Prof. Dr. Astrid M. Fellner

Vorlesung "Engendering North American Literatures"
Di 12-14 Uhr

This lecture course provides a gendered survey of North American literatures, introducing the ways in which the study of sex/gender and sexuality as social categories have transformed our understandings of culture, history and society. Topics include the social construction of gender, 
the gendered division of labor, production and reproduction, intersections of gender, race, class and ethnicity, 
and the varieties of sexual experience. We will start the course by looking at the Native American/First Nations multiple gender system and trace the history of the making of the binary system of sex/gender in the early Republic. In the 19th century, we will look at the rise of the novel, paying special attention to the representations of friendship, expressions of love and romance, including both marriage and same-sex relationships. The third cluster will look at 20th and 21st century literature, looking at works that spurred the political activism and identity-based movements of the 1960s and 1970s. We will also provide a survey of feminist, gay and lesbian, and queer literature. This course examines several genres and traditions in North American literature, including poetry, drama, sentimental fiction, and the slave narrative.

Course Readings:
There will be a course reader, which you can order through NamLitCult and pick up at our offices.

This class will start on October 27, 2015.


Dr. Susanne Hamscha

Hauptseminar "From Forrest Gump to Lady Gaga: Gender and Disability in Popular Culture"

Friday, 30 October 2015, 1 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, 31 October 2015, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
4 November 2015: guest lecture Denise Green (Wednesday: 4-6 p.m.)
guest lecture Rosemarie Garland Thomson (tba)
Friday, 8 January 2016, 1 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, 9 January 2016, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Friday, 5 February 2016, 1 - 6 p.m.
Saturday, 6 February 2016, 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Representations of people with disabilities in popular culture are scarce and often one-dimensional. When people with disabilities do show up in films or TV-series, their characters often reflect an ableist view of disabled bodies as either pitiful or inspirational—limited roles that reinforce assumptions about (and restrictions upon) disabled bodies. Disability has traditionally also functioned as a metaphor for all forms of “otherness” and experiences of alienation, powerlessness, and objectification. In this seminar, we will examine the influential role of popular culture on our perceptions of disability and able-bodiedness/able-mindedness. We will consider the ways in which the construction of “normal” and “abnormal” bodies and minds intersects with other normative regimes, in particular with the construction of gender norms. Considering the representation of disability in selected films (e.g. Forrest Gump, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, The Other Sister), TV-series (e.g. Glee, Game of Thrones) and music videos (e.g. Lady Gaga, Viktoria Modesta), we will analyze in how far disability functions as a vehicle to solidify or challenge socially acceptable gender identities—and, conversely, in how far gender performances shape and determine representations of disability. Our analysis of selected visual material will be embedded in discussions of theoretical texts from the fields of gender studies, disability studies, and queer and crip theory.