literature, cultural studies, history, political science, linguistics, critical theory, teaching of American Studies
Amerikastudien / American Studies
Amerikastudien / American Studies is the journal of the German Association for American Studies. It started as the annual Jahrbuch für Amerikastudien in 1956 and has since developed into a quarterly with some 1200 subscriptions in Europe and the United States. The journal is dedicated to interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives and embraces the diversity and dynamics of a dialogic and comparatist understanding of American Studies. It covers all areas of American Studies from literary and cultural criticism, history, political science, and linguistics to the teaching of American Studies. Thematic issues alternate with regular ones. Reviews, forums, and annual bibliographies support the international circulation of German and European scholarship in American Studies.
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007 - Transatlantic Perspectives on American Visual Culture, Vol. 52, No. 1
The Düsseldorf Academy of Art, Emanuel Leutze, and German-American Transatlantic Exchange in the Mid-Nineteenth Century
This paper addresses the influence of the American School at the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts on American history painting in the 1840s and 1850s, most prominently represented by the German-American painter Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze (1816-1868). By focusing on Leutze's artistic production in the decade prior to his famous Washington Crossing the Delaware (1851), particularly the Columbus series, I will discuss the emergence of an American style of history painting in a transatlantic context, which did not intend to merely represent but to interpret history. After all, many well-known American painters worked in Düsseldorf, most of them directly with Leutze. While Leutze's techniques were largely influenced by the Düsseldorf Academy, his themes, socio-cultural agendas, and political ideologies were clearly American. Thus, on the level of method, Leutze employed the theatricality and performativity of the "living images" practiced by the Düsseldorf theater. On the level of content, however, Leutze projected his idea of American greatness into the future, even though many of his images dealt with Euro-American themes. This blend turned the German-American painter into one of the most important transatlantic artistic figures of the mid-nineteenth century.
The Hybrid Art of Fashion Photography: American Photographers in Post-World War II Europe
The distinction between art photography and fashion photography was long regarded as significant and necessary to protect 'serious' photography from fashion's odium. Like authors writing for Hollywood, 'serious' photographers risked their respectability if they worked for one of the major fashion journals and thus carefully avoided being labeled 'fashion photographers.' Yet early on, major American photographers -- Edward Steichen, Man Ray, Clifford Coffin, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, and William Klein among them -- spent years abroad working for international fashion journals, producing images that emphasized the fashionable and transitory quality of dress and glamour while creating photographs of timeless beauty and aesthetic value. This paper will adopt a phenomenological, descriptive approach in order to focus on the visual inventiveness of American photographers in transforming European fashion into images of perfection while at the same time transgressing accepted generic boundaries.
"Irony is a Cheap Shot": Robert Altman, Luis Buñuel, and the Maneuvers of Comic Deconstruction
In 2006, the year of his death, Robert Altman received an Honorary Academy Award for his lifetime achievement. Despite this belated recognition by the Hollywood establishment, his films since the late 1960s have been regarded as highly critical and aesthetically complex forms of interrogating American culture and society. Indeed, Altman was one of the last active auteurs from the era of the New Hollywood Cinema who had begun their careers by deconstructing Hollywood formulas and American myths. Focusing on his early work and, in particular, on aspects of the comic, this essay examines how Altman's films shaped, and complicated, what has been called his democratic aesthetic. By juxtaposing Altman with the late work of Luis Buñuel, I will argue that a crucial, if ambiguous, achievement of the American art cinema lies in its interrelation of comic deconstruction and performative self-creation.
The Index and Its Vicissitudes: Hyperrealism from Richard Estes to Andreas Gursky
Comparing the high-precision paintings of the photorealist Richard Estes with the large-scale photographs of Andreas Gursky opens up a view on the transatlantic dynamic of hyperrealism that has hitherto gone almost completely unnoticed. While both artists share a strong interest in hyperrealist aesthetics, contrasting Estes with Gursky also allows us to see how this aesthetic underwent a transformation as it traveled from American photorealist painting to German Becher-circle photography. Most obviously, the two uvres differ regarding imagery: The majority of Estes's paintings show cityscapes derived from a specifically American iconography, whereas Gursky's works emphasize the topos of worldwide circulation. On a deeper level, both artists differ in their assessment of indexicality. Through his painterly approximation of the photographic look, Estes suggests that photography, despite or even because of its indexicality, fails to provide representations that both look and feel realistic -- a shortcoming arguably alleviated by photorealist painting. While Estes thereby questions the relevance of indexicality for realistic representation, Gursky casts the index itself into doubt by digitally manipulating his conventional photographs. Surprisingly, however, this does not simply transport Gursky's semi-digital photography into the realm of the fictional usually ascribed to painting. Rather, the undecidable status of his photographs' indexicality, in combination with his move towards abstraction, creates a new sense of representational truth. Estes and Gursky thus challenge the critical discourse on the index of the last thirty years.
"To See Things Before Other People See Them": Don DeLillo's Visual Poetics
Don DeLillo's fascination with images in general and visual art in particular has been noted by many readers and critics. Especially in regard to the dominant role of modern media in DeLillo's fiction -- from photography, film and television to the computer -- this obvious obsession with contemporary American visual culture has often been interpreted as a fundamental critique of the global culture of media images. However, a more thoughtful investigation at DeLillo's specific use of images reveals that his attitude towards visual culture is much more complex, both highly ambivalent and highly self-reflexive. For while the author is indeed wary of the powerful cultural effects of the image, DeLillo also tries to tap into this power by carefully integrating the presentation of imagery from various sources into his own highly visual poetics. What characterizes the visual strategies in DeLillo's writing most is the attempt to expand the effect and function of literary descriptions of visual representations -- i.e. what is commonly called ekphrasis -- through the convergence of contrasting visual formats. The article discusses specific instances of DeLillo's visual poetics which are built on the description of paintings, while giving particular attention to the contrast between their original European iconographic tradition and DeLillo's revisualization in the context of American culture.
Transatlantic Landscapes and Living Images: 'Marlboro Country' Revisited
"A landscape is a cultural image, a pictorial way of representing, structuring or symbolizing surroundings. This is not to say," as Denis Cosgove and Stephen Daniels point out, "that landscapes are immaterial. They may be represented in a variety of materials and on many surfaces -- in paint on canvas, in writing on paper, in earth, stone, water and vegetation of the ground" (1). Thus a landscape is always both 'image' and 'picture,' and as such also bound to a specific site and an artistic genre. The iconography of 'Marlboro Country,' which will serve as my starting point as well as the lens to look at the American western landscape is not only a typical representative of this conceptual ambiguity of landscape, but it is also one that stands out because of what W.J.T. Mitchell would call its lasting 'vitality.' Conceived in the early nineteenth century the American western landscape, which has by now been so efficiently condensed into the familiar Marlboro advertising images, initially seemed 'unspeakable' to its European explorers. Applying Mitchell's approach of 'found objects' and 'living images' this paper revisits instances of the evolution of its imagery in textual and visual accounts of the nineteenth century and traces a shift from the 'object found' gaining recognition by its picturesque visualization to the baroque 'object lost' of wilderness nostalgia which we find still at work in the visual rhetoric of the Marlboro campaigns today.
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012, 57.3
Conceptions of Collectivity in Contemporary American Literature, Vol. 57, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012, Vol. 57, Vol. 1
American Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Vol. 56, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012, Vol. 56, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2011, Vol. 56, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2011, Vol. 56, No. 1
African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges , Vol. 55, No. 4
Trauma's Continuum -- September 11th Reconsidered, Vol. 55, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2010, Vol. 55, No. 2
Poverty and the Culturalization of Class , Vol. 55, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2009, Vol. 54, No. 4
American History/ies in Germany: Assessments, Transformations, Perspectives, Vol. 54, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2009, Vol. 54, No. 2
Appropriating Vision(s): Visual Practices in American Women's Writing, Vol. 54, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008, Vol. 53, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008 - Die Bush-Administration: Eine erste Bilanz, Vol. 53, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008, Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008 Vol. 53, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008 - Inter-American Studies and Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 53, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007, Vol. 52, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007 - Teaching American Studies in the Twenty-First Century, Vol. 52, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007, Vol. 52, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006, Vol. 51, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006 - Asian American Studies in Europe, Vol. 51, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006, Vol. 51, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006 - Multilingualism and American Studies , Vol. 51, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2005, Vol. 50, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2005 - Early American Visual Culture, Vol. 50, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2005 - American Studies at 50, Vol. 50, Nos. 1/2