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Summer Semester 2024

The Precariousness of Freedom: Slave Resistance as Experience, Process, and Representation

Guest Lecture by Prof. Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson  (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)

June 17 (Mon.), noon-1:30 p.m. (Hauptgebäude/Room XIb)

This lecture is organized by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher as part of the seminar "African and African American Literature,
" taught by Dr. Habil. Johanna Pitteti-Heil. 

Transatlantic Slavery was an institution that sought to turn human beings into chattel. This race-based slavery spanned four hundred years and was characterized by physical brutality, psychological torment, material deprivation, cultural prohibitions, and terror. However, the enslaved did not submit meekly to their racial debasement and institutionalized brutality. Despite all the dimensions of enslaver control, the enslaved sought actively to maintain their dignity and humanity, and to seize their liberty. Therefore, although slavery was a product of white brutality, it was also characterized by ongoing black resistance. Enslaved Africans and their descendants often resisted through work slow-downs, feigning illness, damaging, or burning the enslavers’ property, practising their cultures, preserving kinship bonds, and demanding the right to independently access economic markets. Working comparatively with examples from Canada, the USA, and tropical regions, this lecture explores the profound obstacles that the enslaved faced in securing their freedom and in resisting the everyday indignities and onslaughts of slavery.

Prof. Dr. Charmaine A. Nelson is a Provost Professor of Art History in the Department of History of Art and Architecture and Director of the Slavery North Initiative at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Black Maple Magazine, one of the only national platforms aimed at black Canadians. From 2020-2022, she was a Tier I Canada Research Chair in Transatlantic Black Diasporic Art and Community Engagement at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCAD) in Halifax, Canada where she founded the first-ever institute focused on the study of Canadian Slavery. She also worked at McGill University (Montreal) for seventeen years (2003-2020). Nelson has made ground-breaking contributions to the fields of the Visual Culture of Slavery, Race and Representation, Black Diaspora Studies, and Black Canadian Studies. She has published seven books including The Color of Stone: Sculpting the Black Female Subject in Nineteenth-Century America (2007), Slavery, Geography, and Empire in Nineteenth-Century Marine Landscapes of Montreal and Jamaica (2016), and Towards an African Canadian Art History: Art, Memory, and Resistance (2018). She is actively engaged with lay audiences through her media work including ABC, CBC, CTV, and City TV News, The Boston Globe, BBC One’s “Fake or Fortune,” and PBS’ “Finding your Roots”. She has blogged for Huffington Post Canada and written for The Walrus. In 2017, she was the William Lyon Mackenzie King Visiting Professor of Canadian Studies at Harvard University and in 2021 a Fields of the Future Fellow at Bard Graduate Center (NYC). In 2022, she was inducted as a Fellow in the Royal Society of Canada and elected as a Member of the American Antiquarian Society.


Fat Activism and Fat Life Writing

Guest Lecture by Judith Schreier (HU Berlin)

June 6, (Thur.), 2-3.30 p.m. (Sprachlabor 4)

Judith Schreier, scholar and activist, gives a lecture on "Fat Activism and Fat Life Writing." Schreier focuses on the fat-activist (online) community as well as the autobiography by the US-American activist Aubrey Gordon, "What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat", which deals with diet culture, fat stigmatization, and calls for social justice for people in different body sizes. The lecture is organized as part of the seminar "Food and Body Politics in American Literature and Culture" taught by Verena Wurth, and as part of the Diversity Week at the University of Colgone.

Judith Schreier is a PhD candidate at the Department of English and American Studies at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, working on the project Knowledgeable Fat: Fat Life Writing in American Literature and Culture.


Winter Semester 2023/2024

"Stranger In My Own Country Hip Hop, Disenfranchised Identities, and Performances of Resistance"

Guest Lecture by Prof. Travis Harris (Norfolk State University)

Thursday, November 30, 2023, 6 p.m., Philosphikum, S93

This talk will draw out the parallels between minority groups in the US and Germany with a particular focus on those who are Hip Hop. Bringing together performance studies with Hip Hop studies, I will analyze the ways in which disenfranchised peoples perform Hip Hop identities. This particular Hip Hop identity performed is informed by the idea of Hip Hop being a collective consciousness that comes out of a sacrifice. This Hip Hop identity is not one that the Hip Hoppa puts on and takes off, they are Hip Hop all the time. Therefore, this notion of "performance" is not a stage performance, rather, it is how minorities live in the private and public spheres that enables them to resist oppressive forces.

Travis Harris, Ph.D., is the Director of Black Revolutionary Education for the International Black Freedom Alliance, Visiting Assistant Professor at Norfolk State University and the Editor in Chief for the Journal of Hip Hop Studies. He is actively involved in the Black liberation movement and does not separate his freedom work from his academic work. His primary goal is for all Black people to get free. He has a plethora of experience in the freedom struggle, from getting Black people out of jail to protesting on the front lines to writing policy in order to make systemic change. His research examines the multiple dimensions of African diasporas with a specific focus on race, religion and Hip Hop. As an interdisciplinary freedom fighting scholar, he analyzes the complexities of Black life.


"Contexts for Literary Analysis: Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun"

Guest Lecture by Prof. Jeffrey Allan Tucker (University of Rochester)

Wednesday, December 20, 2023, 6 p.m., via Zoom

Using the scholarship of Donald Keesey as a starting point, this presentation identifies a handful of fundamental approaches to literary criticism and applies each of them to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin the Sun (1959) with the goal of generating ideas that will be of use to students as they develop their own interpretations of the play.

Jeffrey Allen Tucker is Associate Professor of English at the University of Rochester, where he is Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Departments of English and Black Studies. Prof. Tucker obtained his PhD at Princeton University and has studied literature as a context for discussions about postmodernism, cultural and identity politics, and racial representation. Much of his research has addressed the genre of science fiction. He is the author of A Sense of Wonder:  Samuel R. Delany, Race, Identity and Difference (2004), editor of Conversations with John A. Williams (2018), co-editor of Race Consciousness: African American Studies for the New Century (1997), and author of scholarly articles on writers such as Colson Whitehead, Octavia E. Butler, and George S. Schuyler.


Summer Semester 2023

Forever Wars – Wars Forever? Military Conflict in American Speculative Narratives

Guest lecture by Dr. Mareike Spychala (University of Bamberg) 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023, 2 p.m., Building 105, Hall C

This lecture was organized as part of the lecture "American Speculative Fiction," taught by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher

Eric S. Rabkin, in the essay “O Brave New Worlds: Science Fiction and the American Novel,” calls speculative (or science) fiction “the quintessentially American literary genre in what has become, globally, an American era” (310). Starting from this vantage point, it is remarkable, and maybe even concerning, how many U.S.-American speculative narratives across different media deal with military conflict. This lecture asks the questions why military conflict is such a mainstay in speculative narratives and what functions it fulfills in them. Looking at both literary texts, such as Joe Haldeman’s classic military science fiction novel The Forever War (1974), and television shows, specifically Star Trek: Voyager, this talk explores the uses of military conflict in speculative narratives and asks how the pervasive use of plots centered around military conflict is rooted in, and more or less critically engages with U.S.-American narratives of discovery and imperialism.

Mareike Spychala is a research assistant and lecturer at the University of Bamberg’s American Studies section. Her award-winning dissertation focused on autobiographies by female veterans of the Iraq War and on the intersections of gender and imperialism in these narratives. Her post-doctoral research focuses on 19th-century women’s poetry and especially on the work of Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt. Her most recent publication is an essay on “War and Conflict in Star Trek” for the Handbook on Star Trek (Routledge, 2022) and she has co-edited the collection Fighting for the Future: Essays on Star Trek: Discovery (Liverpool UP, 2020) and the conference proceedings War and Trauma in Past and Present: An Interdisciplinary Collection (WVT, 2019). Further essays on The Autobiography of Kathry Janeway, the film and comic series The Old Guard, and Andrew Shaffer’s Obama-Biden-Mystery novels are forthcoming in 2023.

‘This that sound of a medicine drop’: Anishinaabe Hip Hop and the Quest for Cultural Sovereignty

Guest lecture by Stefan Benz (University of Bonn) 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023, 4 p.m., Building 103, S 82

This lecture was organized as part of the seminar "Sound, Silence, and Noise in US Literature and Culture," taught by Dr. Mahshid Mayar. 

For quite some time now, popular narratives have acknowledged the diverse creative influences that gave birth to hip hop culture in the early 1970s. What is often omitted, however, is the fact that Indigenous artists were also involved in the creation of hip hop from the very start. Over the last two decades, Indigenous influences on hip hop culture have become unequivocal, with more and more Indigenous artists producing hip hop, leading to the emergence of a subgenre called ‘Indigenous Hip Hop.’ This guest lecture concerns itself with the work of Anishinaabe artists Sacramento Knoxx and SouFy to explore how hip hop music lends itself to the expression of Indigenous concerns, more specifically, the negotiation of Indigenous political and cultural sovereignty.

Knoxx and SouFy both draw on hip hop’s established status as an artform that addresses the political concerns of the socially marginalized. Their music records urgent political crises that affect Indigenous communities in Detroit, and it amplifies the central concerns and slogans of Indigenous activist initiatives. Hip hop’s idiosyncratic musical styles, above all, sampling, have further allowed them to reevaluate contemporary Indigenous identities as syncretic and hybrid, to undermine settler colonial perceptions of Indigenous cultures as pre-/antimodern, and to form new understandings of Indigenous traditions. They thus participate in the reinscription of Indigenous presences into the idea of a ‘modern’ society and popular culture (Mays 2018). Most importantly, it is their use of Anishinaabe musical and narrative aesthetics that provides them with the means to negotiate contemporary Indigenous existences not just against, but beyond settler colonial frameworks and binaries.   


Stefan Benz is a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the University of Bonn’s North American Studies Program in Germany. In his dissertation, he explored the resonances between critical posthumanism and the Beat poetry of Michael McClure, Diane di Prima, and Philip Whalen. Therefore, he conducted parts of his research at Wayne State University, Detroit, under the supervision of Steven Shaviro. His postdoctoral project “Negotiations of Rhythm and Sound from Early Indigenous Writing to Hip Hop and EDM” is interested in how representations of rhythm and rhythmic practices negotiate Indigenous identity within and against ongoing structures of settler colonialism. He is the co-editor of a forthcoming special issue of Amerikastudien / American Studies on Capitalist Crisis Poetry. His latest article, published in Ecozon@, studies the hydrocentric imagination of selected rap songs by Black and Indigenous artists, including Yasiin Bey, Common, Taboo, and Supaman.  

Rehearsing the Past through Afrofuturism

Guest lecture by Andrew Erickson (University of Potsdam) 

Tuesday, May 23, 2023, 2 p.m., Building 105, Hall C

This lecture was organized as part of the lecture "American Speculative Fiction," taught by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher

In his talk, Andrew Erickson discusses the alternative historical and future imaginaries of Colson Whitehead and Ta-Nehisi Coates, placing them in a longer tradition Black American and Afrofuturist Speculation.

Andrew Erickson is an independent scholar affiliated with the University of Potsdam, whose recent publications focus on anti-intellectualism and contested histories and on the critical Black posthumanism of American disaster fiction. He is the co-editor of Transnational Literatures and Literary Transfer in the 20th and 21st Centuries, due to appear in Autumn 2023, and currently works on a Ph.D. project that understands postapocalyptic speculative fiction by Black American makers through the lens of resistance and resurgence in the afterlives of American enslavement and settler colonialism. Research interests include postcolonial studies, transnational/ transoceanic literatures, Knowledge Transfer, science communication, science and speculative fiction (esp. Afrofuturism), critical posthumanisms, and digital humanities.

Winter Semester 2022/2023

Recapping Transmedia Storyworlds in Fan Podcasts

Guest lecture by Anne Korfmacher (University of Cologne) 

Wednesday, Dec 21, 2022, 2 p.m., Building 103, Room S63

This lecture was organized as part of the seminar "PSSP: New Golden Age TV: Crimes and Other Disasters," taught by Verena Wurth.


Anne Korfmacher (University of Cologne): Recapping Transmedia Storyworlds in Fan Podcasts

Podcasting is often celebrated as a particularly accessible medium which allows diverse groups of creators to produce and disseminate audio content online. One of the groups of creators thriving in podcasting is the growing community of fans that has taken to the serial medium to comment on and recap ongoing television series one episode at a time. This talk focused on these recap podcasts by introducing podcasting as a new serial medium which constitutes a form of participatory culture that affords fans to create and broadcast new engaging transformative work. In particular, the talk offers recap podcasts as a co-construction of transmedia storyworlds, using the main example of The Doctor Who Big Blue Box Podcast to trace how fans respond to and interact with transmedia storytelling via the podcast medium.

Anne Korfmacher is a final year PhD student at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities, Cologne, researching three distinct fan podcast genres: rewatch/reread podcasts, recap podcasts and review podcasts. Her dissertation analyses these podcast genres from a cultural studies-informed formalist perspective and traces how different fan podcasts engage with the commentary form to describe the genres’ distinct functions. She has previously published on podcasting in international journals such as Participations, Routledge’s Porn Studies, Anglistik and genderforum and her main research interest include podcast studies, fan studies, as well as gender and queer studies.


Gender, Race, Reproduction– and Vampires? Interrogating Reproductive Ideologies in Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling

Guest lecture by Dr. Ina Batzke (University of Augsburg) 

Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, 4 p.m., via Zoom

This lecture was organized as part of the seminar "HS: Gender, Race, and Reproduction in American Culture" taught by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher.

Ina Batzke (University of Augsburg): Gender, Race, Reproduction– and Vampires? Interrogating Reproductive Ideologies in Octavia E. Butler’s Fledgling

This lecture focused on literary conceptions of the “reproductive citizen.” In a reading of Octavia E. Butler’s oeuvre, and in particular her 2005 novel Fledgling, traditional connotations of reproduction as furthering the nation by offspring that resembles the current citizenry are linked to the twenty-first-century renewal of reproductive ideologies. Most of Butler’s work was published after the so-called “reproductive turn” and casts a utopian vision of a future where artificial reproduction is possible and multispecies family-making is encouraged. Nevertheless, these ‘utopias’ also suffer from social constructs of race that are disguised as biological facts—and thus depends on similar eugenic negotiations regarding who can or rather should be a reproductive citizen. In contrast to earlier or traditional literary conceptions such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s Herland, however, I argue that Fledgling interrogates long-standing interconnections between reproduction, race, and utopia via its protagonist, Shori, a Black human-vampire hybrid. While genetic engineering caused Shori to occupy a position between reproductive perfection and racial contamination in the first place, the eventual acceptance of Shori as a “new reproductive citizen” enables a careful entanglement of biological traits and their transference into the social and political realm.

Ina Batzke joined the University of Augsburg, Germany as a post-doctoral researcher and lecturer in American Studies in 2018 after she received her PhD from the University of Münster. She is the author of the monograph Undocumented Migrants in the United States: Life Narratives and Self-Representations (Routledge 2019), which summarizes her research in life writing and critical refugee studies, and co-editor of the volumes Storied Citizenship: Imagining the Citizen in American Literature (special issue of Amerikastudien 65.4, 2020) and Life Writing in the Posthuman Anthropocene (Palgrave, 2021). In connection with her current book project, she has recently become interested in feminist technoscience, ecocriticism/ecofeminism, and how these concepts play out in contemporary speculative fiction.


Childhood, Youth and Social Regulation in 19th Century Canada

Guest lecture by Prof. Catherine Larochelle (University of Montreal) 

Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022, 4 p.m., via Zoom 

This lecture was organized as part of the seminar "PS: American Childhoods Through Literature and Culture," taught by Dr. Mahshid Mayar.

Catherine Larochelle (Université de Montréal):  Childhood, Youth and Social Regulation in 19th Century Canada

In the 19th century, European and American societies experienced a religious revival. This took different forms. The revival of missionary activity and the care of children "in danger" were two of its manifestations. The question of children in difficulty has given rise to numerous historical works on specific national or local cases. The Western character of this questioning is expressed in several transnational syntheses. This concern for the child to be "protected" or "saved" is a corollary of the moral and philosophical reflection on childhood that led, at the beginning of the 19th century, to its conceptualization as innocence.

This talk examines the various manifestations of this social regulation of childhood in Canada throughout the 19th century from a colonial and transnational perspective: orphanages, nurseries, residential schools, delinquency, reform schools, labour laws, etc.

Catherine Larochelle is professor in the Department of History at the Université de Montréal, Canada, and a member of the editorial board of the journal HistoireEngagée.ca. Her research interests intersect with the history of childhood and youth, the history of imperialism representations in Quebec/Canada, representations of Indigenous peoples and the history of the French-Canadian missionary movement. She is the author of L’école du racisme. La construction de l’altérité à l’école québécoise 1830-1915 published by Presses de l’Université de Montréal in 2021. An English translation of her book will be published by University of Manitoba Press. She is now working on the history of the Catholic organisation the Holy Childhood Association.


Erasure as Creative Poetry Writing

Guest lecture by Prof. David Caplan (Southern Methodist University)

Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022, 2:30 p.m., via Zoom

This lecture was organized as part of the seminar "MS: Poetry of Erasure: Theory and Practice," taught by Dr. Mahshid Mayar.


David Caplan (Southern Methodist University): Erasure as Creative Poetry Writing

“The Poetics of Erasure” considers the uses that contemporary American poets have discovered in the technique of erasure. To understand erasure’s appeal, it is useful to consider the opportunities that erasure offers and the ambitions that inspire the poets. A forthcoming collection will focus our discussion. This year, Mad Creek Books / Ohio State University Press will publish Mag Gabbert’s collection, Sex Depression Animals, the winner of The Journal Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize. The collection contains haiku, an abecedarian, and free-verse lyrics, as well as several erasure poems. Considered together, the poems clarify the work the erasure shares with other currently popular forms and techniques and the contribution it separately adds.

David Caplan is the Daisy Deane Frensley Chair in English Literature at Southern Methodist University and the author of seven books of literary criticism and poetry. His books include Rhyme’s Challenge: Hip Hop, Poetry, and Contemporary Rhyming Culture, Questions of Possibility: Contemporary Poetry and Poetic Form, and American Poetry: A Very Short Introduction, all from Oxford University Press.


Theorizing Black Anthroposcreens: Queen Sugar and Black Panther 

Guest lecture by Prof. Julia Leyda (Norwegian U of Science and Technology)

Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2022; 2.00 p.m., via Zoom 

This lecture is organized as part of the seminar "Ecocriticism and Mobility Studies,” taught by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher.


Julia Leyda (Norwegian University of Science and Technology): Theorizing Black Anthroposcreens   

This talk situates two popular screen texts within the frameworks of Black media studies and environmental humanities. Mobilizing the concept of the climate unconscious in combination with analysis of Black cultural representation (both on- and off-screen), it theorizes the affective resonances and environmental politics of two US American Black screen productions: Queen Sugar and Black Panther. The climate unconscious frame binds together the two textual analyses to demonstrate what this concept adds to debates over representation in general—while engaging the latter as a necessary and ongoing part of understanding Black American films and television as always already ecological. 

Julia Leyda is Professor of Film Studies in the Department of Art and Media Studies at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Trondheim, where she is a founder of the NTNU Environmental Humanities Research Group. She teaches and conducts research in and across the disciplines including the environmental humanities, intersectional feminist cultural studies, and film/television/media studies. She has written, edited, or co-edited six books, most recently, Reframing Todd Haynes: Feminism’s Indelible Mark (Duke UP, 2022); her forthcoming book, Anthroposcreens (Cambridge UP, 2023), focuses on the climate unconscious in contemporary US and Norwegian television and film.


Summer Semester 2022

Emily Dickinson and War Poetry

Guest Lecture by Prof. Dr. Colleen Glenney Boggs (Dartmouth College)

Monday, June 20, 2022; 4.00-5.30 p.m. (Zoom)

This lecture situated Emily Dickinson’s work in the larger context of US American Civil War poetry. It is organized as part of the seminar “The Poetry of Emily Dickinson,” taught by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher. The lecture is part of a hybrid course. Because Colleen Boggs joined the course virtually from the East Coast of the United States, this particular session took place online.

Colleen Glenney Boggs is the Parents Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities. A scholar of nineteenth-century American literature, she is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, and the Mellon Foundation, and the author of Patriotism By Proxy: The Civil War Draft and the Cultural Formation of Citizen-Soldiers, 1863-1865 (Oxford University Press, 2020), Animalia Americana: Animal Representations and Biopolitical Subjectivity (Columbia University Press, 2013) and Transnationalism and American Literature: Literary Translation 1773-1892 (Routledge, 2007; paperback 2009). Her work has appeared in American Literature, PMLA, Cultural Critique, and J19, among others. She edited the volume Options for Teaching the Literatures of the American Civil War (Modern Language Association, 2016). Together with Laura Doyle (University of Massachusetts, Amherst) and Maria Cristina Fumagalli (University of Essex), she co-edits the book series Edinburgh Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures. Currently a member of the MLA Publications Committee, she has also served on the PMLA Editorial Board and as Director of the Leslie Center for the Humanities.


Queer Aging: The (In)Visibility of Older Queer Women in Suzette Mayr’s The Widows

Guest lecture by Dr. Linda Heß (University of Augsburg)

Tuesday, May 24, 2022; 2.00 - 3.30 p.m., Building 106, Room S24

This talk focused on the specific intersection of older age, gender, queerness and the specific invisibilities that form at this intersection for older women whose lives do not follow the logic of heteronormative linear timelines. Suzette Mayr’s The Widows (1998) is an excellent literary example that not only explicitly addresses such invisibilities (already in its title: Who is perceived as a “widow”?  What does this term imply?), but also finds simultaneously hilarious and meaningful ways to redeem this invisibility through its portrayal of older lesbian women and alternative forms of intergenerational community and “inheritance.”

Linda Hess is a senior lecturer and postdoctoral researcher at the Chair of American Studies at the University of Augsburg in Germany. She is the author of Queer Aging in North American Fiction (2019) and co-editor of Life Writing in the Posthuman Anthropocene (2021). Her current research focuses on ideas of grievability, preservation, and loss in ecocriticism, a topic also adressed in her most recent article “Filmic Gold: The Elemental Aesthetics of the Klondike Gold Rush in Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016),” which appeared in ZAA (Zeitschrift für Anglistik und Amerikanistik) in the spring of 2022.


From Pulp to Carol: In/Visible Histories and Queer Nostalgia

Guest lecture by Dr. Katrin Horn (U of Bayreuth)

Tuesday, July 5, 2022; 2.00-3.30 p.m., Bulding 106/ Room S24 (+ Zoom, with certain technical limitations)

Lesbian pulp fiction offers an intriguing example of the co-existence of hypervisibility and relative invisibility in the same literary product. Their lurid covers made them hard to miss on newsstands in the 1950s and make for an easily recognizable queer iconography (and commodity) now. At the same time, the success of pulp fiction reflects the invisibility of lesbian lives in mainstream literature available in the postwar years, and their supposed lack of literary quality (and of happy endings) have made them invisible as part of a canon of lesbian literature until recently. Against the backdrop of such ambivalence, this talk will explore the role of queer nostalgia in contemporary responses to 1950s pulp through a dual focus on Ann Bannon’s “pro-lesbian pulp novels” and their myriad re-issues, and on Claire Morgan’s (Patricia Highsmith) The Price of Salt and its Haynes/Nagy film adaption Carol (2015).

Dr. Katrin Horn is an assistant professor (akad. Rätin a. Z.) at the chair of Anglophone Literatures and Cultures at the University of Bayreuth, where she leads a research project, funded by the DFG (2019–2022), on the uses and value of gossip in the nineteenth-century. As a member of the “Failures of Knowledge – Knowledge of Failure” network, she is currently also working on mediated constructions of the closet. Her research and teaching generally focus on queer and gender studies, media studies, literatures of the long nineteenth century, and the history of knowledge.  Her publications include the monograph Women, Camp, and Popular Culture – Serious Excess (Palgrave, 2017), the co-edited collection American Cultures as Transnational Performance: Traces, Commons, Skills (Routledge, 2021), as well as articles on various aspects of US American culture, most recently:

  • “#god im so glad i got to go: The Monster Ball Tour, Transnational Performances, and Digital Traces.” American Cultures as Transnational Performance: Traces, Commons, Skills, edited by Katrin Horn, Leopold Lippert, Ilka Saal, and Pia Wiegmink. New York: Routledge, 2021.

  • “Of Gaps and Gossip: Intimacy in the Archive.” Anglia: Zeitschrift für englische Philologie. 138.3 (2020): 428-448.

  • “Right or Obligation? Privacy in Henry James’ The Bostonians.” The United States and the Question of Rights. Hg. Irina Brittner, Sabine N. Meyer, und Peter Schneck. Heidelberg: Winter. 137-156.

This lecture is organized as part of the seminar "Queer In/Visibility in American literature,” taught by Jun.-Prof. Dr. Judith Rauscher. There is limited seating in the room, so please contact american-studies[at]uni-koeln.de, if you want to attend the lecture in person. If you want to join the conversation via Zoom, please also contact us via email but also be aware that the available technology in the room imposes certain limitations.


Winter Semester 2021/2022

Rise Up! Class Conflict and Neoliberal Speculative Survival in the Walking Dead

Guest lecture by Maxi Albrecht (JFKI Berlin)

Tuesday, January 18, 2022; noon - 1.30 p.m. (via Zoom).

The guest lecture took place in the advanced seminar "Masses, Classes, and the State in American Culture."

“We’re the ones who live” – this mantra, repeated frequently during the seventh season of AMC’S ultra-successful zombie horror show The Walking Dead (2010-present), embodies the status its heroes have attained over the course of surviving years in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. After the collapse of state power as we know it, they have killed masses of zombies, endured near-starvation, seen the rise and fall of new settlements, and faced human antagonists from megalomaniacs to cannibalists. In short, they have adapted, through hardship and loss, to a new mode of living and surviving. They have become idealized subjects, whose speculative survival struggle occurs under neoliberal paradigms, remarkably in the complete absence of a recognizable economy or state power. Yet, at the end of the sixth season their status as fully individualized, realized, resilient, and self-sufficient subjects comes under dire threat with the introduction of uber-antagonist Negan (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Negan’s rule signals a re-emergence of economic structures and re-introduces class struggle into this post-apocalyptic world. The subsequent “Rise Up” and “All Out War” story arcs dramatize the recovery of the heroes’ previous status and autonomy and way of life.

Maxi Albrecht is visiting lecturer at the Culture Department of the John-F.-Kennedy Institute at Freie Universität Berlin. Before taking up this position she completed her dissertation titled “Speculative Subjects Surviving Somehow: Speculative Survival Narrative and Neoliberal Intelligence Politics in the 21st Century” at the Graduate School of North American Studies at Freie Universität. She holds an MA in British and North American Cultural Studies from the University of Freiburg, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in Intercultural European and American Studies and History from Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg.


***Cancelled*** Walt Whitman's Democratic Vistas

Guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Ed Folsom (University of Iowa)

Tuesday, Nov. 16, 2021. 6  - 7.30 p.m. (via Zoom)

This guest lecture is part of the advanced seminar "Masses, Classes, and the State in American Culture."

Unfortunately, this talk had to be cancelled due to unforseeable circumstances. If you are interested in American poetry or Walt Whitman's poetry in particular, please stay on the lookout for future events on the subject.


Summer Semester 2021

Gastvortrag: Schwarzer Feminismus

Natasha A. Kelly ist promovierte Kommunikationssoziologin, Autorin und Künstlerin. Mit ihrer preisgekrönten und international gereisten Dokumentation „Millis Erwachen“ feierte sie ihr Filmdebüt auf der 10. Berlin Biennale 2018. Ihre siebte Publikation „Rassismus, Strukturelle Probleme brauchen strukturelle Lösungen“ erschien im April 2021.

In ihrem Gastvortrag spricht Dr. Kelly über:
Schwarzer Feminismus, Rassismus und Intersektionalität
„Als die Schwarze US-amerikanische Frauen*rechtlerin und Freiheitskämpferin Sojourner Truth (1851) während ihrer Rede auf einem Frauenkongress in Akron (Ohio) die Frage stellte, ob sie denn keine Frau* sei, brachte sie eine Debatte ins Rollen, die noch heute von großer Bedeutung ist. Sie hatte nämlich gleichermaßen weiße Frauen* für den Rassismus und Schwarze Männer für den Sexismus kritisiert, den sie Schwarzen Frauen* jeweils entgegenbrachten. Doch wie verliefen die Schwarzen feministischen Debatten seither? Natasha A. Kelly gibt Einblick in Terminologien und Entwicklungen des Schwarzen Feminismus und wie er heute auch in Deutschland zu sozialen Veränderungen führen kann.“
Gefördert aus dem Finanzfonds zur Umsetzung des gesetzlichen Gleichstellungsauftrages der Universität zu Köln und durch das AmerikaHaus e.V. NRW.
Anmeldung über american-studies[at]uni-koeln.de.


Guest Lecture: Refugee-Terrorist-Revolutionary

Guest lecture by Dr. Kelly Polasek (Wayne State University, USA)

This talk considers Omar El Akkad’s 2017 novel American War as an American refugee story that uses the literary strategy of speculative extrapolation to draw connections between historical refugee crises of the past century and other pressing social issues including US antiblack racism, militarism, imperialism, and climate change. Sarat’s cumulative life experiences enable contemporary readers to conceive of the US’s centuries-long history of imperialism and chattel slavery—global and local trajectories of terror and violence—in a single individual’s short lifespan. The novel’s plotting critically engages with the US’s dominant national narrative by extrapolating fictitious yet plausible near-future events that are clear parallels to actual historical and/or ongoing events (for example, the indefinite detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo Bay military prison). By setting the novel in the late 21st century, I argue, El Akkad shapes a particular form of antiwarsentiment that recognizes war, forced migration, international and domestic racisms, gender-based violence, and climate degradation as intersectional.

Dr. Kelly Roy Polasek is an Intermittent Lecturer at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor in the Comprehensive Studies Program where she teaches a Summer Bridge Scholars Program reading/writing seminar focused on racism and antiracism in the United States. Kelly received her Ph.D. in English with a concentration in Literary and Cultural Studies from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where she also taught in the Composition and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies programs. Her research focuses on 20th and 21st century antiwar literature, aesthetic theory, gender and sexuality, and visual culture.


Winter Semester 2020/2021

2021, Jan. 11: Guest Lecture "Self and Things: A Posthumanist Reading of Sylvia Plath's Poetry," by Dr. Mahshid Mayar (University of Bielefeld)

This guest lecture was organized as part of the lecture "Amerian Women's poetry," taught by JProf. Dr. Judith Rauscher.

2020, Dec. 21: Guest Lecture on Muriel Rukeyser and Poetry Reading by Dr. Laura Passin (Colorado, USA)

This guest lecture was organized as part of the lecture "Amerian Women's poetry," taught by JProf. Dr. Judith Rauscher.

2020, Dec. 14: Guest Lecture "The Garden Poetry of Anne Spencer" by Prof. Dr. Melissa Zeiger (Dartmouth College, USA)

This guest lecture was organized as part of the lecture "Amerian Women's poetry," taught by JProf. Dr. Judith Rauscher.

2020, Nov. 23: Guest Lecture "Emily Dickinson's Garden Ecology of Crisis" by Prof. Dr. Christine Gerhardt (University of Bamberg)

This guest lecture was organized as part of the lecture "Amerian Women's poetry," taught by JProf. Dr. Judith Rauscher.