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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 will take place in the advanced seminar "Masses, Classes, and the State in American Culture." If you are not a participant in the class but would like to attend the guest lecture, please send an email to american-studies[at] to register.

Guest Lecture: Rise Up! Class Conflict and Neoliberal Speculative Survival in The Walking Dead

“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]

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.