Winter Term 2010/11

Univ.-Prof. Dr. Astrid M. Fellner


Vorlesung (lecture course)

Multicultural Americas:

Ethnic Literatures in North America

Tuesday 12-2 pm

C5.1, Musiksaal 1.01

This lecture course attempts to capture the rich cultural diversity of U.S. American and Canadian writings since WW II. Reading a variety of genres, we will examine works by authors from various geographical regions and ethnic backgrounds. We will place the discussion of literary texts in specific historical and cultural contexts through units that focus on the experiences of North America's diverse groups, including African Americans, Asian Americans, Latino/a Americans, and Native Americans as well as Americans of European descent (in particular Irish Americans). Our readings will also explore cultural difference in contemporary Canadian literature.


Course Readings:

A course reader will be made available for purchase.



Vorlesung/Übung (lecture course/tutorial)

Foundations of Cultural Studies

Wednesday 10-12 am

B2.1 - HS 0.02

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.



Hauptseminar (Graduate Seminar)

Irish Identities in North America

Thursday, 10-12 am

C5.3 - Room 1.20

In this seminar we will explore the history of Irish American and Irish Canadian literature and culture. We will begin with an overview of the foundational works of pre-famine immigrants and then explore how Irish North American literature changed in the 19th and 20th centuries. Irishness has been largely absorbed into mainstream culture, and as a result, the Irish have become a largely invisible ethnicity. This class will show how Irishness is integral to many stories in American literature and film. Throughout the course, we will consider questions of ethnic and cultural identity as we attempt to understand the Irish backgrounds that inform the works we study.



Required Texts:

James T. Farrell's Young Lonigan: A Boyhood in Chicago Streets (1932) ISBN-10: 0142180076 (or in Studs Lonigan: A Trilogy ISBN-10: 0141186739


Jane Urquart's Away (1993) ISBN-10: 0747559643


Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes (1996) ISBN-10: 0684843137



Gangs of New York

Angela's Ashes


A course reader will be made available for purchase.



Examenskolloquium (Exam Colloquium)

Tuesday 4-6 pm

C5.3 - Room 1.20

This colloquium allows exam candidates to present their topics. The schedule for presentations can be found here. All exam candidates are therefore encouraged to attend regularly.


Additional information concerning the "Examenskolloquium"

This research colloquium offers writers of theses and dissertations a forum for presentation of their works-in-progress. Oral-exam candidates may also present their topics. All exam candidates are therefore encouraged to attend regularly. If you are currently working on a written thesis or if you intend to take a written or oral exam in "North American Literatures and Cultures" in the winter term 2010/11, please sign up for this class by October 8!

Special session for "StaatsexamenskandidatInnen" for the oral exam in November: Tue, October 19 and October 26, 4-8 pm)

Organization of this class:

Special session for exam candidates in October 2010: Candidates for the Staatsexamen-exam in November 2010 should sign up for this colloquium by October 8 (please write an e-mail to ). On October 19 and on October 26 there will be two sessions dedicated to theses candidates. Students have the possibility to present their topics and discuss their problems.

Candidates who are taking the oral exam should hand in their reading lists not later than October 26 to Frau Lau. If you have questions concerning the formal requirements of the reading list, please see Frau Lau or check this website below.

No class on Tue, November 2!

Tue, November 9: Discussion of further topics and presentations in this class. We kindly ask all interested students (especially those working on BA theses, MA theses, Stextheses, Ph.D. theses but also those preparing for oral or written exams) to sign up for this class and fix a date for the presentation of their topics.

From Tue, November 16 onwards: Student presentations of topics and/or discussion of general research-related topics.


Research Colloqium

Tuesday 5-6 pm

C5.3 - Room 1.19

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



Prof. Eleanor Ty


Hauptseminar (Graduate Seminar)

Globality, Identity, and Asian Canadian Narratives

C5.3 - Room U13

Blockseminar 2-6 pm

Dates: 30.11. / 2.12. / 3.12. / 7.12. / 9.12. / 10.12. / 14.12. / 16.12.

Asian Canadians are one of the fastest growing minority groups in Canada today.  This course traces the historical trajectory of Asians in Canada through short stories, novels, films, and scholarly articles.  Contemporary works by and about Canadians of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and South Asian origins will be studied in relation to Canadian multiculturalism, globalization, social history and politics.  We explores issues that face the hyphenated subject, including assimilation, displacement, marginality, Orientalism; inter-ethnic, class, gender, and generational conflicts; the use of memory, myth, and self-representation as resistance.


Required Texts

Hiromi Goto.  Chorus of Mushrooms.  Edmonton: NeWest, 1994. 0-920897-53-3. [novel]

Sunil Kuruvilla.  Rice Boy. Toronto: Playwrights Canada Press, 2000.  0-88754-672-2. [play]

Dionne Brand.  What We All Long For.  Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2005.  [novel]



Jennifer Moos



Introduction to Media Studies

Wednesday 12-2 pm

C5.3 - Room 1.20


In the 21st century, we are surrounded by media: whether we read newspapers or blogs, listen to the radio or to our iPods, surf the internet, play video or computer games, chat with our friends, or watch (3-D) movies.     

By introducing you to various aspects of media history, media theory, and media analysis with a special focus on film (road movies) and gender studies, this course will provide you with methodological tools to critically analyze and assess the media which shape and are shaped by our everyday lives.



A course reader will be made available for purchase.



Please watch the following films until 15th December 2010 on the latest

  • Bonnie and Clyde (1967)
  • Easy Rider (1969)
  • Thelma & Louise (1991)
  • Transamerica (2005)
  • Little Miss Sunshine (2006)



Dr. Arlette Warken




Margaret Atwood's Speculative Fiction

Thursday 2-4 pm

C5 3 - Room 4.08


Canadian author Margaret Atwood (1939) has published more than 30 books of fiction, poetry, and critical essays. Her feminist and environmental concerns in particular are prominent in her writings, in particular in those novels which are set in the near future and which won critical acclaim by Science Fiction critics. Margaret Atwood, however, insists on classifying her texts as speculative fiction because "Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen." Apart from discussing questions of genre, we will explore her near-future visions of American and global society by analyzing her novels The Handmaid's Tale (1985), Oryx and Crake (2003), and The Year of the Flood (2009). In these novels, We will learn about the handmaid Offred and her life in the patriarchal theocracy of the Republic of Gilead (formerly known as the United States of America), we will encounter Snowman/Jimmy sitting on a tree after a global epidemic has eliminated the whole human species (or has it not?) but left alive newly created species--even a human one with blue skin and green eyes, and we will encounter a religious group that is strictly vegetarian and tries to survive  in a (post-)apocalyptic world.




Klaus Heissenberger



"And we'll make our home in the American land": Constructing Ethnicity in U.S. American Popular Culture


Dates: (C5.3 - Room 1.20 if not stated otherwise)

8.11., 8:30-12 am

9.11., 12-2 pm & 2-4 pm, C5.1 - Musiksaal / C5.3 - Room 4.08

10.12., 3-7 pm

11.12., 9 am - 1 pm

14.01., 3-7 pm

15.01., 9 am - 1 pm


In this seminar we will look at the topic of ethnicity and immigration in the U.S.A. through the lens of U.S. American popular cultural production. We will explore questions such as, how have diverse and yet shared experiences of immigration - voluntarily, as well as by force - shaped "ethnic" Americans' understanding of themselves? How are the immigrant experience and the relation of ethnicity to American identity told, or put into words, music, or visual images in popular culture? What difference does it make who creates these stories, sounds, and images - the culture industries, the people themselves? To which effects are they consumed - do audiences e.g. confirm dominant ideologies of Americanness linked to narratives of successful immigration and assimilation, or subvert them? And, last but not least, who exactly, in U.S., is "ethnic," anyway - and who is not?


We will investigate a range of popular cultural forms and texts for the specific ways in which they conceive of the link between ethnicity, immigration experiences, and Americanness or American identity. We will especially focus on:

- Popular music, e.g. from the Blues of the Mississippi Delta (e.g. Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters) and American folk music (e.g. Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger), via rockabilly and early rock 'n' roll, to Hip Hop.

- Films past and present, e.g. from D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation (1915) to contemporary Hollywood productions (e.g. Martin Scorcese's Gangs of New York, 2005) and independent filmmakers (e.g. Spike Lee) or documentaries (e.g. Louis Malle's Alamo Bay, 1985).


Readings: A selection of relevant essays and excerpts from books will be made available in a reader.