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Happy Holidays! 🗓

Happy Holidays! 🗓

On behalf of the faculty and staff at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, we thank you – our supporters, colleagues, students, and friends – for another successful year filled with meaningful and inspiring projects, alas, pursued under Corona conditions.

We look forward to collaborating with you, hopefully in person, in 2021 and wish you and your loved ones:
Happy Holidays and all the best for the New Year!

The Executive Board of the Obama Institute

(Univ.-Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Jutta Ernst, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Alfred Hornung, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Axel Schäfer, Univ.-Prof. Dr. Oliver Scheiding)


Dec 15: Online Guest Lecture “Claiming ‘The Great Black North’ in Contemporary Short Stories from Canada” 🗓

Dec 15: Online Guest Lecture “Claiming ‘The Great Black North’ in Contemporary Short Stories from Canada” 🗓

Claiming ‘The Great Black North’ in Contemporary Short Stories from Canada

Dr. Nele Sawallisch
(Catholic University Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Germany)

Dec 15, 09:40-11:00, BigBlueButton

Free access:
(BigBlueButton does not require a standalone app and works best on Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Safari and other browsers can cause technical issues.)

Canada’s popular moniker of “the Great White North” has long exceeded its reference to the land of ice and snow, assuming another metaphorical meaning in the context of the country’s demographic. Despite the adoption of an official policy of multiculturalism in the latter half of the 20th century, to immigrant populations as well as BIPoC in Canada, the country has often proven less than welcoming both in diachronic and synchronic perspectives. This talk therefore considers short fiction by Black Canadian and second-generation Black authors that negotiates the intersections of Blackness, Canada, and belonging. On the one hand, their short stories posit experiences of discrimination and racism as facts in the daily lives of BIPoC in Canada despite its professions of a tolerant multicultural society. On the other hand, the authors also appropriate and claim Canada’s geography to map histories, presents, and futures of a “Great Black North” that “remix[es]” (Mason-John and Cameron 2014) Canada’s story as we know it.

Dr. Nele Sawallisch works as a senior lecturer in American Studies at Catholic University Eichstätt- Ingolstadt, Germany. Her first monograph Fugitive Borders: Black Canadian Cross-Border Literature at Mid-Nineteenth Century (transcript, 2019) discusses community-building processes and genealogies in autobiographical writing by formerly enslaved men from the 1850s in the North American borderland between the United States and Canada.

You can download the poster here.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you (electronically) at the lecture!

Dec 14 – Online Info Session: American Studies Summer School 🗓

Dec 14 – Online Info Session: American Studies Summer School 🗓

Join the American Studies Summer School 2021!

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.

You can find further information in the Download section on the Summer School page and here.

Monday, December 14, 2020, 6 p.m.
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If you cannot attend the info session but are interested in joining,
please contact Julia Velten (

Download the flyer for the info session here.

Nov 26 – Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, Obama Dissertation Prize & Galinsky Memorial Prize 🗓

Nov 26 – Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, Obama Dissertation Prize & Galinsky Memorial Prize 🗓

Nov. 26, 2020 – 16.15 – 18.00 – BigBlueButton


Come join us online for the annual Thanksgiving Obama Lecture, where we will hear from the Obama Institute’s Executive Board members about the OI’s activities and current research and will award the Obama Dissertation Prizes as well as the Galinsky Prize for outstanding PhD and undergrad work. Each recipient will present their project and we will open a conversation about their work as part of and in relation to the research conducted at the OI.

Please download the flyer here or see below. It includes more information and access details.




Nov 14-21 + Nov 19: On-demand Film Screening + Talk and Q&A with filmmaker Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced) 🗓

Nov 14-21 + Nov 19: On-demand Film Screening + Talk and Q&A with filmmaker Yehuda Sharim (UC Merced) 🗓

Watch Songs That Never End (2019) on-demand
Nov. 14-21 (register on eventbrite)

Talk with filmmaker Yehuda Sharim
Nov. 19, 6 pm CET (on BigBlueButton)


The Obama Institute is hosting a week-long on-demand film screening (Nov 14-21, of Yehuda Sharim’s documentary film Songs that Never End (2019). Part of a trilogy, with Seeds of All Things, Songs that Never End offers a lyrical, poetic, and intimate portrayal of the emotional histories tied to displacement and immigration.

Having fled their home in Iran, the Dayan family is greeted in Houston with hurricanes and perilous politics. Nine-year-old Hana is bold and brilliant and struggles to be heard while her family comes to grips with life in the sprawling Texan metropolis, constantly reaching out to all that is gone but is still here: a hunger for the future, and songs about a kind world.

In addition, the filmmaker has kindly agreed to be available for an online talk and Q&A session (Nov 19, 18:00, about his film.

Come join us and share your questions and thoughts on the film or simply listen to the discussion!

For more details and all links to the event, please see or download the poster here or click on the image below.

Please note: BigBlueButton does not require a standalone app. Please use Firefox or Chrome to access.