Feb 7 – Symposium: International Perspectives on American Art 🗓

Feb 7 – Symposium: International Perspectives on American Art 🗓

International Perspectives on American Art

Symposium hosted by the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies and the Art History Department, Johannes Gutenberg University
The symposium, International Perspectives on American Art, brings together scholars from the United States and Europe, from university departments of American Studies, Art History, Literature, and from museum curatorial positions, that are presently engaged in exploring American art within a broad context. Seeking to stimulate interdisciplinary exchange, the symposium is an opportunity to explore the reception and perception of American art outside of the United States in museum exhibitions, research, and in the academic classroom.
February 7, 2019

Helmholtz Institute Mainz
Staudingerweg 18
55128 Mainz

Conference Room 1395-00-133/135 (Ground Floor), 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

In November of 2018, an ambitious exhibition on American art opened at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum & Foundation Corboud in Cologne, Once Upon a Time in America: Three Centuries of American Art. On display in the galleries are over 100 loans of paintings, works on paper, and sculpture from American collections, the majority of which have never been on view in a German museum. It introduces to a primarily German audience important and well-known art objects from the 1700s to the mid-twentieth century, focusing on select periods that influenced and shaped art in America.

This exhibition, in addition to a number of other more focused thematic exhibits held recently in Germany, such as Constructing the World: Art and Economy (Mannheim Kunsthalle, 2018-2019) and From Hopper to Rothko: America’s Road to Modernism (Museum Barberini, 2017), highlights the strong interest found outside of the United States in understanding and interpreting past and modern American culture through visual material.



Dr. Christian Berger, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz/The Courtauld Institute of Art, London
Prof. Dr. Winfried Fluck, John F. Kennedy Institute for North American Studies, Freie Universität Berlin
Prof. Dr. Ursula Frohne, Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster
Eleanor Harvey, Ph.D., Senior Curator, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
Anna O. Marley, Ph.D., Curator of Historical American Art, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Susanne Scharf, M.A., Frankfurt am Main

A detailed program is available on the conference website.

Through the generosity of the Terra Foundation for American Art, stipends are available for early career scholars and students at all stages of academic study enrolled in German universities to help offset travel costs to and from the symposium. Only early career scholars and university students living outside of Mainz and Wiesbaden are eligible. To be considered, please submit a statement of 500 words explaining your interest in American art and the symposium. Email the application by 18 January to allstagg@uni-mainz.de; successful applicants will be notified by 22 January.


Title image: George Caleb Bingham, American, 1811–1879; The Wood-Boat, 1850; oil on canvas mounted on board; 25 1/8 in. × 30 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, Museum Purchase 14:1951

This symposium is made possible through support from the

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.”


Oct 13 – Apartheid’s Lessons: Transnational Networks and US Evangelical Politics in the Cold War 🗓

Oct 13 – Apartheid’s Lessons: Transnational Networks and US Evangelical Politics in the Cold War 🗓

Melani McAlister (George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA)

Oct 13, 2018, 9:15 a.m., Linke Aula/Alte Mensa


Melani McAlister is Professor of American Studies and International Affairs at George Washington University, Washington, D.C., USA.

This event is part of the international conference Global Faith and Worldly Power: Evangelical Encounters with American Empire. The lecture will be livestreamed here: Webcast of Keynote

Oct 11 – Prosperity, Sex, and Politics: Evangelicals Changing Mission to the World 🗓

Oct 11 – Prosperity, Sex, and Politics: Evangelicals Changing Mission to the World 🗓

Anthea Butler (U of Pennsylvania, USA)

Oct 11, 2018, 6 p.m. (s.t.), Linke Aula/Alte Mensa


The missionary impulse of Evangelicals has been saving souls, but that has changed in the last 40 years. Political, economic and social issues are part of the changing impetus of Evangelical engagement around the world, because of Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. This keynote will address the changes to belief, ideology and practice of Evangelical mission work, to show how Pentecostal and Charismatic movements have changed the impetus of Evangelical fervor and interests throughout the world.

Anthea Butler is Associate Professor of Religion and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, USA.

This event is part of the international conference Global Faith and Worldly Power: Evangelical Encounters with American Empire. The lecture will be livestreamed here: Webcast of Keynote

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.



Call for Papers – Cultural Performance in Transnational American Studies 🗓

Call for Papers – Cultural Performance in Transnational American Studies 🗓

Call for Papers

Cultural Performance in Transnational American Studies

Closing Conference of the DFG-funded research network “Cultural Performance in Transnational American Studies” (DFG # BA 3567/4-1)
June 21-23, 2018, Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Conference organizers: Dr. Pia Wiegmink (Obama Institute) and Dr. Birgit M. Bauridl (U Regensburg)

The closing conference of this research network aims at scrutinizing the benefits and limitations of a deeper and more reflective integration of a Performance Studies approach into (transnational) American Studies. It intends to investigate how, which, and with what outcome issues that, in the wake of the transnational turn, have become central to the American Studies agenda can be addressed more adequately by the study of ‘cultural performances.’ We invite papers that zoom in on the idea of culture as a corporeal, communal, and dynamic event rather than a stable textual product and that position the local particularities of cultural performance vis-à-vis the dynamics of global mobility.

Potential paper topics could address, but are not limited to the following questions:

  • What is the role and impact of ‘cultural performances’ such as daily rituals, festive occasions, or theatrical events in transnational contact zones, i.e., sites in which cultures meet, grapple with each other?
  • How can cultural performances in contact zones become expressions and negotiations of processes of transnational cultural entanglement?
  • How can cultural performance act as a platform in which diverse and possibly competing (national) identities and cultural belongings are negotiated and experienced by a community?
  • How can ‘cultural performance’ serve as a methodological perspective and thus help understand questions posed by transnational American Studies? I.e. how can ‘cultural performance’ be possibly used as a tool for the analysis of both contemporary transnational processes and historical forms of global mobility and what are its methodological challenges, solutions, and limitations?
  • (How) Does the corporeality, physicality, presence, interaction, and communal character of cultural performance enhance, complicate, or change our perspective on transnational contact zones ranging from immediate local encounters to supposedly immaterial and anonymous global processes and digital environments?
  • How does the study of cultural performance complement and possibly expand prevalent (transnational) American Studies discourses on, for example, affect, corporeality, memory, public (vs. private) space, dissent and cultural resistance, cosmopolitanism, urbanity (vs. rurality), environment and ecology, cultural imperialism, neoliberalism, diasporic identities, social media, tourism, sonic cultures, food cultures, etc.?

Confirmed keynote speakers are Denise Uyehara (performance artist) and Prof. Dr. Werner Sollors (Harvard). Active members of the research network will present on and discuss the topic together with further confirmed speakers Prof. Dr. Ben Chappell (University of Kansas), Prof. Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier (University of Edinburgh). 
Please send your short abstract (<300 words) and a short CV (300 words) including your email, address, and affiliation to Birgit M. Bauridl and Pia Wiegmink at culturalperformancenetwork@gmail.com by March 1, 2018.