Publications

Gertrude Steins literarische Porträts

Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) ist eine Ikone der Klassischen Moderne: ihre Freundschaft mit Matisse und Picasso, ihr Pariser Salon, ihre Gemäldesammlung und ihre Liebesbeziehung zu Alice Toklas sind in zahlreichen Memoiren und Biographien beschrieben worden - nicht zuletzt von ihr selbst. Doch »Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose« ist der einzige Satz dieser Autorin, der allgemein bekannt ist. Aufgrund der Serialität und Abstraktheit gelten viele ihrer literarischen Texte als unlesbar. Folgt man aber den Spuren, die diese Texte auslegen, und stellt Steins Arbeiten in den Kontext der Literatur-, Kunst- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte um 1900, ist eine Autorin der Avantgarde als Kulturtheoretikerin neu zu entdecken.
Stein hatte bei William James und Hugo Münsterberg in Harvard studiert. Sie war ausgebildete experimentelle Psychologin und Menschenbeobachterin aus Leidenschaft. In einer Parallelaktion zu Sigmund Freud entwickelte sie vor dem Hintergrund der zeitgenössischen Forschung zu Hysterie und Suggestion einen Übertragungsbegriff und eine charakterpsychologische Typenlehre. Die Auseinandersetzung mit Flaubert und Cézanne und die Begegnung mit Matisse und Picasso eröffneten ihr neue Möglichkeiten einer selbstreflexiven literarischen Komposition, und schließlich gestattete ihr das freiwillige Exil in Frankreich einen distanzierten Blick auf die amerikanische Kultur. Steins Texte sind im Kern Porträts und Selbstporträts zugleich. Ihnen liegt das Interesse an der Umgangssprache als dem zentralen Medium moderner Gesellschaften zugrunde, das durch serielle Wiederholungen Bewusstsein und Identität der Subjekte erzeugt und standardisiert. In Haselsteins Studie ist eine der wichtigsten Positionen der Moderne wiederzuentdecken und mit dieser eine ebenso originelle wie außergewöhnliche literarische Stimme, die die Singularität des Individuums zu erfassen versucht.

"Fictions of Management" edited by James Dorson and Jasper Verlinden

This spring saw the publication of a volume that James Dorson coedited with Jasper Verlinden titled "Fictions of Management: Efficiency and Control in American Literature and Culture" (Winter, 2019). The collection of essays addresses the intersection of management theory and cultural practices through the lens of US literature and culture.

From the organization of private businesses and public services to the optimization of everyday life, management is a ubiquitous term today. Denoting efficiency and control, management has become a catchall term for successful living in neoliberal times. The term is so ubiquitous that it often avoids scrutiny outside of business schools and organizational theory. As the essays collected in ‘Fictions of Management’ show, however, management has a history closely bound up with cultural practices. While the meaning of management has been critically negotiated in literature since the industrial revolution, management theory in turn draws on cultural resources for animating technical rationality with engaging stories and corporate visions. Tracing the relationship between management and fiction in the United States, where the mutual influence between the two has been the greatest and shaped management culture globally, the contributors to this volume provide a unique perspective on changing forms of management through the lens of American literature and culture.

Birte Weges Buch "Drawing on the Past" ist im Campus Verlag erschienen

Drawing on the Past: Graphic Narrative Documentary
Birte Wege, Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 2019

Lange wurden Comics als triviale Unterhaltung verpönt. Erst in den letzten Jahrzehnten hat sich das geändert. Immer häufiger sind sie zum Medium der Wahl für Künstlerinnen und Künstler geworden, die kritisieren wollen, wie die etablierten Medien mit politischen Fragen umgehen. Dieses Buch untersucht das Potenzial von dokumentarischen Comics im Kontext einer sich schnell verändernden und immer weiter entwickelnden visuellen Kultur. Im Mittelpunkt steht dabei gerade auch die Darstellung historischer Ereignisse und die Auseinandersetzung mit Fotografie.

Counternarrative Possibilities. Virgin Land, Homeland, and Cormac McCarthy’s Westerns

James Dorson. Frankfurt a.M.: Campus, 2016.

Counternarrative Possibilities reads Cormac McCarthy’s Westerns against the backdrop of two formative tropes in American mythology: virgin land (from the 1950s) and homeland (after ‘9/11’). Looking at McCarthy’s Westerns in the context of American Studies, James Dorson shows how his novels counter the national narratives underlying these tropes and reinvest them with new, potentially transformative meaning. Departing from prevailing accounts of McCarthy that place him in relation to his literary antecedents, Counternarrative Possibilities takes a forward-looking
approach that reads McCarthy’s work as a key influence on millennial fiction. Weaving together disciplinary history with longstanding debates over the relationship between aesthetics and politics, this book is at once an exploration of the limits of ideology critique in the twenty-first century and an original reconsideration of McCarthy’s work ‘after postmodernism.’

Allegorie

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.