Dec 18 – Slavery Reconsidered: Colson Whitehead’s _The Underground Railroad_ and Other Recent Representations 🗓

Dec 18 – Slavery Reconsidered: Colson Whitehead’s _The Underground Railroad_ and Other Recent Representations 🗓

Jutta Zimmermann (Christian-Albrechts-Universitat zu Kiel)

Dec 18, 2018, 9.40-11.10 a.m., Room 328 (Campus Germersheim, FB 06)


In recent years, slavery has been the topic of a whole number of popular literary texts and films. Compared to earlier representations, these latest works are produced within a particular historical and cultural context: the presidency of Barack Obama and the emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement. Whitehead’s novel – but also films like Steve McQueen’s Twelve Years a Slave or Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation – respond to and negotiate between competing claims about race relations in the U.S.: Is the first black president an indication that racism has been overcome? Or, has slavery never come to an end and persists in the present? In order to answer these questions, the presentation will make an attempt to trace the role that slavery has played in African American culture since the 1960s.


You can find the poster for the event here.


Dec 13 – Leaving the Land Before Time: The Planetary Presence of Indigenous World Literatures 🗓

Dec 13 – Leaving the Land Before Time: The Planetary Presence of Indigenous World Literatures 🗓

Vanessa Evans (York University, Canada)

December 13, 2018, 12-1 p.m., 02.102 (Philo II)


Too often, the pull of the policy audience has resulted in decolonization being enlisted as a hollow metaphor that seeks to reconcile settler complicity and secure settler futurity. This seduction has immense consequences for the substance, style, and politics of research in Indigenous studies. As such, the field of Indigenous literary study cannot blindly adopt the agendas of those making or administering policy. I advocate that a primary impediment to an increased consciousness about Indigeneity lies in how we study the contemporary literature of Indigenous peoples. This requires a reconceptualization of Indigeneity away from its boundedness to specific lands and pasts that valorize ties to first contact, instead embracing the reality that Indigenous peoples are a contemporary presence throughout the world. In response to this reimagining, my research investigates: (i) how the study of Indigenous world literatures might destabilize characterizations of absence that isolate Indigenous peoples to particular places and pasts, and (ii) how these literatures can entrench Indigenous presence as planetary phenomenon. I make this intervention by modeling a cosmic methodology that recognizes Indigeneity and Indigenous peoples as omnipresent and thriving; it is, at its heart, a project that contributes to the ongoing work of decolonizing literary study itself through the minds of those who study and teach literature.

Vanessa Evans is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at York University. She holds a B.A. in English from the University of Calgary and an M.Litt. in Modernities from the University of Glasgow. Vanessa is currently a visiting lecturer at the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies at JGU Mainz.

You can download the poster for this talk here.

CANCELED // Nov 28 – Whitman’s Sexual Politics 🗓

CANCELED // Nov 28 – Whitman’s Sexual Politics 🗓

Russ Castronovo (University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA)

Nov 28, 2018, 4-6 p.m., P 103 (Philosophicum)


Russ Castronovo is Tom Paine Professor of English and Dorothy Draheim Professor of American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA, where he is also Affiliate Faculty Member of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture.

You can find the poster for the event here.

Nov 22-23 – Interdisciplinary Symposium: Aging Cultures/Cultures of Aging 🗓

Nov 22-23 – Interdisciplinary Symposium: Aging Cultures/Cultures of Aging 🗓

Aging Cultures – Cultures of Aging

Interdisciplinary Symposium

Nov 22, 2018, 6-8 p.m.
Nov 23, 2018, 10.30 a.m.-4.30 p.m.

Philosophicum II, room 00.212

Keynotes by Prof. Dr. Rüdiger Kunow (Potsdam) and
Dr. Scott King (Winchester, VA, USA)

Everybody welcome!

Download the full program here.

We are all, as Margaret Morganroth Gulotte has famously written, “aged by culture.” What this implies is that the meaning ascribed to age is not so much biological, as it is cultural. What does this mean, however, for specific communities within a given culture? What does it mean to speak, for instance, of concepts such as “black aging,” “queer aging,” or “female aging”? And what does all this mean in a transnational context? This workshop seeks to link aging studies on the one hand and fields such as Black Studies, Queer Studies, Diaspora Studies, and Gender Studies on the other.

At the same time, it asks whether culturalist notions of aging have jettisoned the biological, material dimension of aging altogether or whether there is after all a way in which “culture” and “biology” can be fruitfully linked. Moreover, recent research, both in the life sciences and in forms of life writing (such as the boom of centenarians’ autobiographies) may have given rise to a celebration, perhaps even fetishization, of extreme longevity. To what extent has the emphasis on both longevity and “successful aging” tended to pit aging studies against, for instance, disability studies? What other narratives of old age need to be told, which may serve to sabotage mainstream representations of what it means to be old?

The symposium is organized by Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee and Julia Velten, M.A. for the DFG-funded research project “Die Fabrikation der Hundertjährigen,” which is part of the DFG Research Group 1939 “Un/Doing Differences – Praktiken der Humandifferenzierung.”


Nov 22 – Annual Obama Lecture & Award Ceremony 🗓

Nov 22 – Annual Obama Lecture & Award Ceremony 🗓

Gabriele Rippl (University of Bern, Switzerland)

“Picture This! Transcultural American Literature in the Digital Age”

Nov 22, 2018, 12 noon-2 p.m.
Senatssaal (7th floor, Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät)


On Nov 22, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Rippl will give the annual Obama Lecture and the Obama Institute’s Executive Board members will award the Obama Dissertation Prize to Argelia Segovia Liga from Missouri State U, USA, who will also give a short talk on her thesis.
Furthermore, the Obama Institute will award the Galinsky Prize to outstanding student papers in the field of Early American Studies.

For further informaton and the full program, please download the flyer here.


Nov 21 – Unternehmen und Akteure (Workshop) 🗓

Nov 21 – Unternehmen und Akteure (Workshop) 🗓

Research Group “Transnational Periodical Cultures”

Unternehmen und Akteure (Workshop II)

Nov 21, 2018, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Campus Germersheim (Raum 117, Sitzungsraum)


The research group “Transnational Periodical Cultures” (Jutta Ernst, Dagmar von Hoff, Bjørn von Rimscha, Oliver Scheiding) holds a series of workshops on the following dates:

Oct 17, 2018 – Workshop I – Markets, Standardization and Adaptation
Nov 21, 2018 – Workshop II  – Unternehmen und Akteure
Dec 12, 2018 – Workshop III – Zeitschriften und Digitalisierung
Jan 16, 2019 – Workshop IV – Zeitschriften, Gestaltung, Design

You can find the program for the event on Nov 21, 2018 here.

If you are interested in attending one of the workshops or specific talks, please contact one of the organizers mentioned above.

For further information, please visit