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Recent Publications

Culture2: Theorizing Theory for the Twenty-First Century

The essay collection "Culture2: Theorizing Theory for the Twenty-First Century," edited by Frank Kelleter and Alexander Starre, appeared as an open-access book with transcript Verlag in March 2022. "Culture2" is not a handbook, encyclopedia, or a "state of the field" compendium. Instead, it is a reflexive exercise in cultural studies, featuring fifteen accessible essays on a selection of critical key works published since 2000. The contributors aim to provide readers with a fresh and engaging look at recent criticism, exploring the interdisciplinary traffic of theories, methods, and ideas within the field of cultural and literary studies. This book shows how the work of Lauren Berlant, Rita Felski, Fred Moten, Anna Tsing, and others can inspire new thinking and theorizing for the twenty-first century.

American Counter/Publics

The essay collection "American Counter/Publics," edited by Ulla Haselstein, Frank Kelleter, Alexander Starre, and Birte Wege, was published by Universitätsverlag Winter (Heidelberg) in December 2019. It explores the public sphere in North America as a multi-agential, commercially embattled, highly mediated, and ultimately trans-nationalized aggregate of publics and counterpublics. The contributors present innovative theoretical and historical assessments of American counter/publics across an array of fields including social activism, political communication, literary discourse, and contemporary mass media.

The Printed Book in Contemporary American Culture: Medium, Object, Metaphor

The edited collection "The Printed Book in Contemporary American Culture: Medium, Object, Metaphor," co-edited by Alexander Starre and Heike Schaefer, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in September 2018. This essay collection explores the cultural functions the printed book performs in the digital age. It examines how the use of and attitude toward the book form have changed in light of the digital transformation of American media culture. Situated at the crossroads of American studies, literary studies, book studies, and media studies, these essays show that a sustained focus on the medial and material formats of literary communication significantly expands our accustomed ways of doing cultural studies. Addressing the changing roles of authors, publishers, and readers while covering multiple bookish formats such as artists’ books, bestselling novels, experimental fiction, and zines, this interdisciplinary volume introduces readers to current transatlantic conversations on the history and future of the printed book.

Dazwischen: Spielräume ästhetischer Erfahrung in der US-amerikanischen Kunst und Literatur

Dustin Breitenwischer's book "Dazwischen: Spielräume ästhetischer Erfahrung in der US-amerikanischen Kunst und Literatur" was released in March 2018 with Wilhelm Fink. It explores the reciprocity between aesthetic object and perceiving subject through readings of several works of US-American art, popular culture and literature of the twentieth and twenty-first century. Furthermore, it inquires into the role that the in-between spaces play for our self-positioning toward the social and cultural playing fields of modernity.

Projecting American Studies

The volume "Projecting American Studies: Essays in Theory, Method, and Practice" edited by Frank Kelleter and Alexander Starre came out with Universitätsverlag Winter (Heidelberg) in February 2018. In twenty original essays, the contributors to ‘Projecting American Studies’ interrogate their ongoing work in various interdisciplinary contexts, shedding light on contemporary Americanist practices, styles, and publics. In keeping with the original meaning of the French term ‘essai’, each contribution is a try, an attempt, an experiment: Several chapters employ a personal tone, others distill their arguments into condensed prose, some use non-linear formats.

American TV Series Revivals

The special issue “American TV Series Revivals,” edited by Kathleen Loock, was published in November 2017 on Television and New Media’s OnlineFirst platform. This is the first collection of articles dedicated to the current revival trend on American television. The special issue examines the comeback of popular series from the recent past with a focus on production and reception contexts as well as the industrial, cultural, and textual practices involved. The contributions by Matt Hills, Felix Brinker, Julia Leyda, Kathleen Loock, and Ryan Lizardi cover the revivals of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, Full House, Arrested Development, and Gilmore Girls.

Exploring Film Seriality

“Exploring Film Seriality,” edited by Frank Krutnik and Kathleen Loock, has been published as a special issue of Film Studies journal (autumn 2017). In it, six contributors examine diverse forms, processes, and contexts of film seriality from the 1910s to the contemporary period, outlining various approaches to a topic that is integral to cinema and other popular media. The individual essays discuss media such as newspaper comic strips, short films from the New Deal era, pulp movies, the James Bond film series, Hollywood sequels and family films. Contributors: Ruth Mayer, Rob King, Frank Krutnik, Scott Higgins, Kathleen Loock, and Holly Chard.

Serielle Überbietung

Andreas Sudmann's book "Serielle Überbietung: Zur televisuellen Ästhetik und Philosophie exponierter Steigerungen" was released in September 2017 with J.B. Metzler. Andreas Sudmann takes a theoretical as well as a historical approach to the strategy of outbidding (Überbietung) in contemporary television series, mainly from the United States. By doing so, he explores the aesthetics and the philosophical potential of serial television in the era of "Quality TV."

Media of Serial Narrative

This essay collection, edited by Frank Kelleter (published May 2017), is the first book-length study to address the increasingly popular topic of serial narratives—specifically, how practices and forms of seriality shape media throughout the landscape of popular culture. In modern entertainment formats, seriality and popularity can seem so obviously connected that scholarship has long neglected to address their specific interrelations. This volume looks closely at the relationship between seriality, popularity, media, and narrative form. With individual chapters by Frank Kelleter, Jared Gardner, Daniel Stein, Christina Meyer, Scott Higgins, Shane Denson, Ruth Mayer, Kathleen Loock, Constantine Verevis, Jason Mittell, Sudeep Dasgupta, Sean O’Sullivan, Henry Jenkins, Christine Hämmerling, Mirjam Nast, and Andreas Sudmann, Media of Serial Narrative is an exciting and broad-ranging intervention in the fields of seriality, media, and narrative studies.

Unpopular Culture

This volume, co-edited by Martin Lüthe and Sascha Pöhlmann (published October 2016), introduces a new concept that boldly breaks through the traditional dichotomy of high and low culture while offering a fresh approach to both: unpopular culture. From the works of David Foster Wallace and Ernest Hemingway to fanfiction and The Simpsons, from natural disasters to 9/11 and beyond, the essays find the unpopular across media and genres, analysing the politics and aesthetics of a side to culture that has been overlooked by previous theories and methods in cultural studies.

David Bowie

Frank Kelleter's book on David Bowie appeared in September 2016 as part of Reclam's "100 pages" series. The book follows Bowie's career and his many personas - from Ziggy Stardust to the Thin White Duke - up until his death on January 10, 2016, just three days after the release of his final music video "Lazarus." In this concise book, Frank Kelleter explores songs, lyrics, videos, performances, social contexts and biographical materials of the extraordinary artist.

Kindler Klassiker: Amerikanische Literatur

Another more extensive collection of entries from the Kindler literature encyclopedia appeared in March 2016. The Kindler Klassiker contain the most important authors and works of American literary history in a single volume, including short biographical notes and detailed considerations of fiction, poetry and drama. Frank Kelleter's selection covers American literary history from the colonial period to the present.

Kindler Kompakt: Amerikanische Literatur, 20. Jahrhundet

This concise selection of essays from the Kindler literature encyclopedia, edited by Frank Kelleter, appeared in September 2015. The volumes in the Kindler Kompakt series present an overview of a century in 30-40 articles on individual authors and their works, including a comprehensive introduction by the editor. The book contains overviews, analyses and historical discussions of American works from the 20th century, including chapters on Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Adrienne Rich, Cormac McCarthy and Toni Morrison.

Metamedia: American Book Fictions and Literary Print Culture after Digitization

Alexander Starre's book Metamedia comes out in August 2015 with the University of Iowa Press. Combining sustained textual analysis with impulses from the fields of book history, media studies, and systems theory, it explains the aesthetics and the cultural work of complex material fictions by Mark Z. Danielewski, Dave Eggers, Jonathan Safran Foer, and others. By fusing narrative and design, these writers have created reflexive fictions—metamedia—that invite us to read printed formats in new ways. “Starre’s Metamedia is a definitive achievement: lucid, searching, comprehensive, and repeatedly eye-opening.” –Garrett Stewart, author, Bookwork: Medium to Object to Concept to Art

Kulturelle Komplexität: Gilles Deleuze und die Kulturtheorie der American Studies

Simon Schleusener's study of Gilles Deleuze's theoretical work and its uses for American Studies appeared in August 2015. Aside from its thorough engagement with Deleuze, the book also contains a re-reading of Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, a philosophical discussion of the Western genre, as well as an innovative take on the history of photography.

Extreme Weather and Global Media

In June 2015, Julia Leydas and Diane Negras book Extreme Weather and Global Media was published by Routledge.

"In the two decades bracketing the turn of the millennium, large-scale weather disasters have been inevitably constructed as media events. As such, they challenge the meaning of concepts such as identity and citizenship for both locally affected populations and widespread spectator communities. This timely collection pinpoints the features of an often overlooked yet rapidly expanding category of global media and analyzes both its forms and functions. Specifically, contributors argue that the intense promotion and consumption of 'extreme weather' events takes up the slack for the public conversations society is not having about the environment, and the feeling of powerlessness that accompanies the realization that anthropogenic climate change has now reached a point of no return. Incorporating a range of case studies of extreme weather mediation [...], Extreme Weather and Global Media generates valuable inquiry into the representational and social characteristics of the new culture of extreme weather."

LWU Special Issue on “Serial Narratives”

The latest issue of LWU: Literatur in Wissenschaft und Unterricht on the topic of “Serial Narratives” is out now. This special issue was edited by Kathleen Loock and explores narrative, cultural, and historical dimensions of serial narratives in an effort to come to terms with their changing forms and functions within the field of popular culture. Altogether thirteen essays from leading and emerging scholars in the fields of film and media studies, literary studies, cultural history, ethnography, and American studies address questions relating to the production and reception of serial narratives in the past and present. “Serial Narratives” aims to bring different, interdisciplinary perspectives to the analysis of serial narratives that will contribute to a deeper understanding of their forms and functions, and, more generally, to the ongoing research that is being done in seriality studies.

Serial Agencies - The Wire and Its Readers

Frank Kelleter's book Serial Agencies: The Wire and Its Readers was published by Zero Books in September 2014. Here is a selection of reviews: Rita Felski (University of Virginia, author of Uses of Literature) writes: "Frank Kelleter's Serial Agencies is sharp, savvy, and sophisticated, offering a fresh angle of vision on a much-discussed TV drama. This is a must-read book for fans of The Wire as well as anyone interested in the relations between actor-network-theory and media studies." Jason Mittell (Middlebury College, author of Television and American Culture) describes the book in the following way: "Kelleter succeeds in letting us hear what The Wire says about itself, what its readers do in their reading practices, and how scholarship shapes its critical objects of serialized culture. In doing so, this engaging book does more than just illuminate this canonical television text; it provides an original approach to understanding serial media and its critical practices. Serial Agencies will hopefully prove to be a powerful actor on the future of media and cultural studies."

Kolumbus in den USA: Vom Nationalhelden zur ethnischen Identifikationsfigur.

In May 2014, Kathleen Loock’s monograph Kolumbus in den USA: Vom Nationalhelden zur ethnischen Identifikationsfigur was published by the German publishing house transcript. The book is the first to provide a comprehensive analysis of the commemorative constructions and deconstructions of Christopher Columbus in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Kathleen Loock investigates how Jewish and Italian immigrants exploited Columbus's popularity during and after the Quarter­cen­tenary celebrations in 1892 and 1893 for a political intervention in the immigration restriction debate. As a result, she argues, the national icon Columbus was ultimately trans­formed into an ethnic hero. She analyzes this process against both the historic background of Columbus's ascendance as a national icon in the revolutionary period and throughout the nineteenth century and the revisionism and public debates of the Quin­centenary in 1992 that have challenged the national origin myth, established commemorative practices, and traditional discourses about Columbus and the discovery of America.

Winfried Fluck (ed.) et al., American Studies Today

The volume explores the state of contemporary American Studies in the light of recent developments and currently emerging perspectives of research. Featuring contributions by leading American Studies scholars from the German-speaking world, the collection of essays represents a broad spectrum of thematic, theoretical and methodological approaches that constitute major research agendas within current American Studies. It also includes contributions by renowned colleagues from the U.S. which provide a transatlantic framework of scholarly debate. In line with the original, dialogic conference format, the volume is organized around central topics covered by main papers and shorter response papers. While the essays position American Studies in Germany in its transnational contexts, they also highlight its distinct contribution to the global field of American Studies in the early 21st century.

American Dolorologies

American Dolorologies (published in April 2014) presents a theoretically sophisticated intervention into contemporary equations of subjectivity with trauma. Simon Strick argues against a universalism of pain and instead foregrounds the intimate relations of bodily affect with racial and gender politics. In concise and original readings of medical debates, abolitionist photography, Enlightenment philosophy, and contemporary representations of torture, Strick shows the crucial function that evocations of “bodies in pain” serve in the politicization of differences. This book provides a historical contextualization of contemporary ideas of suffering, sympathy, and compassion, thus establishing an embodied genealogy of the pain that is at the heart of American democratic sentiment.

From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels

The essay collection From Comic Strips to Graphic Novels: Contributions to the Theory and History of Graphic Narrative, co-edited by Daniel Stein, and Jan-Noël Thon, has been published by De Gruyter. It examines the theory and history of graphic narrative as one of the most interesting and versatile forms of narrative beyond traditional literary texts. Analyzing a wide range of texts, genres, and narrative strategies from both theoretical and historical perspectives, its various contributors offer state-of-the-art research on graphic narrative in the context of an increasingly postclassical and transmedial narratology.

Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives

In March 2013, Bloomsbury has published Transnational Perspectives on Graphic Narratives: Comics at the Crossroads, an essay collection that is co-edited by Daniel Stein, Shane Denson, and Christina Meyer.

Bringing together an international team of scholars, this book charts and analyzes the ways in which comic book history and new forms of graphic narrative have been impacted by aesthetic, social, political, economic, and cultural interactions that reach across national borders in an increasingly interconnected and globalizing world.

Film Remakes, Adaptations and Fan Productions

In October 2012, Palgrave Macmillan has published the essay collection Film Remakes, Adaptations and Fan Productions: Remake | Remodel. The book is co-edited by Kathleen Loock from the Research Unit and Constantine Verevis from Monash University (Australia). It contains 12 original contributions (also by members of the Research Unit) that investigate processes of cultural reproduction and serialization in film, television and new media.

Populäre Serialität: Narration-Evolution-Distinktion

The essay collection on popular seriality, Populäre Serialität: Narration-Evolution-Distinktion. Zum seriellen Erzählen seit dem 19. Jahrhundert, has now been published by the German publishing house transcript. Frank Kelleter has edited the volume that contains 18 essays. The book has emerged from the Opening Conference of the Research Unit in April 2011.

Music Is My Life

Daniel Stein's monograph Music Is My Life: Louis Armstrong, Autobiography, and American Jazz has just been published by the University of Michigan Press. The book is the first extended study of Louis Armstrong's writing practices, intermedial performances, and his role as an icon of American popular culture.