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The series Re-Mapping the Transnational seeks to foster the cross-national dialogues needed to sustain the vitality of this emergent field. To advance a truly comparativist understanding of this scholarly endeavor, Dartmouth College Press welcomes monographs from scholars both inside and outside the United States. Afterlives of Modernism Liberalism, Transnationalism, and Political Critique A defense of liberalism in modernist and contemporary American writers. Rowe, John Carlos. Herzogenrath, Bernd. Shu, Yuan and Donald E.

Taketani, Etsuko. Hutchins, Zachary McLeod, ed. Milich, Donald E. Pease, John Carlos Rowe. Dwelling in American Dissent, Empire, and Globalization An original critique of the idea of American empire in the twenty-first century. Muthyala, John. Bogues, Anthony. Enemies of All Humankind Fictions of Legitimate Violence Explores the legal justification for state-sanctioned violence. Schillings, Sonja. Chassot, Joanne. Breinig, Helmbrecht. Johannessen, Lene M. Interrogating these conceptions—central to American Studies—they evolved new notions of subject, text, and world, which first affected literary and cultural studies before impacting on the study of the social sciences and, albeit to a much lesser degree, the sciences.

Significantly enough, poststructuralism renegotiated terms such as experience, truth, and identity at the very moment when feminist and African American perspectives reclaimed positions of otherness as modes of identity. Accordingly, feminist critics and scholars of gender studies, in particular, wondered why at the very moment women and other culturally and politically marginalized groups asserted their own sense of self, body, and identity, these concepts—and the very sense of presence and authenticity they entailed—became highly contested.

In fact only the gradual deconstruction, throughout the twentieth century, of the male philosophical subject and the insistence on the discursiveness of identity and history has enabled supposedly marginal figures to take center stage and rewrite themselves into history as subjects. The very insight that subjectivity is discursive, performative, and processural has done away with stability, yet allows for and invites a strategic use of subject positions and political vantage points to be claimed temporarily and for particular purposes.

Accordingly, conceptions of gender, class, race, and ethnicity have transformed fundamentally. First considered essential assets and part of the expressive register of particular social groups, parameters of difference and identity were reassessed as effects of specific discourses in the late s and early s. Accordingly, the analysis of cultural practices no longer aimed at the ways in which literary and other cultural texts offer truths about the nature of American culture.

What makes such revision particularly worthwhile is that it has to interrogate the affinities between certain literary and cultural writing practices, on the one hand, and certain theories of reading and their inherent cultural ideologies, on the other. Theories evolve from specific cultural contexts and in dialogue with privileged texts, which, after the new criticism, tended to be narrative rather than poetic, 40 while the term poetics has in turn been appropriated to conceptualize the aesthetic and political effects of all kinds of cultural discourses.

Providing a concise account of how American literature has been read, moving from D. At the same time, his own argument tends to reduce deconstruction to a method of reading literary texts, which, in turn, sets the stage for presenting his own reading method as a theory of American literature. I wonder, though, how this functional model of American literature would go about reading modernist and postmodernist texts which not only explode the consensus that nineteenth- century texts renegotiated, but also expose the aesthetic strategies that realist texts, in particular, aim to downplay.

More significant, though, in this context : Why not acknowledge that theories, like literary texts in their particular contexts, have their own specific cultural functions? While the revision of the canon has preoccupied literary studies in general, it has certainly dominated a significant part of the American Studies agenda from the mids to the early s, evolving new anthologies and a huge body of revisionary literary history. Denouncing the decadence of modernist texts, East German scholars of American literature at the same time celebrated Native American and African American literatures.

Needless to say : politically, things turned out somewhat differently. Yet the concept of world literatures has survived, even if we privilege the term postcolonial literatures now.

Futures of American Studies - Wikipedia

Extending the perspectives of postcolonial criticism and New English Literatures to North America, 42 the empire of English studies seems to write back indeed. But so does American Studies as it metamorphoses into global studies here and there. Taking Canada, the United States, and Mexico as mutual points of reference, the study of North American cultures can focus on paradigmatic moments and representations of a shared history and culture of colonization, nation building, immigration, multiculturalism, diaspora, and globalization.

It can examine how these processes have played out differently in each of these cultures and, more specifically, how social and cultural hierarchies and ethnic differences are borderlines imposed on and within bodies in culturally and nationally specific ways. Moreover, explorations of the literal and figurative borderlands in the South of the United States help to map the—entirely different—borderlands in the North more clearly. And the crossing of these borders, both the borders of culture and those of disciplinary conventions, will necessarily open up new perspectives on transatlantic relations.

Since the United States, Canada, and Mexico offer different answers to questions of globalization, such change may turn out to be promising. Can we indeed transcend these disciplinary borderlines? Can American Studies learn from Canada?

Could American Studies achieve what Canadian studies, even in Canada, failed to achieve : the productive institutional alliance of English, American, and Romance studies? Having redefined America in this way we can recover American Studies as the force of a deconstructive—that is both destructive and inherently democratic—process that America itself cannot be but a part of. This does not mean that we have to do without American Studies. Yet it means that doing American Studies requires a large dose of negative capability.

Accordingly, new historical perspectives accelerated the transformation of literary studies into cultural studies. This, however, proved to be a highly debatable assumption, nurtured in part by the notion that deconstruction was merely a method of reading literary texts.

In fact, though, poststructuralist analyses—be it the work of Derrida, Kristeva, Barbara Johnson, or Henry Louis Gates—have deeply transformed notions of the political, insisting that certain practices of writing and reading are in themselves historically specific and political cf. Yet theorizing seems to require this kind of forgetting and misreading, which, time and again, allows to suggest that critical inquiries are taking a turn for the better, of course , while in fact ideas, concepts, and terminologies are constantly being recontextualized and so-called turns turn out to be returns ever so often though we are never taken to the same place twice, of course.

Nor did they mean to inaugurate a methodologically innovative approach. The New Historicism, according to Fluck, was motivated and self-authorized first and foremost by a political self-fashioning of its protagonists, loosely grounded in the work of Foucault, and by a desire to increase the visibility and significance of literary studies by engaging in surprising interpretive performances. Whether we read these projects as an attempt at synthesis or as an act of revision of established canons and periodizations as which they were explicitly intended cf.

However, apart from cultural sensibilities, the need to retain national paradigms and comprehensive perspectives may simply result from the particular institutional disposition of American Studies in Germany. American Studies will survive only if we violently defend both the specificity of United States cultures and histories and our particular approach to cultural analysis. Arguing that American critics oftentimes fail to recognize the radical traditions and the subversive potential of American creative and critical discourses, Lenz clearly affirms a cultural difference, which amounts to a difference in both theoretical thought and scholarly practice.

He [the American Studies scholar] works, [sic] then in the heritage of Emerson and his philosophy of self-trust, and in the heritage of William James and his philosophy of pragmatism. Tremaine McDowell qtd. In its original form, pragmatism is a philosophical theory about truth. In contrast, pragmatists claim that our thinking is always goal-directed. Thinking is a problem-solving device. As a consequence, pragmatism can not only account for a plurality of coexisting perspectives; it also provides a philosophical justification of the inevitability of such a plural universe.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Pragmatism, as developed, in different varieties, in the writings of Emerson, William James, John Dewey, Charles Sanders Peirce, and Hilary Putnam, has insisted that there can be no one formal system of knowledge, since knowledge is processual and mutable; accordingly, if we let our sense of the world be guided by our experience of it, our perspectives on the world will have to continuously shift. Kulturbegriff und Methode. Moreover, in recent theoretical debates these acts of forgetting—or outright dismissal—are inextricably linked with acts of remembering.

In this way, Fluck, on the one hand, reminds us of those German contributions to continental theory that have been marginalized by dominant poststructuralist paradigms. In a move analogous to that of Stanley Cavell, who argued that Emerson anticipated modern continental philosophy, Dewey not only becomes the proponent cultural studies avant-la-lettre Fluck, Pragmatism , Theories of cultural studies also become an American trademark.

Focusing on how discourses create our sense of the world, our concepts of reality and truth, poststructuralist thought has capitalized on the production and reproduction of meaning and cultural imaginaries. Rather than judging which answer is more to the point, though, we may simply want to register which reply becomes prominent at what time. Intent to speak of the relation between literary text and world without merely falling back into pre-deconstructionist positions, she proposes a literary theory that reintegrates previously discarded concepts such as meaning and mimesis while maintaining essential deconstructionist insights concerning the openness, decenteredness and infinity of discourse, the cultural constructedness of the self, and the plurality of sign processes.

Judith Butler, for instance, has always acknowledged that neither are subject positions and views of the world imposed or inscribed upon the individual nor do embodied selves pre-exist the cultural conventions. Butler, The Psychic Life. At the same time for Butler, the agent remains an arena of ambivalence, the effect of powers that precede him or her as well as the possibility of a radically conditioned form of agency. Intended or not, the revitalization of pragmatism catalyzes the renaissance of an Emersonian American individual, ideas of progress, and the belief that aesthetic experience is the motor of both individual and cultural progress.

Experience of art or other aesthetic artifacts thus transforms into a future-oriented politics of change. Likewise, it might be more pragmatic to consult, in matters that pragmatism relegates to the periphery, those theories that are really good on peripheral matters. What about, for instance, the fact that aesthetic experience can mean many things to many individuals?

Pragmatism—especially if employed as a theory of interpreting literary texts—reempowers the reader. Who is that reader, though, and what is he or she reading?

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Most likely, he or she is a literary critic. So what does the critic read? What about the reader who resists being empowered, who is there simply for the ride see Eco ? And what about the reader who prefers not to read and tunes in or interactively engages computer games?

Theorizing work on media other than literature evolving within German American Studies also remains yet unrealized; work, which capitalizes on American cultural productions, yet, does not necessarily conceptualize its disciplinary leanings. Its significance is not so much due to the theories it discusses; in fact, there is much less of such debate than one might perhaps expect. Work in the realm of popular culture and the new media—including visual cultures photography, film, video, multimedia , new technologies hypertext, CD-ROM, computer and video games , the history of the sciences, ecocriticism, performance studies, explorations of intermediality and reconceptualizations of time and space 64 —have suggested that we have meanwhile made a whole series of turns, turning out to be quite transdisciplinary after all.

Moreover, the practice of theorizing new media also adds another dimension to current attempts to internationalize American Studies. After all, the internationalization of our pursuits is as much the result of the globalization of certain technologies as it is indebted to the singular efforts of particular individuals located in particular places. Thus, if some of us redefine American Studies as media studies, 66 we necessarily challenge the authority of certain texts and readers, by embracing a different, a processural sense of inter subjectivity instead.

Theory opens perspectives on the world while the readings of the world they enable hopefully, ideally, reflect back upon and readjust our perspectives. Readings of the world and its media, in turn, evolve paradigms which may challenge and extend our established ways of approaching cultural practices. Theorizing thus remains a highly dialectical matter.

It also foregrounds that dialectics does not necessarily mean thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Nowadays more often than not dialectics spells thesis, antithesis, contradiction. It is to emphasize that distance, like clarity, is hard to be had. At the risk of repeating myself : wherever we may turn next—American Studies is dead. Long live American Studies! Adorno, Theodor. A Study in Secondary Superstition. Amian, Katrin.


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Heidelberg : Winter, New Historicism : Literaturgeschichte als Poetik der Kultur. Bender, Thomas. Berkhofer, Robert F. Brigitte Georgi-Findlay and Heinz Ickstadt. Berressem, Hanjo, ed. Brook, Thomas. Princeton : Princeton UP, Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble : Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York : Routledge, Sue-Ellen Case.

Baltimore : Johns Hopkins UP, Frankfurt : Suhrkamp, Stanford : Stanford UP, Lenz, eds. Amerikastudien—Theorie, Geschichte, interpretatorische Praxis. Claviez, Thomas. Winfried Fluck and Thomas Claviez. Trier : WVT, Winfried Fluck. Or : What Indeed Is in a Name? Derrida, Jacques. David Lodge. London : Longman, Dickstein, Morris, ed. Durham : Duke UP, Eco, Umberto.

Michael Franz and Stefan Richter. Leipzig : Reclam, Elliott, Emory, ed. Columbia Literary History of the United States. New York : Columbia UP, Fishkin, Shelley Fisher. Fluck, Winfried, and Thomas Claviez. Fluck, Winfried, ed. Donald E. Pease and Robyn Wiegman. Pragmatism and Literary Studies.

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