Time to Say Good-Bye

By Maria Moss and Sabrina Völz

Our first con­tri­bu­tion, “New Kids on the Blog,” was uploaded on Sep­tem­ber 8, 2014. We were excit­ed to try our hands at blog writ­ing, some­thing none of us had ever done before, at least not on a reg­u­lar basis. Used to writ­ing aca­d­e­m­ic papers, books, or book chap­ters, we at first found the new medi­um too cur­so­ry and maybe also too friv­o­lous, in short: not aca­d­e­m­ic enough. But we soon dis­cov­ered that “short” does not nec­es­sar­i­ly mean “not seri­ous” or “too super­fi­cial.” So slow­ly but sure­ly, we learned to love the short form, spiced up with images, video clips, pod­casts, and movie trail­ers. Soon, we start­ed recruit­ing writ­ers from across the globe, invit­ing them to share their views on U.S. his­to­ry, pol­i­tics, arts, and the media. Some of the con­tri­bu­tions were crit­i­cal of U.S. pol­i­tics, but most cel­e­brat­ed the U.S. for its cre­ative ener­gy, its inno­v­a­tive strength, and its abil­i­ty to con­stant­ly rejuvenate.

Occa­sion­al­ly, our blog assis­tants would try their hand at blog writ­ing. In the last few years, we couldn’t help but notice the gen­er­a­tional dif­fer­ences between us and our blog helpers and the inter­ests close to their hearts. Con­se­quent­ly, blogs start­ed to focus on fan­ta­sy films, dig­i­tal dis­trac­tions, and non-bina­ry and trans­gen­der identities.

One of the high­lights for us was recruit­ing and/or inter­view­ing award-win­ning authors such as Char­lene L. Edge, Salo­ma Miller Fur­long, Michael Led­er­er, Jayne Ann Philipps, Andrew Rid­ker, Drew Hay­den Tay­lor, and Ira Wagler.

Over­all, we pub­lished close to 400 blogs, which attract­ed read­ers from alto­geth­er 184 dif­fer­ent coun­tries! Our most faith­ful read­er­ship came from such diverse coun­tries as the U.S., fol­lowed by Ger­many, Chi­na, France, the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, Cana­da, and the Ukraine.

As one of our final tasks, we are cur­rent­ly prepar­ing the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Blog data for inclu­sion in the Leuphana Dig­i­tal Archive. After the process has been com­plet­ed, the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Blog will con­tin­ue to be avail­able to researchers and a wider pub­lic long after the cur­rent web­site disappears.

Although the ASB was one sig­nif­i­cant and vital con­stituent in Amer­i­can Stud­ies at Leuphana, North Amer­i­can Stud­ies will con­tin­ue with both the NAS pro­file in Com­ple­men­tary Stud­ies and our lec­ture series, “Maple Leaf & Stars and Stripes.” For talks dur­ing the com­ing fall semes­ter, please check out the poster:

Final­ly, our blog wouldn’t have been such a suc­cess with­out our faith­ful con­trib­u­tors and read­ers. Addi­tion­al­ly, we’d like to thank the Unit­ed States Embassy in Berlin for their gen­er­ous fund­ing. Last but not least, we ded­i­cate this final blog to Dr. Mar­ti­na Kohl for her unwa­ver­ing support.

We had 9 great years and hope you did, too!


It’s A Wrap: Beginning with Endings

By Maryann Henck

Pho­to Cred­it: Eri­ka G.

At the end of the semes­ter, I always like to include a wrap-up exer­cise for one final cre­ative writ­ing task: “It’s a Wrap” – which also seems to be a fit­ting way to say good­bye to the Amer­i­can Stud­ies Blog this Sep­tem­ber. Here’s how the task works:

  1. Select end­ings from nov­els or short sto­ries with­out reveal­ing the orig­i­nal source. These are some of my favorite choic­es:I real­ly, tru­ly wish he hadn’t said that. I keep think­ing about it. I can’t stop. I don’t have any­thing else to add. I just want­ed to make sure I had the last word. I think I’ve earned that. (Gone Girl by Gillian Fly­nn)

    “It’s because I’m con­cen­trat­ing on my the­sis, I don’t wor­ry about oth­er stuff. Nobody asked if Freud checked the use-by date on the milk.” “They didn’t have use-by dates in the ear­ly twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry.” It was incred­i­ble that two such dis­sim­i­lar peo­ple had become a suc­cess­ful cou­ple. (The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion)

    Through the win­dows a strange sub­ter­ranean light was ris­ing, bare­ly dis­tin­guish­able from dark­ness. I felt change far beneath me, mov­ing deep beneath the sur­face of things, like the plates of the earth blind­ly mov­ing in their black traces. I found my bag, and my car keys, and I let myself silent­ly out of the house. (Tran­sit by Rachel Cusk)

    …Also I’ve begun to feel he’s the only per­son who knows any­thing about me. Maybe because I’ve nev­er hit any­one else with a bot­tle, so they nev­er got to see that part of me. Nei­ther did I come to think of it. It did make a mess; but then, I don’t think I’ll ever be a very tidy per­son. (Lady Ora­cle by Mar­garet Atwood)

  2. Ask par­tic­i­pants to write a piece of short fic­tion (350–700 words) using the select­ed end­ing as a prompt for begin­ning their stories.
  3. Keep your promise and reveal the orig­i­nal lit­er­ary sources to your par­tic­i­pants once they’ve com­plet­ed the task.

In the fol­low­ing sto­ry, “Who’s Get­ting Crowned,” the end­ing from Alan Bennett’s The Uncom­mon Read­er inspired me to cre­ate a meet­ing between the Queen and her most loy­al sub­jects. Enjoy!

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Going Green with Gamified Learning: Advancing Sustainability through Interactive Learning

By Taieb Oussaifi and Torben Schmidt

As I com­pose this blog post, a dis­qui­et­ing real­i­ty is emerg­ing: record-break­ing tem­per­a­tures are soar­ing to unprece­dent­ed heights, thrust­ing the world into the clutch­es of dire reper­cus­sions. Touristy sites, once char­ac­ter­ized by pleas­ant tem­per­a­tures, have now mor­phed into a relent­less bat­tle­ground against cli­mate crises. The recent heat waves in South­ern Europe and North­ern Africa as well as the wild­fires in Cana­da and on Hawaii stand as an unequiv­o­cal reminder that cli­mate change rep­re­sents a seri­ous threat need­ing imme­di­ate and col­lec­tive action.

In light of these alarm­ing cir­cum­stances, the sig­nif­i­cance of sus­tain­abil­i­ty edu­ca­tion becomes all the more appar­ent in rais­ing aware­ness and equip­ping future gen­er­a­tions with the nec­es­sary knowl­edge and skills to com­bat cli­mate change’s esca­lat­ing tolls.

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Going to Hell and Back again: Good Omens

By Veronika M. Heinrich

Good Omens LogoHave you ever won­dered what it would be like if the writ­ers of a show gave their fans exact­ly what they wished for – and then broke their hearts?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m com­plete­ly amazed by sea­son 2 of the com­e­dy series, Good Omens. Ever since sea­son 4 of BBC’s Sher­lock, I lost my faith in showrun­ners who allowed queer­bait­ing and gaslight­ing. That is, until sea­son 2 of Good Omens came along. If you haven’t watched it yet, beware of spoilers!

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Behind the Scenes with Tom Hanks

By Sebastian Tants-Boestad

Do you love going to the movies? Do you enjoy watch­ing ‘Behind the Scenes’ clips and doc­u­men­taries? Do you like a good nov­el? If you can answer any of these ques­tions with yes, you should at least con­sid­er putting Tom Han­ks’ debut nov­el, The Mak­ing of Anoth­er Major Motion Pic­ture Mas­ter­piece, on your to-read pile. If you can answer all of them with yes, you should prob­a­bly go and read it right now. (But fin­ish this review first.)

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Dear Ocean Vuong, Your Writing Is Gorgeous

By Charlina Strelow

Is it okay to dog-ear or write in your books? This ques­tion remains a heat­ed top­ic among read­ers. I always thought it was stu­pid to care what oth­ers did with their books but pre­ferred to leave mine in their orig­i­nal state.

This all changed for me when I start­ed read­ing Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gor­geous. Vuong’s words were so beau­ti­ful­ly con­struct­ed that sim­ply read­ing them didn’t feel enough. I want­ed to force myself to linger. I want­ed to embrace the parts that had touched me, want­ed to firm­ly secure the pas­sages I’d lat­er return to.

Or, less dra­mat­i­cal­ly, I want­ed to mark my book.

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