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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Language, Literature and Humanities

American Studies

 

Aus aktuellem Anlass: Position Statement

The American Studies Program at Humboldt University advocates plurality of opinions and mutual respect. We believe that a public and democratic space can comprise of opposing perspectives and political viewpoints. However, we strongly oppose discriminatory expressions and acts aimed at the marginalization and exclusion of specific groups, including racism, sexism, homo-/transphobia, ableism, anti-Semitism and nationalism. Our program actively works against structural and discursive forms of exclusion. We strive to create a space for students, faculty and staff that allows for scholarly engagement in an inclusive environment.

We consider universities to be political spaces. For that reason, the American Studies Program is committed to critically engage with social structures and developments within our discipline and society at large. Gender Studies, Postcolonial Studies, Critical Race Theory and other academic fields that examine and question power relations are central to our teaching and research. Topics such as migration and the marginalization of specific groups are core issues we deal with in our program and address in the classroom. With populist and nationalist movements on the rise in Europe and the U.S., we believe that it is important to speak out and stand against discrimination and various forms of exclusion.

Stellungnahme (deutsch)

Die Abteilung für Amerikanistik versteht sich als Ort der Meinungspluralität, gegenseitiger Wertschätzung und Respekt. Ein öffentlicher und demokratischer Raum muss Meinungsverschiedenheiten und politische Auseinandersetzungen aushalten können. Rassismus, Sexismus, Nationalismus und andere diskriminierende Äußerungen und Strukturen haben jedoch in diesem Raum keinen Platz: Äußerungen und Strukturen dieser Art lehnen wir nicht nur ab, sondern arbeiten auch aktiv gegen diese an. Unsere Abteilung strebt an, ihren Studierenden, Lehrenden, sowie anderen Mitarbeiter_innen soweit wie möglich einen sicheren Raum für die wissenschaftliche Auseinandersetzung zu ermöglichen. Daher verurteilen wir alle Formen der Gewalt, auch die der diskursiven.

Die Universität ist kein ideologiefreier Raum. Die Abteilung für Amerikanistik versteht es als ihre Pflicht gesellschaftliche Strukturen und Veränderungen kritisch zu hinterfragen. Deswegen sind Gender Studies, Postcolonial and Critical Race Studies und andere kritische Wissenschaften ein fester Bestandteil unserer Lehre und Forschung. Für die Amerikanistik sind Migration und Marginalisierung von gesellschaftlichen Gruppen Kernthemen. In Zeiten erstarkender rechter Bewegungen in Europa und den USA ist diese Forschung wichtiger denn je.

 

 


American Studies

The central fields in research and teaching of the American Studies section at the Humboldt-Universität are the theories and practices of American Studies with a focus on identities, diversity and mediality. This links our interests to the major fields of our predecessors Renate Hof and Günter Lenz ("American Studies als interdisziplinäre Kulturwissenschaft"). It also positions us within the longstanding tradition of American Studies, which has been shaped—in contents and methodology—by literary theory, the cultural studies, gender studies, ethnic studies, history, the social sciences, ethnology and other disciplines.

We explore which theories of identity (be they personal or collective) have shaped and still shape the pluralistic landscape of North America (especially the USA and Canada): In which ways has identity been conceptualized within the American context—from Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur to Judith Butler? Which American Identities have been postulated in debates ranging from nativism to trans-nationalism? Which particular or even national identities do specific groups claim for themselves and the community?

We acknowledge the constitutive character of diversity in American cultures and explore its history, conflicts, tensions and opportunities. This exploration concerns not only the classical categories of race, class, and gender, but also in terms of sexualities, age, beliefs, disability, political convictions and other aspects.

These processes of identity formation and the negotiations of various diverse groups are shaped by their medial and economic contexts. Even though the medium (the oral medium, print, images, movies and virtual environments) may not be all there is to the "message" and even though business may not be the only business of America, the media landscape does condition all events, developments and revisions pertaining to American identities and American diversity. At the same time identities and diversity are fundamentally shaped by economic structures deeply ingrained in American culture.

Our activities in the American Studies section cover three areas, which are linked by various interconnections, cooperations and joint events. These areas―research, teaching and international exchange and outreach―profit from each other: quality in one area depends on quality in the other and vice versa:

Research
Teaching
Exchange and Outreach
  • American Studies― The Critical Tradition
  • African American Literatures and Cultures
  • Gender and Economics
  • The Cultural Significance of Sports
  • Narrative Identities
  • Narrative and Visuality
  • New Media
  • Youth Culture and Young Adult Literature
  • Inter-American Studies
  • The City as Contact Zone
Totem (by Susann Kneisel)
Fig.: Susann Kneisel
Lincoln (by Susann Kneisel)
Fig.: Susann Kneisel
Skyscraper (by Susann Kneisel)
Fig.: Susann Kneisel
Activities Combining Research, Teaching and Exchange:
 

 


Chinatown (by Susann Kneisel)
Fig.: Susann Kneisel

 

 

 

 

 


 

Complete list of associated degree courses: