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Winter Semester 2022/2023

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 is organized as part of the seminar "MS: Poetry of Erasure: Theory and Practice," taught by Dr. Mahshid Mayar. To participate in the lecture, please register via  


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

“The Poetics of Erasure” will consider 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 and will take place online. To participate in the lecture, please register via american-studies[at]


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 will situate 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 will join the course virtually from the East Coast of the United States, this particular session will take place online. If you want to join the lecture via Zoom, please contact american-studies[at]

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 will focus 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], 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 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 for the event.

“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.