June 27-28 – Workshop: Migration and Consumption 🗓

June 27-28 – Workshop: Migration and Consumption 🗓

Migration and Consumption

Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies
CRC 1482 Studies in Human Differentiation

June 27-28, 2024
CRC Conference Room
Hegelstr. 59

Download the complete program here.

This workshop will bring together leading scholars in the fields of migration, political economy, and consumerism in United States history. Immigration debates and policies are an early domain in which both state administrative capacities and consumerist categories of human differentiation were generated, formalized, and institutionalized. Lizabeth Cohen (Harvard University) is an expert on postwar consumerism, and Rosanne Currarino (Queen’s University) has investigated labor questions and economic democracy during the Gilded Age. Katherine Benton-Cohen (Georgetown University) studied the Dillingham Commission’s role and legacy in categorizing and “inventing the immigrant problem,” while Joel Perlmann (Bard College) traced processes of classifying immigrants from Ellis Island to the 2020 Census. Jan Logemann (Georg-August-Universität) focused on the role of European émigrés in making consumer capitalism, while Atiba Perilla’s (German Historical Institute) new project asks how immigrants used money in the time period from 1870 to 1930. We invite workshop participants to engage these scholars in a critical discussion on their key texts.

To participate in the workshop, please sign up with Anja-Maria Bassimir via e-mail: bassimir@uni-mainz.de

Prof. Dr. Axel Schäfer (a.schaefer@uni-mainz.de)
Dr. Anja-Maria Bassimir (bassimir@uni-mainz.de)
Collaborative Research Center (CRC) Studies in Human Differentiation, project B-06: “Migration and Welfare States in the USA: Global and National Dynamics in Bureaucratic Human Differentiation”

The organizers would like to thank the following organizations for their support:


Feb 1 – Exhibition “Current Social Problems in Children’s Literature and Film” 🗓

Feb 1 – Exhibition “Current Social Problems in Children’s Literature and Film” 🗓

Feb 1, 2024 – 14:00-16:00
Philosophicum II – room 02.102


“Current Social Problems in Children’s Literature and Film”

Can children’s literature address serious or controversial topics? Are such topics simply inappropriate for children? Or is it rather a matter of the narrative strategy that is being used?
Based on the Advanced Research Seminar 532 “Current Social Problems Expressed in Children’s Literature and Film,” this exhibition shows how creative, diplomatic, and inspiring children’s books can be in addressing topics that are difficult to grasp or cope with, even for adults.

Everyone welcome!

Opening | Introduction

Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee (Course Leader)

followed by
Poster Presentations | Food & Drinks

Topics, among others:

  • Loneliness as a Universal Childhood Issue in the Anime series Naruto and Naruto
  • Life and Death in “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” by Leo Buscaglia
  • Spookley, the Square Pumpkin
  • “Superstars in History”: The Civil Rights Movement

The posters and presentations in this exhibition are the results of students’ projects from the American Studies Advanced Research Seminar 532 “Current Social Problems Expressed in Children’s Literature,” which was taught by Prof. Dr. Mita Banerjee (mita.banerjee@uni-mainz.de) in the winter term of 2023/24.

You can download the poster for the exhibition here.

Image source: https://www.parentmap.com/calendar/spookley-square-pumpkin-musical

Feb 9-11 – Conference: Transcending Boundaries – Interdisciplinary Insights in Transpacific Studies 🗓

Feb 9-11 – Conference: Transcending Boundaries – Interdisciplinary Insights in Transpacific Studies 🗓

Transcending Boundaries Interdisciplinary Insights in Transpacific Studies

Transpacific Studies Network Hybrid Conference
February 9-11, 2024

Zoom link in program.

Download the program here.

February 9 & 10 (Fri & Sat)
Aulagebäude/Alte Mensa (1. OG, Linker Saal) Gebäude 1312
Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 3-5
55128 Mainz

February 11 (Sun)
Philosophicum II (EG 00.212)
Jakob-Welder-Weg 20
55128 Mainz


We explore connections across national and regional borders in and along the Pacific. The event will serve as a space to discuss early stage-research and on-going projects in this field.

Topics include:

  • Film and television that culturally crosses the pacific ocean
  • Literary works (novels, memoirs, poems, etc.) from and about (Trans)pacific regions
  • Representations and/or performances of gender in (Trans)pacific regions
  • (Trans)pacific mobilities and migration, including policy
  • The Pacific and the blue humanities
  • Climate change and the environment in (Trans)pacific regions
  • (Trans-)Pacific issues of collective memory
  • Understandings of geography/space/territory in relation to (Trans)pacific regions
  • Negotiating cultural hybridity
  • Revitalizations of (Trans)pacific traditional ecological epistemologies
  • Reflections on practices and imaginations of borders/bordering in the Pacific

The conference is organized by Sandra Meerwein and the Transpacific Studies Network (TPSN). The TPSN was established in the fall of 2022 with the goal of exploring Pacific cultures, ecologies, histories, literatures, politics, and societies in an interdisciplinary, multi-lingual, and, importantly, transregional manner.

The organizers would like to thank the following organizations for their support:


The Persistence of the Short Story: Traditions and Futures 🗓

The Persistence of the Short Story: Traditions and Futures 🗓

The Persistence of the Short Story: Traditions and Futures

Date: July 10-12, 2024
Location: Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Hosted by the Obama Institute for Transnational American Studies, the Society for the Study of the American Short Story, and the American Literature Association
Venue: Campus JGU Helmholtz-Institute Mainz (HIM), Staudingerweg 18, 55128 Mainz


Wednesday, July 10, 2024  

3:00 pm        Registration

4:00 pm        Conference Opening (Senatssaal, Natural Science Building (room 07-232))

Vice-President for Research, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Prof. Dr. Stefan Müller-Stach

Dean, Faculty of the Humanities, Prof. Dr. Axel R. Schäfer

Director, Obama Institute, Prof. Dr. Alfred Hornung

Conference Organizers, Prof. Dr. Oliver Scheiding, Prof. Dr. Jochen Achilles

4:30 pm        Roundtable: Short Fiction Research in a Transnational Context

Chair: Michael Basseler (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen): Coordinator Short Forms Beyond Borders-EU Strategic Partnerships

American Literature Association (ALA): Olivia Carr Edenfield, Director (Georgia Southern University), Alfred Bendixen, Executive Director (Princeton University) 

Society for the Study of the American Short Story (SSASS): James Nagel, President (University of Georgia)

European Network for Short Fiction Research (ENSFR): Michelle Ryan, Director (Université d’Angers), Ailsa Cox, Associate Director (Edge Hill University), Elke D’hoker, Communications Coordinator (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven)

Studies in the American Short Story: James Nagel, Editor (University of Georgia), Kirk Curnutt, Associate Editor (Troy University)

Journal of the Short Story in English: Gérald Préher, Editor (Université d’Artois) 
Short Fiction in Theory and Practice: Ailsa Cox, Principal Editor (Edge Hill University)

6.00 pm         Welcome Reception

Thursday, July 11, 2024

Conference Venue: Helmholtz Institute

9:00–10:20 am        Session 1: Aesthetic Dimensions

Chair: Jochen Achilles (Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg)

Ailsa Cox (Edge Hill University), “Beyond the Collection”

Elke D’hoker (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), “Serializing the Short Story”

Michelle Ryan (Université d’Angers), “The Ethics of Short Forms in Rikki Ducornet’s Late Career Writing”

10.20–10:40 am      Coffee Break

10:40–12.00 am      Session 2: Historical Dimensions

Chair: James Nagel (University of Georgia)

Alfred Bendixen (Princeton University), “New Voices Confronting the Silence: The Emergence of Feminist Traditions in the American Short Story”

Monika Elbert (Montclair State University), “Wealth, Handicaps, and Poverty: Women’s Gothic Tales of Dis-Possession”

Philipp Reisner (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz). “American Short Fiction in Light of the Chinese Exclusion Act”

12:00 am -1:00 pm              Lunch

1:00–2:20 pm          Session 3: Current Trends

Chair: Laura Dietz (University College London)

Michael Basseler (Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen), “Is there a Postsocialist North American Short Story?”

Gudrun Grabher (Leopold-Franzens-Universität Innsbruck), “Every Patient has Their Unique Story: The Significance of the Short Story for Medical Humanities”

Patricia MacCormack (Anglia Ruskin University), “Weird Madness: Brief Encounters Against the Anthropocene”

2:30–3:50 pm          Session 4: Region 

Chair: tba

Alessandra Boller (Universität Siegen), “The Politics of Encounter: B/Order Crossings in Transnational (Irish) Short Fiction”

Olivia Carr Edenfield (Georgia Southern University): “The Poetic Landscape of Breece D’J Pancake”

Gérald Préher (Université d’Artois), “The Past in the Present, or the Enduring South in Elizabeth Spencer’s Starting Over (2014)”

3.50-4:10 pm                        Coffee Break

4:10–5.30 pm Postgraduate Roundtable on Short Fiction Research 

Chair: Alessandra Boller (Universität Siegen)

Maegan Bishop (Georgia Southern University), “Re-imagining the American Landscape: Visual Rhetoric and the Influence of Image on the 21st Century American Short-Story Cycle”

Verónica Frejo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid), “Short Stories as Videogames: A Transmedia Analysis”

Carolin Jesussek (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), “Disability Gothic in William Alexander’s Short Story ‘The House on the Moon’”

Amina Grunewald (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), “George Saunders’s Posthumanist Agenda in a Nutshell: Cracking Open His Short Fiction”

7:00 pm         Mainz City Hall

Reception by the City Authorities

City Hall-Lecture: James Nagel (University of Georgia), “The American Short Story in Academia: A Personal Report” (online)

Friday, July 12, 2024

Conference Venue: Helmholtz Institute Mainz

9:00–10.20 am        Session 5: Media and New Approaches

Chair: Oliver Scheiding (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

Kirk Curnutt (Troy University), “Prophecies of Extinction, Prospects for Evolution: Whither the Future of the Short Story?”

Bernardo Manzoni Palmeirim (Universidade de Lisboa), “Paying Attention in Lydia Davis and Short Forms”

Ines Maria Gstrein (University of Innsbruck), “The Affordances of the Short Story Collection: Ali Smith’s Free Love and Other Stories as a Case Study”

10:20–10:40 am      Coffee Break

10:40–12:00 am      Session 6: Digitization

Chair: Verónica Frejo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)

Laura Dietz (University College London), “Digitization and Short Story Authorship: Authorial Careers on Emerging Platforms” 

Jana Keck (German Historical Institute Washington), “Fact or Fiction? Computational Analysis of Short Stories in Nineteenth-Century German-American Newspapers”

Damien B. Schlarb (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz), “Short Stories, Longplay: Formal Influences of the Short Story on Digital Games and the Integration of Narrative and Play”

12:00 am–1:00 pm Lunch 

1:00–3:00 pm          Session 7: Science Fiction

Chair: Sabina Fazli (Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz)

Andrew M. Butler (Canterbury Christ Church University), “’The Flimsiest of Tissues:’ Pamela Zoline’s ‘The Holland of the Mind’”

Gary Westfahl (University of La Verne), “Confronting the Alien in the Science Fiction Short Story”

Sarah Lohmann (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), “‘Like Children Dying in A Forest:’ The Science Fiction Short Story and the Morality of Machine Cognition in E.M. Forster’s ‘The Machine Stops’ and Ray Bradbury’s ‘August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains'”

Anne McFarlane (University of Leeds), “Science Fiction and the Fix-Up”

3:00–3:20 pm                       Coffee Break

3:20–4:20 pm          Session 8: Diversity

Chair: Michelle Ryan (Université d’Angers)

Erik Redling (Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg), “Modernist Politics of Race: Allegorical Readings of Zora Neale Hurston’s Early Short Fiction”

Hertha Dawn Sweet Wong (University of California, Berkeley), “The Future of the Indigenous Short Story”

4:30–5:30 pm          Session 9: Horror and Crime

Chair: Olivia Carr Edenfield (Georgia Southern University)

Will Norman (University of Kent), “Paul Linebarger, Cordwainer Smith and the Affordances of Mid-Century Science Fiction Tales”

Whit Frazier Peterson (Universität Stuttgart), “The Sunken and the Ascending: Black Horror Short Fiction” 

8.00 pm                    Conference Dinner at Weingut Philipp Dhom, Jakob Braunwart Weg 3, 55129 Mainz (meet up tba, joint travel to the location; http://winzerfamilie-peter-dhom.de)

Maps (Hotels, Campus, and Venues)

Frankfurt Airport to Mainz (S-Bahn)

Take the train from Frankfurt Airport to Mainz Central Station (tram line: S8). Tickets can be purchased at the airport vending machines (approximately 9,90€). Both hotels are a short walk from the main entrance of the train station.

Mainz Station to University (Tram lines 51, 53, and 59)

There are a variety of buses and trams from Mainz Central Station to the JGU campus. We recommend you take the trams (lines 51, 53, or 59) to travel to campus, since they all stop at the university (cf. (2)) and the Friedrich-von-Pfeiffer Weg (cf. (3)). It will take about 5 minutes from Mainz Central Station to the JGU campus and a ticket will cost 2,50€.

Follow the directions on the map below to find your way to the conference venues. Please keep in mind that there are different venues (Wednesday: Senatssaal (cf. (B)), Natural Science Building (07-232), elevator accessible); Thursday-Friday: Helmholtz Institute (cf. (A)).

Mainz Station to City Hall (Tram lines 51, 52, and 53)

Thursday evening, we invite participants to join us for a reception at Mainz City Hall, as well as a City Hall-Lecture held by James Nagel (cf. program above). Similar to the route from Mainz Central Station to the JGU campus, there are a variety of buses and trams from Mainz Central Station to Mainz Münsterplatz (cf. (2)). We again recommend you take the tram (lines 51, 52, or 53) and then walk to City Hall (walking distance roughly 500m).

This conference is made possible by the funding of the DFG.

Jan 31 – Student Conference “Human Enhancement” 🗓

Jan 31 – Student Conference “Human Enhancement” 🗓

Jan 31, 2024 – 16.00-18.00 (s.t.) – Student Conference

“Human Enhancement: Ethics, Life Sciences, and the Human Body in Cultural Representations”

P6 (Philosophicum)

Human enhancement has become the topic of an increasingly controversial cultural, scholarly, and political discussion. Alberto Giubilini and Sagar Sanyal define human enhancement rather broadly as “any kind of genetic, biomedical or pharmaceutical intervention aimed at improving human dispositions, capacities, and well-being even when there is no pathology to be treated” (1). Using this definition as a point of departure, our student conference seeks to approach grey areas inherent in debates surrounding human enhancement through the lens of narrative ethics, using cultural representations as the focus of our discussion.

Our student panel includes the following talks:

  • “Marry Shelly’s Frankenstein: A Cautionary Tale or an Overused Trope?”
    (Norhan Mohamed)
  • “Ethical Discourse and Social Impact on Human Enhancement: A Conservative Perspective”
    (Haerin Park)
  • “Human Enhancement in Superhero Movies: Why Is Captain America’s Origin Story Morally Acceptable and What Is Special about It?”
    (Jill Reuter)
  • “The Implications of ‘Human Enhancement’ in the Discussion Surrounding Trans-Athletes”
    (Ayishat Aluko)

Everyone is welcome!

This conference is part of Dr. Julia Velten’s course “Cultural Studies VI: Human Enhancement: Ethics, Life Sciences, and the Human Body in Film.” If you have further questions about the event, please contact Dr. Julia Velten: juvelten@uni-mainz.de

Giubilini, Alberto and Sagar Sanyal. “Challenging Human Enhancement.” The Ethics of Human Enhancement: Understanding the Debate, edited by Steve Clarke, et al., OUP, 2016, pp. 1-24.


Jan 26 – Phd/Postdoc Book Launch 🗓

Jan 26 – Phd/Postdoc Book Launch 🗓

Jan 26, 2024 – 17.00-19.00 – PhD/Postdoc Book Launch – Fakultätssaal (Philosophicum, 01-185)

Join us in celebrating…
the most recent publications, dissertations, and more by young scholars from the Obama Institute:

  • Bassimir, Anja-Maria. Evangelical News. Politics, Gender, and Bioethics in Conservative Christian Magazines of the 1970s and 1980s (Religion and American Culture). Tuscaloosa: The University of Alabama Press, 2022.
  • Scott, Daniel. Atheism and Theism in Contemporary Fantasy Fiction. Heavens of Invention. Peter Lang Verlag, 2023 (Mainzer Studien zur Amerikanistik 77).
  • Velten, Julia. Extraordinary Forms of Aging. Life Narratives of Centenarians and Children with Progeria. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2022.
  • Seibert, Johanna. Early African Caribbean Newspapers as Archipelagic Media in the Emancipation Age. Leiden; Boston: Brill, 2023.
  • Evans, Vanessa and Mita Banerjee (eds). Cultures of Citizenship in the Twenty-First Century: Literary and Cultural Perspectives on a Legal Concept. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2023.
  • Scheiding, Oliver and Sabina Fazli (eds.). Handbuch Zeitschriftenforschung. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2023.
  • Corrigan, John, Melani McAlister and Axel R. Schäfer (eds.). Global Faith, Worldly Power. Evangelical Internationalism and U.S. Empire. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2022.

Come and discuss…
plans for publications and careers after graduation.

Meet and mingle…
with current and former PhD students, postdocs, and professors as well as students, faculty, and friends.

Everyone is welcome!

Prof. em. Dr. Winfried Herget