International Graduate Conference 2016

Flows and Undercurrents: Dimensions of Im/mobility in North America

June 2-4, 2016, John F. Kennedy Institute, Freie Universität Berlin

From lived realities to theoretical discourses, issues of mobility are at the core of many contemporary debates both within North America and globally. (Im)mobility transcends disciplinary boundaries and topics, generating disparate perspectives surrounding movements of people, capital and ideas. Migration, in particular, has become the focus of much recent analytical attention. As movements of people continue to gain focus, practices of immobility and exclusion are underscored. This conference, hosted by the Graduate School of North American Studies of the John F. Kennedy Institute at Freie Universität Berlin, will examine mobility and explore its relevance across numerous disciplines.


We encourage you to register as early as possible. In order to do so, please send an email to stating your full name, contact information, and institutional affiliation. There is no fee for registration.

Unfortunately, the Graduate School of North American Studies cannot provide any grants to cover your travel expenses.

If you have any questions concerning the registration process, please contact us at

Panel Structure and Conference Program

Conference Program [PDF, 700 KB]

Thursday, June 2

2.00 pm Registration/Coffe
2.45 pm Welcome and Opening Remarks: Ulla Haselstein (Freie Universität Berlin)
3.00 pm Keynote Address: Dr. Julia Leyda (Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam / Freie Universität Berlin)
4.00 pm Coffee Break
4.30 pm – 6.00 pmPanel 1, Room 340

Migration, Displacement, Confinement

Panel Chair: Dr. Themis Chronopoulos (University of East Anglia)

Maciej Świderski, M.A.
(Public Spaces Research Institute, Warsaw)
“Don’t Go East of Troost!” – Influence of the Imaginary Urban Boundaries on Social Mobility in American Cities
Charlotte Bezamat-Mantes, M.A.
(Université Paris 8 - Centre de Recherches et d'Analyses Géopolitiques / University of Manitoba)
Urban Reserves in Canada: Shifting First Nations' Economies to the City?
Friedolin Merhout, B.A.
(Duke University)
Nein zum Heim? How Meaning Structures Inform Immigration Attitudes
4.30 pm – 6.00 pmPanel 2, Room 319

Locating Thought, Locating Literatures: Regions and Representations

Panel Chair: Dr. Alexander Starre (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dr. David Hadar
(The Open University of Israel)
Moving World Literature: Anton Shammas’s Arabesques between Iowa and the Galilee
Jurrit Daalder, M.A.
(University of Oxford)
Against the Grain: The Regional Dimensions of Jonathan Franzen’s Career Mobility
Richard Bachmann, B.A.
(Leipzig University)
The City of Hope - Grace Lee Boggs’s Detroit as a Topos of Thinking
6.00 pm Reception


Friday, June 3

8.30 am Registration/Coffee
9.00 am Keynote Address: Dr. Michelle Commander (University of Tennessee)
10.00 am Coffee Break
10.30 am – 12.00 pmPanel 3, Room 340

Rights to the Streets: Transportation, Infrastructure, Politics

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Boris Vormann (Freie Universität Berlin)

Anna Davidson, M.A.
(University of Oxford)
Whose Streets? Mobility as Displacement in Los Angeles
Dr. Andrea Vesentini
(Birkbeck, University of London)
Together and Apart: Black Auto(im)mobility and Nuclear Segregation in Interwar and Postwar America
Dr. Gregg Culver
(Heidelberg University)
Streetcar Politics in the Making of the Creative City: A Conflict in Sustainabilities?
10.30 am – 12.00 pmPanel 4, Room 319

On the Road (Again): Kerouac on the Move

Panel Chair: Dr. Sean Bonney (Freie Universität Berlin)

Alina Cojocaru, B.A.
(Ovidius University)
Cosmopolitan Identity and the Urban Space: The Road as Mediator of Space and Place in Jack Kerouac's On the Road and The Dharma Bums
Adrian Matus, B.A.
(Paris-Sorbonne University)
Wandering Across the Iron Curtain: The Reception of the Novel On The Road in the USA and Eastern Europe
12.00 am Lunch Break
1.30 pm – 3.30 pmPanel 5, Room 340

Media Movements: Perspectives from Cultural Studies

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Martin Lüthe (Freie Universität Berlin)

Alice Morin, M.A.
(University of Paris III: La Sorbonne Nouvelle)
(Im)mobility through the Lens of Fashion Photography: The Example of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar U.S., 1960s-1980s
Imani Wadud, M.A.
(University of Kansas)
Decolonizing Aesthetics: Analyzing a Contested Site of Black (In)materiality Through Kara Walker’s “A Subtlety or the Marvelous Sugar Baby”
Gesine Wegner, M.A.
(Dresden University of Technology)
Disability in Motion: Reframing Notions of (Im)mobility in American Reality TV
Terence Kumpf, M.A.
(Technical University of Dortmund)
Migratory Ebb and Cultural Flow: The Fluid Dynamics of Transaesthetics in Bilingual Hip-Hop in the United States
1.30 pm – 3.30 pmPanel 6, Room 319

Transatlantic Tides: Narratives and Objects of Oceanic Travel

Panel Chair: Katharina Metz, M.A. (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dr. José Antonio Gurpegui
(Instituto Franklin de la Universidad de Alcalá)
First ‘Immigrants’ in North America: Ideological Consequences of the British and Spanish Presence during the XVII and XVIII Centuries
Frances Molyneux, M.A.
(Stanford University)
Transported Places: The Transatlantic Im/mobility of Narrative
Lucas Hansen, B.A.
(University of Hamburg)
The Dichotomy of Drifting and Sailing – Seeing and (Mis)reading Black Agency through the Eyes of Captain Delano in Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno
3.30 pm Coffee Break
3.45 pm – 5.15 pmPanel 7, Room 340

Moving Texts, Arresting Images? Narrative Documentaries of Forced Immobility

Panel Chair: Dr. Birte Wege (Freie Universität Berlin)

Hannah Bailey, M.A.
(University of Kansas)
Unlikely Captives: Disruptive Narratives of Development in Prison Memoirs
Sarah Wolff, B.A.
(Freie Universität Berlin / Columbia University)
“Nowhere to Go But into the Tunnel”: Alien Bodies Contesting Urban Space in Pitch Black: Don’t Be Skerd
3.45 pm – 5.15 pmPanel 8, Room 319

Nietsche, Dance, and American (Im)mobility

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Jobs (Freie Universität Berlin)

Eric Fraunholz, M.A.
(Leipzig University)
The (Im)mobility of Nietzschean Thought
Nitya Koch, M.A.
(Freie Universität Berlin)
Money, Mobility and Movement in 1930s Musical Films
5.15 pm Coffee Break
5.30 pm – 7.00 pmPanel 9, Room 340

American Dreaming: Aspirations and (Im)mobility

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. James Dorson (Freie Universität Berlin)

Mgr. Barbora Kučerová
(Palacký University, Olomouc)
California, Irresponsible and Influential: The Dream to (Re)place?
Bingxia Yu, M.A.
(University of Leuven)
‘Work Ethics’ Against ‘Intellectual Brilliance’: Struggles of the New Knowledge Class in John Williams’ Stoner
Arunima Dey, M.A.
(University of Salamanca)
The American-Bengali in Jhumpa Lahiri’s Fiction: Diasporic and Multicultural Identities
5.30 pm – 7.00 pmPanel 10, Room 319

People, Goods, and Waste: Flows of Globalization

Panel Chair: Dr. Beerd Beukenhorst (Freie Universität Berlin)

Chang Liu, M.A.
(Jilin University)
The Transnational Flow of Plastic Waste Between China and America: Retelling the Story of China's Dakou Generation and Environmental Justice
Michaela Beck, B.A.
(Dresden University of Technology)
Growing Roots en Route: Food and the Construction of Mobile Homes in US Locavore Narratives


Saturday, June 4

8.30 am Registration/Coffee
9.00 am Keynote Address: Dr. Themis Chronopoulos (University of East Anglia)
10.00 am Coffee Break
10.30 am – 11.30 amPanel 11, Room 340

Poetics of Third Spaces: Negotiating Interstitial Identities

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. MaryAnn Snyder-Körber (Freie Universität Berlin)

Dr. Lisa Marchi
(University of Trento)
The Airport as a Site of Tensions: Poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, Suheir Hammad, and Iman Mersal
Cecilia Cruccolini, M.A.
(University of Bologna)
Open City by Teju Cole: Urban Space and Fragmented Identity
10.30 am – 11.30 amPanel 12, Room 319

Narratives of (Im)mobility in Black Modernism

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Florian Sedlmeier (Freie Universität Berlin)

Ewa Adamkiewicz, M.A.
(University of Graz)
Take Me Some Place: Baldwin, Ellison, and Notions of (Im)mobility in Harlem
Florian Gabriel, M.A.
(Freie Universität Berlin)
Eugenic Discourse, Racial (Im-)Mobility and Naturalist Aesthetic in James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
11.30 am Lunch Break
1.00 pm – 2.30 pmPanel 13, Room 340

Should We Make It New? Rethinking American Modernism

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Ulla Haselstein (Freie Universität Berlin)

James Cetovski, M.A.
(University of Oxford)
Legacies of Modernism in Contemporary American Poetry, or What Happened to Universalism in the University?
Svenja Fehlhaber, M.A.
(University of Osnabrück)
Mobilizing Literary Form: The Dynamics of Self-Canonization at the Heyday of American Modernism
1.00 pm – 2.30 pmPanel 14, Room 319

Tourism and its Discontents

Panel Chair: Dr. Michelle Commander (University of Tennessee)

Sabrina Mittermeier, M.A.
(Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich)
Disney’s Theme Parks as Nodes of Mobility in a Globalized World [Online Presentation]
Nathalie Oelert, M.A.
(University of Kassel)
Visions of Paradise – The Simultaneity of Touristic Mobility and Immobility of Hawai'i as a Mental Construct
Olga Korytowska, M.A.
(Graduate School for Social Research, Warsaw)
Reproducing Bodies, Reproducing Citizens: The United States on the Map of Global Surrogacy Tourism
2.30 am Coffee Break
3.00 pm – 4.00 pmPanel 15, Room 340

Moving Myths: Transnational Identities and Imaginaries

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Frank Kelleter (Freie Universität Berlin)

Chiara Grilli, M.A.
(University of Macerata)
Mythical Immobility: The Institutionalization of Memory and Past in the Italian American Experience
Dr. Francesco Chianese
(Freie Universität Berlin / Naples Eastern University)
Representing Late Modern Family in Italian-American Culture: A Transnational Study
3.00 pm – 4.00 pmPanel 16, Room 319

States in Motion: Force, Captivity, Objectives

Panel Chair: Prof. Dr. Markus Kienscherf (Freie Universität Berlin)

Jean-Michel Turcotte, M.A.
(Laval University)
The Captivity of War as an Object of Mobility: The Western Inter-Allied Relations on German POWs during the Second World War
4.00 pm Closing Remarks
Dahlem Research School
Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft