Find out more about ASL's professorship for American Literature, its teaching and research focus, and its team below.
Chair for American Literature
This chair is dedicated to the study of US American literature, across its history, and including its transnational entanglements. We make a point in using a broad concept of ‘literature’ that covers not only the classic literary genres of prose, poetry, and drama but also genres of popular culture; not only texts bound to the medium of print but also ‘texts’ bound to other media or to oral traditions. In this spirit, popular culture and its various media formations are a significant area of our work.
We offer classes on US American literature and related forms of cultural expression (especially film and television). Our teaching focuses on the cultural work that literature and other forms of cultural expression do, and on how this work is shaped by the formal properties of these ‘texts.’ In this way, we also aim to familiarize students with the particular methods and theories of (American) literary and cultural studies. The classes we offer range from introductory surveys of Unites States literature and popular culture to seminars that explore particular genres, topics, periods, media, or theoretical approaches.
Most broadly speaking, our research is governed by an interest in how literature and related forms of cultural expression work as venues in which US American society reflects on itself—in which it thinks through, rehearses, or fights over interpretations of social reality, and in which it makes social alternatives thinkable. One focal point of our research has been the question how narrativity and textuality work in different media and genres, and how they configure the social semantics and politics of ‘texts.’ Among the social semantics and textual politics we have interrogated, the negotiation of social inequality and difference—with a particular emphasis on gender and intersectionality—have played a prominent role. In addition, questions of affect(ivity) have emerged as a new shared research interest among the members of the professorship. In recent years, our team has developed, and won grants for, a DFG-funded project on “Enfreakment as an Invective Mode in US-American Popular Culture,” for a project in the Collaborative Research Center “Invectivity: Constellations and Dynamics of Disparagement,” for the DFG-funded Scientific Network “Narrative Liminality,” and for several individual (especially PhD) projects.