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.


Oct 4 – Trans-Atlantic Bodies: American Nationalism and the Politics of Corporeality 🗓

Oct 4 – Trans-Atlantic Bodies: American Nationalism and the Politics of Corporeality 🗓

Maurizio Valsania (University of Turin)

Oct 4, 2018, 5-6 p.m., P 110 (Philosophicum)


In the 1760s, British colonies in North America agreed on boycotting the importation of goods. On occasion, upper-class Americans could reenact the so-called “age of homespun” much later on—George Washington’s 1789 mythic brown inaugural suit made in Hartford, Connecticut, is a wonderful example. But this may give the impression that Americans, including American republican leaders, did not care about style; that they had been created rugged; that they were cut off from the main trans-Atlantic cultural trends that, in the period, were being redefining fashion, civility, politeness, sensibility, and masculinity. My paper discusses two hypotheses. The first is that the Founding Figures (George Washington and Thomas Jefferson in particular) took part, knowingly, in a trans-Atlantic ongoing debate about style; second, that these men idealized their own bodies and deployed them as tools to channel a message of modernity. New political visions as well as new ideals concerning the modern white upper-class male were thus made visible.

This talk constitutes the keynote address of the “Transatlantic Conversations: New and Emerging Approaches to Early American Studies” conference (Oct 4-6, 2018).

Click here to access the conference page and the complete conference program.



4th of July Lecture – Suffering, Struggle, Survival: The Activism, Artistry, and Authorship of Frederick Douglass and Family (1818–2018) 🗓

4th of July Lecture – Suffering, Struggle, Survival: The Activism, Artistry, and Authorship of Frederick Douglass and Family (1818–2018) 🗓

Prof. Celeste-Marie Bernier (University of Edinburgh)

July 4, 2018, 10 a.m.–12 p.m. (c.t.), Philosophicum I, P 5


While there have been many Frederick Douglasses – Douglass the abolitionist, Douglass the statesman, Douglass the autobiographer, Douglass the orator, Douglass the reformer, Douglass the essayist, and Douglass the politician – as we commemorate his two-hundredth anniversary, it is now time begin to trace the many lives of Douglass as a family man. In this talk I will trace the activism, artistry and authorship of Frederick Douglass not in isolation but alongside the sufferings and struggles for survival of his daughters and sons: Rosetta, Lewis Henry, Frederick Jr., Charles Remond and Annie Douglass. As activists, educators, campaigners, civil rights protesters, newspaper editors, orators, essayists, and historians in their own right, his children each played a vital role in the freedom struggles of their father. They were no less afraid to sacrifice everything they had as they each fought for Black civic, cultural, political, and social liberties by every means necessary. No isolated endeavor undertaken by an exemplary icon, the fight for freedom was a family business to which all the Douglasses dedicated their lives as their rallying cry lives on to inspire today’s activism:
“Agitate! Agitate! Agitate!”

For more information see the poster.