Access America

Pop­u­lar Cul­ture, His­to­ry, and Cur­rent Events

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!


AI: Too Smart for Our Own Good?

By Michael Lederer

An essay ‘about’ AI, writ­ten ‘by’ AI. Maybe even ‘for’ AI? As my kids say, “Are we there yet?” It feels less like we’re cross­ing the Rubi­con, more like cross­ing the space-time man­i­fold. Our “Hal moment.” [Edi­tor’s note: Hal, the most infa­mous engi­neer­ing icon in literary/cinematic his­to­ry, who attempts to take over the space ship from the humans aboard.] Com­put­er both provider and con­sumer, what could go wrong? Read more »

The Environmental Impact of Filmmaking

By Jannik Schümann

Two things you should know about me that at first glance might have noth­ing in com­mon: First, I love to watch movies and series – to dive into oth­er worlds, to escape from real­i­ty, and just to have a good time. For me, there’s noth­ing bet­ter than going to the movies or lying on the couch on a rainy Sun­day, watch­ing a good movie, or bing­ing a series. I even play a piv­otal role in their cre­ation as I work as an actor myself. Sec­ond, I con­scious­ly try to live sus­tain­ably because what we con­sume or do has a direct impact on the world’s ecosys­tems. I don’t eat meat, I don’t dri­ve a car; instead, I use my bike or pub­lic trans­port. And I pay atten­tion to labels to sup­port com­pa­nies ded­i­cat­ed to sus­tain­able pro­duc­tion and fair wages for laborers.

Pho­to cred­it: Dominic Wunderlich

Two years ago, when I first read about the envi­ron­men­tal impact of film­mak­ing in The Guardian, I was shocked. I hadn’t real­ized that my love for movies and for my job could seri­ous­ly con­flict with my ded­i­ca­tion to the envi­ron­ment. Because the truth is: Block­buster films with bud­gets of over $70 mil­lion pro­duce an aver­age of 2,840 tons of CO2 per pro­duc­tion. That is equiv­a­lent to 11 one-way trips from the earth to the moon!

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Found in Translation

By Raul Quinque

Wish I could read this. Cred­it: Janayugam arti­cle on Soft­ware Free­dom & lan­guage Com­put­ing by Ani­var Aravind,

Full dis­clo­sure: I’ve writ­ten this blog on my behalf. Or in eigen­er Sache, as I would say in Ger­man. Is there a dif­fer­ence between the two expres­sions? Worlds, I would say, as some­one who is pre­oc­cu­pied with lan­guage trans­la­tion most days of the week. In light of the rapid pro­lif­er­a­tion and evo­lu­tion of machine-learn­ing trans­la­tors, here’s to what makes think­ing, speak­ing, and writ­ing with diverse lan­guages invalu­ably human.

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Thank You for Your Attention: Of the Unending Struggle with Digital Distractions

By Nina Preußler

How many hours have you already spent look­ing at a screen today? Nowa­days, the uni­ver­sal answer to this ques­tion seems to be “too much.” As the inter­net becomes more deeply ingrained in every aspect of our lives, it gets trick­i­er and trick­i­er to find respon­si­ble ways of engag­ing with the online world with­out get­ting lost in it. This issue became even more chal­leng­ing for many peo­ple dur­ing the pan­dem­ic. Researchers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, San Fran­cis­co, for exam­ple, found that young peo­ple now spend an aver­age of 7.7 hours of their dai­ly free time in front of screens – twice as much as they did pre-COVID. Why is the inter­net so wicked­ly tempt­ing, and how can we estab­lish health­i­er dig­i­tal habits?

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Historical Dreams and Dreaming History – From Virginia to Lüneburg

By Veronika M. Heinrich

When I start­ed study­ing at Leuphana Uni­ver­si­ty Lüneb­urg, I even­tu­al­ly went into the library and couldn’t help notice the quote by Thomas Jef­fer­son on the library stair­case. The words and pos­si­ble mean­ings were res­onat­ing with me. By study­ing here, I imag­ined, I can cre­ate a bet­ter future. No mat­ter how dark the past is, we can make the future brighter.
Now that a few semes­ters have passed, I recent­ly start­ed to ques­tion the quote. By only look­ing into the future, don’t we neglect the past? What kind of quote is this to put in a library, which basi­cal­ly con­sists of works of the past? Is there a deep­er mean­ing to why a quote by Thomas Jef­fer­son was cho­sen? And is it suit­able to put his words on our walls? What else is there to know about Jef­fer­son and his dreams for the future?
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