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"The Futures of (European) American Studies" (2005-2008)

The North American Studies Program supported the work of the research network “The Futures of (European) American Studies.” The network was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) from June 2005 to January 2008. Its fifteen members, young American Studies scholars and cultural historians from various German and international universities, set out to explore the ongoing repositioning of the field as well as the institutional challenges and opportunities that accompany its paradigmatic shifts.

Situating itself within the prominent debate over the futures of American Studies as it had been promoted by scholars in the U.S. and in Europe, the name of the network drew on the title of Donald Pease and Robyn Wiegman’s volume The Futures of American Studies (2002). It also adopted the thematic framework of the symposium annually hosted by Pease at Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH. At the same time, the network sought to recontextualize and critically assess this markedly U.S. American debate from ‘the outside,’ asking how it may be translated into European contexts of research and teaching.

The network organized conferences on “Positioning American Studies” (July 2005), “The New Americanists” (January 2006), “Internationalizing American Studies” (July 2006), and “American Studies as Media Studies” (February 2007), "Inter/Transdisciplinarity" (June 2007), and "American Studies in Germany" (January 2008). Among the guests at these conferences were Winfried Siemerling, Paul Lauter, Walter Benn Michaels, Robyn Wiegman, and Joseph Tabbi.