Summer Term 2015

In the summer term 2015 NamLitCult is offering the following courses:

Prof. Dr. Astrid M. FELLNER

VL "Border Cultures: Theorizing and (Con-)textualizing North American Borders"
together with Claire M. Massey, M.A.

Wed, 6-8 p.m.
B3 2, room 003

This lecture attempts to establish the border paradigm as an aesthetic category that has defined North American literature and culture from its inception and that has performatively constituted itself at the moment of intercultural encounter. Border thinking allows students of North American Studies to rethink not only their object of analysis—North America—but also their scholarly interactions with American and Canadian literatures. It opens a revisionist approach to North American literature that entails a remapping of national traditions within a large web of transhemispheric perceptions. Border thinking, we will show, has not only emerged with the growing importance of the U.S.-Mexican border since the 1990s but lies at the heart of American literature and culture. It inhabits border spaces, which are spaces “where cultures conflict, contest, and reconstitute one another” (Smith 1993:169).

Focusing on the multiple interdependencies between the United States and its neighbors in the Americas, we will talk about a great variety of texts which deal with borders, ranging from literary texts that deal with or are set in borderlands spaces (e.g. Chicano/a literature, Native American/First Nations literature) to films (e.g. Western movies), TV series (e.g. The Bridge), and other cultural productions and border performances (e.g. the works of Guillermo Peña, Coco Fusco, Monica Palacios, Kent Monkman).

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 p.m.

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.


HS "Popular Culture on the Move: European Encounters with America"
together with Mag. Klaus Heissenberger

Tue,    21 April 2015:     6 - 7 p.m.
Sat,    02 May 2015:      9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Thu,    02 July 2015:      2 - 7 p.m.
Fri,      03 July 2015:      2 - 6 p.m.
Fri,      24 July 2015:      2 - 7 p.m.
Sat,    25 July 2015:      starting at 2 p.m. (final presentations)
More details tba.

This class aims at investigating how encounters with ‘American culture’ have shaped European identities since WWII. Sites of European encounters with ‘American’ popular culture span literary and cultural texts (e.g. novels, short stories, plays, films, TV series), corporate mass culture (e.g. Social Networks, technological products or fashion items) as well as countercultural phenomena (e.g. social movements). In our class, in other words, we want to look at popular culture on the move, that is analyze how, by whom, and to what purposes and effects ‘American’ texts/products/practices have been appropriated and transferred to local contexts in Europe and how the significance of place, especially of the category of the national, has changed in the process.

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


Exam Colloquium/Examenskolloquium

Tue, 4-6 p.m.
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 presentation.

13 April 2015
starting 4 p.m.
C 5 3, room 119

Please sign up for the Blockkolloquium via email by April 1, 2015 (amerikanistik[at]

2) Workshop for those students who will write/or are working on their Magister-, BA- MA- 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 28, 2015. The exact dates will be published on our website and on the notice board of the department.

Please sign up via email by April 1, 2015 (amerikanistik[at]


Research Colloquium

Tue, 6-8 p.m.
C5 3, room 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 28, 2015.


PS "'No Country for Old Men': Identity Construction in Literature and Film about the American West"

Tue, 4-6 p.m.
C 5 3, E 26

This seminar investigates identity constructions in 20th and 21st century literary and filmic representation of the American West. Literature and films on the American West have always been a reflection of the special interest and fascination for this area and frequently represent the long tradition of the area as “borderlands” (Anzaldúa). Students will be introduced to the genre of the “Western” as well as selected theories and concepts, before we engage in the discussion of identity constructions in recent Western texts/films. Our special focus will be on the way identities are constructed, especially with respect to discourses concerning ethnicity, class, gender or sexuality. Additionally, we will critically examine clichés and stereotypes in the representation of the American West and its population and analyze how these are used to construct and/or deconstruct identities. The texts/films for our analysis will be Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men, the film No Country for Old Men directed by the Coen brothers, Annie Proulx’ short story “Broke Back Mountain”, the film Broke Back Mountain directed by Ang Lee and a selection of short stories by Claire Vaye Watkins from her collection Battleborn.

Please buy the novel No Country for Old Men in the following edition:
McCarthy, Cormac. No Country for Old Men. Random House, 2006. (ISBN: 9780307277039)

The shorter texts and a selection of secondary material will be made available in form of a reader which you can purchase through our office.

Students will have access to the films.

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


UE Cultural Studies II: USA "What Made America? (De-)Constructing American Myths and Symbols"

Thu, 12 -2 p.m.
C 5 3, room 120

In this course we will critically investigate a variety of myths and symbols which were important for the “making of America”. Students will be introduced to a selection of literary and visual sources including myths, symbols and motifs which either represent the U.S. or were influential in the construction of “American identities”. We will read excerpts from a selection of seminal texts like Crèvecoeurs’ Letters from an American Farmer or Frederick Jackson Turner’s “Frontier Thesis”, look at paintings and pictures which feature allegorical figures like Columbia or Uncle Sam and investigate “American myths” like freedom or the melting pot and motifs, symbols and metaphors like the pilgrim fathers, the city upon a hill or the new Eden. Students will be enabled to trace the origins of these cultural icons, discover the role they played for the self-stylization of the U.S. and their part in the process of nation-building as well as their importance for recent cultural productions like music videos.

All relevant materials will be made available either as a reader or via moodle.

Class participation, including reading assignments and discussion, a short class presentation and a written exam at the end of the course.

Prof. Dr. Paul MORRIS

HS "The Métis in Canadian Literature"

Blockseminar, June 8 - June 19:

Mon   08 June 2015,   12 - 2 p.m.        (C 5 3, 408)
Mon   15 June 2015,   12 - 3.30 p.m.   (C 5 2, 108)
Tue    09 June 2015,   4 - 7.30 p.m.     (C 5 3, U13)
Tue    16 June 2015,   4 - 7.30 p.m.     (C 5 3, U13)
Wed  10 June 2015,   12 - 3.30 p.m.    (C 5 3, U13)
Wed  17 June 2015,   12 - 3.30 p.m.    (C 5 3, U13)
Thu   18 June 2015,   12 - 3.30 p.m.     (C 5 2, 515)
Fri     19 June 2015,   12 - 3.30 p.m.     (C 5 3, 408)

In his 2008 book on Canada and the development of a Canadian national identity, John Ralston Saul suggested that—whether realised or not by its dominant society—Canada constituted a Métis civilisation. In A Fair Country: Telling Truths about Canada, Saul suggests that Canada’s distinctive value as a unique society has derived from a process of métissage which has combined First Nations sources with French and English immigrant experience. Saul is undoubtedly correct in emphasising the historical fact of Canada’s hybrid ancestry in both indigenous and European cultural traditions. Canada has always been Métis and the Métis always a presence in Canada.

It is also true, however, that the record of Canadian acknowledgement of the presence and specificity of the Métis contribution to Canada has been erratic. For much of their history within Canada, the Métis have been absent in plain sight. This Hauptseminar proposes to provide an overview of the literary representation of the Métis people within Anglophone Canadian literature. This survey of a selection of key texts in prose, poetry and drama will offer the opportunity to review the history of Canadian (mis)recognition of the Métis, an overview of the historical experience of the Métis and some of their most important representatives (Louis Riel), and depictions by Métis authors of their self-identity as a nation and as a national minority within Canada.

The course will be arranged as a block seminar presented over the course of a month beginning on June 8, 2015.

Tentative List of Required Reading:
Selected Poems and Short Stories (provided by the instructor)
Wiebe, Rudy, The Scorched-Wood People, 1977
Brown, Chester, Louis Riel: A Comic-Strip Biography, 2003
Clements, Marie, Unnatural and Accidental Women, 2005
Campbell, Maria, Halfbreed, 1973

N.B. Course Requirements:
Presentation on a text of their choice
Final essay of approximately 15-18 pp.

Dr. Arlette WARKEN

PS "20th Century American Drama"

Thu, 2-4 p.m.
C5 2, room 1.28

At the beginning of this course we will consider the genesis and historical development of the American theatrical tradition. The main emphasis, however, will be on 20th century canonical 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 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.