Dr. Stefan Schubert

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Dr. Stefan Schubert
Akademischer Assistent (Senior Assistant Professor for American Literature)
Room 3503 | Phone: (0341) 973 7337
Office Hours: Mon, 3-4pm (via Zoom; by appointment)

BA ThesisMA ThesisCurricular Advising


I received both my BA and my MA in American studies from American Studies Leipzig and have been living in Leipzig for over a decade. In July of 2018, I defended my doctoral thesis, which investigates a new trend in contemporary US popular culture that I call ‘narrative instability.’ I have been working at ASL since 2011, first in an administrative position and later as a researcher and teacher (as a Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter since 2015 and as an Akademischer Assistent since 2020).


I have taught classes introducing BA students to literary and cultural studies, thematic BA and MA seminars focusing on specific aspects of US literature and (popular) culture, as well as project seminars guiding MA students through the publication process of the graduate journal aspeers. My teaching combines a general overview of American literature and culture with my own interests and areas of expertise, such as film, television, games, contemporary literature, digital and transmedial culture, narrativity, genre, textuality, and studies of masculinity and whiteness. In my classes, I aim to enhance students’ abilities in analytical and critical thinking by focusing on close readings of different types (genres, modes, media, etc.) of texts, encouraging students to self-reflexively question their preconceptions through theoretical readings, and highlighting the reach and importance of narratives and textuality in all areas of life.


I am broadly interested in American culture and literature (and, from a cultural perspective, US politics), but my specific research interests center around popular culture (especially film, TV, and video games), contemporary literature and culture, (post-)postmodernism, 19th-century literature, intersections of race, class, and gender (particularly masculinity and whiteness), and questions of textuality and narrativity, including transmediality, adaptation theory, genre theory, and digital textuality. Overall, in my research, I particularly try to uncover the manifold connections between culture and literature, understanding ‘America’ as an intermingling of both cultures and narratives, and to scrutinize the cultural work and the textual ‘politics’ of diverse cultural artifacts.

In 2018, I finished writing and defended my doctoral thesis, which identifies a tendency in contemporary popular culture to engage in a fragmentation and obfuscation of storyworlds that I term ‘narrative instability.’ I argue that such moments of confusion do not actually frustrate contemporary audiences but activate them, serving as sites to interrogate these texts’ narrative constructedness. I frame this as a new facet of understanding popularity, one that works in a distinct transmedial fashion and combines pleasures usually only associated with either popular or high culture, and I carve out the complex, ambivalent ‘politics’ of these texts’ projects. The dissertation was published in 2019. Since then, I have been conceptualizing and working on a postdoctoral project on privilege in nineteenth-century US literature.

I was one of the co-applicants and members of the research network “Narrative Liminality,” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Previously, I was externally associated with the DFG-funded project “Selbst-Bewusste Erzählungen,” and in 2019, I supervised a Pre-Doc project pursued by Mascha Lange. Currently, I’m an associate member of the collaborative research center on “Invectivity: Constellations and Dynamics of Disparagement” in the subproject on “Pop-Cultural Poetics and Politics of the Invective.”

Selected Publications

If you are interested in any of these texts for your own work but cannot access them, feel free to contact me.

Organization of Conferences and Workshops/Panels

Selected Talks and Presentations

  • “Wie Videospiele Geschichten über Amerika erzählen.” Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften. Leipzig. 16 July 2021.
  • “Gaming American Studies: Video Games in Research and Teaching.” Roundtable with Mahshid Mayar, John Wills, and Esther Wright. British Association for American Studies Annual Conference. 7 Apr. 2021.
  • “Narrating and Narrativizing Agency in Choice-Heavy Video Games.” Video Games and Foreign Language Learning. Münster. 12 Feb. 2020.
  • “ ‘Playful Narration’ in Video Games—and Beyond.” Guest Lecture in the Seminar “Traditions and Trends in Media Narratology” by Christina Maria Koch. Marburg. 18 Dec. 2019.
  • “Choose Your Own Identity: Playful Life Writing in the Autobiography of Neil Patrick Harris.” 2019 International Conference on Narrative. Pamplona. 30 May 2019.
  • “Watching for the Plot? Rezeptionspraktiken und Narrative um soziale Klasse und Gerechtigkeit in Making a Murderer und The Staircase.” Weiter sehen: Realität in Serie. Leipzig. 25 May 2019.
  • “Negotiating and Narrativizing Space in One Hour One Life.” Playing the Field II: Video Games, American Studies, and Space. Essen. 17 May 2019.
  • “Räumliches Erzählen in Videospielen.” Lalalab: SpielKulturLabor. 13. Lange Nacht der Computerspiele. Leipzig. 11 May 2019.
  • “Von Lonesome Cowboys und Desperate Housewives: Geschlechterdarstellungen im US-Fernsehen.” Wer ist eigentlich dieser Herr Gender?! Leipzig. 16 April 2019.
  • “ ‘Are You Playing Some Kind of Game With Me?’ Narrative Instability and Metatextuality in Contemporary Video Games.” Playing the Field: Video Games and American Studies. Munich. 28 April 2018.
  • “Playing Modernities? (Meta)Textuality, Transmediality, and Self-Reflexivity in the Video Game Alan Wake.” Modernities and Modernization in North America. 64th Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies. Hannover. 9 June 2017.
  • “Videospiele als Populärkultur: Narrativität, Interaktivität und kulturelle Arbeit in BioShock Infinite.” Videospiele: Interdisziplinäre Perspektiven. Leipzig. 3 Dec. 2016.
  • “ ‘It’s Your Story Now’? Narrative Instability and Metatextuality in the Video Game The Stanley Parable.” 2016 International Conference on Narrative. Amsterdam. 17 June 2016.
  • “Dystopia in the Skies: Negotiating Justice and Morality on Screen in the Video Game BioShock Infinite.” The United States and the Question of Rights. 63rd Annual Conference of the German Association for American Studies. Osnabrück. 20 May 2016.
  • “The Politics of Video Games.” Guest Lecture in the Lecture Series “Popular Culture and the Canon.” Leipzig. 10 June 2015.
  • “From Natty Bumppo to Django: The Western as a Mobile Genre.” Guest Lecture in the Lecture Series “Popular Culture and the Canon.” Leipzig. 13 May 2015.
  • “Multiple Universes and Unstable Storyworlds: Narrativity and Metatextuality in BioShock Infinite.” Fantastic Games: 5th Annual Conference of the Association for Research in the Fantastic. Klagenfurt. 12 Sept. 2014.
  • “Video Games and/as Popular Culture: Narrativity, Interactivity, and Popularity.” Guest Lecture in the Lecture “The Canon and Popular Culture” by Prof. Anne Koenen. Leipzig. 10 July 2014.
  • “ ‘Why Don’t I Get to Decide?’ Narrative Agency and Instability in the Video Game The
    Stanley Parable
    .” Pop Narratology: Social, Historical and Political Aspects of Pop Cultural Narratives. Wuppertal. 20 June 2014.
  • “Visuality, Narrativity, and Interactivity in Video Games.” Guest Lecture in the Seminar “Ways of Seeing — Visual Cultures” by Prof. Anne Koenen. Leipzig. 30 May 2014.
  • “ ‘Constants and Variables’: Geschichtsdarstellung und narrative Instabilität in BioShock Infinite.” HiStories 2013: Geschichte, Form und Sinnfunktion in Computerspielen. Rostock. 30 Nov. 2013.
  • “Games and Narratives: BioShock as a Metatextual Commentary on Video Games’ Storytelling Capabilities.” Guest Lecture in the Seminar “New Media” by Stefan Brasse. Marburg. 2 July 2013.
  • “ ‘I Know It’s Fake’: Narrative Instability in the Video Game Alan Wake.” Postclassical Narratology: Cultural, Historical and Cognitive Aspects of Narrative Theory. Wuppertal. 25 June 2013.
  • “ ‘A Man Chooses, a Slave Obeys’? Objectivism, Choice, and Narrative Agency in BioShock.” Poetics of Politics: Textuality and Social Relevance in Contemporary American Literature and Culture. Leipzig. 21 June 2013.
  • “ ‘I’m Not Perfect, I’m Nothing’: Narrative Instability in Black Swan.” PostGraduate Forum of the DGfA/GAAS 2012. Marburg. 4 Nov. 2012.
  • “Haraway and the Terminator: Challenges and Benefits in Applying Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’ to Science Fiction Films.” Approaching Literary and Cultural Theory. 9th Annual Students and Graduate Conference. Berlin. 12 Nov. 2010.

Community Service

I aim to engage in public outreach through talks for wider audiences that focus on some of my areas of expertise, such as games and playing in US culture or gender and genre. From 2015 to 2019, I managed the Picador Guest Professorship for Literature at ASL and thus connected the events involving the professorship to the wider public in Leipzig and Germany. Additionally, I am also particularly interested in facilitating communication with ASL alumni, serving as the institute’s contact person for the ASLAA.