The Obama Institute welcomes Prof. Hugh Sheehy, author and Professor for Creative Writing and Literature at Ramapo College, NJ. Prof. Sheehy will spend the winter semester 2021/22 as a teaching fellow of the German Academic Exchange Service (GAAS/DAAD) at Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, where he will offer seminars on the American short story as well as a creative writing workshop.
Prof. Sheehy is the author of several award-winning short stories and two forthcoming novels. His collection of stories, The Invisibles (University of Georgia Press, 2011), has won the 2012 Flannery O’Connor Award and has since been translated into French. His fiction has appeared in magazines such as Five Points, The Cincinnati Review, The Kenyon Review, Glimmer Train, The Antioch Review, Crazyhorse, and Copper Nickel, as well as in The Best American Mystery Stories 2008. His critical work has been published in several outlets, including the L.A. Review of Books. He sits on the advisory board of the Hong Kong Review. In his teaching, Prof. Sheehy focuses on creative writing of long- and short-form prose as well as poetry.
The Obama Institute and Johannes Gutenberg University are excited to have Prof. Sheehy join our team this semester. We look forward to offering JGU students a unique round of courses and workshops that will allow them to engage with American literature in new ways, by approaching writing from a maker’s perspective. We thank the GAAS/DAAD for making this visit possible.
We would like to invite everyone to the Obama Institute’s annual Fourth of July Lecture on July 5 (4 p.m.). Members of the OI Executive Board will start by briefly introducing the latest news in Research at the OI, including the recently established SFB 1482 “Humandifferenzierung”, which was approved for its first four years of funding by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) just a few weeks ago.
Then, we will welcome Professor Glenn T. Eskew from Georgia State University for a talk on “The Ongoing Ideological Struggle ‘To Redeem the Soul of America’ and the World” before Dr. habil. René Dietrich will give his Öffentliche Antrittsvorlesung on “Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Fiction and Being Committed in/to American Studies” in order to formally complete his Habilitation and receive his Venia Legendi.
Please see below or here for more details on the talks and our schedule.
July 5, 4 – 8 p.m. You can join the event on MS Teams at any time for any or all talks by following the link on the poster or here: https://tinyurl.com/xrx8c9y2
An installation of the MS Teams application is recommended but not necessary. MS Teams will also let you access the meeting in a browser through its web client. Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge work best. Apple’s Safari is not fully supported!
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org is welcome but not necessary. If you register, you will receive an email through MS Teams with the link and Teams calendar event prior to the event.
4.00 – 4.30 p.m. Welcome and Introduction Latest OI Research News OI Executive Board Members
4.30 – 5.45 p.m. Fourth of July Guest Lecture with Q&A “The Ongoing Ideological Struggle ‘To Redeem the Soul of America’ and the World” Professor Glenn T. Eskew Georgia State University, USA
5.45 – 6.00 p.m. BREAK
6.00 – 8.00 p.m. Öffentliche Antrittsvorlesung “Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Fiction and Being Committed in/to American Studies” Dr. habil. René Dietrich JGU Obama Institute
“The Ongoing Ideological Struggle ‘To Redeem the Soul of America’ and the World” – Professor Glenn T. Eskew On January 6, 2021, the nation and world watched in horror as reactionaries attacked the United States Capitol in an effort to stop the certification of duly elected Joe Biden as the 45th President in the most extreme example of an ongoing conflict over the nation’s future. The violent clash of interests on display in Washington that day finds its roots extending fifty years into the past when postwar America’s ideological consensus began to crack. While fundamental changes in political economy, society, and culture have marked the decades since then, the United States has yet to recoalesce around a renewed ideology, although efforts have been made to do so in a landscape of competing memories. Increasingly cast as a geopolitical fight between autocracy and democracy, advocates of an inclusive American system harken back to the founding ideals of the nation in a bid to articulate a vision forward for global peace and prosperity.
“Viet Thanh Nguyen’s Fiction and Being Committed in/to American Studies” – Dr. habil. René Dietrich In a novel following the path of a Vietnamese Refugee veering between local drug gangs and leftist circles in Paris of the early 1980s, America might seem far from one’s mind. And yet, with the novel featuring a character naming himself “Le Cao Boi” (pronounced Cowboy), engaging the observation that American imperialism exists in alignment with European colonization, and asking how U.S. racism is used to excuse French racism inherited as part of its colonial legacy, America never seems far off the novel’s focus either. Thus, I want to show how The Committed, by Vietnamese-American Pulitzer price-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen can best be approached through an American Studies perspective that is itself committed to questions of the transnational, (anti-)imperial, and decolonial. Doing so, I am also exploring what it means to me to be committed to these principles of critical inquiry in my own approach to American Studies.
“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: https://bbb.rlp.net/b/ern-ciz-knc-2v5 (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.
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.
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, https://obamainstitute.eventbrite.com) 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.
LOGLINE 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.