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 - Teaching American Studies in the Twenty-First Century, Vol. 52, No. 3
Introduction: Teaching American Studies in the Twenty-First Century
"Writing in 'that other space'": Digital Storytelling and the Scholarship of Teaching in American Studies
The paper introduces the emerging 'scholarship of teaching and learning' as a movement that challenges the status of teaching in academic American Studies in the United States and offers tools for an assessment of pedagogies in the field. The disciplinary design of American Studies has changed noticeably since the 1960s, when critical pedagogy became highly influential with progressive educators. In the teaching of American Studies, this has led to new and revised curricula and the integration of new technologies. But the status of teaching remains unchanged. Scholarly teaching is not considered as problem-driven, serious intellectual work, and the notion of teaching and scholarship as two completely separate fields still prevails. Critical pedagogy has provided important theoretical guidelines for teaching, but it does not offer the tools we need to better understand where and how learning in American Studies courses takes place. Likewise, it fails to suggest how certain traditional or multimedia pedagogies are expressive of specific methods and agendas of knowledge production in American Studies. To reinvent critical pedagogy from within the field of academic American Studies, I suggest that we engage in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) and Lee Shulman's notion of 'signature pedagogies' as a way to make teaching truly consonant with programmatic and methodological markers of the field. My formulation of the attributes of potential American Studies pedagogies offers a basis for the re-evaluation of traditional classroom practices. With a case study from the Visible Knowledge Project, I introduce digital storytelling as a potential pedagogical marker of American Studies which makes tacit knowledge about the conceptual and political agenda of our field visible to novice and expert learners. By moving from scholarly teaching towards a scholarship of teaching, we can come to an understanding of which emerging pedagogies best serve certain disciplinary dimensions, and how they need to be combined with other, different approaches.
Memory, Media, and Cultural Mediation
Especially in times of political tensions, teachers need to intensify their efforts to explore new methods and themes for teaching American culture. The theme of memorialization offers a focus of study that is political, but not in a superficial, polarizing way. In 2004, the University of Wyoming at Laramie and the University of Rostock conducted a joint project on the politics of memory. Students in Rostock and Laramie investigated local history and its memorialization and presented their findings with the help of PowerPoint presentations in the virtual joint classroom. The project was intended to explore several issues. Firstly, with regard to contents it was assumed that, besides teaching its participants historical knowledge, a critical debate of selected issues in American history and American cultures of memory can also influence cultural awareness and tolerance positively, question stereotypes, and develop communicative skills. Secondly, transatlantic video conferences via Internet were tried out as a tool for cooperative and reciprocal intercultural learning. Thirdly, the integration of student-made PowerPoint presentations into video conferences was tested for feasibility. The analysis of excerpts from the video conferences illustrates what can be accomplished and what needs to be done to make transatlantic video conferences a success.
Our 'Favorite American' -- Teaching Michael Moore
In recent years Michael Moore has become the ubiquitous favorite American of many Germans increasingly critical of the American way of life in general and the Bush administration in particular. This article delineates how Moore caters to common and well-established anti-American prejudices and sentiments, analyzing how he is perceived as an 'objective' and authentic transatlantic source of information by many (high school) students of English. It is shown why and how Germans appreciate his brand of 'America bashing,' but also how his documentaries can be used in the EFL classroom to further media competencies and intercultural learning. Researching and discussing the 'Moore phenomenon,' students can attain a critical stance towards ideologically biased and seemingly 'objective' images of the United States.
Close Reading and Wide Reading: Teaching Literature and Cultural History in a Unit on Philip K. Dick's "Minority Report"
This article argues that the common practice of reading literary texts in the foreign language (FL) classroom almost always implies the exclusion of the cultural dimension of the text. The latter is more or less treated as an extra-textual phenomenon and reduced to factual information provided in annotations. Against this practice and with reference to new historicist, interdiscursive and intertextual approaches it is suggested that a literary text in the FL classroom be embedded in a network of texts. While co-reading them ('wide reading'), students are able to understand and interpret the literary text ('close reading') by discovering parallels and correspondences, allusions and recurring themes, notions and motifs as well as references to the cultural situation or issues. The article presents an empirical example from the FL classroom that uses Philip K. Dick's story "Minority Report" to illustrate how FL students can explore the interrelatedness of the literary and the cultural text.
Is Disney Safe for Kids? -- Subtexts in Walt Disney's Animated Films
This paper presents a teaching approach that allows for a critical reflection of the ideological subtexts of the Walt Disney Company's animated films in secondary school (grades 9-10). In a learner-centered approach popular culture texts form an important part of the EFL curriculum. It will be shown that the Walt Disney Company, one of the leading producers worldwide of popular culture texts, transports messages of American dominance as well as ethnic and gender stereotyping in their texts. The animated films of the Walt Disney Company especially warrant close scrutiny since they are central to the company's marketing concept of cross-merchandizing. Based on the concepts of multiliteracies (Cope and Kalantzis) and intertextuality (Hallet) a task-based teaching approach for the English foreign language classroom will be outlined and supported with examples for the two cartoon feature films Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and The Rescuers Down Under (1990).
Native American Literature as a Transcultural and Multimedia Experience: Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues
This article outlines a project on teaching Sherman Alexie's novel Reservation Blues (1992) in the EFL classroom as part of a transcultural and multimedia experience. It sets out from the stereotypical and backward-looking, popular (here: cinematic) constructions of Native Americans and contrasts these with Alexie's view of Native American realities past and present and his vision of how to survive against the claims of a predominant white environment. A discussion of a short story sketches out the complexities of present-day Indianness. The main part discusses in some detail how Alexie's novel sets cultural sensitivity (with a focus on music, storytelling, and religion) against the depressing real-life conditions to create a slightly optimistic blending of Indian, white, and black cultural modes, enabling the main character to survive against the odds. This tendency is found again in the pop-style cross-over music of a CD that Alexie has produced on the poetic chapter openings of his novel, and in his 1998 movie, Smoke Signals, in which both topical elements and characters reappear, although in reshaped form. To Alexie, culture is a dynamic balancing act between cultural change and preservation. With regard to the perception of cultural 'others' in general and Native Americans in particular, this broadly contextualized and historicized transcultural and multimedia approach sensitizes students to the need for negotiating between their own internal and external cultural perspectives -- a self-reflection crucial to the process of intercultural learning.
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, Vol. 52, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007 - Transatlantic Perspectives on American Visual Culture, Vol. 52, No. 1
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