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 2006, Vol. 51, No. 2
Jerusalemvorstellungen in radikalpietistischen und radikalpuritanischen Siedlungen Nordamerikas
The New Jerusalem was the utopian hope for many immigrants to America during the early modern period. Here people literally expected to realize a biblical vision. The utopian expectation of the New Jerusalem can be clearly exemplified by radical Pietist and Puritan communities. Most of their settlements were in Pennsylvania, a center of new social experiments and chiliastic hopes. The Quakers and two of their breakaway groups, the Shakers and the Universal Friends, as well as settlers at Ephrata and Harmony, were all influenced by the idea of establishing a new society based on the description in Revelations. The biblical model served to motivate the founding and sustaining of settlements under difficult circumstances in what was perceived as the American wilderness. Pioneers and settlers of the first generation used biblical idealizations to counter the daily hardships of erecting a new home. Later, as affluence and prosperity grew, the notion of the Heavenly Jerusalem gradually disappeared or was simply spiritualized.
Books, Rocks, and Sentimental Education—Self-Culture and the Desire for the Really Real in Henry David Thoreau
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s emphasis on the importance of contingency, experiment, inconsistency, change, and transition ought to be seen in connection with his demonstration that the concept of truth is directly linked to terms such as transitoriness, volatility, and expediency. Thus, it seems legitimate to advance the argument that Emerson is an important precursor of pragmatism. As far as Henry David Thoreau’s thinking is concerned, this kind of pragmatist genealogy appears somewhat blurred. Although Thoreau pluralizes the notion of truth, he also seems to hold that a radical rejection of a foundationalist epistemology would be incompatible with the goals he pursues. This article seeks to elucidate a central tension in Thoreau’s texts between, on the one hand, books (that is, self-culture, self-fashioning, poetry, redescription, and the idea of a literary or poeticized culture) and, on the other, rocks (that is, firm grounds, Truth, the really real, solidity, reliability, purity, and the idea of a foundationalist or metaphysical culture). The first part discusses Thoreau’s notion of self-culture and his concept of truth by comparing them to Richard Rorty’s idea of a pragmatist literary culture. The second part analyzes Thoreau’s idea of reform and his emphasis on the necessity of firm moral principles.
Complex Fate—Complex Vision: The Vernacular and Identity in Ralph Ellison’s Juneteenth
For Ralph Ellison the vernacular was a form and a resource for the writer, an interface through which the writer could illuminate aspects of reality. With this essay I intend to add to the debate on the vernacular and orality in literature by exploring how Ellison in Juneteenth brings the vernacular and the dialogic into play in order to illuminate matters of culture and identity. Previous investigations of the use of the vernacular in literature tend to overlook the complexity in the relationship between orality and literacy. My analysis aims to establish that a level of dialogization is added to any text engaging the vernacular. Ellison employs the vernacular in Juneteenth in such a manner, and the vernacular comes to represent identity and culture acquired under influence of historic circumstances and social practices.
Imperial Gestures in Portrayals of U.S. Culture as a ‘Universal Culture’
This article questions the taken-for-granted idea among a diversity of observers and ideologues that the current United States is the site par excellence where all cultures and cultural markets of the world are represented, which converge toward a universal, cosmopolitan culture. It exposes the imperial strategies implied in the given depictions of American culture as a universalistic culture that allegedly contains the essence of a global culture encompassing all cultural varieties of humankind. These conflations of the two cultures are all based on the idea that America’s ‘unique universality’ creates and represents all that the rest of the world wants, which must be rejected in light of the insights presented here. America’s distinctive culture is less cosmopolitan, let alone ‘universal’ than suggested, while from a social-emancipatory perspective American society is lacking as an exemplary model to the rest of the world in terms of political and economic democracy, the defense and maintenance of public spaces and goods, as well as social justice. America’s ‘soft power’ is still exerting its influence among many people across the globe. But certain conditions and developments in recent years weaken this form of power in relation to various groups across the spectrum of world views.
Publications in American Studies from German Speaking Countries, 2005
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 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 - 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