The symposium reviews and extends perspectives on allegory drawn from the work of Walter Benjamin and Paul de Man. Modern and post-modern self-reflective practices that employ the fragment, citation, collage and an ironic presentation of meta-fictionality have stimulated a return to allegory as an analytic category. Allegory opens the way to a new understanding of symbolic practices previously conceptualized as mimetic.

Kriminalliteratur und Wissensgeschichte. Genres - Medien - Techniken.

Clemens Peck, Florian Sedlmeier (eds.). Bielefeld: transcript, 2015. Evidence, identity, fiction: Crime novels and their investigators produce knowledge and subjects. This volume examines these formations.

Landscape and Territory: American Literature, Expansion, and National Crisis, 1784-1866.

Thomas Dikant. Munich: Fink, 2014. Landscape and Territory: American Literature, Expansion, and National Crisis, 1784-1866 investigates the relation of landscape and territory in American literature, from the first Territorial Ordinance of 1784 to the Civil War and the beginnings of Reconstruction. Whereas previous work on the representation of space in American Studies focused on terms such as the pastoral, landscape, or, more recently, geography, my book introduces territory as a necessary conceptual complement to landscape, and thereby shifts the discussion beyond an ideological critique of landscape without limiting itself to an analysis of non-aesthetic political space.

Rereading the Machine in the Garden

Eric Erbacher, Nicole Maruo-Schröder, Florian Sedlmeier (eds.). Frankfurt, New York: Campus, 2014. This book reexamines the trope of the machine in the garden first laid out in one of the founding texts of American studies by Leo Marx fifty years ago. The contributors to this volume explore the lasting influence of this concept on American culture and the arts, rereading it as a dialectic wherein nature is as much technologized as technology is naturalized. Extending the relevance of Marx’s theory from the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, they examine filmic and literary representations of industrial, bureaucratic, and digital gardens; explore its role in the aftermath of the Civil War and of rural electrification during the New Deal; its significance in landscape art as well as in ethnic literatures; and discuss the historical premises and continued impact of Leo Marx’s groundbreaking study.

The Postethnic Literary Reading Paratexts and Transpositions around 2000

Florian Sedlmeier. Berlin, New York: de Gruyter, 2014. The book explores the discursive and theoretical conditions for conceptualizing the postethnic literary. It historicizes US multicultural and postcolonial studies as institutionalized discursive formations, which constitute a paratext that regulates the reception of literary texts according to the paradigm of representativeness. Rather than following that paradigm, the study offers an alternative framework by rereading contemporary literary texts for their investment in literary form. By means of self-reflective intermedial transpositions, the writings of Sherman Alexie, Chang-rae Lee, and Jamaica Kincaid insist upon a differentiation between the representation of cultural sign systems or subject positions and the dramatization of individual gestures of authorship. As such, they form a postethnic literary constellation, further probed in the epilogue of the study focused on Dave Eggers.

The Cultural Career of Coolness

Ulla Haselstein, Irmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit, Catrin Gersdorf, Elena Giannoulis (eds.). Plymouth, UK: Lexington Books, 2013. Cool is a word of American English that has been integrated into the vocabulary of numerous languages around the globe. Today it is a term most often used in advertising trendy commodities, or, more generally, in promoting urban lifestyles in our postmodern age. But what is the history of the term "cool?" When has coolness come to be associated with certain modes of contemporary self-fashioning? On what grounds do certain nations claim a privilege to be recognized as "cool?" These are some of the questions that served as a starting-point for a comparative cultural inquiry which brought together specialists from American Studies and Japanese Studies, but also from Classics, Philosophy and Sociology.