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During the first-ever virtual AYA colloquium, five early career researchers had the opportunity to introduce and discuss their research projects in an informal and relaxed atmosphere. The topics pertained to the main AAAS conference entitled “American Studies as Vulnerability Studies?,” dealing with the concept of ‘vulnerability’ as being both a shared condition of oppression and as emerging resistance and solidarity.
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Recent academic trends point to the increasing importance of multi-faceted perspectives. The focus on intersectionality in gender studies, the shift in cultural studies towards transnational approaches and decolonizing methodologies, or the transmedial expansion of narratology, to name just a few, all engender an expansive critical perspective that transgresses the boundaries of individual disciplines and theoretical discourses. For AYA’s 2018 workshop, 17 early career researchers came together in Salzburg to present and discuss their ongoing research projects, illustrating the relevance of interdisciplinary approaches.
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Visit www.shifting-dynamics.com to learn more

The 2017 Austria’s Young Americanists (AYA) conference, entitled “The Future(s) of American Studies,” was designed to provide a space for discussions about topical developments of American Studies. On 18-19 May 2017, twenty-one young scholars from Austria, Germany, and Spain shared their ongoing projects in presentations about the American political, social, literary and cultural context as well as its international reverberations. They, thus, demonstrated the broad range of research in American Studies that young scholars are currently undertaking as well as the interdisciplinary and intersectional nature of the field with topics ranging from transnational ideologies to liminal (academic) identities, cinematic and televisual visualizations of gender, femininity and body politics, to literary renderings of the manifold issues in historical and recent US contexts.

This year’s conference has further strengthened existing networks between young American Studies scholars in Austria and beyond; and conference participants have not only taken the opportunity to extend their networks but also to envision future cooperation with others working in American Studies across Europe, which is the principal goal of the AYA network. The quality of the presentations, the opening keynote as well as the guest chairs, and AYA board members’ commitment all ensured the success of the event and the feedback from conference participants and guests has been overwhelmingly positive so far.

This workshop explored some of the ways in which the spatial and temporal turns in American Studies scholarship overlap and complement one another. The past dozen years or so have witnessed a decisive move towards exploring the importance of space in the construction of American identities and cultures, much of which has been inspired and developed by the concurrent focus on transnationalism. More recently, scholars have begun to emphasize and analyze the ways in which conceptions of time, and especially periodization, shape not only the subjects we study but also the field of American Studies at large.

Joining us this year for the workshop is Dr. Benjamin Fagan. He is Assistant Professor of English at Auburn University, where he teaches courses in early African American literature. In the spring of 2016 he will be the Fulbright Visiting Professor in American Studies at the University of Graz, Austria.

Dr. Fagan’s work has appeared in journals such as African American Review, American Periodicals, and Legacy, and he has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. His first book, The Black Newspaper and the Chosen Nation, shows how antebellum African Americans used the newspaper as a means for translating their belief in black chosenness into plans and programs for black liberation, and will be published in 2016 by the University of Georgia Press.

The AAAS conference 2015 on Soundscapes and Sonic Cultures in America is over and our poster session was a great success! It served as a platform for Austrian PhD students to present their research, to learn about fellow Austrian PhD candidates’ work as well as to facilitate discussions with established scholars in the field of American Studies.

List of Presenters:

  • Marie Dücker:
    “Suicide in Contemporary American YA Fiction of the Late 20th and 21st Centuries”
  • Saskia Fürst:
    “Along the Lines of Aging: Remembering the Stories of Older Black Women in the U.S.: From Literature to Visual Culture”
  • Roberta Hofer:
    “The Paradox of Human Marionettes”
  • Silke Jandl:
    “Literary Youtube: Intermedial Interfaces between Books and Online Video”
  • Ranthild Salzer:
    “Constructions and Negotiations of Masculinities in North-American Comics”
  • Rebekka Schuh:
    “Stories in Letters – Letters in Stories: The Canadian Epistolary Short Story”

Austria’s Young Americanists held its 6th workshop titled, “Multi-Ethnic Voices Shaping US Society and Politics: Past, Present, and Future,” from October 2-3, 2014 at the University of Salzburg in Austria. There were 10 participants: 8 PhD candidates studying or doing research in Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands and two US professors, Dr. Paul Lauter and Dr. Doris Friedensohn. The following is a detailed report of the workshop and a reflective summary.

Thursday, October 2nd

The workshop began with a general welcome by the organizers, Saskia Fürst and Yvonne Kaisinger, followed by an introductory activity. Yvonne then formally introduced Dr. Paul Lauter, and the first workshop event was an opening discussion, led by Paul. As part of the format of the workshop, Paul provided his paper on multi-culturalism and a paradigm shift in approaching literary, political, and social studies in the US to the participants ahead of time to read and formulate questions. During the discussion, participants asked questions to further clarify his proposed concept of a changing approach to studying the US and even challenged his concept.

After a short coffee break, the first panel on “Women’s Voices” began, featuring two papers. Silke Jandl presented her initial thoughts and ideas on contemporary female voices in Dakota literature and the participants, including Paul and Doris, gave her constructive and useful advice and suggestions on how to better define her theoretical approach to the literary texts. Martina Koegeler-Abdi followed Silke and focused her talk on excerpts that she provided ahead of time from the unpublished memoir by Rosemary Hakin, “Arabian Antipodes.” This is one of her primary sources for her project on Arab-American women’s narrative agency in the US. The following discussion revolved around better defining her categories of identification, definitions of representation, and narrative techniques employed within the text. Several participants suggested additional, useful theoretical approaches and pointed out the aspect of irony, which was missing from her analysis.

The first day of the workshop concluded with a more general discussion on research areas, events occurring in Europe and the US, and general interests from the participants at the nearby restaurant, ARGE Beisl. Paul and Doris joined the participants in a lively discussion which continued within the less formal environment.

Friday October 3rd

Refreshed from their overnight stay at the Altstadthotel Wolf in the historic old town of Salzburg, the participants met again at the University of Salzburg to continue the workshop. The first panel, “Black Voices,” featured presentations focusing on African American performers, literature, and artwork. Bryan Banker began the session by explaining the Hegelian influence in W.E.B. DuBois’ notion of “double consciousness” and exploring to what extent and in what ways the performer Paul Robeson effectively engaged in his own “multiple consciousnesses” as a Hollywood actor, an artist, and a representative of the working classes. During the ensuing discussion, Bryan was encouraged to look at the politics of body representation, Black masculinity, and the degree of influence Robeson, as an artist, had in determining his roles and actual speech in Hollywood productions. Antonia Purk, following Bryan, closely analyzed the cover images of two novels from the Antiguan-American writer, Jamaica Kincaid. She argued that these fictional images, once read through the lens of the novel, provide visual cues as to how both The Autobiography of my Mother and Mr. Potter should be read, thereby transferring knowledge from the text to the images. While elaborating in the discussion that the purpose of these images is not necessarily to “reclaim” a past but to provide a collective memory for the Caribbean experience, the participants commented that the two novels presented seem to establish subjectivity for American-Caribbeans, and that this concept should be further explored in her dissertation project. The final participant in the panel, Saskia Fürst, showed various art pieces featuring older Black women produced by African Americans, such as Jeff Donaldson and Kara Walker, and discussed the ways and usefulness of juxtaposing these images to advertisements featuring older Black women in the US. Aspects of memory and consciousness-raising, for both Blacks and Whites, were discussed and suggestions were made for articles and concepts surrounding memory that may be useful for a theoretical approach to the paper.

During the break, the participants took a group picture and enjoyed the beautiful weather while getting refreshments. Then the final panel, “Trans-Atlantic/National Voices,” with presentations from Maximilian Feldner and Marta Mancelos took place. While focusing on writers from two different countries, Africa and Japan, they both engaged on the theme of transcribing “outside” voices onto “inside” perspectives. At the start of his research project, Max presented several ideas and approaches he is interested in using to analyze Chimamanda Adichie’s Americanah. During the following discussion, the aspects of fictions of migration and postcolonial issues proved to be the two key areas Max would like to focus on, while the aspect of class will figure only marginally and racial tensions in the US will not be a focus of Max’s project. Marta, in a later stage of her research, presented some of the difficulties as well as the artistic and creative aspects involved in translations.

Focusing on Sawako Nakayasu’s translations of Japanese poems into English, which were published in the book Mouth: Eats Color, Marta explained how Nakayasu creatively and purposefully calls attention to the translation itself, her position as the translator, and the stages involved in translating. Presenting a rather complex approach to her primary source, the discussion then allowed Marta to clarify the goals of her research and some of the participants suggested looking at similar approaches from other translators as a possible means for comparison. As the workshop was running over time, the participants agreed to officially end the session and the workshop, while continuing the discussion more informally at the Guerrilla Burger restaurant.

While having lunch, it was possible to wrap up some of the lingering thoughts, discussion, and ideas generated by the workshop. The organizers also gathered informal feedback from the participants, which indicated that the exchange of ideas was useful and everyone was also pleased to learn more about what fellow colleagues were researching. In this informal setting, there was the possibility to exchange information about scholarships and working possibilities at the respective universities. All the participants indicated an interest in attending future AYA workshops and agreed to stay in touch via e-mail about ideas, research questions, and interesting conference call for papers. While saying goodbye to the newly made acquaintances, several of the participants will attend the Austrian Association for American Studies Conference in Graz in November and expressed their joy at seeing each other again soon.

Reflections on the AYA Workshop 2014

As the AYA is the graduate section of the AAAS, having a workshop that is targeted towards advanced MA students and PhD candidates allows not only the opportunity for participants to receive individualized feedback and suggestions on their research projects, but it establishes a network of young academic research scholars that will prove beneficial for the AAAS. The participants made initial contact with other European scholars of American Studies that will certainly be useful for completing their current research and will assist them in later academic projects as well.

Having an extensively knowledgeable professor from the US to provide impetus and feedback for the students provided an invaluable advantage for European scholars in the field of American Studies here in Austria. At an early stage of their research, several participants expressed their gratitude at being provided the opportunity to present their ideas and goals in a closed environment, which was nonetheless highly stimulating and rewarding. Some participants, at a more advanced stage in their research, discussed the different possibilities and opportunities at their respective universities, with the goal of establishing future combined projects and exchanges of information within the field of American Studies. The promise of diverse, interesting, and academically valuable research was evidenced at this workshop, and everyone seemed to gain renewed energy and focus in their respective areas. The format of this workshop proved to be very useful for all the participants and we are very grateful to the US Embassy for having made this event possible.

Nearly half a century ago, Marshall McLuhan, the godfather of Media Studies, claimed that the media were the “extensions of man.” However disdained by his contemporaries, the “print-oriented bastards,” over the years, McLuhan’s idea has become accepted in the humanities. Today, as Frank Kelleter and Daniel Stein put it in their introduction to American Studies as Media Studies (2008), “there is no denying that the media have a powerful effect on our social, cognitive, and emotional realities” — just think of the so-called “social networks” on the World Wide Web. Especially as European Americanists, a question that underpins our daily work is in how far our understanding of America relies on the study of media, not to speak of the question to what extent American media practices influence global media practices.

Program

Friday, December 9, 2011

19.00Conference Warming @ Gasthaus Anich (Anichstraße 15, 6020 Innsbruck)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

09.00-09.45Opening Lecture by Jason Mittell (Middlebury):
“American Television (Studies) and American Studies”
09.45-11.15
American Studies and/as Media Studies
Leopold Lippert (Graz/Vienna): “‘It’s very American to say, ‘This is not right!’”: Stonewall Uprising and the Pedagogy of National Fantasy”
Michael Fuchs (Graz): “We’re Not Even in America!’ Citing the U.S. in Supernatural
11.15-11.30Coffee Break
11.30-13.00
The U.S. and Europe: A Comparative Approach
Jasmin Kulterer (Salzburg): “From ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’ to ‘Reality Shows Killed the Video Star’: Music Television, Reality Shows, and Adolescents”
Patrick M. Sadjak (Klagenfurt): “Run-Up to the Iraq War: Critique of U.S./U.K. Policy in U.S. and European Newspapers”
13.00-15.00Lunch @ Gasthof Gruber (Innrain 22, 6020 Innsbruck)
15.00-16.30
African American Studies
Simone Puff (Klagenfurt): “The Straight, the Curly, and the Afro: Hairstories in Black Media”
Saskia Fürst (Innsbruck): “Are there Wrinkles? Older African-American Women in Film and Literature”
16.30-16.45Coffee Break
16.45-19.00
Narrative in Film and Television
Cornelia Klecker (Innsbruck): “‘Hollywood Is Not So Dumb’: How Avant-Garde Becomes Mainstream”
Johannes Mahlknecht (Innsbruck): “‘Based on Entirely Coincidental Resemblances’: Claims, Disclaimers, and Truth Status in Hollywood Cinema”
Rachel Pole (Innsbruck): “Making the Case, Telling the Story: Police Work in The Wire
19.30Dinner @ Restaurant Krahvogel (Anichstraße 12, 6020 Innsbruck)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

09.30-11.00
Film in the Late 20th and Early 21st Century
Carina Lesky (Innsbruck): “Stepping into the Street: Cinema as Practice of Public Space”
Barbara Laner (Innsbruck): “Long Live the Camera; Or Not? The Age of the Found-Footage Film”
11.00-11.15Coffee Break
11.15-12.45
The Impact of Electronic Media
Christof Diem (Innsbruck): “‘Hello? Is There Anybody in There?’ Electronic Media as a Means of Ontological Multiplication in the Psychotic Subject”
Petra Ederer (Vienna): “The Virtually Recentered Videogame Player and Her Playing Experience”
13.0Farewell Lunch @ Pizzeria Salute (Innrain 35, 6020 Innsbruck)

In collaboration with Austria’s Young Americanists, the Department of American Studies at the University of Graz is hosting its 1st Young Americanists Conference on December 10-12, 2010. This conference seeks to provide a space for critical and interdisciplinary discussions of issues pertaining to place and belonging within the context of American literature and popular culture. Is there such a thing as an American identity, and if yes, how would one start to conceptualize it? How is ‘Americanness’ presented and perceived (both within the Americas and abroad) and how are such conceptions and perceptions changing over time? What is the role of literature and (popular) culture in the formation of such an identity, or rather: identities? And what does space have to do with all this? How do aspects such as gender, ethnicity, race, social class shape our understanding of the spatial, especially within an American context? And what role do parallel realities such as cyberspace or video games play in our conceptualization of space, time and identity?

Program

Saturday, December 11, 2010

09.00-09.45

Opening

Opening Remarks by Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Irmtraud Fischer, Vice Rector for Research and Continuing Education, University of Graz
Opening Remarks by Ao. Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Klaus Rieser, Chair of the Department of American Studies, University of Graz
Book Presentation Landscapes of Postmodernity: Concepts and Paradigms of Critical Theory
Introductory Remarks by Mag. Maria-Theresia Holub, M.A., Ph.D.

09.45-10.45

Defining ‘America’ from Afar

Leopold Lippert (Vienna): “Performing Americanness Abroad: Haunted Spaces in a Globalized World”
Ida Jahr (FU Berlin): “Creating an America for Norway: Sigmund Skard and Early American Studies”

11.00-12.30

Marginalized Spaces I: Women

Michaela Puntigam (Graz): “Career Woman or Housewife? Educational Aims and Conceptions of Womanhood at Wellesley College in the 1950s”
Alina Stegarescu (Bucharest): “Home is Neither Here nor There: The Quest for Home in Anita Brookner’s Work”
Saskia Fürst (Graz): “The Active Heroine: Femininity, Female Representation and the Spectatorship of She-Ra

14.30-15.30

Marginalized Spaces II: Children

Julia Van Lill (Vienna): “Setting the Scene: L. M. Montgomery’s Imaginative Island Landscapes”
Verena Haider (Graz): “Protection, Provision, and Participation: Representations of Childhood in Selected Works of American Children’s Fiction of the 1970s”

15.45-16.45

Marginalized Spaces III: Queers

Angelika Tsaros (Graz): “Drawing Queer Borderlands: Hector Silva”
Christoph Hartner (Graz): “A Place in the Sun for Everyone? Queer Retirement Homes and their Impact on Queer Identity”

17.00-18.00

Marginalized Spaces IV: Native Americans

Madalina Prodan (Iasi): “Getting a Name: In Search of an Identity as a Mixed-Blood in Sherman Alexie’s Flight
Katrin Fennesz (Vienna): “Storied Landscapes”

Sunday, December 12, 2010

09.00-10.00

Utopian Dreams & Dystopian Realities

Georg Drennig (Vienna): “Fallujah in New York: The Sectarian Dystopia of Brian Wood’s DMZ
Diana Benea (Bucharest): “The Fine Line Between Utopia/Dystopia, Exceptionalism/Unexceptionalism: Representing America in Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon

10.15-11.15

Deconstructing & Reconstructing Borders

Yvonne Völkl (Graz): “De-/Constructing the Québec-Ontario Border in Érik Canuel’s Bon Cop, Bad Cop
Jeff Thoss (Graz): “There’s No Place Like Fiction: Narrative Space and Metalepsis in Stephen King’s ‘Umney’s Last Case’

11.30-13.00

The Place of Science in Popular Culture

Judith Kohlenberger (Vienna): “It All Started With A Big Bang: Constructions of ‘Science’ in the Age of Cool”
Michael Fuchs (Graz): “Alan Moore’s Chronotopoetics: Quantum-Leaping into the Fourth Dimension”

From JFK to Bart Simpson, from Martin Luther King to Elvis Presley, from Marilyn Monroe to Hannibal Lecter, from Muhammad Ali to Lara Croft, from Barack Obama to Bart Simpson – all these people, be they ‘real’ or fictional, are iconic figures and embedded in cultural narratives, which both influence the icons’ narratives and are influenced by icons. All of the abovementioned icons are not equal, neither in the cultural work they do nor in the way they were created. Whatever the differences, icons do also share some very important features: they embrace contradictions, reflect generational differences, prompt disagreement about their meaning, are manipulated in order to subvert their ‘natural’ meaning and stand the test of time.

Program

Saturday, October 24, 2009

21.00Welcoming Drink

Sunday, October 25, 2009

09.00-09.45Elliott J. Gorn (Brown): “Iconic Figures: An Introduction”
09.45-10.30Roundtable: “Icons as Discursive Practice”
10.30-11.00Coffee Break
11.00-12.00Simone Puff (Klagenfurt): “Obamania Goes Popular: Barack Obama as Cultural Icon”
12.00-13.45Lunch
14.00-14.45Georg Drennig (Vienna): “(Un)Queering Batman: 55 Years of Contesting the Sexual Orientation of a Fictional Character”
14.45-15.30Petra Eckhard (Graz): “The Anti-Detective as Postmodern Superhero: Paul Auster’s City of Glass
15.30-16.00Coffee Break
16.00-16.45Susanne Hamscha (Berlin): “Is Marilyn a Soup Can? Or, ‘Thirty Are Better Than One’: Pop Art and the Performance of America”
18.00-20.00Dinner

Monday, October 26, 2009

09.00-09.45Leopold Lippert & Judith Kohlenberger (Vienna): “Q”
09.45-10.00Coffee Break
10.00-10.45Michael Fuchs (Graz): “American PsICONs from Ed Gein to Dexter Morgan”
10.45-11.30Angelika Tsaros (Graz): “Becoming the O of Roissy: A Fictional BDSM Icon Made Flesh”
11.30-11.50Final Discussion
12.00-14.00Farewell Lunch

The objective of this year’s workshop is to provide an international forum for graduate students and experts to explore and discuss key concepts as applied in postmodern theory
and/or literary criticism. The specific key concepts covered can include, but are not limited to, the following: Baudrillard’s “Simulacra,” Derrida’s “Deconstruction,” Kristeva’s “Abjection,” Deleuze and Guattari’s “Rhizome,” Spivak’s “Subaltern,” Lyotard’s “Metanarratives,” Bhabha’s “Third Space,” Bakhtin’s “Dialogism,” Lacan’s “Mirror Stage,” Harvey’s “Time-Space Compression,” etc.

Program

Friday, September 26, 2008

19.00-21.00Welcoming Dinner

Saturday, September 27, 2008

09.00-12.00Michael Rozendal (San Francisco): “Introduction”
Cornelia Klecker (Innsbruck): “Fredric Jameson’s ‘Postmodernism and Consumer Society’”
Andrea Hoffmannova (Olomouc): “Michel Foucault’s ‘The Carceral’”
12.00-13.30Lunch
14.00-18.00Michael Phillips (Graz): “Derrida’s ‘Structure, Sign, and Play’ and J. Hillis Miller’s ‘Heart of Darkness Revisited’”
Michael Fuchs (Graz): “Baudrillard’s ‘The Precession of Simulacra’ and ‘Simulacra and Science Fiction’”
Petra Eckhard (Graz): “Bakhtin’s ‘Aesthetic Visualizing of Time/Space: The Chronotope’ and Smethurst’s ‘The Postmodern Chronotope’”
19.00-21.00Dinner

Sunday, September 28, 2008

09.00-12.00Vida Bicman (Graz): “Bhabha’s ‘How Newness Enters the World’”
Gundo Rial Y Costas (Berlin): “Spivak’s ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’”
12.00-13.30Farewell Lunch

The objective of the event was to provide an international forum for postgraduate students and experts to discuss current tendencies in literary and cultural studies in a non-academic environment.