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Feb 7 – Symposium: International Perspectives on American Art 🗓

Feb 7 – Symposium: International Perspectives on American Art 🗓

International Perspectives on American Art

Symposium hosted by the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies and the Art History Department, Johannes Gutenberg University
The symposium, International Perspectives on American Art, brings together scholars from the United States and Europe, from university departments of American Studies, Art History, Literature, and from museum curatorial positions, that are presently engaged in exploring American art within a broad context. Seeking to stimulate interdisciplinary exchange, the symposium is an opportunity to explore the reception and perception of American art outside of the United States in museum exhibitions, research, and in the academic classroom.
February 7, 2019

Helmholtz Institute Mainz
Staudingerweg 18
55128 Mainz

Conference Room 1395-00-133/135 (Ground Floor), 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

In November of 2018, an ambitious exhibition on American art opened at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Foundation Corboud in Cologne, Once Upon a Time in America: Three Centuries of American Art. On display in the galleries are over 100 loans of paintings, works on paper, and sculpture from American collections, the majority of which have never been on view in a German museum. It introduces to a primarily German audience important and well-known art objects from the 1700s to the mid-twentieth century, focusing on select periods that influenced and shaped art in America.

This exhibition, in addition to a number of other more focused thematic exhibits held recently in Germany, such as Constructing the World: Art and Economy (Mannheim Kunsthalle, 2018-2019) and From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modernism (Museum Barberini, 2017), highlights the strong interest found outside of the United States in understanding and interpreting past and modern American culture through visual material.



Dr. Christian Berger, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz/The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Prof. Dr. Winfried Fluck, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Ursula Frohne, Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Eleanor Harvey, Ph.D., Senior Curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Anna O. Marley, Ph.D., Curator of Historical American Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Susanne Scharf, M.A., Frankfurt am Main

A detailed program is available on the conference website.

Through the generosity of the Terra Foundation for American Art, stipends are available for early career scholars and students at all stages of academic study enrolled in German universities to help offset travel costs to and from the symposium. Only early career scholars and university students living outside of Mainz and Wiesbaden are eligible. To be considered, please submit a statement of 500 words explaining your interest in American art and the symposium. Email the application by 18 January to; successful applicants will be notified by 22 January.


Title image: George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; The Wood-Boat, 1850; oil on canvas mounted on board; 25 1/8 in. × 30 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase 14:1951

This symposium is made possible through support from the

Jan 29 – Language and Domestic Space in  Mary Wilkins Freeman’s Short Fiction 🗓

Jan 29 – Language and Domestic Space in Mary Wilkins Freeman’s Short Fiction 🗓

Alfred Bendixen (Princeton University)

Tuesday, January 29, 2018; 6 p.m.–8 p.m. (c.t.) Philosophicum I, P15

Professor Alfred Bendixen of Princeton University explores the intersection of language and domestic space in establishing the feminist foundations of Mary Wilkins Freeman‘s strongest short fiction. Through the careful manipulation of dialogue and silence, Freeman investigates the struggle of women to achieve a meaningful voice. in her meticulous rendering of physical space, particularly the domestic spaces that women claim as their own, she defines the ways in which women can maintain or lose personal autonomy. The presentation focuses on three of Freeman‘s best stories: „The Revolt of ‚Mother,‘“ „A New England Nun,“ and „A Village Singer.“

Alfred Bendixen received his Ph.D in 1979 from the University of North Carolina and taught at Barnard College, California State University, Los Angeles, and Texas A&M University before joining the Princeton faculty in 2014. Much of his scholarship has been devoted to the recovery of 19th-century texts, particularly by women writers, and to the exploration of neglected genres, including the ghost story, detective fiction, science fiction, and travel writing. His teaching interests include the entire range of American literature as well as courses in science fiction, graphic narrative, and gender studies.

You can download a poster for the lecture here.

Jan 22 – Discovering Difference: A Narrative Medicine  Investigation of Lived Retrospective Diagnosis 🗓

Jan 22 – Discovering Difference: A Narrative Medicine Investigation of Lived Retrospective Diagnosis 🗓

Danielle Spencer (Columbia University)

January 22, 2019, 12-2 p.m. 02-709 Georg-Forster Gebäude


In this project I “diagnose” a phenomenon I term discovering difference: the experience of newly learning in adulthood that one has a longstanding cognitive or perceptual difference from the norm, particularly one that may be considered pathological. It can occur when the condition has remained undetected, such as becoming aware that one is colorblind, and/or when the diagnostic categories themselves have shifted, as with the emergence of autism spectrum disorders or ADHD. This phenomenon has received relatively scant attention, yet learning of an unknown condition is frequently a significant and bewildering revelation, subverting narrative expectations and customary categories. In addressing the topic I articulate and deploy an evolution of narrative medicine as a robust research methodology comprising interdisciplinarity, narrative attentiveness, and creating a writerly text. Beginning with my own experience of discovering difference, I explore the issues it raises—from communicability to narrative intelligibility to different ways of seeing. Next, I map the phenomenon’s distinctive narrative arc through the stages of recognition, subversion, and renegotiation, and finally discuss this trajectory in light of others’ experiences. I propose that interdisciplinary understanding as well as the figure of blindsight—drawn from my own experience—offers a productive model for negotiating such revelations and for holding different forms of knowledge in generative tension. Better understanding discovering difference will aid those directly affected; moreover, it serves as a bellwether for how we will all navigate advancing biomedical and genomic knowledge, and how we may integrate medico-scientific revelations with what we understand to be our identities.

Danielle Spencer is a faculty member of the Program in Narrative Medicine at Columbia University. She is a co-author of The Principles and Practice of Narrative Medicine (Oxford University Press, 2017) and her work appears in a range of outlets, from Ploughshares to The Lancet. Her research interests include the intersection between narrative, identity, and diagnosis; bioethics and speculative fiction, and healthcare professions pedagogy. Spencer worked as artist/musician David Byrne’s Art Director for many years, collaborating on and exhibiting a range of projects, as well as with photographer Nan Goldin. She holds a B.A. from Yale University and an M.S. in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University, and a Ph.D. des. in American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz.

You can download the poster for this talk here.

Jan 21 – American Studies Summer School – Info Session 🗓

Jan 21 – American Studies Summer School – Info Session 🗓

Apply for the American Studies Summer School 2019!

The Civil Rights Movement, Southern Literature, and Southern Food & Music

Experience a unique and intensive research and learning opportunity focusing on the American South. The Obama Institute offers this three-week American Studies Summer School traveling through Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Tennessee from the end of July to mid-August. This educational trip provides students with courses in language, literature, and cultural studies. Starting in Little Rock, Arkansas and ending in Washington DC, participants will study the Civil Rights Movement, the history of food and music in the US South, and Southern Literature. They benefit from lectures, readings, and films, as well as on-site learning. Summer School participants can receive course credits in Independent Studies, Cultural Studies, or Written English.

Monday, January 21 at 4pm, Room P 11

If you cannot come to the info session, please contact:
Nina Heydt ( or Julia Velten (

Jan 16–18 – Keeping the Faith: Glaube und Journalismus – Conference Room, Helmholtz Institute. Organized by Prof. Oliver Scheiding and Anja-Maria Bassimir 🗓

Jan 16–18 – Keeping the Faith: Glaube und Journalismus – Conference Room, Helmholtz Institute. Organized by Prof. Oliver Scheiding and Anja-Maria Bassimir 🗓

Religious media are part of the knowledge production of faith communities. As producers, disseminators and archivists they play important roles for perpetuating a certain faith tradition. In this workshop, we will analyze how religious journalists and others involved in producing religious online and print media work and thus nourish and support religious affiliation. For this purpose, we will look at three areas of religious journalism: content, technology, and the larger religious network.


Religiöse Medien sind Teil der Wissensproduktion einer Glaubensgemeinschaft. Als Produzenten, Verteiler und Archivare spielen Medien eine wichtige Rolle bei der Erhaltung und Weiterführung einer Glaubenstradition. In diesem Workshop setzen wir uns damit auseinander, wie religiöse Journalisten und andere, die an der Produktion von religiösen online Inhalten und Printmedien beteiligt sind, arbeiten und so religiöse Zugehörigkeit pflegen und unterstützen. Daher werden wir uns mit drei Bereichen des religiösen Journalismus auseinandersetzen: Inhalten, Technologien und dem Netzwerk.


Download the program for the workshop here.