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Job Posting: Student Assistant (6h/w) for the DFG Research Training Group “Life Sciences – Life Writing” 🗓

Job Posting: Student Assistant (6h/w) for the DFG Research Training Group “Life Sciences – Life Writing” 🗓

Literary and Cultural Studies meet Life Sciences – Join the team!

The interdisciplinary DFG-funded research training group “Life Sciences – Life Writing” is looking for a student (3rd semester or higher) to assist and support the team 6 hours/week at the Unimedizin Mainz. The group is led by Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee (Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies) and Prof. Dr. Norbert Paul (Institute for History, Philosophy, and Ethics of Medicine).

For all details regarding the job description and how to apply, please see the official posting below or download it here.

The application deadline is Oct 31, 2020.


Ep. 2 of American Literature Association Conversations (Podcast) 🗓

Ep. 2 of American Literature Association Conversations (Podcast) 🗓

“The Flexibility, Durability, and Portability of the Short Story”

In our second installment of the ALA Conversations series, Society for the Study of the American Short Story president James Nagel speaks with Kasia Boddy (University of Cambridge) and Oliver Scheiding (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz) about the almost alchemical ability of the short story to adapt to new narrative platforms. The unique tenacity of the genre has allowed it to remain vibrant and relevant while competing prose forms like the novel struggle to accommodate evolving patterns of literary consumption. Ranging from the short story’s roots in oral tradition to its contemporary compatibility with delivery technologies, whether Kindle, Twitter, or podcasts, our roundtable examines the manifold ways that a type of fiction often stereotyped by its most basic feature—its “shortness”—helps satisfy the human need to explain experience through stories. Along the way, the panel discusses everything from beast fables to tales of initiation to story cycles to the New York Times’s recent Decameron Project, highlighting writers as eclectic as Lucia Berlin, Tommy Orange, George Saunders, and Jennifer Egan. A must for short story historians and fans!

Access the complete series of American Literature Association Conversations here.

CfP for Student Papers: aspeers 14 (2021): General Section and Topical Section “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism” 🗓

CfP for Student Papers: aspeers 14 (2021): General Section and Topical Section “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism” 🗓

CfP for Student Papers: aspeers 14 (2021): General Section and Topical Section “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism”

aspeers, the first and currently only MA-level peer-reviewed journal for American studies in Europe, will accept submissions by October 25, 2020.

In its fourteenth issue, aspeers will feature a general section and a topical one. While the general section accepts submissions on any American studies topic (e. g. revised versions of term papers or chapters from BA theses), the topical section will focus on the theme “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism”, calling for submissions that explore US literature, (popular) culture, society, history, politics, and media through the lenses of pride and shame.

Please find the two calls for papers below. For more information please have a look at

=== General Call for Papers ===

For the general section of its fourteenth issue, aspeers seeks outstanding academic writing demonstrating the excellence of graduate scholarship, the range of concerns scrutinized in the field, and the diversity of perspectives employed. We thus explicitly invite revised versions of term papers or chapters from theses written by students of European Master (and equivalent) programs. For this section, there are no topical limitations. Contributions should be up to 7,500 words (including abstract and list of works cited). The submission deadline is October 25, 2020.

aspeers 14 (2021) will also contain a topical section organized around the theme “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism.” We encourage European MA-level students to submit papers on this topic in particular. Please consult our topical Call for Submissions at

For more information, our submission guidelines, and a timetable of the review process for this issue, please refer to Please direct questions and inquiries to

=== Topical Call for Papers on “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism” ===

400 years ago, the Mayflower arrived on Patuxet land and established the settler colony of Plymouth. Just two years later, the Patuxet peoples were pronounced extinct. Despite or due to this settler violence, the Plymouth colony gave rise to the American tradition of “Thanksgiving” and the mythology of Europeans building a ‘City upon a Hill’ in America.

200 years later, in 1820, eighty-six free black ‘immigrants’ traversed the Atlantic to establish the first settlement in Liberia. This was sponsored by the American Colonization Society (ACS). The ACS’s core belief was that Black freedom—Black voting, Black landowning, Black civil liberties—was incompatible with (white) American ideals and democracy, and that founding colonies in Africa promised to thus ‘whiten’ the US.

Now, in 2020, the United States has hundreds of military bases worldwide, spreading across scores of different countries and housing, according to some estimates, about 200,000 troops. Even though the US is technically a nation, its ubiquitous global influence on economies, politics, and cultures constitutes it as an empire.

For its fourteenth issue, aspeers dedicates its topical section to “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism” and invites European graduate students to critically and analytically explore the United States’ long history and contemporary culture of colonial violence. We invite papers discussing American literature, history, (popular) culture, society, politics, and media through the lens of American colonization and imperialism. We also encourage authors to consider the manifold connections between the United States and other parts of the Americas, especially the Caribbean as well as Central and Latin America, in the context of these questions.

Topical submissions may consider:

  • representations of colonization in literature, (popular) culture, and other media
  • identities and sociopolitical group formations forged around narratives of ‘America’
  • the role that narratives of America as a colonizing force have played in defining identities
  • alternatives and resistance to US colonization and imperialism
  • practices of ‘writing back’ against colonial or imperial rule
  • constructions of race and gender in the context of (white) imperial violence

aspeers, the first and currently only graduate-level peer-reviewed journal of European American studies, encourages fellow MA students from all fields to reflect on the diverse meanings of “Narratives of American Colonization and Imperialism.” We welcome term papers, excerpts from theses, or papers specifically written for the fourteenth issue of aspeers by October 25, 2020. If you are seeking to publish work beyond this topic, please refer to our general Call for Papers. Please consult our submission guidelines and find some additional tips at

First episode of podcast American Literature Association Conversations 🗓

First episode of podcast American Literature Association Conversations 🗓

“Teaching American Literature Amid the Covid-19 Pandemic and the Push for Social Justice”

ALA executive director Alfred Bendixen explores with a roundtable of faculty from diverse institutions the challenges of teaching American literature during the Coronavirus crisis and the imperative of addressing social-justice issues in the aftermath of May 2020 George Floyd murder. Speakers include Hubert Cook (Connecticut College), Kirk Curnutt (Troy University), Karen Kilcup (University of North Carolina, Greensboro), Leslie Petty (Rhodes College), Oliver Scheiding (University of Mainz), Evie Shockley (Rutgers University), and Candace Waid (University of California, Santa Barbara).


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,

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.)

Statement of Solidarity 🗓

Statement of Solidarity 🗓

As members of the Obama Institute at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and personally, we are terribly saddened to see the developments in the United States of America. We, therefore, express our solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement and those who are protesting for justice and equal rights for all.

The past years have shown that against common belief we are still facing deeply rooted systemic racism in society and public institutions in the United States of America and across the globe in general. There is still a long way to go until we create a society, free of racial bigotry and injustices and we specifically want to acknowledge that it is the responsibility of privileged institutions like us to take it upon themselves to educate, to be educated and no longer to remain silent.

The current unrest in the United States of America and manifestations of systemic racist violence have caused worldwide reactions and concerns about the peaceful co-existence of all groups in democratic societies. As members of the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, we stand with the African American community and all other groups who are institutionally oppressed and will offer support to their cause.

We condemn all forms of racism, violence and police brutality and therefore join our exchange partners in the United States in finding peaceful solutions to create a world in which nobody “will […] be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” These common endeavors are part of our teaching and research activities.

It remains an ongoing challenge of academia not only in American Studies to try to contribute towards changing the structures of white supremacy. As members of an institution, it is essential that we reflect on our own biases and the systemic injustices that we, too, may be complicit in perpetuating. Such reflection is all the more important since in our research, we often study the role of white privilege, of implicit or explicit bias, and the mechanisms of hegemony. Yet, such academic knowledge will ultimately be void unless it is translated into the concrete lives we lead, and the decisions we make in both our institutional and our individual lives. For this reason, we believe that our work needs to be comparative; it needs to investigate racial prejudice not only in the US, but in Germany as well.

Our research about the challenges to democracy both in the US and in other parts of the world is dedicated to the pursuit of precisely the pressing needs and questions about the function of democracy in societies undergoing rapid changes in the 21st century whilst combatting inequalities such as health conditions, violence and racial injustice.

We invite our students, colleagues, and friends to join us in believing in the true potentials of multi-ethnic democracies on a transnational scale. Let us honor the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others before them; and let us constantly remind ourselves that we need to resist injustice in whatever shape it may take.


– Team American Studies II