FAMILY MATTERS – Of Life in Two Worlds

A Reading with American Studies Mainz Alumna Martina J. Kohl

Co-organized by the Obama Institute and the Atlantische Akademie Rheinland-Pfalz

June 14, 6 pm
P 4 (Philosophicum)

Jakob-Welder-Weg 18, Mainz

FAMILY MATTERS follows the traces of a German family that, over generations, continues to cross the Atlantic in both directions. Like Elizabeth and Henry who, at the beginning of the 20th century, are forced to leave their beloved New York to return to the old country; the violinist Clara who can only live her passion for music in the American of the suffragettes; the war bride Toni, who courageously follows a G.I. to Nebraska after World War II; and, finally, the student Iris who is trying to find her place in both worlds in the 1980s. Looking back, they all ask the same question:  β€žWhat if . . . ?”  What if they had not gone to America, or back to the old country? If they had not fallen in love? What if they had taken that other road and pursued their dreams a bit more forcefully?

FAMILY MATTERS takes ordinary, yet memorable characters out of the yellowed pictures in the photo albums, gives them a voice and places them in their own time. Martina J. Kohl revives the past. She shows that today cannot be understood without the yesterday. And that migration, uprooting and the search for belonging are universal themes.

Martina J. Kohl worked in the Cultural Section of the U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, for many years. She developed and organized numerous programs, but especially loved the literature series. Writing has been a passion ever since she taught at the University of Michigan. It is part of her seminars that she teaches regularly at Humboldt University Berlin and defined her work as editor of the American Studies Journal. As an advisory board member of the Salzburg Global American Studies Program, she continues to engage in transatlantic dialogue. Among her academic publications, FAMILY MATTERS is her first book-length fictional work.

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