Prof. Dr. Mita BanerjeeUniv.-Prof. Dr., Chair of American Studies
I teach nineteenth- and twentieth-century American literature and culture, with a particular focus on Ethnic and Indigenous Studies. In 2010, I helped found the Center of Comparative Native and Indigenous Studies (CCNIS), which is meant to explore the vibrancy, complexity, and contemporaneity of indigenous groups today from an interdisciplinary as well as transnational perspective. As co-speaker of the DFG research training group “Life Sciences – Life Writing: Boundary Experiences of Human Life between Biomedical Explanation and Lived Experience,” I have been interested in the role of medical humanities in American Studies.
In my research, I have focused on postcolonial literatures (The Chutneyfication of History, 2002) as well as the ways in which definitions of race and ethnicity have changed over the course of the twentieth century (Race-ing the Century, 2005). I have also been interested in forms of nation-building, as they are visible, for instance, in the American Renaissance (Ethnic Ventriloquism: Literary Minstrelsy in Nineteenth-Century American Literature, 2008) and the literature of naturalism (Color Me White: Naturalism/Naturalization in American Literature, 2013). I also have a strong interest in popular culture, particularly in a transnational context.
In teaching, my focus has been on the ways in which the US American nation is being shaped and reshaped in different formats, from literature to film, to life writing and visual art. I have been especially interested in exploring dialogues between canonical forms of representation and the ways in which minority groups have resisted, in their self-representations, images of themselves as “Others” within the US-American nation space. I have taught lecture courses on “Comparative Indigenous Studies” and seminars such as “Medical Humanities in American Studies,” “Multi-Ethnic America in Hollywood Film,” “Asian American Literature” as well as courses on 9/11 and the history of whiteness.