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Ecopoetic Place-Making: Nature and Mobility in Contemporary American Poetry

Forthcoming Book

This project analyses the works of contemporary American poets of migration as a vital source of environmental insight for our current age of mass mobility and global ecological crisis. Drawing from ecocriticism and mobility studies, it focuses on American ecopoetries of migration invested in rethinking mobile subjects’ relationships to the more-than-human world. The human-nature relationships of displaced and mobile peoples of various backgrounds are complex, these poets suggest, due to experiences and histories of racial, settler colonial, and environmental violence. By creatively reimagining such relationships, a process I refer to as “ecopoetic place-making,” their texts challenge exclusive notions of belonging and purely localized forms of place-attachment and thus testify to the potential of poetry as a means of theorizing alternative environmental imaginaries for our contemporary world on the move.

Critical Environmental Education as a Cultural Studies Project

International collaboration with Prof. Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Wheeler (University of Oregon)
Funded by the Bavarian Research Alliance (BayFor)

This project aims to research, develop, and put into practice innovative, site-specific approaches to environmental education by establishing an exchange between scholars from the department of American Studies at the University of Cologne and scholars from the department of English at the University of Oregon. It investigates the potential of American popular culture as a means to further environmental awareness and foster civic environmentalism. Studying pop-cultural artifacts that engage with the current environmental crisis and issues of sustainability allows for a systematic analysis of social, economic, political, and ecological relations in conjunction with media-specific questions of representation. Critical cultural studies methodologies—specifically those combining environmental with disability, feminist, queer, and anti-racist pedagogies—provide the necessary tools for such analysis. By promoting environmental literacy and by creating opportunities for service learning, this project hopes to contribute to building more sustainable societies and to encourage democratic participation as well as civic engagement.

Single-Sex Societies in American Culture

Current Book Project

This project examines representations of single-sex societies in American culture from the 19th-century to the present that rely on biological definitions of sexual difference to explore the relationship between human nature, sociality, and governance. In depicting all-male, all-female, or androgynous communities, the short stories, novels, films, TV episodes, and comics selected for analysis speculate about alternative forms of social organization and about alternative ways of organizing formal and informal political communities. Representations of single-sex societies are state fictions concerned with the future as well as with the past. While they examine the effects of of scientific and technological progress on the individual as well as society, they also address histories of violence and the many forms that (state-)violence can take. In doing so, these speculative texts have thus participated in larger cultural and political debates of their time about which kinds of change promised by technoscience society should embrace and which ones it should resist.

Transatlantic Cultures of Decadence

Essay Project

This project focuses on two different aspects of early 20th-century American cultures of decadence, which must be considered an inherently transatlantic phenomenon. On the one hand, it investigates the critique of European and American decadent culture in the speculative fiction of Jack London. On the other hand, it examines the influence of the French author Rachilde (Marguerite Eymery) on the work of the queer writer and salonnière Natalie Clifford Barney.

“Based on a True Story:” American Melodrama and Cultural Analysis

Collaboration with Prof. Dr. Hanjo Berressem and Prof. Dr. Sandy Flitterman-Lewis
Supported by the Erich Auerbach Institute for Advanced Studies of the University of Cologne

Poised at the intersection of affect studies, gender studies, and social/cultural criticism, this collaborative project investigates melodrama as a genre, a mode, and, more broadly, as a cultural form and structure of feeling that governs American (popular) cultural production and U.S. American worldmaking more generally.