Hemispheric Encounters

The Early United States in a Transnational Perspective

International Symposium, University of Leipzig (Germany), April 26 and 27, 2012


In the past two decades scholars in American literary and cultural studies have emphasized the necessity of transnational approaches to American history in order to overcome the residues of American Exceptionalism and to study American specificities in a comparative framework. One of the major results of this research has been a shift in perspective that has directed attention to the multiple connections the early United States had to other regions in the hemisphere. As has become visible, the formation and consolidation of national and collective identities in the early United States was not only impacted by the need to distinguish Americans from Europeans but also by its situatedness on the American continent. Historical events such as the Haitian Revolution, economic ties with Caribbean slave economies, and rivalries with other colonial powers in the Americas are just some of the factors that influenced the ways Americans defined themselves as a nation and as individuals.

This symposium aims at exploring how in the decades after the American Revolution U.S. American culture and literature as well as identity constructions were formed by such “hemispheric encounters”. In what ways did particular groups within the new nation, e.g. African Americans or women, find reference points for their modes of identification beyond the nation’s borders? How did travellers who explored the Spanish territories west and south of the former 13 British colonies perceive these areas in relation to the United States? How did the Louisiana Purchase impact the emergence of expansionist visions of a “Greater South” and other territorial fictions in later decades? And how does a hemispheric perspective on the United States question iconic narratives of Manifest Destiny, the winning of the West, and American exceptionalism?

Travel Information and Accommodation

Participants of the symposium find information concerning their travel arrangements, their accommodation in Leipzig, and the conference location under “Travel.” If you have any questions, please let us know.


  • Prof. Dr. Gabriele Pisarz-Ramírez (American Studies, University of Leipzig)
  • Dr. Markus Heide (American Studies, Humboldt University Berlin)

If you have any questions concerning the symposium, please contact our team of organizers.


International Symposium “Hemispheric Encounters”
Institute for American Studies, University of Leipzig
Beethovenstraße 15
04107 Leipzig, Germany
Email: minoritystudies@uni-leipzig.de