Crossing Tresholds

Decoloniality and Gender in Caribbean Studies

Rebecca Fuchs was one of the organizers of the international junior conference "Crossing Thresholds" that took place from January 23-25, 2013. The workshop was a cooperation of the Society of Caribbean Research (SoCaRe) and the Institute of Romance Languages at the Leibniz Universität Hannover (Germany). It dealt with decoloniality and gender in Caribbean knowledge and aimed to provide an opportunity for junior researchers (especially doctoral and postdoctoral candidates) to present their projects and engage in interdisciplinary cooperation on current perspectives regarding decolonial gender issues within Caribbean Research. Conference Report



World Cinemas

On behalf of Igor Krstic, member of the graduate program and assistant at the English department we would like to cordially invite you for a guest lecture by Prof. Lúcia Nagib from the Centre for World Cinemas at the University of Leeds. The lecture "The Classical-Modern Hybrid and the Politics of Intermediality" will take place on Wednesday, december 2012 at 5.15 p.m. at room O 129. Further information on the lecture will soon be provided.


Middle Ages

Daniel Wimmer will present at the Geschichtsdidaktisches Kolloquium of the University of Freiburg on July 13, 2012. The presentation title is "Das europäische Mittelalter im Schulgeschichtsbuch - ein retrospektiver Entwurf der Kinderstube des Kontinents".


Congratulations to Matthias Rauch and Markus Sommer

The graduate program congratulates its doctoral fellows Markus Sommer and Matthias Rauch on the successful defense of their doctoral theses. We are very pleased with their excellent achievements and wish both of them  the very best for their futures.


Resignifying Wounds Through Silences

Rebecca Fuchs will give a talk at the 36th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies at the University of Oxford. 

The dilemma acknowledged in Western trauma discourse is that trauma leads to silence, but that it requires words to finally overcome it and heal, which is an ambivalent process. Caribbean literature offers ways of dealing with this challenge by accepting that neither an absolute silence nor a focus on speaking directly about a wound can be the solution for its healing, but rather their creative tension.

"Resignifying Wounds Through Silences in Edwidge Danticat's The Dew Breaker" theorizes Caribbean fiction, which makes use of silences as communication and in relation to speech. The paper shows how silences contribute to the act of healing wounds and thereby dissolve the binary opposition speech versus silence.


Scholarships for the fall term 2012

The graduate program is offering three new scholarships beginning September 1st. For more information please consult "Scholarships".


Formationen von "communitas"

Formationen von „communitas“ im umkämpften Raum der Globalisierung

Mittwoch, 16. Mai 2012 -- 18:00 Uhr -- Schloss (O 135)

Formationen des Globalen sind u.a. deshalb eine Herausforderung, weil sie andere Formen der Interaktion zwischen lokal- und weltbezogener Prozessen verlangen. Konzepte wie Netzwerke (Deleuze, Latour) oder Ströme (Appadurai) haben bislang die Dynamik der Formation globalisierter Gesellschaften beschrieben. Darüber hinaus reagierte die politische Philosophie gegen Tendenzen zur Refundamentalisierung von Gruppenidentitäten (Ethnie oder Nation) mit einer offenen Konzeption von Gemeinschaft (Nancy, Blanchot, Agamben bzw. Empire von Hardt und Negri). Doch wird die utopische Dimension von Netzwerktheorien und des Kommunitarismus problematisch, wenn man derartige Ansätze auf den Prüfstein der Biopolitik im Zusammenhang mit globalen Netzwerken wie die der Camorra oder des Narcotráfico stellt. Der Vortrag reflektiert darüber mit Bezug auf Heidegger und Roberto Esposito.

Prof. Vittoria Borsò lehrt heute als Inhaberin des Lehrstuhls für Romanische Literatur- und Kulturwissenschaft an der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Ihr akademischer Werdegang, der von Stationen in Duisburg, Freiburg und dem Süden der USA geprägt ist, fand seinen Anfang aber in Mannheim. Hier wurde Frau Borsò 1985 promoviert. Zu ihren Forschungsschwerpunkten zählen: „Materialität und Produktion: Differenz und Übergänge zwischen Texträumen und Bildakten“, „Iberian Postcolonialities: A Metahistory of Material Practices of Power“ oder auch „Biopolitik, Bio-Poetik und Epistemologie des Lebens in Literatur und visuellen Medien“. Im Rahmen dieses letztgenannten Forschungsprojekts interessiert sie sich besonders für Roberto Esposito und dessen Konzept der „communitas“. Frau Borsò trägt am 16. Mai Ergebnisse aus dieser Forschung vor und adaptiert sie auf Fragen der Globalisierung.


Narrative travels across the world

Narrative travels across the world: a search for new concepts and methods

Wednesday, may 9, 2012 -- 15.30 -- Schloss (EW 165)

In this lecture Dr. Eleftheria Thanouli would like to scrutinize a series of concepts introduced by Dudley Andrew (2004, 2010), Franco Moretti (2000, 2003) and Joseph Straubhaar (2007) among others, in order to unveil the hidden assumptions beneath the use of terms such as atlas, map, center and periphery and asymmetrical interdependence. Her aim is to examine the extent to which these concepts do justice to the complex and unpredictable travels of the cinematic forms. Finally, she would like to dwell on the metaphor of the ‘network' and develop a rationale for its conceptual value for the cartography of world cinema in both its contemporary form and the various forms it has taken in the course of its history.

Eleftheria Thanouli is an Assistant Professor in Film Theory at the Film Department at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Thanouli is the Author of the book: "Post-Classical Cinema. An International Poetics of Film-Narration", which was published in June 2010.



Notions of Embodiment in Slumdog Millionaire

Igor Krstic is invited to the international Film and Media Studies Conference: The Cinema of Sensations from May 25 - 27, 2012. He will present  there a part of his dissertation under the title: Notions of Embodiment in Danny Bolye's Slumdog Millionaire (2008).
Embodiment (or embodied cognition) is a thesis taken from contemporary debates in cognitive science. Following this approach intelligence needs a body, i.e. a (participating) bodily interaction with its environment. Igor Krstic will show in his presentation about Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire, how this film not only represents this approach but also tries to work with it on a performative level.



The Transcultural Novel

Melanie Pooch is invited to the2012 MELUS and USACLALS Joint Conference: "Ethnic Literatures and Transnationalism" from April 19 to 22, 2012 in San José, California, USA. The Title of her presentation is. "The Transcultural Novel: Multi-Ethnic Literature and the Global City of Los Angeles"
In this paper, both the predominantly European discourse on ‘transculturality' and the primarily Latin American concept of ‘transculturation' are used as a starting point for shifting the discussion to a new context: Transcultural literature of Los Angeles.
Globalization and its effects manifest themselves in contemporary urban literature. Karen Tei Yamashita's Tropic of Orange does not focus on one or two ethnicities but, rather, conceives and illustrates the dynamic quality of cultural identities. The novel's egalitarian structure and the individually tailored narrative voice of each of her characters transcend intra-ethnic homogenization and intercultural delimitation. Yamashita creates a global ‘third space' in and beyond the urban complexity of the cultural nodal point of Los Angeles in which transcultural identities are constantly negotiated. Thus, rigid national or ethnic boundaries and categorizations are challenged and transgressed.
This paper will show why the meaning of American ethnic literature is altered by adding a transcultural approach to the traditionally multiculturalism-focused debate. The nature of this (trans)cultural phenomenon rewrites the meaning of multiculturalism, provides the framework for defining the urban ‘transcultural novel', and offers a new and more complex understanding of North American literary and cultural studies in a globalizing world.



Medieval Counts of Barcelona

Daniel Wimmer is invited to the Conference "Nationizing the Dynasty - Dynastizing the Nation" at the University of California Los Angeles, April 14, 2012. During this conference he will give a talk with the title: "The Image of the Medieval Counts of Barcelona as ‘Fathers of the Nation' in the Present-Day Nationalist Self-perception of Catalonia".


Charismatic Teachers in popular Culture

Eric Hendriks is invited to the international conference "The Power of Charisma." at the Humboldt University Berlin, March 22-23. There he will present his dissertation with a talk entiteld "Self-Help Gurus: Charismatic Teachers in Popular Culture".
In his talk, Mr. Hendriks will argue that contemporary research on the status of popular knowledge in the mass media and global popular culture, and more specifically the multifaceted competition between popular and elite or institutionalized knowledge claims, can still profit from the Weberian ideal-typical concept of charisma.


Global Plots

Global Plots: Knowledge and Empire in Colonial and Post-Colonial Literature

Guest Lecture by Gesa Mackenthun

March 1, 2012  -- 18:00h -- Schloss (EW 151)

The lecture addresses the potential of the novel form for expressing global and transhistorical entanglements, demonstrating this feature with reference to selected postcolonial novels e.g. by Ondaatje, Unsworth, and Ann Michaels. It particularly focusses on the representation of the connections between science (esp. space-related sciences) and empire in these texts. This includes processes of forced migration and dispossession.

Gesa Mackenthun holds the professorship for American Literature and Culture Studies at Rostock University. She carried out part of her post-doctoral research at Mount Holyoke College, MA, and at the University of California at Berkeley. From October 2006 to March 2010, Gesa Mackenthun was the spokesperson of the Graduate School "Kulturkontakt und Wissenschaftsdiskurs / Cultural Encounters and the Discourses of Scholarship" at Rostock University.




Congratulations to Christian Knirsch

The graduate program congratulates its asssociate doctoral fellow Christiajn Knirsch on the successful defense of his doctoral thesis last week. We are very pleased with his excellent achievements and wish Mr. Knirsch the very best for his future.


United in canibalism

Katrin Sperling's dissertation, which offers a new perspective on the phenomenon of globalization in the context of contemporary art, has recenty been published by transcript. Ms. Sperling discusses the global world of art as a multidimensional and discursive space. Using different theories from the social and the cultural sciences and the example of Brazilian art at the documenta, she gives a new perspective on global relations, transcending traditional binarisms. For more information on the publication and its author please consult the editorial's webseite.

Katrin Sperling. Nur der Kannibalismus eint uns. Die globale Kunstwelt im Zeichen kultureller Einverleibung: Brasilianische Kunst auf der documenta. transcript 2011 (ISBN 978-3-8376-1768-9).


Urban Outcasts

On November 8 Igor Krstic will give a guest lecture at the University of Maastricht which will be concerned with "The Cinematic Slum. Urban Outcasts, Real and Imagined". The notion of a 'cinematic city' is currently an important topic in both, film and urban studies. It is the context for Mr. Krstics research on cinematic slum depictions. How can the worldwide emergence and the popularity for slum films be explained? Discussing central concepts and discourses (e.g. the connection of world cinema and globalization) Mr. Krstic offers explanatory framweworks for this trend. As a case example he analyzes Danny Boyle's Slumdog Millionaire (2008), the commercially most succesful of these films to date.


News of the Middle Ages

On Otober 7, 2011 the 5th "Heidelberg-Mannheimer Werkstattgespräche: Neues aus dem Mittelalter" will take place at the Historisches Museum der Pfalz Speyer. Daniel Wimmer's presentation will discuss the role of historical exhibitions as media of collective self-perceptions.


Narratives – Narrative Strategies – Knowledge Transfers

The 7th conference of the graduate program FORMATIONS OF THE GLOBAL: Narratives - Narrative Strategies - Knowledge Transfers "Formations of the Global" will take place in Mannheim on October 21-22, 2011. It offers two keynote speeches for all participants and two disciplinary workshops for researchers from the fields of history or literary and cultural studies. Besides the local professors and Ph.D. students of the graduate program three to four junior researchers will participate.

The history workshop will deal with formations of individual and group identities and their relations to "others". The focus is on narratives and narrative strategies that are and were fundamental for the development of images of the self and the other and for the creation of community relations. The topic is further enhanced by taking into account transfers of these techniques of creation.

The literary and cultural studies workshop will deal with narrative strategies that transgress borders and epochs. The focus is on representations of the global by means of intertextuality, narration, language and transculturality.

If you are interested in visiting the workshop or one of the keynotes or sessions, please consult the more detailed info in 'Upcoming Events'.


Reading by Pireeni Sundaralingam

INDIVISIBLE: the Poetry of South Asian America

September 27, 2011 -- 7 p.m. -- venue: Schloss EW 154

Poet and editor Pireeni Sundaralingam will be reading from and discussing the seminal poetry anthology, Indivisible--the first anthology of American poets to trace their roots back to South Asia--, as well as reading from her own poetry, charting her experiences from the civil war in Sri Lanka to immigration and exile in the West.

A former PEN USA Rosenthal Fellow, Sundaralingam's poems have appeared in both American and European journals and featured in anthologies such as Amnesty's 100 Poems for Human Rights.

Her poetry has been translated into several languages, including Tamil, Swedish, Vietnamese and Gaelic, and has been featured at both the United Nations headquarters, and the International Museum of Women.

Indivisible won the 2011 California Book Award and is currently shortlisted for the 2011 PEN Book award and the 2011 Before Columbus Foundation Prize.

For more information please continue to Upcoming Events.


Mignolo's Border Thinking

Rebecca Fuchs's dissertation  examines the phenomenon of a Caribbean identity. Ms. Fuchs considers "caribbeanness" to be a "border culture", a collective experience of historical developments like slavery, violence and diaspora. On the basis of contemporary novels by Caribbean authors living in the U.S. she addresses the question how these texts deal with colonialism and dictatorship and result in a surplus of Caribbean culture as an emergent phenomenon. She demonstrates that "caribbeanness" is a local form of identity that represents global complexity and thus can be regarded as a paradigm for globality.

The dissertation's metatheoretical basis is Walter D. Mignolo's concept of "border thinking". Mignolo is director of the Center for Global Studies and the Humanities at Duke University, where Ms. Fuchs will be a guest researcher from september to december. She is supported by the FAZIT-Stiftung. The graduate program wishes her a successful stay.


Middle Ages and Present

The International Research Center for Cultural Studies and the Institute for Social Anthropology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences hold a (post)graduate workshop in July, which is dedicated to the question "Do states still need cultures?" Daniel Wimmer will give a presentation with the title "Mit dem Mittelalter die Gegenwart erzählen. Das Mittelalter als Quellgrund territorial verfasster Identitäten des 21. Jahrhunderts".


Freedom in the urban age

Florentina Hausknotz' dissertation about freedom in the  urban age will be published by transcript in August 2011. The announcement of the title from the series 'Urban Studies' can be found on the publisher's website where you can also pre-order the title.

Florentina Hausknotz. Stadt denken. Über die Praxis der Freiheit im urbanen Zeitalter. transcript, 2011. (ISBN 978-3-8376-1846-4)


Thing and Identity

Frederike Felcht contributed an article to the recently published  anthology Global Media, Culture, and Identity. Theory, Cases, and Approaches by Rohit Chopra and Radhika Gajjala. The anthology analyzes how global media  influence the relation between locations, culture and identity.

Ms. Felcht's chapter "The Fetishistic Challenge: Things as Mediators of Identity in Nineteenth Century Literature" explores this question in texts by Hans Christian Andersen and Adam Oehlenschläger. She discusses the importance of things for the formation of global networks and the construction of identities  in the context of local, reginal and global relations. At the same time she demonstrates how literary texts identify the important function of things in these processes while scientific theories from the 19th century tend to ignore the power of things and fend them off as fetishism.


Fourth International Conference on Global Studies

Igor Krstic uand Melanie Pooch will give presentations at the 'Fourth International Conference on Global Studies', taking place in July in Rio de Janeiro.

Igor Krstics presentation will discuss slums, ghettos and favelas in contemporary world cinema. Recently, films like Slumdog Millionaire or Cidade de Deus seem to constitute a new trend - they definitely are a cultural phenomenon, which Mr. Krstic explores from a sociological, film historical and philosophical perspective. Mr. Krstic is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).

Melanie Pooch demonstrates how transculturality supersedes the better known phenomenon of multiculturalism. She discusses the terms, their definitions  and developments. Using the example of global cities as Los Angeles she shows  how the transcultural discourse becomes manifest in contemporary fiction. Ms. Pooch is supported by the foundation FAZIT STIFTUNG.


Congratulations to Frederike Felcht

The graduate program congratulates its Ph.D. student Frederike Felcht on the successful defense of her doctoral thesis last week. We are very pleased with her excellent achievements and wish Ms. Felcht the very best for her future.


The power of the plantation

At the 35th Annual Conference of the Society for Caribbean Studies in Liverpool (UK) in July, Rebecca Fuchs will talk about the enduring  colonizing power of plantations in the Caribbean.

In her presentation she applies a concept of the Cuban critic Antonio Benítez-Rojo, who regards  the plantation as a machine ('máquina de la plantación'). This  machine comprises the diverse plantation economies and is a manifest of colonialism that continues to exist and still influences the present.

How can Caribbean societies tackle this influence? Literature offers one way of trying to come to terms with the violent history. It depicts its consequences but it also offers coping strategies, as Ms. Fuchs will show in her presentation. Using the example of Junot Díaz's novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao she discusses how the 'máquina de la plantación' can be deprived of its power.

For further details please read the presentation abstract.


Faces of the Caribbean

Lecture and reading by author and cultural ambassador Brenda Flanagan

May 18, 2011 / Time: 6:30 p.m. / Fuchs-Petrolub-Saal, Schloss O138

Caribbean literature, with some exceptions, is still relatively unknown in Europe. Now and then a novel turns into an international success and is then also published in German - recently one could name Junot Díaz whose novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao won the Pulitzer Prize in 2008.

But very often literature from the Antilles does not reach us, which is regrettable since the Caribbean is known to be a culturally diverse region. Due to its geographical location influences from all over the world converge there, which also manifests itself in the literary work of many authors.

We are all the more looking forward to welcoming the author Brenda Flanagan, who is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, on May 18th. Mrs. Flanagan, a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Department of State, will give a short lecture with the title "Possessing Women's Faces". In this lecture she will address the above-mentioned influences by discussing how the faces of women all over the world have affected her writing.

Subsequently, Mrs. Flanagan will read from some of her short stories and will then be available for all kinds of questions. Later on there will be opportunity for exchanging thoughts and getting an impression of the author's complete works while having a glass of wine. There will be a book table with copies of all published novels and short stories. The event will be in English. Admission is free.

For more information on the author please check the section 'Upcoming Events' on our website.

We kindly wish to thank ABSOLVENTUM and Bücher Bender for their support of the event.


CITY Talks

Ending her stay as a research scholar at York University, Melanie Pooch will give a lecture on Toronto as a 'cultural contact zone' at the City Institute on May 4th. Using the example of Dionne Brand's novel What We All Long For, she portrays the global city as a space of distinguishing transcultural diversity from a literary perspective. Besides the representation of this space and its meanings, Ms. Pooch also analyzes the interplay of the city and the people living there. Her lecture focuses on the group of immigrants and via their intergenerational comparison provides a temporal dimension. How does the (new) habitat Toronto challenge the first- and second-generation immigrants? And how do they influence the city? - Ms. Pooch's lecture targets these highly topical questions and their literary processing.


Call for Papers

Undeniably, life in the slums is seething, but what we are facing there, economically as well as culturally, is the downside of global realities. Sociologists as Zygmunt Baumann, Mike Davis and Loïc Wacquant therefore give warning of almost apocalyptic scenarios of the future: Globalization's processes of exclusion and discrimination will gradually increase the number of slums, the "dumps of modernity" ("Müllhalden der Moderne", Baumann). Media however seems to be keen on sustaining popular myths about the global slums, either by ignoring this moral scandal or by integrating it dialectically, relating it to the cultural economic mainstream.

Igor Krstic, stipendiary of the graduate program since September 2009, is editor of the issue "Media/Slums" of the journal Parapluie. If you wish to contribute to this issue, you should send your paper abstract to by July 2011. For further information please consult the call for papers.


Toronto, transculturally

Melanie Pooch's dissertation discusses global cities as creative centers. How do these cities translate their cultural heterogeneity into literature? Ms Pooch argues that the literary analysis of global cities should go beyond the formerly limited focus on national literature or the concentration on separate ethnic minorities. For her study she introduces the originally Latin American concept of transculturality. Her dissertation will show how and why the reciprocal relationship between transcultural diversity and literature constitutes an emerging issue in the urban studies of a globalizing world. The focal point is the description of a 'transcultural novel' set in the North American global cities of New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto.
Ms. Pooch will spend March and April in Toronto to gain further insight into the topic. She is a visiting scholar at York University and among other things will be giving a lecture as part of the CITY Talks series there.


Communication across borders?

Talk on March 16 in Mainz

networking nite is a platform for young professionals and all those interested in PR, marketing and other jobs in the field of communications. Its aim is to support the exchange between the various disciplines. The network's next event  is concerned with international PR and the public spheres of the global market.

One of the experts invited is Katharina Schroeder-Niederhacke, stipendiary at the graduate program since September 2009, who conducts research on PR strategies of international enterprises. Mrs. Schroeder-Niederhacke is a certified PR consultant with practical experience. Her talk „Grenzenlose Kommunikation? - Die Öffentlichkeitsarbeit globaler Unternehmen" (Communication across borders - On the Public Relations of global enterprises) discusses the differences between global and local communication. Which media are used? What is the conveyed message? And what is the intention behind all this?  To answer these questions Mrs. Schroeder-Niederhacke also takes into account the enterprises' perception of the global public sphere.

The event will take place on March 16 at 7.30 p.m. The venue is SCHOTT AG, Hattenbergstraße 10, 55122 Mainz. Only 35 participants will be admitted, so you should register as soon as possible by sending an e-mail to


Philosophy and popular culture

Empowerment, spiritual enrichment, personal growth, wealth, social status, fulfillment-all this is within reach; or so the self-help teachers tell us while flashing their white American smiles. These teachers are known in everyday language as "self-help gurus." Their alternative discourses and doctrines - their "commercial philosophy" - constitute a vital part of the discursive segment of a globalizing and commercial popular culture. That globalizing popular culture forms a challenge to the (modernistic) self-understanding of science and philosophy as leading culture and civilizing mankind. What is the proper role of philosophy within a society that is dominated by global commerce and pop culture? Eric Hendriks discusses this question in his recently published article:
"Filosofen en goeroes. Oog in oog met culturele mondialisering." In: Filosofie en Praktijk: Praktische Problemen in Filsofisch Perspectief. Fall 2010. Year 31, nr. 3.


Research on self-help in China

From February to August 2011, Eric Hendriks will be in Beijing, China, to conduct an empirical research of the role of self-help gurus in the Chinese mass media. His doctoral thesis as a whole studies the way the globalizing field of self-help discourses manifests itself in national public spheres, comparing the public spheres of Germany and China.
This spring, Eric Hendriks hopes to complete the Chinese case study, so that he can focus on Germany in the fall. In Beijing, he will systematically research the Internet for reports of self-help gurus who appear in the mass media. In addition, he will interview Chinese journalists and intellectuals who have a deeper understanding of the public role of self-help in China.