 1.20

Mon 13/05/2013 (3:30-8pm) in C5 3, 1.20

Sat 22/06/2013 (9am-3:30pm) in C5 3, 4.08

This course will take a look at selected items from American history, such as slavery or prohibition, examine them and then take a look as to how they have been translated to the TV screen, e.g. by looking at shows like Boardwalk Empire or Roots. Furthermore, there will be a brief survey of current American politics and how events in the recent past, like 9/11, were dealt with by Hollywood, but also the American industry. Finally, significant aspects of American life and culture will be discussed, and their representation on TV and in music will be analyzed. All in all, general introductions to TV and music studies will be offered, as well as a look at key issues in American history and culture.

NOTE: The course will be organized as a "Blockveranstaltung", exact dates and times to be announced.


Svetlana SEIBEL, M.A.

CS UE "'For the Dead Travel Fast': Vampires in Contemporary American Literature and TV"

Fri, 10am-12pm, C5 2, 1.28

Not all vampires suck. And those that do, do not necessarily do it in the same manner. Contemporary literature and popular culture offers any number of different vampires, with different agendas and make-up (in film and on TV, literally). Modern bloodsuckers are impressively diverse and interesting, which is why we will devote this entire class to them. Together we will take a look at selected works of recent vampire literature as well as the vampire representation in popular TV series. We will ask ourselves a question: what makes vampires so popular and captivating? Why are they, as Veronica Hollinger puts it, "the monsters-of-choice these days"? We will analyze such cultural issues as gender, spirituality, mythology, science, nature, the concept of evil et cetera as they are treated in vampire literature and on vampire TV. In the process, we will touch upon the general rules and functional modes of popular culture, literature and the TV as fields of cultural production.


Our primary materials will include literary texts

Fred Saberhagen, The Dracula Tape

Anne Rice, The Vampire Armand

Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Susy MacKee Charnas, "Advocates"

Lynda Hilburn, The Vampire Shrink


as well as TV series


Buffy the Vampire Slayer (created by Joss Whedon)

Angel (created by Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt)

True Blood (created by Alan Ball).