interdisciplinary american studies scholarship
aspeers: emerging voices in american studies
The editors at aspeers recognize the quality and importance of work being done at the graduate level in European American Studies Institutions.
Therefore, aspeers seeks to give emerging scholars a voice: A platform to showcase their work beyond the graduate classroom and a forum for discussion and exchange. We believe that such wider circulation of graduate scholarship has great potential to further energize the field of American Studies. At the same time, aspeers offers emerging scholars the unique opportunity to publish and get recognition for their research at an early point in their careers.
For more information please reference our call for papers (www.aspeers.com/cfp), or visit our website at www.aspeers.com.
aspeers is a project within the American Studies MA Program at the University of Leipzig, Germany. With most members of the reviewing editorial staff being MA candidates, it currently is the only peer-reviewed publication channel for graduate students in European American Studies programs.
aspeers 7 (2014) - American Anxieties, 7
With its 2014 issue, aspeers investigates the topic of “American Anxieties” as an important dynamic at the core of American literature, culture, and society. The volume explores the interconnections between notions of Americanness, self-diagnoses of feeling anxious, and shared, collective anxieties.
This article investigates the subliminal anxiety concerning African American identity and origin developed by the poems in Jean Toomer's Cane. Drawing on Jacques Derrida's concept of the specter, I argue that these poems act as specters in that they enact and embody the South as a harmonious African American land of origin while simultaneously negating the possibility of its present or past existence. In doing so, the poems reframe African American longing for a point of origin into a haunting, anxious but impossible desire. Predicated on absence, the longed-for South (re)emerges as a sensual experience in the Cane poems, which manifests and negates the wished-for but unattainable original condition. Thus, the longing for a point of origin as well as its object -- the American South -- become Derridean specters, which inescapably challenge the foundations of African American identity while simultaneously constituting its core. In this light, the absence of previous critical investigation of the Cane poems becomes telling. The analysis of the function of the Cane poems reveals what other considerations will inevitably conceal: The United States' past has not been and cannot be able to provide a solid and anxiety-free foundation for the identity of the nation's African American citizens.
Humor lends itself as a convenient tool to address sensitive issues such as race. Since 1997, the TV series South Park with its brash satire and rampant irony has been a prime example of how such issues are negotiated in American popular culture. However, the utilization of highly rhetorical devices such as satire or irony has divided scholars on whether the series promotes or stifles social discourse on race and ethnicity. In this article, I examine the episode "With Apologies to Jesse Jackson" (2007), focusing on how white feelings of anxiety are portrayed in this episode that is permeated by racial tension. The particular representation wavers between a social critique of the state of race relations in the United States and a portrayal of white anxiety as hindering open discourse on the topic. Ultimately, the article demonstrates that the scenes containing elements of white anxiety are portrayed in such a way as to critique the current dysfunctional state of race relations in the United States, urging viewers to critically consider issues of race rather than to inhibit such discourse.
Nightwood transgresses and undermines binary conceptions of gender and with them the distinction between hetero- and homosexual relationships. I seek to determine whether the failure of the relationships in the novel can be viewed as a criticism of the heteronormative constraints that are shown to permeate both the heterosexual and the homosexual partnerships in the novel. Consequently, it is argued that the failure of these relationships signifies the failure of the underlying heteronormative structures. The novel reveals not only the constructed nature of this system but also the limiting and ultimately destructive effects that it has on the relationships of those who try to live up to its stipulations. To illustrate this, I utilize the concepts of heteronormativity and homonormativity in conjunction with Judith Butler's conception of gender performance. Using these concepts, I demonstrate not only that all of the relationships in the novel reproduce the same heteronormative structures but also that this has disastrous effects on those relationships, which in turn is shown to reveal the failure of the heteronormative order.
Novel Realities and Simulated Structures: The Posthuman Fusion of Forms and Simulacra in Richard Powers's Plowing the Dark
This article examines the articulations of representation and being in Richard Powers's novel Plowing the Dark (2000) from a posthuman perspective. In its double-narrative structure, the novel introduces a dialectic relationship between Plato's theory of the forms and Baudrillard's notions of the simulacra as its rudiments for exploring the boundaries of reality. N. Katherine Hayles's theory of the posthuman provides an apt mediating lens to examine the competing visions of Platonic and Baudrillardian reality as presented in the novel. Examined in this way, Plowing the Dark not only asks questions about the representation of reality but ultimately performs narratively the patterns of reflexivity and virtuality unique to the posthuman world. The article concludes by arguing that Richard Powers employs the form of the novel to manipulate the semi-stable parameters of various systems of reality while engaging with the paradigms of the posthuman to explore the relationship between the construction and mediation of the real.
Other Issuesaspeers 6 (2013) - American Memories, 6
aspeers 5 (2012) - American Food Cultures, 5
aspeers 4 (2011) - Nature and Technology, Revisited, 4
aspeers 3 (2010) - Crime and America, 3
aspeers 2 (2009) - Migration and Mobility, 2
aspeers 1 (2008), 1