Select Page
Fourth of July 2020 at the Obama Institute 🗓

Fourth of July 2020 at the Obama Institute 🗓

Dear Colleagues, Students and Friends of the Obama Institute:

The Corona pandemic has upset all our plans of teaching and research, also a Fourth of July conference with the Fellows of the Obama Institute. The proliferation of COVID-19 has questioned conventional patterns of political decision making and has challenged the constitution not only of democratic societies. It has brought home to us the urgent need of transnational American studies to which the Obama Institute is dedicated.

Thanks to the support of the state of Rhineland-Palatinate and the Johannes Gutenberg University we have established a research platform on the topic of “Disruption and Democracy in America: Challenges and Potentials of Transcultural and Transnational Formations,” which focuses on the rapid changes caused by forced migration, racial violence, ethnic division, health inequalities, and the legacies of social injustice.

Instead of the planned conference we present the following digital platform of documents and references to the research and publications of members of the Obama Institute which address historical and contemporary aspects of the current developments in the United States. This program reflects our strong research record in diversity studies and the implications for the political recognition of under-represented and under-privileged people. It is a selection of many relevant publications which we invite you to look up on our homepage and in the three published volumes of the Obama Institute Annual Report (2017, 2018, 2019). These titles will guide you to previous work done in Mainz American Studies. We will also establish a Forum section on the Obama Institute homepage as a platform for the exchange of opinions in which we can all share. Please subscribe to our mailing list to stay in frequent touch. We look forward to the end of the lockdown and to returning physically to the classroom.

On behalf of the Executive Board of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, I would like to wish all of us a Happy Fourth of July Celebration in which we honor the America we teach, research and love.

Alfred Hornung,
Speaker

Research and Publications

Banerjee, Mita. “A Kaleidoscope of Color or the Agony of Race? Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father.” Journal of Transnational American Studies 10.2 (2019/20).

Ernst, Jutta. “‘What Is Africa to Me?’: Blackness and Transgression in Contemporary African Canadian Poetry.” Transgressions/Transformations: Literature and Beyond. Ed. Brigitte Johanna Glaser and Wolfgang Zach. Tübingen: Stauffenburg, 2018. 71-81. Print.

Hornung, Alfred. „#7 Wie steht es um die amerikanische Demokratie?Podcast Denkanstoß Demokratie, Landeszentrale für politische Bildung RLP
Listen on SoundCloud or Spotify.

Obenland, Frank, Nele Sawallisch, Johanna Seibert, and Pia Wiegmink, eds. Special Forum on Transnational Black Politics and Resistance: From Enslavement to Obama. Online Publication of The Journal of Transnational American Studies.
Introduction: Obenland, Frank, Nele Swallisch, and Elizabeth J. West. “Introduction: Transnational Black Politics and Resistance: From Enslavement to Obama: Through the Prism of 1619.”

Scheiding, Oliver. “Nineteenth-Century American Indian Newspapers and the Construction of Sovereignty.” The Cambridge History of Native American Literature.” Ed. Melanie Benson Taylor. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020. 89-112. (Text as PDF accessible with JGU login.)

Raphael-Hernandez, Heike and Pia Wiegmink, eds. German Entanglements in Transatlantic Slavery. Special Issue of Atlantic Studies.
Introduction: Raphael-Hernandez, Heike and Pia Wiegmink. “German Entanglements in Transatlantic Slavery: an Introduction.”

Schäfer, Axel. “Inequality, Ethnopolitics, and Social Welfare: U.S. Health Care Reform in the World War I Era.” Ed. Barbara Hahn, Kerstin Schmidt. Inequality in America: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. Heidelberg: Winter Verlag, 2017. 57-76. (Text as PDF scan accessible with JGU login.)

Feb 6 – The Legacy of Residential Schools in Native North American Literature and Culture: Pedagogical and Theoretical Considerations 🗓

Feb 6 – The Legacy of Residential Schools in Native North American Literature and Culture: Pedagogical and Theoretical Considerations 🗓

Cristina Stanciu (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA)

Feb 6, 2020
16:15-17:45, P 203 (Philosophicum)

This presentation, part of a new research project on Indigenous writing in the aftermath of residential schools in four settler states, has two interrelated goals: first, to think about the possibilities and limitations of writing/literature about traumatic experiences by residential school survivors and their children in North America in both theoretical and pedagogical terms;  second, to interrogate the politics of settler-colonial uses of images of indigenous children in boarding and residential schools in the US and Canada. Part of a larger settler-colonial project of elimination through education, boarding and residential schools aimed to “kill the Indian and save the man” (US) and to “kill the Indian in the child” (Canada). Of the 150,000 Aboriginal children who attended residential schools in Canada between 1876 and 1996, 6,000 are documented to have died of malnutrition, disease, physical abuse, and suicide. Many others lived to tell their stories, surviving the imprint of what Patrick Wolf has called “total institutions,” and giving voice to that painful history. As early as the 1880s, Native children in US boarding schools were writing for the student papers; twentieth and twenty-first century survivors continued to write about residential schools in genres from autobiography and poetry to drama and the novel. Despite the saturation of “Indian”-inflected images in settler colonial representations, Indigenous and First Nations people in North America are still, for the most part, invisible. As Maori scholar Linda T. Smith has argued, Indigenous communities have struggled for centuries to exercise a fundamental right: “to represent ourselves.” In the last three decades, indigenous artists have engaged in what Michelle Raheja calls visual sovereignty, the creative self-representation of Native artists, turning the archival absence into presence. I end with a case study– The exhibit “the Legacy of Hope,” which traveled to major TRC events, displayed photographic and documentary evidence along with transcribed testimony to raise awareness about the legacy of residential schools nationally. The coherent pictorial and textual narrative of the exhibit—supplementing recorded survivor testimonies, some broadcasted live—tells a story of survival and resilience Besides pointing to a traumatic past—rooted in the loss of family, language, culture, and often hope—they gesture towards re-visioning a national narrative by imagining a resilient future.

Cristina Stanciu is Associate Professor in the Departement of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA and Fulbright Scholar 2019-20. Her research interests include Ethnic and immigrant American literatures, American Indian studies, visual culture (esp. silent film), and critical theory.

 

You can download the poster for the event here.

Feb 4 – Native Education, Print Culture, and Americanization at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918 🗓

Feb 4 – Native Education, Print Culture, and Americanization at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, 1879-1918 🗓

Cristina Stanciu (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA)

Feb 4, 2020
16:15-17:45, Fakultätssaal (Philosophicum)

This talk turns to print culture, zooming in on a key archive: the records of Carlisle Indian Industrial School, the first federally-funded off-reservation boarding school started in 1879 in Carlisle, PA. I argue that print culture—although part and parcel of the settler colonial project—enabled Native students to think, dream, and act toward a present and future beyond the confines of their (forced) industrial education. Examining surviving student writings, letters, and publications at Carlisle Indian Industrial School and several other federal boarding schools, I argue that Indigenous students’ work in print and epistolary form offers a glimpse into a tumultuous period of forced assimilation and Americanization, where student involvement in writing and reading practices mitigated some of the damage that industrial training did to Native education. Competing visions for Native education and print culture shaped this key period in the American Indian intellectual tradition, when emerging writers, editors, lawyers, and politicians started a print debate over American citizenship in the publications of Carlisle Indian School. Revealing editorial intervention and control of the students’ narratives in pamphlets, letters, student files, and the Carlisle magazines, I read student writing as complicit with the institution’s ideology, popularized by the school’s founder, R.H. Pratt, and yet critical of the very demands that the institution made of its students. Education for Americanization aimed to erase tribal identity and instill patriotism in students; yet, Native students integrated indigeneity into their writing and expressive culture at Carlisle in subtle ways. Although the authorship of the students’ writings is often difficult to ascertain, given the controlled environment in which they lived and wrote, as well as the constraints of colonial archives in collecting, preserving, and curating materials produced by Native students, this archive is worth studying for its contributions to what Osage critic Robert Warrior calls the American Indian Intellectual tradition. Following Warrior, in this chapter I read what he calls “Native educational texts”—a category where I also include the writings of students—a “microcosm of Native literary history,” a necessary point of departure not only for understanding how students negotiated Americanization in print, but also for our critical conceptualization of Native American written tradition as part of a continuum. Ultimately, I argue, the beginnings of the boarding school experiment and the removal of Native children to these institutions starting in 1879 coincided with the beginning of modern American Indian intellectual history, as well as the emergence of the first generation of intertribal activists and scholars.

Cristina Stanciu is Associate Professor in the Departement of English at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA and Fulbright Scholar 2019-20. Her research interests include Ethnic and immigrant American literatures, American Indian studies, visual culture (esp. silent film), and critical theory.

 

You can download the poster for the event here.

Jan 31 – History Reloaded? Eternal Girlhood and the Afterlives of Annie Oakley 🗓

Jan 31 – History Reloaded? Eternal Girlhood and the Afterlives of Annie Oakley 🗓

Stefanie Schäfer

Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Jan 31, 2020
08:15-09:45, P 206 (Philosophicum)

This presentation examines the influence of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West on the Western genre and zooms in on the gendered representation of cowboy culture by female sharpshooter Annie Oakley, who became a star in her own right in the course of the 20th century. It analyzes Oakley’s girlhood performance and her transformations in the film version of the muscial smash hit Annie Get Your Gun (1946/1950) and in the 2004 Disney film Hidalgo.

PD Dr. Stefanie Schäfer is assistant professor of American Studies at FSU Jena. Stefanie Schäfer’s work centers on iconographies of power and on gendered figurations of the national in the US and Canada. She draws from concepts from Transnational North American Studies, American and Canadian Studies, as well as Popular Culture and Visual Culture.

 

You can download the poster for the event here.

Jan 30 – Cowboys All! Settler Colonialism and the Invention of Tradition at the Western Spectacle 🗓

Jan 30 – Cowboys All! Settler Colonialism and the Invention of Tradition at the Western Spectacle 🗓

Stefanie Schäfer

Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena

Jan 30, 2020
12:15-13:45, P 6 (Philosophicum)

This presentation takes a look at the staging of settlement history and its transformation into rodeo sports in North America’s biggest Western Spectacles, the Cheyenne Frontier Days (est. 1897) and the Calgary Stampede (est. 1912). It combines a gendered reading of the Western spectacle with a critique of settler colonialist production of “native” traditions of the West and concludes with a look at contemporary rodeo narratives in popular culture.

PD Dr. Stefanie Schäfer is assistant professor of American Studies at FSU Jena. Stefanie Schäfer’s work centers on iconographies of power and on gendered figurations of the national in the US and Canada. She draws from concepts from Transnational North American Studies, American and Canadian Studies, as well as Popular Culture and Visual Culture.

 

You can download the poster for the event here.

December 17 – “Winosburg, Ohio” – Community, Regionalism, and Cultural Mobility in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) and Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff (2008) 🗓

December 17 – “Winosburg, Ohio” – Community, Regionalism, and Cultural Mobility in Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) and Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff (2008) 🗓

Jochen Achilles (University of Würzburg)

December 17, 2019
6–8 p.m., P 103 (Philosophicum I)

Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio and Donald Ray Pollock’s Knockemstiff are linked by common structural features as well as cultural concerns. Held side by side, both story cycles illustrate a regional history of downward mobility, as documented in Nancy Isenberg’s White Trash (2016) and J. D. Vance’s Hillbilly Elegy (2016). Phenomena unheard of in turn-of-the-century Winesburg, such as war trauma, dementia, drug addiction, and systemic violence dominate Knockemstiff. In complex ways both story cycles feed into current discussions of critical regionalism (Kenneth Frampton, Klaus Benesch, Klaus Lösch, Heike Paul) cultural mobility (Stephen Greenblatt), slow violence (Rob Nixon), and cruel optimism (Lauren Berlant).