jump to navigation (Alt+a) jump to content (Alt+b)

User login

 public 

any web user can view this item

Spatial Fictions - American West

Dissertation Project by
Steffen A. Wöll

 

My (ongoing) dissertation project on "Globe, Region, and Periphery: The Spatialization of the American West in Antebellum US Literature" examines spatial imaginations of the Western American peripheries and their representation in US literature during the nineteenth century, comprising both fictional and non-fictional literary accounts of the Western peripheries, including travel narratives, diaries, exploration reports, as well as (pseudo-)scientific geographical and anthropological texts. Taking into consideration both populist and elitist views, female and male perspectives, racialist and philanthropist ideologies, I put focus on the intertextual dynamics that result in the discursive construction, affirmation, contestation, deconstruction, hierarchization, as well as synthetic and antithetic negotiations of imagined and actual spatial formats and orders. Without ignoring the Turnerian and New Western History’s approaches to the American West and concepts like frontier and borderlands, my intention is nevertheless to take a step back. This seems necessarily especially in the light of current, often highly politicized discourses that view the West as yet another stage on which to transplant personal expectations and enact political agendas, resulting in presentism and ahistorical epistemic conceptualizations.

The Contemporary American Small-Town Gothic

Dissertation Project by
Thorsten Burkhardt
 

This (ongoing) dissertation project examines contemporary novels in terms of how they make use of the gothic to represent a cultural moment of crisis. Drawing on the observation that the post-postmodern moment manifests as a resurgence of political realism in American fiction, this project reads the contemporary gothic as a predominantly realist endeavor that explicitly foregrounds the political. The focus on fictions that take place in a rural or small-town setting narrows down the project by focusing on a place that traditionally embodies the conflict between an American national political mythology and the American gothic.

This project argues that contemporary realist texts regularly make use of gothic tropes to represent the rural space as burdened by both political neglect, as well as by a lack of self-reflection that makes social institutions facilitate gothic events and manifestations, like gothic doublings, hauntings and abject violence. So while the gothic does today what is has always done in American culture, question national narratives, the explicit political nature of the contemporary realist gothic locates the reasons why the rural must be represented as gothic in harsh political and social realities instead of offering the more abstract enlightenment critique of the traditional gothic. The contemporary realist gothic, this project argues, is not so much characterized by a traditional dark existentialism but by a failure of institutions, like the government, the police, the small-town community. It anchors crises of national ideology and literal as well as metaphorical hauntings in the material and political reality of the everyday. Here the gothic fully unfolds its political potential in recent post-9/11 realist texts. In the context of this project, the term "contemporary gothic" does not necessarily mean how the gothic changes but how literature and culture change and use the gothic as a vocabulary to articulate it.

In terms of its corpus, this project theorizes the realist gothic by means of the canonical gothic work of Stephen King and focuses on novels by Cara Hoffman and Julia Keller as exemplary in how they (quite differently) use the gothic mode for political realism.

Joint Research Initiative Selbst-Bewusste Erzählungen

Dr. Sebastian M. Herrmann
Alice Hofmann
Prof. Dr. Katja Kanzler
Dr. Frank Usbeck

This (completed) joint research initiative, pursued in collaboration between Dresden and Leipzig, explored a significant phenomenon in contemporary American literature and culture identified as an overlapping of textual and social self-confidence and self-consciousness ('Selbst-Bewusstsein').

Presidential Unrealities

Dissertation by
Dr. Sebastian M. Herrmann

This (completed) dissertation project investigated the cultural work done by the notion of unreality in the US presidency. Looking at a variety of texts—novels, movies, nonfiction books, newspaper articles, etc—it diagnoses a widespread cultural concern that the US presidency might be the product or source of postmodern cultural unreality, that the American president might be unreal, fictitious, or that he might produce unreal realities, lies, fictions, fakes; narratives or images that overpower reality.

What appears to be a political problem at first, then, turns out to be at least as much of a cultural one. Indeed, beginning in the late 1960s American culture, the dissertation argues, uses the presidency as a "focal point of [...] cultural angst" (Parry-Giles and Parry-Giles) to discuss the more fundamental postmodern "crisis of representation" (Jameson) in broad, even 'popular,' form and to position it as a problem that is not simply of academic interest but of immediate political relevance. By looking at 'presidential unreality' not as an actual problem that may or may not exists but as a discursive motive that does particular cultural work, the dissertation dialogs literary studies, cultural studies, political science and media studies in a project that interrogates the postmodernization of US-American cultural notions of textuality, truth, authority, and the public sphere.

After the comparatively 'sober' Obama years, the problem of unreality returned with a vengeance with the election of the reality TV star Donald Trump in 2016, an election and presidency frequently cast as the result of fake news and a presumed post-factual turn. The book Presidential Unrealities: Epistemic Panic, Cultural Work, and the US Presidency is available via Universitätsverlag Winter (as well as amazon and google books).

The project is part of the Dresden-Leipzig Research Initiative Selbst-Bewusste Erzählungen.

20176Jul

CONFERENCE: Politics of Performance in Transnational Scenarios

From July 13 to July 15 2017, the University of Erfurt hosts a workshop of the DFG Research Network on the Politics of Performance in Transnational Scenarios.

If you would like to participate at the conference, please contact the organizers. You can find the relevant contact information and the conference program in the PDF file attached below.

Modulklausur "Literatures and Cultures of the USA"

Date: 
12. Jul 17:15 - 18:45

Dear students,

The joint exam of Prof. Junker "American Literary History" and Ms. Ravizza ("Kultur und Diversität der USA") will take place on July 12, 2017 from 5 - 7 pm in HS 3 in the Hörsaalgebäude. 

Please make sure you're officially registered for this exam.

 

20174Jul

Modulklausur "Literatures and Cultures of the USA" on July 12, 2017

Dear students,

The joint exam of Prof. Junker "American Literary History" and Ms. Ravizza ("Kultur und Diversität der USA") will take place on July 12, 2017 from 5 - 7 pm in HS 3 in the Hörsaalgebäude. 

Please make sure you are officially registered for this exam.

For further questions, please contact Wiebke Kartheus.

20173Jul

Leipzig University Library Awarded Title "Library of the Year 2017"

The Leipzig University Library has been awarded the title of "Library of the Year 2017." The award, awarded by the Germany Library Union (dbv) and the German Telekom Foundation, includes 20,000 Euros in prize money. "Our University Library honestly earned this award through hard work," stated Leipzig University Rektor  Beate Schücking.

201727Jun

Office Hours During the Semester Break Summer 2017

Prof. Garrett

Tuesday, August 8, 4 - 5 pm

Tuesday, September 5, 4 - 5 pm

and by appointment

 

Prof. Pisarz-Ramirez

Monday, July 31, 2 - 3 pm

Tuesday, September 5, 2 - 3 pm

 

Prof. Junker

by appointment

For office hours, please contact Wiebke Kartheus (wiebke.kartheus@uni-leipzig.de) at the secretariat.

 

201727Jun

Prof. Pisarz-Ramirez's Office Hour on June 27 Cancelled

Prof. Pisarz-Ramirez's office hour on June 27, 2017 had to be cancelled.

We apologize for the inconvenience.

 

Impressum | accesible XHTML | © 17