Find out more about ASL's professorship for American Studies and Minority Studies, its teaching and research focus, and its team below.
American Studies and Minority Studies
This professorship is dedicated to the study of American culture and literature with a focus on the United States as a multiethnic and multicultural space. We put special emphasis on the histories, cultures and literatures of US ethnic and racialized minorities and on the historical and cultural connections between the United States and the Caribbean as well as other countries on the continent and in the global arena. From this transnational angle we look at “American space” as multiply defined and situated, both in various spatial frameworks from the neighborhood to the continent and beyond, but also in multiple historical constellations and on intersecting axes of difference.
We teach classes on US literature and culture from the 17th through the 21st century with a wide range of topics but with an emphasis on processes of minoritization and racialization and on the way the concepts of race and ethnicity have been defined and redefined. In many of our classes we discuss fictional and nonfictional texts related to issues of migration, borders, and mobility, we explore the histories, cultures and literatures of US ethnic and racialized minorities (specifically African American, Native, Asian American and Latinx people) and the many forms in which their experiences have shaped and reshaped the United States.
Our research focuses on the transnational, hemispheric and global contexts of American culture and literature as well as on the representation of American spaces on various scales. Broadly, it is concerned with the cultural processes which link American culture to other cultures or which are situated in between cultures. A particular focus has been the cultural production at the US-Mexican border and the way it has affected concepts of national and cultural identity; another focus is literature written about and from extranational spaces on the continent and elsewhere. A major research context in recent years has been the interdisciplinary work in the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199 “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition.” The projects we have developed and received research funds for have investigated spatialization processes in the US since the 18th century. Here our focus was first on the literary representation of peripheral regions of the United States in the antebellum period (Phase I: Spatial Fictions: (Re)Imaginations of Nationality in the Southern and Western Peripheries of the 19th-century United States). Currently we are exploring the imagination of space in US literature in the period of imperialist expansion to the Pacific and the Caribbean in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Phase II: Imperialist Geographies: The Transpacific and Circum-Caribbean Space in US Literature in the Period from 1880 to 1940).