Winter Term 2015/16

In the winter term 2015/16 NamLitCult is offering the following courses:

Prof. Dr. Astrid M. FELLNER

VL "Engendering North American Literatures"

Tue, 12-2 p.m.

This lecture course provides a gendered survey of North American literatures, introducing the ways in which the study of sex/gender and sexuality as social categories have transformed our 
understandings of culture, history and society. Topics include the social construction of gender, 
the gendered division of labor, production and reproduction, intersections of gender, race, class and ethnicity, 
and the varieties of sexual experience. We will start the course by looking at the Native American/First Nations multiple gender system and trace the history of the making of the binary system of sex/gender in the early Republic. In the 19th century, we will look at the rise of the novel, paying special attention to the representations of friendship, expressions of love and romance, including both marriage and same-sex relationships. The third cluster will look at 20th and 21st century literature, looking at works that spurred the political activism and identity-based movements of the 1960s and 1970s. We will also provide a survey of feminist, gay and lesbian, and queer literature. This course examines several genres and traditions in North American literature, including poetry, drama, sentimental fiction, and the slave narrative.

Course Readings:
There will be a course reader, which you can order through NamLitCult and pick up at our offices.

This class will start on October 27, 2015.


HS "Deferred Memories: Trauma and Pain in American Literature and Culture"

Wed, 4-6 p.m.
C 5 3, room 120

After the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, New York has often been represented as a city in shock which exhibits a wounded and traumatized topography. Exploring the ways in which novels by recent American writers such as Jonathan Safran Foer, Jay McInerney, and Joseph O’Neill have reflected on these traumatic events, we will analyze how their texts have re-imagined life in the aftermath of 9/11. Drawing on theories of trauma and memory, we will study the visual and intermedial literary strategies these writers have used to write about New York City. We will also look at some films, focusing on the challenges of representing traumatic history. Throughout this class, we will explore both the ways in which literature and film have attempted to convey 9/11 as well as how 9/11 has changed the face of American literature.

Required Texts (please buy):
Jonathan Safran Foer. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel (2006)
McInerney, Jay. The Good Life (2006)
Joseph O’Neill. Netherland (2009)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. Dir. Stephen Daldry (2011)
The Reluctant Fundamentalist. Dir. Mira Nair (2012)
Course Readings:

There will be a course reader available on Moodle.

This class will start on October 28, 2015 


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 October 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.

This colloquium will meet on Friday, October 9, 2015.

Please sign up for the Blockkolloquium via email by September 25, 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 October 27, 2015. The exact dates will be published on our website and on the notice board of the department.

Registration for the Exam Colloquium via LSF.


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 October 27, 2015.

Dr. Susanne HAMSCHA

HS "From Forrest Gump to Lady Gaga: Gender and Disability in Popular Culture"


Friday, 30 October 2015, 1 - 6 p.m. (C 5 3, 120)
Saturday, 31 October 2015, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (C 5 3, U13)
4 November 2015: guest lecture Denise Green (Wednesday: 4-6 p.m., C 5 3, 120)

guest lecture Rosemarie Garland Thomson (details to be announced)

Friday, 8 January 2016, 1 - 6 p.m. (C 5 3, 120)
Saturday, 9 January 2016, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (C 5 3, U 13)

Friday, 5 February 2016, 1 - 6 p.m. (C 5 3, 120)
Saturday, 6 February 2016, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. (C 5 3, U 13)

Representations of people with disabilities in popular culture are scarce and often one-dimensional. When people with disabilities do show up in films or TV-series, their characters often reflect an ableist view of disabled bodies as either pitiful or inspirational—limited roles that reinforce assumptions about (and restrictions upon) disabled bodies. Disability has traditionally also functioned as a metaphor for all forms of “otherness” and experiences of alienation, powerlessness, and objectification. In this seminar, we will examine the influential role of popular culture on our perceptions of disability and able-bodiedness/able-mindedness. We will consider the ways in which the construction of “normal” and “abnormal” bodies and minds intersects with other normative regimes, in particular with the construction of gender norms. Considering the representation of disability in selected films (e.g. Forrest Gump, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Other Sister), TV-series (e.g. Glee, Game of Thrones) and music videos (e.g. Lady Gaga, Viktoria Modesta), we will analyze in how far disability functions as a vehicle to solidify or challenge socially acceptable gender identities—and, conversely, in how far gender performances shape and determine representations of disability. Our analysis of selected visual material will be embedded in discussions of theoretical texts from the fields of gender studies, disability studies, and queer and crip theory.

Claire M. MASSEY, M.A.

PS "#¡Si Se Puede! The Chican@ Movement and the Discourse of Dissent"

Thu, 12-2 p.m.
C 5 2, 128

Through film, literature, art, and poetry this class will examine and analyse the Chicano Movement, otherwise known as the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement, of the 1960s and 1970s.  We will explore the early history of the movement, paying attention to significant individuals and organizations espousing demands for equity, citizenship, and civil rights in many areas of life in U.S. society. We will discuss why the Chicano Movement is an ‘invisible’ history outside of the U.S. when compared to the Black Civil Rights movement of the same period. We will also study the ideas and ideologies as well as the actions and accomplishments of the various leaders, members, and groups who made up the Chicano Movimiento. We will spend time, too, looking at the contradictions and conflicts that emerged in the Chicano Movement, how calls for LGBT and gender equality and participation revealed divisions in ideology, and how the inability of movement participants to deal with those challenges undermined the movement’s success. Lastly, we will conclude by weighing the legacy of the movement in the 21st century, and examine how the discourse of dissent moved Chicano to Chican@.
Please see below for pre-semester readings and video, and useful links. There will be a MOODLE reader made available for the class.

Required readings prior to start of semester
El Plan de Aztlan:
I Am Joaquin by Rodolfo Corky Gonzales:
¡La Lucha Continua! Gloria Arellanes and Women in the Chicano Movement:
Chicanas Speak Out - Women: New Voice of La Raza: - download PDF
The Philosophy of Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán:

Before the start of semester please view the following four videos (All rights remain with PBS)
Chicano! PBS Documentary  - The Struggle in the Fields
Chicano! PBS Documentary  - Quest for a Homeland
Chicano! PBS Documentary  - Fighting for Political Power
Chicano! PBS Documentary - Taking Back The Schools

Useful Links
Onda Latino
Chicano/a Latino/a Movimientos
Timeline: Movimiento from 1960-1985
Chicanas Chingonas: Mujers Doing Some Amazing Things


PS "Haunted by the Unknown: American Gothic Fiction from the 19th Century to the Present"

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

In this seminar, we will have a look at American Gothic fiction, one of the most popular genres in American literature from the time of Independence to the present. After an introduction to the genre of Gothic fiction, its traditions and developments, as well as to subgenres like Southern Gothic, we will discuss differences between American Gothic fiction and its European predecessors/counterparts. Previous to our discussion of primary texts, students will be provided with a selection of theoretical readings, helping to define terms and concepts important for Gothic fiction. In the seminar discussion, we will identify typical features and elements of Gothic literature and discuss their relevance: How is the uncanny, unknown or irrational constructed? How do spooky Southern plantations, mysterious mansions or thunderstorms feature in the texts? What is the function of sinister strangers, ghosts, vampires or monsters? Is a belief in rationality and progress oppositional to Gothic’s skepticism and irrationality or is this the other side of the same coin? In what ways can Gothic be read as giving voice to suppressed groups or representation of silenced/marginalized themes like slavery or discrimination? The main focus of analysis will be on the way horror, terror and/or suspense are constructed in the texts. Our primary texts will include short stories from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "Young Goodman Brown" over to Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Fall of the House of Usher" to recent fiction from Joyce Carol Oates and Jewell Gomez.

Course Reader: The short stories and a selection of secondary material will be made available in form of a reader which you can purchase through our office.

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

Sebastian WEIER, M.A.

PS "Sounding Blackness: Race, Music and Noise"

Thu, 10 a.m. - 12
C 5 3, room 120

Focusing on the context of the United States, the seminar will introduce students to cultural constructions of racialized blackness in and through sound. Looking at the musical genres blues, hip-hop, techno and punk, the seminar will explore how these are constructed as black or non-black and how they serve to define the perception of blackness in terms of racialized identities. What does it mean when musical genres are perceived as raced, as for example in the association of hip hop with blackness and of punk with whiteness? How have artists sought to both exploit and counter such racial constructions in and through sound? What is the role of the listener in this? These are some of the questions students will touch upon during the seminar. In doing so, they will also reflect on their own perceptions and role in cultural racialization and how these inflect their research, for example in the form of the questions they ask, the material they choose and the way they explore resources. Thus, the seminar will offer a critical introduction into cultural studies approaches to race (such as the concept of racialization), sound  and scientific research methodologies while also sensibilizing students to questions of positionality within research. 

Course reading:

Omi, Michael and Howard Winant. “The Theory of Racial Formation”. in: Racial Formation in the United States. 3rd Edition. New York & London: Routledge, 2015. Print. pp.105-137.

Spicer, Daniel. "Chains of the Heart". The Wire Issue 356. Oct. 2013: 34-41. Print.

These and additional texts for the seminar will be available on moodle at the beginning of the semester.

The following guides to the MLA Style must be read prior to the start of the seminar:


Afropunk: The Movie. Dir. James Spooner. Afro-Punk Distr. 2003. Web.


Cybotron. Enter. Fantasy Records, 1983. CD.

Public Enemy. Fear of a Black Planet. Def Jam Recordings, 1990. CD.

Roberts, Matana. Coin Coin Chapter 2: Mississippi Moonchile. Constellation Records, 2013. CD.

Dr. Arlette WARKEN

UE "Canadian Cultural Studies" (Cultural Studies II North America)

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

This course introduces students to key aspects of Canada from a historical perspective with a major focus on questions of identity and diversity. We will explore Canadian real and symbolic landscapes, myths, concepts of (national) identity as well as bi-, multi- and transculturalism as manifested in various (self-) representations and key texts. Themes discussed will include First Nations and Inuit, construction and deconstruction of a Canadian national identity, immigration, Quebec, Canada and the USA, and environmental issues. Readings will be made available at the beginning of classes.

Mag. Payman REZWAN

UE "Beyond The Music: How America’s Mainstream Music Genres Reflect Its History, Culture And Society" (Cultural Studies II North America)

Fri,       Nov. 20, 2015,     1 - 7 pm
Sat,      Nov. 21, 2015,     9 am - 3 pm
Mon,     Nov. 23, 2015,     1 - 7 pm
Sat,      Jan. 09, 2016,      9 am - 3 pm

American music has always been more than just an acoustic experience. From the early days of hillbilly music, when musicians would travel from village to village in the Appalachian Mountains, singing songs that included the latest news and gossips that they had heard of, until the early 21st ct., when rock musicians try to raise awareness to the world's social issues, and hip-hop artists describe the hardships of life that come with growing up ghettos, music has always delivered comments on US history, society and culture.
In addition to an analysis of these main categories, this course also deals with issues of identity, gender, race and ethnicity in the United States, and how they are represented in contemporary music forms, with a strong focus on the three most popular genres in the U.S., those being R&B/Soul, Country and (modern) Rock. Based on their cultural studies 'tool set', students will have a closer look at the lyrics and analyze music videos, in an attempt to find out how  (and why) the United States are portrayed in mainstream music.