Winter Term 2012/13


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Astrid Fellner gemeinsam mit Jennifer Moos, M.A.


VL: Stars and Stripes, and Gender Gaps: Theorizing Sex, Gender, and Desire in North America

Di, 12-14 h, B4.1, HS 0.23

This course introduces students to the study of American_Gender Studies. Both American Studies and Gender Studies are interdisciplinary research areas that have many overlaps, yet are hardly ever studied together. This lecture attempts to fill the gender(ed) gaps in American Studies and tries to highlight the Americanness of recent Gender theories. By engaging the prevailing theoretical approaches of Gender Studies to the study of American literatures and cultures, this course focuses upon gender identity and gendered representation as central categories of analysis.

Using a variety of 18th-, 19th- and 20th-century American materials, the course is arranged in clusters that each address different topics in American_Gender Studies, such as e.g. different generations of feminism(s), queer theory, sexed and gendered bodies, as well as bodily performances and ?the sexing? of the social. This lecture will also host a series of guest speakers who will share their expertise on influential theorists in the fields of gender and queer studies, e.g. Judith Butler, Lee Edelman, and Donna Haraway. 

Course Readings:

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


Univ.-Prof. Dr. Astrid Fellner

HS: Marlboro Men and California Gurls: Popular Culture and the Technologies of Gender

D0, 10-12 h, C 5 3, Raum 1.20

This course explores popular cultural 'makings' of masculinity, femininity, and sexuality through typical representation of gender within popular culture. Investigating diverse cultural forms such as TV series, film, and music videos, this course will look into the ways in which gendered and sexual identities are shaped by, and in turn shape, popular understandings of gender. In particular, we will analyze how such critical factors as ethnicity, race, gender, class, age, region, and sexuality are constructed in popular culture. In our analyses we will focus on the TV series Desperate Housewives, The L-Word, Ugly Betty, the movies Thelma and Louise and Brokeback Mountain, and the music videos of Madonna, Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.


A course reader will be made available for purchase.




Di 16-18h, C 5 3, Raum 1.20In jedem Fall bitte ich um eine Anmeldung per e-mail bis 1. Oktober (amerikanistik(at)



Dienstag, 16. und 23. Oktober ab 16h01. OktoberResearch Kolloquium

Di 18-19h, C 5 3, Raum 1.1901. Oktober

Jennifer Moos, M.A.

PS: Sleepers and Insomniacs in U.S. American Literature

Mi 12-14 h, C5 3, Raum 4.08

Over the past decades, "sleep studies" have become a major field of interdisciplinary research. Via an analysis of literary representations of sleep(lessness) and the sleeping/sleepless body, this seminar offers an approach to "sleep studies" from the perspective of literary and cultural studies. Walt Whitman's poetry, Djuna Barnes's and Shelley Jackson's novels, as well as shorter pieces by Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Ernest Hemingway, and F. Scott Fitzgerald will serve as points of reference to ask ourselves some of the following questions:

What is sleep? What can literature tell us about sleep? Which metaphors are used in connection to sleep? How can we deal with what Nathaniel Wallace has called the "fundamental antagonism between sleep and narrative"? How is sleep controlled by external forces? Which social and cultural (sleep) norms are depicted in our texts? How are these norms constructed, deconstructed, questioned, and reconstructed in literature? Is there a transgressive potential to sleep? What do literary representations of sleep tell us about culturally and politically important categories like, e.g. the nation, the body, and sexuality? How do these meanings change from 19th-century early capitalism to 21st-century neo-liberalism?


Please buy and read the following books before the semester starts:

Djuna Barnes Nightwood (1936) 

edition: Faber & Faber 2007, ISBN: 978-0571235285

(includes an introduction by Jeanette Winterson)

Shelley Jackson Half Life (2006) 

edition: Harper Perennial 2007, ISBN: 978-0060882365


Further readings:

A course reader including Walt Whitman's poem "The Sleepers," shorter fiction, and theoretical texts on sleep and sleeplessness will be made available for purchase.

Course requirements: Regular attendance, active participation, reading and writing assignments, short oral presentation, graded term paper/ final written exam (depending on your Studienordnung).



Heike Mißler

PS: The Beat Generation: Counterculture, Coolness and Common Myth

Di 10-12 h, C 5 3, 4.08

In the 1950s the best-known writers of the Beat generation, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, were often seen as rebels without a cause, "an amusing phenomenon" that had "no more connection with literature than the men in the moon", as one English critic put it (in Charters, xxiii). Today the Beats have not only become anthologized but they have also arrived in the popular mainstream. William Burroughs (the man who "accidentally" shot his wife in a game of Wilhelm Tell) featured in a NIKE tv-advertisement in the Nineties, Allen Ginsberg toured with Patti Smith, and Lisa Simpson has Kerouac's On the Road on her bookshelf. Joyce Johnson, a female beat writer, claims in her 1983 memoir Minor Characters that "'Beat Generation' sold books, sold black turtleneck sweaters and bongos, berets and dark glasses, sold a way of life that seemed like dangerous fun - thus to be either condemned or imitated" (in Charters, 480). If it had not been for the Beats' notorious anti-establishment lifestyle, which inspired following subcultures such as the Hippie or the punk movement, their literature would certainly not have known the same popularity - it is probably fair to say that more people own a copy of Burrough's Naked Lunch than have actually read the whole text.

In this course we are going to study key texts by Kerouac, Burroughs, Ginsberg, Diane di Prima and other Beat writers in order to find out how and why they have moved from the social margins of postwar America to the status of cultural icons, if not that of a common myth. We will discuss, amongst other things, the construction of masculinity in the texts, the role of music, drugs and sex, and the aesthetics of coolness. Di Prima's memoirs will serve as an example of beat writing from a female perspective, and present a feminist awakening which ushers in another rebellious generation, that of the civil rights protests of the 1960s and 1970s.

Poems and additional material will be provided for you in a reader which you can buy at the beginning of the semester. However, you must own the following editions:

Burroughs, William. Junky. The definitive text of 'Junk'. Ed. Oliver Harris. London: Penguin Classics, 2008. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0141189826Kerouac, Jack. On the Road. London: Penguin Classics, 2000. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0141182674Di Prima, Diane. Memoirs of a Beatnik. London: Penguin Books, 1998. Print. ISBN-13: 978-0140235395

There will be a short test on Burrough's Junky in the second session, so you have to have read it before the start of term.

Reference: Charters, Ann, ed. The Portable Beat Reader. London: Penguin Books, 1992. Print.



Prof. Bert Hornback

HS: James Baldwin and Ralph Ellison

Wednesdays, 14-16 h, C 5 3,  U 10

There are probably four great twentieth century Black American novelists:  Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, and Ernest J. Gaines. This course will examine novels by two of those four writers.

Ralph Ellison (1914-1994) published but one novel, Invisible Man, in 1952.  It is often claimed to be the most important American novel of the second half of the 20th century.

James Baldwin (1924-1987) wrote four novels, three of them beautiful, powerful books.  The first was Go Tell it on the Mountain, published in 1953.

We will use the Penguin Modern Classics editions of both novels.

Requirements for the course are close and careful reading of these two novels, weekly in-class "scribbles," and a term paper.



Dr. Susanne Hamscha

PS:  Spectacles of Deformity: Monsters and Misfits in Modern American Culture

Blockseminar (October 29, 4-6 p.m  preliminary talk, C 5 2; room 5.15; November 16, 1-7pm, C 5 3, room U13; November 17, 9-2pm, C 5 3, room 4.08; January 18, 1-7pm, C 5 3, U 13; January 19, 9-2pm; C 5 3, 4.08; February 8, 1-7pm C 5 3, room U13; February 9, 9-2pm, C 5 3, room 4.08)

In this course, we will have a look at the American "Freak Show" tradition of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Freak Shows have a long and rich tradition in the U.S.; the exhibition of "abnormal" and disfigured bodies in "human museums," dime shows, circuses, and amusement parks was a flourishing business and constituted a central aspect of the popular amusement and entertainment industry. Focusing on representation of ambiguous and disfigured bodies in American literature, film, and photography, we will investigate the cultural work "freaks" perform as metaphors for estrangement, alienation, and sexual deviance. Freak shows, it is generally argued, provided a safe encounter with the Other, as they established a clear distance between audience and spectacle through the exposure of the freak to the audience's objectifying gaze. The freakish body, it has often been suggested, serves as a trope for racial otherness, sexual deviance, gender ambiguity, or physical disability, allowing the audience to cope with pervasive fears and anxieties about race, sexuality, or disfigurement.

Focusing on ambiguous genders and queer sexualities, we will investigate embodied deviance and analyze how and why certain bodies were seen as threatening to modern American society. Our primary material includes the short story "Good Country People" by Flannery O'Connor (1955), the novella The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951) by Carson McCullers, the film Freaks (1932) by Tod Browning, and late 19th century lithography and photography (Currier and Ives, Charles Eisenmann, et al.). The discussion of the primary material will be preceded by a discussion of body and gender theories, which will provide us with the theoretical framework and methodological tools to critically analyze the cultural construction and visual representation of embodied deviance.


Class participation, including readings and class discussions; group presentation; term-paper.



Mag. Payman Rezwan

UE Cultural Studies II: From Mad Men to Desperate Housewives: American TV Culture

Blockseminar (Fr. 02. Nov, 13.00-19.00, C 5 3, U 13; Sa. 03. Nov; 09.00-15.00, C 5 3, Raum 4.08; Mo. 05. Nov, 16.00-20.00 C 5 2 Raum 5.15 ; Sa. 12. Jan 2013; 09-15.00; C 5 3; Raum 120)

This course will offer critical approaches in the analysis of television and  television shows in the U.S. In the first part of this course, we will survey the historical development of television in the U.S., before we focus on the defining genres in the American TV landscape, such as sitcoms, drama shows or reality television, and investigate how the mechanisms of genre diversification function and how audiences make meaning from these programs. We will also look at some productions in detail, such as "Friends",  "Dallas" or "Oprah" and look at their impact on  popular culture.



Mag. Klaus Heissenberger

UE Media Studies

Blockseminar (Fr, 02. Nov 15.00-20.00 C 5 3 Raum 120; Mo, 05. Nov, 16.00-20.00, C 53 E 20; Do, 13. Dez. 16.00-20.00, A 2 2 Raum 2.03; Sa, 15. Dez; 13.00-18.00; C 5 3, Raum 120; Do, 10. Jan 2013; 16.00-20.00 A 2 2 Raum 2.03; Sa, 12. Jan 2013, 13.00-18.00 Uhr, C 5 3 Raum 120)

In this course, you will learn about basic concepts and theories in media studies and you will acquire a set of fundamental strategies to be used in critical analyses of media texts, media practices and uses of the media. The course spans "traditional" and "new" media, the analog and the digital, and media production and consumption. Topics that we discuss range from basic and philosophical questions , such as "Why 'study' the media?" to technological ones, e.g. "What is new about the new media?", with most of the class time devoted to critical analysis strategies from (British and American) cultural & media studies perspectives. Examples will include many aspects of visual culture (advertising, TV formats, art, etc.), with a particular emphasis on film, film "language(s)", and film spectatorship; and we will investigate the "new media", esp. the impact that the Internet, Web 2.0 and social media have on media production and consumption.