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20172Aug

ASL's Secretariat: Temporary Office Hours

American Studies Leipzig's secretariat is open again.

Our temporary office hours are:

Monday - Thursday
11:00 am - 1:00 pm

You can also contact us via email
americanstudies@uni-leipzig.de
and phone (0341) 97 37330.

Claudia Müller

Fellow Tribesmen: German “Indianthusiasm,” Nationalism, and Nazi Ideology

Dissertation by
Frank Usbeck
 

This (completed) project analyzes the role of Germans' fascination with Native Americans for the construction of national identity in the 19th century and, eventually, for Nazi ideology and propaganda. It scrutinizes the interrelation of typical manifestations of “Indian” imagery, such as the noble savage or the vanishing race, with ideas, cultural practices, and images in German culture since c. 1800. This interrelation promoted an essentialist construction of German group identity as well as the notion of German exceptionalism. Comparing the colonial conquest of the Americas with the resistance of ancient Germanic tribes against the encroaching Roman empire, nationalists portrayed Germans as the “Indians” of Europe. The Nazis' eventual perception and representation of Native Americans in Nazi-controlled media built on these traditions of German “Indianthusiasm,” interweaving Romantic notions, cultural despair, conservative nationalism, and racial ideology.

Based on comprehensive research in German periodicals (newspapers, academic journals, and magazines) as well as academic monographs and political treatises published 1925-45, the project identifies two major motifs through which these Native American references served nationalists and Nazis to postulate German Indigeneity: The “Fellow Tribesmen” motif argued that Germans had retained elements of tribal culture from their ancestors and shared inheritable character traits with Native Americans, suggesting cultural and mental ties between both groups. This argument was interlaced with a dose of antimodernism and antiliberalism in German nationalist thinking. The “Common Enemy” motif deepened this sense of alienation from the 'West' by constructing German-'Indian' parallels, referring to the experience of resistance against foreign invasion and cultural imperialism, invoking ancient Rome, the French “arch enemy,” and British and US imperialism and threats to German (and Native American) culture. The Nazis, thus, utilized a mixture of primitivism, exoticism and racial thought to harness German “Indianthusiasm” for propaganda against the Western Allies.

2015 Study Tour to the South and Midwest

"Religion in the United States"

The 2015 study tour is a cooperative project between the American Studies Institutes of the University of Leipzig and the Jagellionian University of Krakow. The tour takes us to the heartland of the United States and focuses on areas and cities that mirror central beliefs and values in American society.

2013 Study Tour to Houston, Texas

"Immigration, Religion, and Citizenship"

2011 Study Tour to the South of the United States

"African Americans in the South: Traditions and Contemporary Challenges"

Read more about the Study Tour in our blog.

2009 Study Tour to Chicago and Midwest

"Immigration and Ethnicity"

The tour will target the Upper Midwest of the United States for several reasons. This region was the destination of millions of immigrants from Europe, and especially its urban centers continue to attract immigrants from Latin American countries and Asia. In addition it reflects significant internal migration patterns of specific ethnic groups.

201731Jul

Picador Professor Tom Drury Posts Short Story on Twitter

As part of his Picador Professorship at American Studies Leipzig, the author Tom Drury took over the professorship's official Twitter account for a few hours on July 26 and posted a series of tweets that, together, form the short story "The Patron Saint of Rabies." If you missed how the story was live-tweeted, you can still reread it in its entirety on Twitter.

Repeat Exam LCII and 1401

Date: 
10. Oct 09:00 - 11:00

Dear students,

The repeat exam for both the LCII exam and the 1401-exam will take place on October 10, 2017 from 9 - 11 am in NSG room S 202.

Please make sure you are signed up for your resp. exam in AlmaWeb.

For further questions please contact Wiebke Kartheus.

201724Jul

Repeat Exam LCII and 1401

Dear students,

The repeat exam for both the LCII exam and the 1401-exam will take place on October 10, 2017 from 9 - 11 am in NSG room S 202.

Please make sure you are signed up for your resp. exam in AlmaWeb.

 

(Re)Constructing the Fifties: Self-Reflexivity, Melodrama, and Nostalgia in US Contemporary Popular Culture

Dissertation project by
Eleonora Ravizza

This (ongoing) dissertation project explores the contemporary interpretation and representation of the fifties in American popular culture. Both in film and television, the last fifteen years have witnessed a renewed interest in the fifties as a setting, as is visible in texts like Mad Men (2007-15), Far from Heaven (2002), Revolutionary Road (2008), and A Single Man (2009), among others. Often accused of unabated nostalgic longing for the fifties, these texts do not simply replicate the past as it was, trying to recapture the reality of a long-lost decade. Rather, they approach the subject by drawing from the fictional representations of the time.

Reading the fifties as a privileged site to discuss notions of self-reflexivity, artificiality, intertextuality, and performativity, this project analyzes contemporary popular texts by looking at how they recreate the fifties as intentionally fictional in order to foreground the pleasures that this construction evokes. Influenced by a postmodern inclination, the texts considered in this project move away from a traditional, more ‘realistic’ portrayal of the past and rather embrace ambivalence, ambiguity, and the lack of one ‘real,’ historical fifties.

However, by often availing themselves of genre markers typical of the melodramatic mode, the texts in question cannot escape the traditionalist and conservative conventions of a genre so strongly intertwined with the fifties. While recognizing the texts’ attempts at (post-)modernizing the fifties by looking at less represented narratives and characters, this project aims to uncover the intrinsically conservative nature of a fifties setting, which cannot help but hinder any impulse to rethink, rework, or re-historicize the fifties.

 

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