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

Forthcoming Book -- Judith Rauscher

This project analyzes 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, Ecopoetic Place-Making 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 and American Popular Culture

International collaboration with Prof. Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Wheeler (University of Oregon)
Initially 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 queries 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.

Workshop Series: "Local Practices - Transatlantic Conversations"

Technoscience, Violence, and the State in Speculative Fiction

Book Project: Fictions of a (Non-)Violent State: Single-Sex Societies in American Culture

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 and narratives of gender segregation or gender elimination to explore the relationship between human nature, culture, sociality, and governance. In depicting all-male, all-female, or androgynous communities larger than a single town or village, the novels, short stories, films, TV series and 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 cultural, scientific, and technological progress on the individual as well as society, they also address (imaginary) histories of (non-)violence and the many forms that (state-)violence can take. In doing so, these speculative texts, which include works of utopia, dystopia, science fiction, fantasy, weird fiction and film, and horror amongst others, have thus each responded to and participated in larger cultural and political debates of their time about which kinds of change promised by technoscience society it 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.


Other Publications and Writing Projects

  • Gender, Violence, and the State in Contemporary Speculative Fiction I, edited with Marta Usiekniewicz, Special Issue of Gender Forum 80 (2021).
  • Gender, Violence, and the State in Contemporary Speculative Fiction II, edited with Marta Usiekniewicz, Special Issue of Gender Forum 82 [2022]. Forthcoming.
  • "Witches and Warfare: The (Un-)Radical Feminism of Motherland: Fort Salem." (AT)