Professor of North American Cultural Studies

Speaker of Graduate Research Group City Scripts

Prof. Dr. Barbara Buchenau

University of Duisburg-Essen
American Studies
R12 R04 A05
Universitätsstr. 12
45141 Essen

Office R12 R04 A05
Phone +49 201 183-4961
E-mail barbara.buchenau [at]

Biographical Information

Barbara Buchenau is Professor of North American Studies: Literary and Cultural Studies. She served as UDE’s Vice-Rector of Social Responsibility, Diversity and International Affairs from April 2018 to March 2022, and has directed the inter-university research group Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions funded by the Volkswagen Foundation from 2018 to 2023. As a principal investigator in the DFG Research Unit 2600 Ambiguity and Distinction: Historical and Cultural Dynamics (2019 – 2023) she investigates prominent figures of thought bridging divides of faith, race, and belonging that have accompanied the slow transition from colonial settings to national rule in North America. As a member of the Aurora European University Alliance and lead of its work package 3 on Learning for Societal Impact (2020-2023) she is invested in internationalizing the curricula and improving academic contributions to the sustainable development goals. Her teaching and research are concerned with the fields of cultural theory, cultural history, urban studies, multilingual early Americana, historical forms of popular culture, cultural pluralism and multiculturalism. She is also interested in Canadian and Caribbean literature and cultural history. She is inviting student research in three fields in particular: the era of pluralization in North American writings, the diverse intersections between literature and the land in North America, and the cultural and political work of stereotypical and typological representations of minority groups in texts, maps and visual art. Before joining the faculty of Duisburg-Essen, she taught Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Bern in Switzerland (Assistenzprofessorin). She received her academic training in American literature and culture at the University of Göttingen.



June 2010

Habilitation (Post-Doctoral Degree), University of Göttingen, Germany. venia legendi for American Studies. Postdoctoral thesis on the literary and scientific construction of the Iroquois in colonial North America.

February 1999

Dr. phil., University of Göttingen, Germany. Doctoral thesis (summa cum laude) on the transatlantic literary and cultural politics of early U.S. American historical fiction (published in 2002)

July 1994

1. state exam in Geography and English, University of Göttingen, Germany. Thesis paper on “certainty” in the fiction of William Faulkner and George Washington Cable

Spring 1988

Intensive Language and Culture Studies at the Colegio de España, Salamanca, Spain

Teaching Positions

Since October 2012

Full Professor of North American Studies: Cultural and Literary Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen, Germany

02/2010 – 09/2012

Assistant Professor (Assistenzprofessorin) of Postcolonial Literary and Cultural Studies, Department of English, University of Bern, Switzerland

2001 – January 2010

Assistant Professor (wissenschaftliche Assistentin), American Studies Program, University of Göttingen, Germany

Research Positions

2004 – 2005

Visiting Scholar, Stanford University, U.S.A.


Postdoctoral researcher, Inter-American research collaboration, Göttingen

1997 – 1999

Researcher, Collaborative Research Center SFB 529 Internationality of National Literatures, University of Göttingen

1994 – 1996

Research Assistant, Collaborative Research Center SFB 309 Literary Translation and Transcoop Project “Contacts and Transfers in the Construction of National Literatures” (Proffs. A.P. Frank, K. Mueller-Vollmer)

Research Interests

  • colonial and early national literary and cultural history of North America
  • urban transformations, urbanity and anti-urbanism
  • politics and poetics of cultural pluralism and multiculturalism
  • early modern scholarship and its arts
  • historical fiction
  • religious typology, figuration, scripting
  • ethnic and racial stereotyping: sounds, sights, verbal features
  • Inter-American studies
  • comparative cultural and literary geography

Conferences and Projects

  • Sub-Project: “Neophytes, Renegados, Creoles: Dynamics of (Dis-)Ambiguation in North American Discussions about the Transition from Colonialism to Nationhood.” (DFG-Id-Code: 411017845), Research Unit 2600 of the German Research Foundation: Ambiguity and Differentiation: Historical and Cultural Dynamics (Spokesperson: Benjamin Scheller), 2019-2023.
  • VolkswagenFoundation Research School Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions. Spokesperson, Id-Code: Az93500, P.I.s: Jens Martin Gurr and Josef Raab†, UDE, Kornelia Freitag and Michael Wala, Ruhr University Bochum, and Walter Grünzweig and Randi Gunzenhäuser, Technical University Dortmund, 2018-2023.
  • RUDESA: "Grounding Transnational American Studies" Annual Spring Academy of the Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands and the University of Duisburg-Essen
  • 23. Annual ASNEL Conference: “Post-Empire Imaginaries? Anglophone Literature, History and the Demise of Empires.” With Virginia Richter, May 2012 -->
  • University of Bern: “Genre Fusion in Recent Narrative Fiction: A Work-in-Progress Laboratory with Paula Moya and Ramón Saldívar.” July 2010
  • LichtenbergKolleg: “Race Discourses in the 21. Century – A Panel Debate of the Center for Modern Humanities,” June 2009 -->
  • Göttingen University: 2. Student Symposium “Postethnicity? – Identity Politics Reconsidered” (invited mentor: Paula Moya, English, Stanford), with Carola Hecke, English Teaching Methodology, July 2007 -->
  • Göttingen University: 1. Student Symposium “Postethnicity? North American Theories and Literary Practices in and outside of German Multicultural Classrooms” (invited mentor: Nicole Shelton, Psychology, Princeton), with Carola Hecke, June 2007 -->
  • Zentrale Ringvorlesung, Göttingen University, “Amerika und Deutschland: Ambivalente Begegnungen?” Organized by Frank Kelleter, Wolfgang Knöbl and Barbara Buchenau, Spring 2004 -->

Fellowships and Awards


Thyssen Lesezeit, a research fellowship jointly awarded with Dr. Alexander Starre, FU Berlin (Az.

2001 – 2009

Dorothea-Erxleben Fellow, Department of Science and Culture, Lower Saxony, Germany

2004 – 2005

Feodor Lynen Fellow, Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, for research at Stanford University


Publication Award of the Göttingen School of the Humanities


Click here for List of Publications!