ASL's Sebastian Herrmann Defends His Doctoral Thesis Summa Cum Laude

Sebastian M. Herrmann, assistant lecturer at American Studies Leipzig, successfully defended his doctoral thesis on November 12, 2012. The doctoral commission rated his disputatio summa cum laude (with highest distinction), and his written dissertation was likewise rated summa cum laude by his doctoral supervisors, ASL’s Prof. Dr. Anne Koenen and former ASL faculty Prof. Dr. Katja Kanzler (now at TU Dresden).

In his disputatio, Sebastian Herrmann outlined how his dissertation, titled Presidential Unrealities: Cultural Work, Epistemic Panic, and the US Presidency, tackles the question of the cultural work of the notion of unreality in the US presidency. He then went on to illustrate his approach with a case study on Frank Rich’s The Greatest Story Ever Sold, emphasizing the extent to which the book at once embraces a postmodern epistemic stance while simultaneously insisting on its own political project. In the subsequent discussion, he answered questions from the doctoral commission about the case study, as well as the methodological layout of his dissertation.

Looking back at the disputatio a few days later, Sebastian Herrmann concluded: “It sounds strange to say that about this kind of an exam situation, but it really was a great experience. Being rigorously questioned about your own work and being able to defend it—and having friends and colleagues attend the process, ‘witness’ it, so to speak—really capped a multi-year process and gave it a feeling of completion.”

The finished dissertation will allow Herrmann to keep working at ASL, something he says he looks forward to a lot.