2022 Ruhr PhD Forum in American Studies

4 to 5 February 2022

The doctoral colloquium Ruhr PhD Forum in American Studies offers PhD candidates in American Studies at any stage of the PhD process a forum to present their dissertation projects. The University Alliance Ruhr (UAR) offers a supportive network of international researchers from Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. In 2022, the PhD Forum will take place on-site in Bochum (Friday) and Duisburg-Essen (Saturday). Should the COVID-19 pandemic require it, the conference will shift to a hybrid or fully digital format. We welcome contributions focusing on the study of American history, culture, media, and literature. Presentations will be discussed by peers, American Studies professors of the three universities, and this year's senior experts Christa Buschendorf and Klaus Benesch, two established scholars from the field we invited to join us. Commentators will provide advice and ideas on contents, theoretical foundations, as well as methodology. The schedule will be published soon.

For more information, please have a look at the complete program

"Epidemics and Othering:
The Biopolitics of COVID-19 in Historical and Cultural Perspectives"

Digital Symposium
1 to 2 October 2021
Ruhr-University Bochum

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has impacted the globe for more than a year. This development sparked renewed interest in the historical, sociocultural, political, and economic aspects of epidemics and pandemics, currently evidenced by an outpouring of scholarship on the consequences of the current pandemic on the world’s population as well as social and economic structures. This symposium provides a forum specifically for the study of the sociocultural developments that lead to “Othering” in situations of a perceived crisis. Aiming at bringing together multi- and interdisciplinary, scholarly approaches to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we invite papers that examine the processes of “Othering” in relation to a long human history of epidemics and pandemics and the myriad social, political, philosophical, medical, artistic, literary, filmic, and poetic representations and reactions that have produced and/or challenged such Othering dynamics. This symposium aims at analyzing key factors and cultural narratives that contribute to Othering discourses in the course of Covid-19 and in previous pandemics and epidemics ("real" and "imagined") from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century. The symposium will put a geographical emphasis on North America, the Atlantic World, and transatlantic relations, but welcomes contributions that expand this spatial focus to different world regions in order to create a more globally representative and more nuanced knowledge on the historical and current cultural, sociopolitical, economic, and literary narratives and media representations of epidemics and pandemics.

2021 Ruhr PhD Forum in American Studies

12 to 13 February 2021

The doctoral colloquium Ruhr PhD Forum in American Studies offers PhD candidates in American Studies from the University Alliance Ruhr (UAR) at any stage of the PhD process a forum to present their dissertation projects. The UA Ruhr consists of the Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, and the University of Duisburg-Essen. In 2021, the Ruhr PhD Forum will be held as a virtual conference due to the Covid-19 pandemic. We welcome contributions focusing on the study of American history, culture, media, and literature. Presentations will be discussed by peers, American Studies professors of the three universities, and this year’s senior experts, Prof. Dr. Birgit Spengler (Uni Wuppertal) and Prof. Dr. Regina Schober (Uni Düsseldorf). Commentators will provide advice and ideas on contents, theoretical foundations, as well as methodology.

For more information, please have a look at the complete program

The US Presidential Election 2020

We put together this forum surrounding the U.S. Presidential Election. This website aims to provide insight into the current political situation and its sociocultural and historical contexts en route to the 2020 election. Given the scope of issues addressed by any election, the rapid changes in the current news cycle, and our limited ressources, we could not do justice to all topics. We have therefore decided to provide in-depth information about some issues while others are only mentioned in passing or not at all. Also, while the presidential election is the motivation for the project, contributions did not only focus on the two main candidates. Rather than dealing with individuals, we opted to center broader issues and themes that the United States and its population have faced in the past and will continue to do so in the future. We hope that our selection will provide you with new perspectives and insights

The US Presidential Election 2020 Website

Thank you,

to our colleague, advisor, and mentor Josef Raab, who sadly passed away 10 November 2019 after a long and brave battle against terminal illness. Josef Raab was the chair of American Literary and Media Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen. He paved the way for the discipline of Inter-American Studies, significantly shaping its core debates. As a champion and supporter of the Ruhr Center for American Studies, he was also a pivotal figure for the establishment of our City Scripts research group. Josef Raab was a fighter of the good fight, never shy of supporting his students and of positively endorsing as well as tackling his colleagues. He never eschewed an argument he believed in. While he had to take a step back from in-person participation in recent months due to his illness, he was with us in thought and during our research. We lose a professor and mentor, who has accompanied and supported some of us since our bachelor’s degree, a colleague, who challenged us in academic discussions, and most of all a sincere and warm human soul. All that is left for us to say now is, thank you and safe travels.

Ein Nachruf auf Josef Raab

Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures:
American Models, Transatlantic Interventions

The research group Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions (short: City Scripts) explores the imaginative strategies and narrative scenarios which the centers of old industries (steel, coal and cars) in the United States and Germany are devising to forge paths into their futures. Funded by the Volkswagen Stiftung for four years with a budget of 1.7 million, City Scripts is a joint endeavor of the American Studies Departments of the University Alliance Ruhr (Duisburg-Essen, Bochum, Dortmund).

From 2018 to 2022, seven doctoral candidates and one postdoctoral researcher carry out detailed studies of three prominent concepts of city planning (sustainability, inclusivity, and creativity). The objects of their research will be contemporary paradigms, processes of self-description, and operational strategies - in short, scripts - for the construction of ecologically sustainable, creative, but also socially and culturally inclusive futures for postindustrial cities. As part of City Scripts' innovative research and didactic concept, the researchers will collaborate with civic and industrial partners from urban business, administration, and civil society. Their projects draw on academic research, fieldwork and active cooperation with their respective partners. In doing so, the projects transcend the academic field of American Studies, incorporating approaches from Cultural Studies, History, and Media Studies.

The research group begins from an understanding of the frequently scripted nature of urban transformations as dependent on narrative acts, generic formula, medial forms and structures, figures of thought, as well as cognitive models. Because these urban transformations play into the core competencies of literary, cultural, and media studies as well as historical research, they require the sustained disciplinary attention of scholars in American Studies. US-American models are still powerful for these processes of urbanization, whether as blueprints or as emblems of developments to be feared. With its groundbreaking de-/re-industrialization processes and its shrinking, aging, and yet increasingly diverse population, the Ruhr region ("Ruhrgebiet") in which the research group is located resembles certain American cities. In a transatlantic comparison between two paradigmatic regions of postindustrial urban decline and restructuring, the German Ruhr region and the US-American Rust Belt, the researchers will undertake the study of American postindustrial scripts and their transatlantic (re)formulations.

For more information, please visit the official website

Maria Sulimma receives Rolf Kentner Prize

The Ruhr Center of American Studies is proud to announce that Dr. Maria Sulimma of the Department of Anglophone Studies, University Duisburg-Essen, and the Research Group City Scripts: Scripts for Postindustrial Urban Futures: American Models, Transatlantic Interventions has received the Rolf Kentner Dissertation Prize of the Center for American Studies at the University Heidelberg. The prize awards outstanding work in the field of American studies and is endowed with € 1.000. On the occasion of the award ceremony, Maria Sulimma will give a lecture in Heidelberg on television narration, seriality studies and gender studies ("Seriality and Gender: The Politics and Practices of American Television"). The public event will take place on October, 24th.

Her study Serial Genders, Gendered Serialities: Practices of US-American Television Narratives in the 21st Century develops an analytical model based on the 'doubled seriality' of both television series and intersectional gender performance. For three different US-American television series, Girls, How To Get Away with Murder and The Walking Dead, Maria Sulimma provides readings of their different production and reception contexts, as well as narrative strategies. She demonstrates how these series mobilize current socio-political discussions for their own commercial continuation.The award-winning dissertation was written at the John F. Kennedy-Institute for North American Studies at Freie Universität Berlin, and as part of the Popular Seriality Research Unit.

The Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) awards the Rolf Kentner Dissertation Prize for the tenth time this year. It recognizes outstanding work in the field of American studies, including American literature and culture, geography, history, art history, political science, religious studies, sociology or constitutional law. The award is sponsored by Rolf Kentner, honorary chairman of the Jacob Gould Schurman Foundation and the Jacob Gould Schurman Association, honorary senator of Ruperto Carola, and patron of German-American relations. The award is selected by a multidisciplinary and international committee. For more information, please visit the official website.

About the RuhrCenter of American Studies

RuhrCenter of American Studies

The RuhrCenter of American Studies

The RuhrCenter of American Studies integrates the rich American Studies resources of Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, and the University of Duisburg-Essen.The inaugural ceremony of the RuhrCenter of American Studies took place on Wednesday, 27 October 2010 with a key-note address by Carol Kahn Strauss, Executive Director of the Leo Baeck Institute, New York, on European Emigrés and the Transformation of American Culture. Our international Ph.D. program in Transnational and Transatlantic American Studies is open to young scholars from around the world. Research at the RuhrCenter of American Studies has a transnational, a hemispheric, and a transatlantic perspective; it focuses on American History, Literature, and Culture as nationally diverse and multi-ethnic as well as globally contextualized and interconnected. We invite you to join our group of international and interdisciplinary young scholars opening up new and exciting areas in American Studies.
Contact: dietmar.meinel[at]uni-due.de

Ruhr-University Bochum

American Studies in Bochum follows a historical as well as literary and cultural studies trajectory. Our approach to North America's history, culture, and literature is interdisciplinary and transnational, taking into account globalization, diaspora, and other current academic approaches and fields of research demanding a rethinking and reconstitution of our understanding of the United States and Canada. In American Studies we deal with different media – literature, poetry, film, television, archival material, etc. – and we investigate the construction of identities and communities in relation to space and history. Urban Studies, regionalism, and Body Studies help us to understand changing realities and conceptualizations of "nation – region – home," "race – class – identity," or "gender – beauty – body," their effects on North American culture, economy, and politics, as well as the processes that generate or shape change. Our interactive modes of teaching are based on our research; they involve students, doctoral researchers, and colleagues alike. We foster ties with other American Studies specialists in the U.S., Germany, and other parts of Europe; ties that provide for exchange opportunities and also result in inspiring lectures, workshops, and conferences supporting our transnational understanding of American Studies by enriching the regular curricula.

TU Dortmund

American Studies in Dortmund focuses on the manifold literary, cultural, and media texts in transatlantic narratives. We view American culture as a system of relationships and investigate the extensive discursive networks in which it is embedded – both on a national and an international level. As researchers we deal with 19th, 20th, and 21st century American spaces, media, and technologies. Our main objective is to understand the many stories that are shared and contested across the Atlantic Ocean and how they manifest themselves in all kinds of texts from novels, poems, essays, and histories to paintings, films, or computer games. In our project-oriented courses we promote individual research interests and encourage cooperative work. Our American Studies program interacts with many other departments and programs at TU Dortmund University, including religion, journalism, urban/regional planning, marketing, and engineering. Members of these programs frequently participate in the weekly meetings of the doctoral research group as well as in collaborative projects. We maintain student and research exchanges with fifteen colleges and universities all around the United States offering students and researchers direct and privileged access to overseas academic resources and networks.

University of Duisburg-Essen

American Studies at Duisburg-Essen is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of North America, its manifold and often conflicting cultural geographies, literary and cultural production, and multi-ethnic urban and rural societies. Major fields of inquiry include early modern, colonial, romantic, and contemporary literature and history, urban spaces and places, ethnicity, hemispheric and transatlantic relations, film, and television. We are particularly interested in the interconnections between U.S. American and Canadian, Caribbean, and Latin American cultures and literatures as well as in the imaginary and actual crossings of multiple borders in the Americas from the fifteenth to the twenty-first century. Our program organized the 2010 inaugural conference of the International Association of Inter-American Studies and it is centrally involved in the university’s Main Research Area "Urban Systems." In collaboration with our international partners we engage in interdisciplinary research and teaching on issues ranging from urbanity and cosmopolitan networks for the production, distribution, and reception of North American literature, film, art, and performance to cultural hybridity, an inter-American culture industry, and a trans-border consumer culture.

Press Release on the Inaugural Event:

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