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Exercises: The American Short Story and Concepts of Citizenship - Details
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General information

Subtitle Lehrauftrag J. Reddig/ Blockseminar
Course number 022 100 0090
Semester SS 2022
Current number of participants 11
maximum number of participants 20
Home institute Amerikanistik
Courses type Exercises in category Teaching
Next date Fri , 22.07.2022 09:00 - 17:00, Room: (D, 1011)
Online/Digitale Veranstaltung Veranstaltung wird in Präsenz abgehalten.
Hauptunterrichtssprache englisch
ECTS points 4

Course location / Course dates

(D, 1011) Friday. 22.07.22 - Saturday. 23.07.22, Friday. 29.07.22 - Saturday. 30.07.22 09:00 - 17:00

Module assignments

Comment/Description

The American Short Story and the Concept of Citizenship
“The short story is an American invention, and arguably the most important literary genre to have emerged in the United States.” Drawing on this assessment by Alfred Bendixen (2010), one of the leading scholars in the field, in this course we will explore the ur-American genre of the short story in its historical emergence and development, and we will constantly relate it in contextual terms to patterns of social in- and exclusion in U.S. history. The conceptual framework we will employ to trace such in- and exclusions is that of citizenship.

Broadly speaking, citizenship can mean two things: On the one hand, in abstract legal terms, it refers to a sort of “formal” status of membership in a political entity like the nation-state, which comes with rights and duties as provided by that political entity. But on the other hand, in more intricate terms of social dynamics and cultural change, recent scholarship has focused away from such a top-down interpretation and argued that at least to some degree subjects indeed constitute themselves as citizens, hence paying increasing attention to bottom-up aspects of agency and performance; this notion is often referred to as the “substantive” element of citizenship and speaks to concrete on-location struggles.

Taken together, such a dialectical understanding of citizenship can help us conceive of how all subjects, and minorities in particular, have been both affected by normative processes of (dis)enfranchisement and (re)claimed self-inclusion throughout U.S.-American history. To name but two examples, women in the U.S., after centuries of political struggle, obtained full citizens’ voting rights in 1920, while African Americans gained emancipation after the Civil War in 1865, when their status changed from slave to citizen of the United States. (Let us not forget, however, that social reality always proves more complex, and discrimination has incessantly returned with a vengeance.)

In such a contextual and conceptual trajectory, we will study classic short stories that date back to the nineteenth century, when writers like Washington Irving or Nathaniel Hawthorne negotiated national belonging in the Early Republic, and their literary descendants all the way down to contemporary exemplars, such as short stories written by feminist, PoC, and/or refugee authors to deconstruct hegemonic regimes, and claim civil rights and recognition. We will thus consider the stories as textual crystallizations that register and at the same time appropriate and re-envision historical patterns of in- and exclusion.

Tentatively, the first day of this bloc seminar will be devoted to pertinent contextualizing and conceptualizing secondary material (on the two issues of “citizenship” and the “short story”), while the primary texts will be discussed in the remaining three days. A (virtual) reader containing all required sources will be provided and an organizational preliminary (online) meeting announced in due time.

Admission settings

The course is part of admission "Beschränkte Teilnehmendenanzahl: The American Short Story and Concepts of Citizenship".
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  • A defined number of seats will be assigned to these courses.
    The seats in these courses will be assigned at 20.04.2022, 18:00. Addional seats may be added to a wait list.
  • The enrolment is possible from 14.03.2022, 08:00 to 18.04.2022, 18:00.