All posts by Sebastian Reimann

Apollo 11 – An Alternate Universe

By Sibylle Machat

No, this blog post is not about con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries con­nect­ed to the Apol­lo pro­gram, Apol­lo 11, or the moon land­ing. Instead, it is about an alter­nate uni­verse in which the first moon land­ing had a less for­tu­nate end­ing, a “there but for the grace of god” in reverse.

The day: June 20, 1969, around 6 p.m. UTC (Coor­di­nat­ed Uni­ver­sal Time).

Neil Arm­strong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin have suc­cess­ful­ly land­ed on the moon, com­plet­ed their famous moon walk, tak­en pho­tographs, col­lect­ed about 20 kg worth of lunar rock and soil sam­ples, and have final­ly re-entered Eagle (as they named their lunar lan­der). They’ve slept for a good sev­en hours, and, now that they are both awake again, the time has come to lift off from the moon, to get back into lunar orbit, ren­dezvous with Colum­bia, where their crew­mate Michael Collins is await­ing their return, and to, ulti­mate­ly, head back to earth.

So Arm­strong and Aldrin fire the Eagle’s engine.

And … … … noth­ing happens.

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Banking Amish-Style

By Sabrina Völz

When my col­leagues and I start­ed this blog, I would have nev­er in a mil­lion years thought I would be writ­ing about a bank. But near­ly five years lat­er, here I am. I wouldn’t even be sur­prised if this sto­ry ends up as a case study in busi­ness text­books around the globe.

Pri­or to the Amish Con­fer­ence 2019 on Health & Well Being in Amish Soci­ety held recent­ly at Eliz­a­beth­town Col­lege in Penn­syl­va­nia, I went on the Amish Enter­prise Tour which intro­duced con­fer­ence par­tic­i­pants to Amish busi­ness­es in the area: Ruth Anna’s Gluten-Free (whole­sale) bak­ery, DS Stoves, and The Bank of Bird-in-Hand.

“The Gelt Bus” Pho­to cred­it: Sab­ri­na Völz

Today, farm land in areas, such as Lan­cast­er Coun­ty, heav­i­ly pop­u­lat­ed by var­i­ous Amish groups, is hard to come by and quite pricey. With an aver­age of 6 to 7 chil­dren per Amish fam­i­ly, farm­ing is no longer an option for every­one. Thus, more and more Amish, includ­ing women, are open­ing up their own cot­tage indus­tries and small busi­ness­es. Apart from reli­gious con­sid­er­a­tions that need to be nego­ti­at­ed with their church lead­er­ship, Amish entre­pre­neurs have encoun­tered sim­i­lar prob­lem to those of many peo­ple in main­stream soci­ety while start­ing small and mid-sized enter­pris­es. Branch banks found­ed in oth­er parts of the coun­try often do not seem to be inter­est­ed in small loans and fail to under­stand the local peo­ple and their ways.

In order to meet the needs of this seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion, 15 peo­ple, 10 of whom were Amish men, decid­ed their area need­ed a com­mu­ni­ty bank. So they did like the Amish do. They rolled up their sleeves and got to work. The Bank of Bird-in-Hand is the result of the joint ven­ture between Amish and non-Amish investors as well as pro­fes­sion­al bankers. The Gelt Bus (Penn­syl­va­nia Dutch for “Mon­ey Bus”) was only one of the adjust­ments to tra­di­tion­al bank­ing that had to be made.

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“Memories of Government Springs Park”

By Bobbie Kirkhart

Gov­ern­ment Springs Park was once the pride of Enid, Okla­homa. Dur­ing my child­hood, gov­ern­ment was con­sid­ered a good thing, so we often used that full name in admi­ra­tion. Today it’s usu­al­ly called sim­ply Springs Park. Every school child knew it had been a camp site on the old Chisholm Trail, the best known of the routes used to dri­ve cat­tle from Texas to the Kansas rail­roads after the Civ­il War.

Pho­to cred­it: Bill Robinson

It was a per­fect camp­ground: hills over­look­ing the flat land where the cat­tle grazed and, most impor­tant, the drink­ing water from nat­ur­al springs that fed the lake. These things also made a per­fect park for chil­dren: the flat land – then punc­tu­at­ed with unsafe but excit­ing wood­en swings, hand-oper­at­ed mer­ry-go-rounds, and see­saws – was great for run­ning. We could drink from the springs, at that time cor­ralled by a pipe. I’m sure the water was less than pure, but I nev­er knew any­one to get sick from it. We could climb the gen­tle hills to the swim­ming pool, and, on spe­cial occa­sions, my father would spring for a quar­ter to rent a row­boat to take us on the lake.

It was a child’s par­adise except that we could nev­er climb the steep­er hills on the south side of the lake. That was reserved for the “col­ored peo­ple,” as the oth­er two-thirds of the park was reserved for whites. I was curi­ous, as chil­dren are about any­thing for­bid­den, but nev­er dared to go. I under­stood my par­ents didn’t agree with the law, but it was the law, and argu­ing was not permitted.

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Introduction to Literature: Robert Coover’s “A Sudden Story”

By Sibylle Machat

Intro­duc­tion to Lit­er­a­ture. Fic­tion. The ses­sion on nar­ra­tive per­spec­tives – some­thing that teach­ers often love, but first year lit­er­a­ture stu­dents just as often dread (close to the hor­rors of met­ri­cal feet in poet­ry). Nev­er­the­less, the syl­labus calls for a dis­cus­sion of either Franz Stanzel’s nar­ra­tive sit­u­a­tions, Ger­ard Genette’s nar­ra­tion and focal­iza­tion, or both.

What can we do to make all of this at least a lit­tle exciting?

Sibylle Machat’s per­son­al copy of Robert Coover’s “A Sud­den Sto­ry.” In: Robert Shep­ard, Ed. Sud­den Fic­tion. Amer­i­can Short-Short Sto­ries. Gibb M. Smith: Lay­ton, 1986.

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American Studies Blog Contest

“pen_mesh_bw” by Sean Bid­dulph is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

As we approach the 5th anniver­sary of the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Blog (, we decid­ed to cel­e­brate by ask­ing you – our read­ers – to par­tic­i­pate in the joy­ful occa­sion of our first blog competition.

Although blog­ging has changed over the years, it’s still a great plat­form to voice your ideas and share con­tent with peo­ple around the world. Now choose a top­ic that fits into at least one of three zeit­geisty cat­e­gories and try your talents:

  • Access Amer­i­ca (Pop­u­lar Cul­ture, His­to­ry, and Cur­rent Events)
  • Best Books & Fab­u­lous Films (Reviews and More)
  • Teach­ing Tools (Tips, Tricks, and Tools of the Trade)

And remem­ber: The sky’s the limit.

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