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 2011, Vol. 56, No. 1
Preface: Amerikastudien / American Studies 2002 - 2011
Introduction: Age Studies
Chronologically Gifted? ‘Old Age’ in American Culture
This essay solicits the interest of the American studies community for 'old age' as a field of investigation. It identifies a number of areas where 'old age' as a name for 'human life in time,' as a cultural script, a biomedical condition, and a social-political status can enter into a conversation with American studies. The cultural normativities of later life, the corpo-realities of the 'old age' experience, as well as the civic meaning and political agency of aged people in the public sphere of modern democracies are investigated. The essay concludes with a brief reflection on how the biopolitical structures through which populations are managed, the economic structures through which material benefits are granted or withheld, and the cultural structures which define identities are all organized around differentially positioned generational cohorts. This would make 'generation' a useful critical tool for any investigation of the forces that shape life courses in U.S.-American society and culture.
The Limits of Development? Narratives of Growing Up / Growing Old in Narrative
Human time entered the genre of the Bildungsroman in the nineteenth-century novel, relating the categories of youth and age to concepts of individual development. I will trace the shifts in emphasis from an initial focus on youth and growing up to the later stages of life in the European and American novel. I argue that the lengthening of the average human life span in the late twentieth century provides a new focus for representing possibilities to grow up and grow old. In their inversion of the developmental model of the Bildungsroman, Siri Hustvedt's What I Loved (2003) and Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go (2005) address this question of possibility by depicting children who grow up to 'never' grow old. Both show in different cultural settings the implications of an endless enlargement of possibility and its limits with reference to cultural pathology and to biomedical progress, respectively. Turning from Bildungsroman rewritings to the question of the functions of narrating dementia, a further consequence of longevity for developmental models is addressed in the narrative connection between memory, aging, and narrating the self. This connection will be traced in a comparison of the metaphoric functions of dementia in Ian McEwan's Atonement (2001) and Don DeLillo's Falling Man (2007).
“Out of It”? Old Age and Photographic Portraiture
The essay examines representations of old age in photographic portraiture, focusing on works by such prominent American photographers of the last few decades as Nicholas Nixon, Richard Avedon, and Fazal Sheikh. It shows how the new aging studies, in conjunction with critical photo-history, critique American images of aging as narratives of mere decline. Visual culture, these scholars point out, conflates self and appearance, makes youth a fetish, marginalizes the old, and thus plays an important role in a much larger social and cultural devaluation of old age. This essay questions this assumption, arguing that the camera's gaze doesn't necessarily identify the old as confused and in decline. Close readings of photographic images and series demonstrate how photographers like Avedon or Sheikh have created less constricting, more flexible representations of the old that transcend the problematic nature of the normative gaze.
The Aging Bodies of Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler
This article examines the Golden Globe-winning film The Wrestler (2008), which starred Mickey Rourke and Marisa Tomei, in light of aging research. We focus on the roles of Rourke, who plays a wrestler, and Tomei, who plays a stripper, both of whom are represented as past their prime. We read the movie as a commentary on aging celebrities and performers, a commentary that functions on two levels: 1) internal to the movie, in which Rourke and Tomei are presented, to some extent, as common persons who have rather uncommon jobs, and 2) external to the movie, where Rourke and Tomei are members of the Hollywood elite, both of whom have functioned as sex symbols, sex symbols who are now past or moving past their prime. The bulk of our article focuses on the first level, but in our conclusion we address the second level. We argue that cultural representations of aging bodies, such as those found in The Wrestler, are ambiguous: They are, to some extent, both liberating and dehumanizing. This ambiguity, however, also reflects the ambiguities of aging itself.
Self Stories in Older Age: Crafting Identities Using Small Moments from the Past
Questions of selfhood and identity in older age are often explored through life stories, where individuals select various experiences and events from which to form a cohesive narrative. The concept of 'self stories' describes an approach whereby instead of creating a single grand life narrative, participants bring together small, sometimes divergent and unrelated moments from their past to craft and re-craft their individual identities and expressions of self. To illustrate the potential of self stories in work on selfhood and identity in later life, I will present excerpts from several older adults who participated in a series of structured writing workshops. Story content and context as well as individuals' written descriptions of themselves point to the dynamic, complicated interplay among self, identity, and story as they are negotiated, expressed, and interpreted.
Ghosts of History: An Interview with William Demby
In this interview, William Demby retraces the steps that brought him from childhood in segregated America to his present life, chronicling his experiences as an African American GI in World War II and, later, from the late forties to the mid-sixties, as an expatriate in Italy. Stories from Demby's life are here interwoven with a discussion of his literary works. The interview highlights how his wartime experiences and his years spent in Italy -- an Italy marked by intense cultural production, lively political debate, and profound social change -- influenced his literary decisions and shaped his views on race, politics, and art.
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
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 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