American Studies Leipzig Faculty Presents at this Year's ASA Conference

Faculty of American Studies Leipzig (ASL) and of the Collaborative Research Center (CRC) “Invectivity: Constellations and Dynamics of Disparagement” presented their work at this year’s conference of the American Studies Association in Honolulu, Hawai’i. A panel organized and chaired by Katja Kanzler (ASL/CRC) brought together scholars from Germany and the United States to discuss “Invective Popular Culture: Form, Affect, Politics.” After an introduction by Katja Kanzler that outlined the scope of the topic, James I. Deutsch (Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage) presented a paper on the formation of the talk show as an invective format on American radio and television. His focus was on Joe Pyne, a talk show host who worked across the two media from the 1940s to the 1960s. Next was Douglas Dowland (Ohio Northern U) whose paper discussed spitefulness as an invective modality. More specifically, his paper was interested in the role that a rhetoric of spitefulness has played in American nationalism, from the post-Cold War period to the presidency of Donald Trump. After that, Katja Schulze (ASL/CRC) explored how embarrassment works as an invective strategy in the contemporary sitcom, using the mockumentary Parcs and Recreation as a case study. Finally, Sebastian M. Herrmann (ASL) used professional wrestling as a conceptual lens to unpack the invective political style by which Donald Trump performs the office of the president. Together, the four papers and their discussion with the audience illuminated some of the diverse ways in which disparagement organizes forms and practices of popular culture. What they particularly emphasized was the political potency of invective popular culture and the extent to which this thrives on the affective mobilization that invective performances afford.