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Christmas Traditions in the U.S.
This year, the team of the American Studies Blog would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas by testing your knowledge of Christmas trivia. … Continue reading Christmas Traditions in the U.S.

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
As someone who regularly teaches creative non-fiction to university students, I’m always looking for new material. Earlier this year, I came across a highly acclaimed memoir … Continue reading Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover

Music to Last a Lifetime: The Reissue of The White Album
It was Easter Sunday 1969 and I was a boy. My parents had staged an Easter egg hunt in our garden, and I was searching beneath … Continue reading Music to Last a Lifetime: The Reissue of The White Album

Two Sides to Every Story – The Affair (2014-19)
Have you ever talked about a past event with someone who was involved in it and came to a point where you and that someone didn’t … Continue reading Two Sides to Every Story – The Affair (2014-19)

Democracy American Style
Although the midterm elections are already over, my German friends are still asking me what they are all about. They say that most Europeans don’t understand … Continue reading Democracy American Style

Thoughts of a Digital Alternative
Believe it or not, I’ve never owned a cell phone. This sentence coming from a toddler might not be that astounding, but coming from a middle-aged … Continue reading Thoughts of a Digital Alternative

Drew Hayden Taylor at Leuphana
From November 3 to 5, Canadian Anishnawbe author and playwright, Drew Hayden Taylor, will be giving talks in various seminars at Leuphana. Topics range from tools … Continue reading Drew Hayden Taylor at Leuphana

In a World Created by an Indigenous God: A Native Writer’s Take on Karl May’s Winnetou
It goes without saying that the Germans’ unrivalled fascination with the Native people of North America is not exactly a well-kept secret. Case in point: the … Continue reading In a World Created by an Indigenous God: A Native Writer’s Take on Karl May’s Winnetou

Aretha Franklin: Freedom, Respect, and the Moral Universe
Powerful and proud, Aretha Franklin’s music championed the ideas of freedom and dignity, making her voice an integral part of the Civil Rights Movement in the … Continue reading Aretha Franklin: Freedom, Respect, and the Moral Universe

BlacKkKlansman: A Much Too American Story
It is an interesting situation: a black cop infiltrates the Ku Klux Klan, the most storied white supremacist group in the United States. How could this … Continue reading BlacKkKlansman: A Much Too American Story

What’s your story? In two sentences or less…
People love stories. And apparently, they always have. Neuroscientists suggest our yearning for stories is rooted deeply in the human brain; supposedly stories even help us … Continue reading What’s your story? In two sentences or less…

National Comedy Center – It’s on THE Map!
When I started out as a teaching assistant at Syracuse University at the ripe old age of twenty, I instinctively knew I should get to know … Continue reading National Comedy Center – It’s on THE Map!

“My only sin is in my skin. What did I do to be so black and blue?”
The dizzying drum beats, bright, floating tones of a trumpet or sax; the thumping undercurrent of rhythmic bass; the lively bouncing piano – all energized by … Continue reading “My only sin is in my skin. What did I do to be so black and blue?”

Outhouse Races, Chocolate-Covered Deep Fried Cheesecake, and the Butter What? Nothing Compares to the Iowa State Fair
When tourists from all over the world plan their vacations to the United States, they often stick to tried and true places to visit: National parks, … Continue reading Outhouse Races, Chocolate-Covered Deep Fried Cheesecake, and the Butter What? Nothing Compares to the Iowa State Fair

“When you spot your flower, you can’t let anything get in your way”: Adaptation (2002)
Adaptation is an oldie but goodie with an excellent cast of characters. Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) is supposed to write a movie adaptation of Susan … Continue reading “When you spot your flower, you can’t let anything get in your way”: Adaptation (2002)

Connect-the-Cards: Making Academia Exciting while Fostering Critical Thinking Skills and Meaningful Conversation
Question and answer. Question and answer. Question and answer. And then silence. Lasting silence. It happens to the best of us. The routine of working with … Continue reading Connect-the-Cards: Making Academia Exciting while Fostering Critical Thinking Skills and Meaningful Conversation

1550 San Remo Drive
This almost Bauhaus-style villa, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, is located in beautiful Pacific Palisades, just off Sunset Blvd. In 2016, it went up for sale – … Continue reading 1550 San Remo Drive

“No, It’s Not Sissy Ball” – In Defense of Soccer
As most of you have probably noticed, the United States is not among the countries playing in the World Cup for the first time in 32 … Continue reading “No, It’s Not Sissy Ball” – In Defense of Soccer

Improv Workshop with Kieron Freigang: The Storytelling Circle
Cat got your tongue? Excuses, excuses. In the improvisation game, “The Storytelling Circle,” you’ve got to talk—right away and on the spot—whether you want to or … Continue reading Improv Workshop with Kieron Freigang: The Storytelling Circle

Living by the Watch: Stranger Than Fiction
Yes, ok. So the film is twelve years old? It’s funny and clever, and it features some of the best actors and actresses Hollywood has to … Continue reading Living by the Watch: Stranger Than Fiction

“How many years can a mountain exist?” Bob Dylan and the Civil Rights Movement
On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Martin Luther King Jr. touched thousands of people with his unforgettable “I have a Dream” speech on August 28, … Continue reading “How many years can a mountain exist?” Bob Dylan and the Civil Rights Movement

The “Deep Story” of the White American South, or Strangers in Their Own Land (2016) by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Part II)
After the general introduction to Hochschild’s treatise last week, let us now pursue a deeper analysis. The “deep story” of the Tea Party movement in red … Continue reading The “Deep Story” of the White American South, or Strangers in Their Own Land (2016) by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Part II)

The ‘Deep Story’ of the White American South, or Strangers in Their Own Land (2016) by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Part I)
In January 2017, I listened to an interview with UC Berkeley sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild on National Public Radio about her New York Times bestseller. But … Continue reading The ‘Deep Story’ of the White American South, or Strangers in Their Own Land (2016) by Arlie Russell Hochschild (Part I)

The Many Worlds of Rick and Morty
Imagine you get home and see a bunch of your friends, let’s say friends whose taste in films and shows you usually trust, watching a show. … Continue reading The Many Worlds of Rick and Morty

Why You Should Read Gerald Vizenor’s Upcoming Novel Native Tributes
  “I write emotive stories about Natives who have been absent in history.” (Gerald Vizenor, personal interview)   Gerald Vizenor’s historical novel, Native Tributes, will be … Continue reading Why You Should Read Gerald Vizenor’s Upcoming Novel Native Tributes

Erich Mühsam and the Berlin Idea Factory
Erich Mühsam (1878-1934) was a German-Jewish antimilitarist anarchist essayist, poet, and playwright. I can check most of those boxes. I tried anarchy in my 20s; it … Continue reading Erich Mühsam and the Berlin Idea Factory

When the News Was True: The Post
Newspapers always make good movies: the dare-devil reporter, the overachieving assistant, and the crusty editor up against the power of a dishonest government. There is wonderful … Continue reading When the News Was True: The Post

An Earth-Day-and-World-Book-Day Bloem
Nature doesn’t really care whether there are human beings or not. I’m sorry to break this to you. – Margaret Atwood I’m not sure what I … Continue reading An Earth-Day-and-World-Book-Day Bloem

“Who’s Afraid of a Shower Curtain?” How Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Changed the Movie Industry and our Bathroom Habits
“Give them pleasure. The same pleasure they have when they wake up from a nightmare.” Alfred Hitchcock                             A beautiful blonde woman takes a relaxing shower, … Continue reading “Who’s Afraid of a Shower Curtain?” How Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho Changed the Movie Industry and our Bathroom Habits

Cozy Horror – Stranger Things
The title font, reminiscent of 1980s horror-thriller novels, buzzes over the flat screen TV or laptop monitor to the eerily pulsating beat of electronic music. We … Continue reading Cozy Horror – Stranger Things

If You’re a Star…
 “If you’re a star, they’ll let you do it,” Donald Trump explained in his boastful account of casual assault on women. This rant, known as the … Continue reading If You’re a Star…

Hidden Figures: A Highly Entertaining Film that Means Well but Doesn’t Quite Add Up
As many of you might know, Hidden Figures (2016) is a biopic directed by Theodore Melfi based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s popular history book and New … Continue reading Hidden Figures: A Highly Entertaining Film that Means Well but Doesn’t Quite Add Up

How the “Ping” Was Heard Round the World
During the spring of 1971, 19-year-old American table tennis player, Glenn Cowan, wrapped up his training session in Nagoya (Japan) in order to prepare for the … Continue reading How the “Ping” Was Heard Round the World

English Lesson 2.0
For most students, exposure to the English language is largely restricted to the chalky classroom and – outside the classroom – to watching movies or series … Continue reading English Lesson 2.0

Archie Reloaded – Riverdale
“Our story is about a town. A small town. And the people who live in that town” are the first words we hear on Riverdale (2017 … Continue reading Archie Reloaded – Riverdale

Under Dark Skies: A Review Essay
On Friday, October 16, our group of five – two master students, three bachelor students, and I – set out from the Institute of English and … Continue reading Under Dark Skies: A Review Essay

Star Wars – The Last Jedi: No Light without Darkness?
“A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” The bright blue letters appear on the big black screen. Reverent silence fills the movie theater. … Continue reading Star Wars – The Last Jedi: No Light without Darkness?

A New Public Hanging? Sam Durant’s Scaffold
In 2017, just five years after a Minnesota art exhibition marked the 150th anniversary of the 1862 hanging of 38 Dakota Sioux men at Mankato, that … Continue reading A New Public Hanging? Sam Durant’s Scaffold

The Most Romantic Night of the Year?
On October 28, the Hallmark Channel launched its annual “Countdown to Christmas.” During the eight weeks before Christmas, the channel will broadcast 21 original movies that … Continue reading The Most Romantic Night of the Year?

The Pursuit of (Un)happiness
BoJack Horseman (voice by Will Arnett) is a long-faced, washed-up Hollywood star whose career ended two decades ago, along with his Nineties sitcom, Horsin’ Around. Since … Continue reading The Pursuit of (Un)happiness

Tweet Me a Story:
Twiction – The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

One week before Christmas and no gift in sight? Allow me to assist you out of your plight For who really wants one more thoughtless gift? … Continue reading Tweet Me a Story:
Twiction – The Perfect Stocking Stuffer

From Comma-kazi to Comma-Sutra: Or You Too Can Learn to Love Commas
Grammar doesn’t tend to be a topic that students are enthused about. Whenever I mention it, many of my students roll their eyes. To really get … Continue reading From Comma-kazi to Comma-Sutra: Or You Too Can Learn to Love Commas

Topping off Thanksgiving Traditions: Turkey with Cranberry Sauce
Thanksgiving is a day for spending time with family and friends as well as sharing culinary delights, such as turkey, dressing (a Mid-Western word for stuffing), … Continue reading Topping off Thanksgiving Traditions: Turkey with Cranberry Sauce

American Hustle
“As far as I could see, people were always conning each other to get what they wanted. We even con ourselves. We talk ourselves into things. … Continue reading American Hustle

Love no more? Catalonia and Spain
CADAQUÉS, Catalonia, Spain – Dispatch from Spain’s Cold Civil War. Speaker of the U.S. House Tip O’Neill once said, “All politics are local.” In today’s world, … Continue reading Love no more? Catalonia and Spain

Sexual Harassment in the 21st Century – Really?
If it wasn’t enough that American TV icon and educator Bill Cosby was accused of sexual assault, rape, and battery – to name a few of … Continue reading Sexual Harassment in the 21st Century – Really?

Escaping Fundamentalism: An Interview with Charlene L. Edge (Part II)
After last week’s introduction to the seductive power of the fundamentalist cult “The Way International” and the practice of speaking in tongues, in this installment, readers … Continue reading Escaping Fundamentalism: An Interview with Charlene L. Edge (Part II)

Escaping Fundamentalism: An Interview with Charlene L. Edge (Part I)
In her award-winning book Undertow, Charlene Edge dissects her past as a long-time member of one of the largest fundamentalist cults in the United States, “The … Continue reading Escaping Fundamentalism: An Interview with Charlene L. Edge (Part I)

Beatriz at Dinner: Comedy, Tragedy, Portrait?
We first see Beatriz (Salma Hayek) going through morning chores, feeding her dogs, and lighting a candle for deceased loved ones, including her dead goat. She’s … Continue reading Beatriz at Dinner: Comedy, Tragedy, Portrait?

Teaching Feminism
All teachers remember moments when they were caught off guard in front of a group of students. I remember a few years ago, in a class … Continue reading Teaching Feminism

9/11 – The Only Plane in the Sky
The attacks on the World Trade Center as well as the Pentagon in September 2001, dubbed 9/11, were a major news event. As is the case … Continue reading 9/11 – The Only Plane in the Sky

Look Homeward, Amish Son: Ira Wagler’s Journey between Amish and “English” Worlds
What is it like to grow up in an Old Order Amish community? Can the allure of tradition and a sense of belonging to such a … Continue reading Look Homeward, Amish Son: Ira Wagler’s Journey between Amish and “English” Worlds

Safety First!
Many of you might remember Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio together on the big screen, surrounded by water and ice. While “Rose” whispers last words of … Continue reading Safety First!

Mary Kay and Johnny – America’s First TV Sitcom
For the past decades, sitcoms have been omnipresent in our everyday lives. On TV, in magazines, or on the Internet – it’s hard to escape the … Continue reading Mary Kay and Johnny – America’s First TV Sitcom

Winnetou Rides Again
After a dozen trips or more to Deutschland, I can officially say I consider Germany to be my home away from home. Each visit reunites me … Continue reading Winnetou Rides Again

Watch and Write! Writing the TV Drama Series
  “To create a television show out of thin air, without anybody paying you, requires a certain amount of delusion, and that’s taken me very far.” … Continue reading Watch and Write! Writing the TV Drama Series

Lessons not Learned
There is a wonderful spot west of the city of Frankfurt in Germany. It’s in an area well known for its excellent white wine, its charming … Continue reading Lessons not Learned

Transgenerational Transmission of Holocaust Memories and Survival: An Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Ethan Bensinger (Part II)
The following is the second part of an interview with film director Ethan Bensinger in which he answers questions about the challenges of making his prize-winning … Continue reading Transgenerational Transmission of Holocaust Memories and Survival: An Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Ethan Bensinger (Part II)

Transgenerational Transmission of Holocaust Memories and Survival: An Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Ethan Bensinger (Part I)
When I first invited film director Ethan Bensinger to come to Leuphana University Lüneburg, I knew that 2015 would be a special year for Holocaust commemoration. … Continue reading Transgenerational Transmission of Holocaust Memories and Survival: An Interview with Documentary Filmmaker Ethan Bensinger (Part I)

Clap & Freeze: A Recipe for Instant Drama
ooking for a quick-paced impromptu improv game? How about a round of “Clap & Freeze” – a fun-filled game for honing your verbal and non-verbal acting … Continue reading Clap & Freeze: A Recipe for Instant Drama

AWP: In Love with Words, at a Loss for Words
Writers are a special breed. Constantly shifting through their perception of the environment with detailed attention, they store and analyze any piece of information on the … Continue reading AWP: In Love with Words, at a Loss for Words

Hiking in the Anthropocene
This past fall, my travels and work obligations had me fly into Calgary. I took the opportunity to spend five additional days in spots I consider … Continue reading Hiking in the Anthropocene

Literature Circles Rock!
As we all know, more and more adults are reading less and less in their free time. That’s not a judgment, just a fact. Budding bookworms … Continue reading Literature Circles Rock!

A New National Holiday – A Riddle
By all rights, I should be a national holiday in the United States. I am not as politically incorrect as Columbus Day which Native Americans are … Continue reading A New National Holiday – A Riddle

School Ties
It’s 1955. David Greene (Brendan Fraser), a Jewish boy from a working class family, leaves his home, the industrial city of Scranton, Pennsylvania, to go to … Continue reading School Ties

Writing Life: From Theory to Practice
Storytelling is as old as human civilization itself and fulfills a human need. In societies, in which education is becoming more commodified, students do not only … Continue reading Writing Life: From Theory to Practice

White Robes, Silver Screens: An Interview with Tom Rice (Part 2)
In this section of the interview, Tom Rice talks more about his book, the symbolism surrounding the Klan, and the rumors about the Klan’s alleged connection … Continue reading White Robes, Silver Screens: An Interview with Tom Rice (Part 2)

White Robes, Silver Screens: An Interview with Tom Rice
Tom Rice is Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of St Andrews and the author of White Robes, Silver Screens: Movies and the Making … Continue reading White Robes, Silver Screens: An Interview with Tom Rice

Do you really want to live Forever?
Dr. Henry Morgan (Ioan Gruffudd) is British, works as a medical examiner for the New York Police Department, and likes scarves and classical music. Oh, he … Continue reading Do you really want to live Forever?

The Arrival of the Aliens
The limits of my language mean the limits of my world. – Ludwig Wittgenstein   Does time only flow in a continuum? Does a sentence have … Continue reading The Arrival of the Aliens

Don Don’t Take No Mess: Don Cornelius and His Very Own Soul Train Mission
  Brown:        Brother, who’s backin’ you                       on this? Cornelius:   James, it’s just me. Brown:        Brother, who’re you … Continue reading Don Don’t Take No Mess: Don Cornelius and His Very Own Soul Train Mission

Voting Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow
After yet another election season with a number of glitches, the problems with America’s voting system have been all over the news once again. Will the … Continue reading Voting Rights: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

From Ronald to Donald: The Inaugural Speeches of Reagan and Trump
“Make America Great Again.” Again. Despite what the media coverage lead us to fear, the world did not end with the election of Donald Trump as … Continue reading From Ronald to Donald: The Inaugural Speeches of Reagan and Trump

Eye of the Storm
History never crawls or walks. It runs. Sometimes silently as if on the softer sands of time. Sometimes we can hear its footsteps louder as they … Continue reading Eye of the Storm

Salvage
Tommy’s parents wave from the porch as our minivan pulls up. His dad smiles, and that’s when I see he’s missing about half of his teeth. … Continue reading Salvage

The ‘D’ Word
Recently, I read a highly acclaimed novel written by Lisa Genova, a Ph.D. in neuroscience. Her first book, Still Alice (2009), chronicles the descent into Alzheimer’s … Continue reading The ‘D’ Word

Reconciliation with the Dakota Sioux in Mankato
Everyone reading this blog has seen monuments to historical events or national heroes. But how many of you have seen a memorial to a mass hanging? … Continue reading Reconciliation with the Dakota Sioux in Mankato

Reindeer Games (2000): A Review
If the film Reindeer Games doesn’t ring a bell – a Christmas bell – it’s not surprising. This isn’t the kind of film that would inspire … Continue reading Reindeer Games (2000): A Review

How to Haiku Part Two
A long journey ends when farmers grab their rifles wolves in Germany   Remember the Haiku rules from last week? If not, check here. As opposed … Continue reading How to Haiku Part Two

How to Haiku
I finally know why students don’t like Haikus too many syllables Ooops, something went wrong – right: the last line. It has 6 syllables but should … Continue reading How to Haiku

Getting to Know You
y university school days – at least on the student side of the desk – are two decades past now, but I daresay this story is … Continue reading Getting to Know You

The Road
Several years after a catastrophic event has destroyed all of America’s – and maybe the whole world’s – flora and fauna, a father (Viggo Mortensen) and … Continue reading The Road

Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir: A Review
The 1990s rang in an – if not the – era of memoir writing. Since then, memoir publications have surged and with them their readership as … Continue reading Mary Karr’s The Art of Memoir: A Review

Laughing about Melissa McCarthy – Thoughts of a Conflicted Fan
Ever since I saw her as Sookie St. James in Gilmore Girls (2000–2007), I’ve been a fan of the actress Melissa McCarthy. She was one of … Continue reading Laughing about Melissa McCarthy – Thoughts of a Conflicted Fan

To Boldly Go
Okay, I am going to have to out myself here seeing that it’s the 50th anniversary. I am a trekkie! I grew up with Captain Kirk, … Continue reading To Boldly Go

Walking on Cape Cod
Cape Cod has been on my list of travel destinations for quite some time. What connects me to the Cape’s outermost beaches of Massachusetts are Henry … Continue reading Walking on Cape Cod

Adding Color to White Marble: The National Museum of African American History and Culture
The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), established by an Act of Congress in 2003, opened its doors to the public on Sept. … Continue reading Adding Color to White Marble: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Following Convention (or Political Mathematics)
The political parties spend countless hours planning their conventions. This is, after all, four nights of free advertising and their first chance to introduce their candidates … Continue reading Following Convention (or Political Mathematics)

Eyes Open – Eyes Closed
Even if I am not able to remember the pitter-patter of my little feet on the rug-covered hardwood floor anymore, I still recall this comfortable feeling … Continue reading Eyes Open – Eyes Closed

The Last Tycoon: The Golden Age of Hitler’s Hollywood
ollywood, 1936: Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), co-founder of the Brady American film studio, has just begun shooting a film about – and dedicated to – his … Continue reading The Last Tycoon: The Golden Age of Hitler’s Hollywood

Memorial Service
Recently, I attended a memorial service for an old friend. Peg had led a long and accomplished life before her final years of excruciating pain and … Continue reading Memorial Service

This is a (M)ad Men’s World
1960: Donald Draper (Jon Hamm) holds a high position in a renowned New York advertising agency, has an ex-model wife he calls “Betts” (January Jones), two … Continue reading This is a (M)ad Men’s World

New World vs. Old World Flipped
As an American writer living in Germany, I care deeply for both countries. It is a strange time to do so, as powers-that-be in Germany and … Continue reading New World vs. Old World Flipped

Art meets Life: An Interview with Ex-Amish Author Saloma Miller Furlong – Part II
In the second half of the interview, we turn our attention to Saloma Miller Furlong’s Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two World (2014), the … Continue reading Art meets Life: An Interview with Ex-Amish Author Saloma Miller Furlong – Part II

Art meets Life: An Interview with Ex-Amish Author Saloma Miller Furlong
Saloma Miller Furlong is author of the ex-Amish serial memoirs, Why I Left the Amish (2011) and Bonnet Strings: An Amish Woman’s Ties to Two Worlds … Continue reading Art meets Life: An Interview with Ex-Amish Author Saloma Miller Furlong

Dust
Dust. The first thing he noticed was the hot, dry air and the dust creeping through the tiny slit between his mask and pali scarf. He … Continue reading Dust

“In the Hands of Babes”
At family gatherings, my sister likes to tell the story of a time when the men and boys in her family were going out target shooting. … Continue reading “In the Hands of Babes”

Grave New World: The Man in the High Castle
It’s no surprise that the advertisement campaign done in late 2015 for a then upcoming Amazon Studios’ series was considered a provocation and had to be … Continue reading Grave New World: The Man in the High Castle

Live Long and Make Bannock
A million years ago when I was a child, I was always fascinated by what could be. I think this was primarily because I was surrounded … Continue reading Live Long and Make Bannock

Nothing New on the Western Frontier
Even though in folklore the term revenant stands for a being that has returned from the dead, the recent award-winning movie The Revenant (2015), directed by … Continue reading Nothing New on the Western Frontier

Many are Called …
We’re in the middle of the presidential primaries, elections that determine the delegates to the party conventions as well as the platform and the eventual nominee … Continue reading Many are Called …

Inquisitive Minds Want to Know: A Mixed Bag of Questions for Ira Wagler – Part II
If you missed the previous blog, then click here. Last week, we left off with Ira Wagler talking about the difficulty of writing Growing Up Amish. … Continue reading Inquisitive Minds Want to Know: A Mixed Bag of Questions for Ira Wagler – Part II

Inquisitive Minds Want to Know: A Mixed Bag of Questions for Ira Wagler – Part I
Questions. Questions. There are always questions, especially when dealing with the Old Order Amish. And questions there were – plenty of questions – following The New … Continue reading Inquisitive Minds Want to Know: A Mixed Bag of Questions for Ira Wagler – Part I

Welche language habla twój voisin?
hen I walk through my hometown, what do I hear? Traffic noises, the sounds of nature, animals humming, barking, and chirping. And of course, I hear … Continue reading Welche language habla twój voisin?

Damsels Causing Distress
Yes, you read correctly. I got the title right. You were probably expecting ‘Damsels in Distress’ so let’s look at that classic theme in literature first. … Continue reading Damsels Causing Distress

Gone Girl
“What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?” Boy loses girl — … Continue reading Gone Girl

Celebrating African American History Month with Claytee White
Claytee White, Inaugural Director of the Oral History Research Center for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Libraries, spontaneously granted us an interview about the collection … Continue reading Celebrating African American History Month with Claytee White

The Oscars – Not in Color This Year
There’s always suspense at the Oscars, but this year edge-of-the-seat tension will be greater than it has ever been. There is interest, of course, in who … Continue reading The Oscars – Not in Color This Year

Midnight in Paris: Somewhen, Somewhere, Someway
Gil Pender (Owen Wilson) is a successful Hollywood screenwriter, lives in Beverly Hills, and has a beautiful fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams). And yet, life feels a … Continue reading Midnight in Paris: Somewhen, Somewhere, Someway

The U.S.A. – A Country You Think You Know But Just Might Not
In his first speech as President-elect of the United States, Senator Barack Obama uttered the famous words which became the soundbite echoed across the world: “Change has … Continue reading The U.S.A. – A Country You Think You Know But Just Might Not

“Art comes out of desire in the face of indifference”: An Interview with lê thi diem thúy
By Maryann Henck, Maria Moss, and Sabrina Völz When lê thi diem thúy (pronounced “twee”) visited Leuphana University this past May, not only did our students … Continue reading “Art comes out of desire in the face of indifference”: An Interview with lê thi diem thúy

What German Students Taught an American Author
If it were up to me, American high school and college students would spend a mandatory year living abroad before a degree of any kind is … Continue reading What German Students Taught an American Author

Reversing the Gaze
– Injun Joe Meets Esperanza

I wrote this piece for a seminar called “Reversing the Gaze.” The idea was to write about difference and the challenging of stereotypes, so I tried … Continue reading Reversing the Gaze
– Injun Joe Meets Esperanza

“Music is the axe for the
frozen sea within us”

The American jazz queen, Melody Gardot, is still eager to explore the world around her, but her focus has changed and been narrowed down to her … Continue reading “Music is the axe for the
frozen sea within us”

Opting Out of a Test and into a Movement
Imagine a child that does not show up on exam day or shows up and refuses to take the exam. The child is not reprimanded by … Continue reading Opting Out of a Test and into a Movement

We’ve Got Steampunk
You’ve never heard of it? Seriously? This subculture – which has everything from music, fashion, and literature to LARPs (live action role plays), conventions and even … Continue reading We’ve Got Steampunk

Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Must Not Fail
On the occasion of the Stop TTIP demonstration with 250,000 protestors in Berlin on October 10, 2015, President Mario Ohoven of the Association of Small and … Continue reading Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) Must Not Fail

Nature’s Craft: The Aesthetics and Design of The Great Camps of the Adirondacks
“An Adirondack camp does not mean a canvas tent or a bark wigwam, but a permanent summer home where the fortunate owners assemble for several weeks … Continue reading Nature’s Craft: The Aesthetics and Design of The Great Camps of the Adirondacks

Linking Teacher Training and New Media: The Teaching America Project Revisited
A year and a half has passed since the Teaching America project at Leipzig University’s American Studies Department has entered the practical phase, and a lot … Continue reading Linking Teacher Training and New Media: The Teaching America Project Revisited

An Encounter at Canyon de Chelly
It was a clear and sunny day in early April when we arrived with a student group at Canyon de Chelly (pronounced dəˈʃeɪ/ or də·shā′). We had … Continue reading An Encounter at Canyon de Chelly

If it’s Tuesday, it Must be Cold War Again
“May you live in interesting times.” Many Americans coming to Europe are lured by the romance: fountains in Rome, cafés in Paris, Spanish guitars, the cool … Continue reading If it’s Tuesday, it Must be Cold War Again

The Son-in-Law
A flutter of anxiety shook Mina as she heard her husband Majid and their son-in-law Donald in the backyard, talking in not quite agreeable tones. “Stop, … Continue reading The Son-in-Law

Like Father, Like Son
Rand Paul emulates his father in almost every way. Almost. :: Ron Paul is a physician; Rand Paul is a physician. :: Dad was in the … Continue reading Like Father, Like Son

The Confederate Flag Controversy
American Studies Blog: Professor Goldfield, in 2013 you published a widely acclaimed book, Still Fighting the Civil War: The American South and Southern History. Even the … Continue reading The Confederate Flag Controversy

The “It’s Not What You Might Think” Blog—Part II
For those of you who missed Part I, click here. Last week, we left off with Cheryl Strayed’s long description of herself. . . . It … Continue reading The “It’s Not What You Might Think” Blog—Part II

The “It’s Not What You Might Think” Blog—Part I
After hearing that the travelogue Wild by Cheryl Strayed was made into a movie, I thought about picking up a copy of the book and investigating … Continue reading The “It’s Not What You Might Think” Blog—Part I

The Chameleon: W. C. Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow”
Studying poetry at school or at university often seemed boring at best and senseless at worst. Until last fall semester, it had never occurred to me … Continue reading The Chameleon: W. C. Williams’ “The Red Wheelbarrow”

The Stick Jar: One Tool – Many Uses
Imagine the following situation: You want your students to read out their results, but you are running low on time. Your students are highly motivated, and … Continue reading The Stick Jar: One Tool – Many Uses

GOP Candidates Go Double Digits – A Problem or a Blessing in Disguise?
Before we get to our topic at hand, let’s get out that Karaoke mic and get ready to sing a song to the tune of “Ten … Continue reading GOP Candidates Go Double Digits – A Problem or a Blessing in Disguise?

The Woman in the Pants Suit
Hillary Clinton is a strong, pragmatic politician. Moderately hawkish, she cast a meaningless vote to support the Iraq War, which she now regrets—though she still proclaims … Continue reading The Woman in the Pants Suit

Where are they going? Where have they been? – The Plain People
The scene is July 4, 2012. 8:56 p.m. Ira Wagler sends an e-mail halfway across the world, answering an inquiry from a university instructor in Germany … Continue reading Where are they going? Where have they been? – The Plain People

Wandering Home:
Folk, Americana, and Inside Llewyn Davis

The Coen Brothers have made it their mission to tell us an American story. Not the American story but rather a singular and sometimes beautiful story. … Continue reading Wandering Home:
Folk, Americana, and Inside Llewyn Davis

Cheerleading – More Than Pom-Poms and a Big Smile?
If images of blonde girls shaking their pom-poms and yelling at football games pop into your mind when you hear the word “cheerleading,” then you might … Continue reading Cheerleading – More Than Pom-Poms and a Big Smile?

Hi, my name is Wolfram and I am a Dropbox user.
Dropbox is awesome. It is not only a great tool for students to organize the flood of documents that pile up while doing group work, but it is also great for teachers. If you are not a … Continue reading Hi, my name is Wolfram and I am a Dropbox user.

From Spring Fever Ad Nauseam to Columbus Day
I might be preaching to the choir here, but everyone knows that teachers are pressed for time. And I am sure you are, too. Recently, I … Continue reading From Spring Fever Ad Nauseam to Columbus Day

Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home
Director Ethan Bensinger’s Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home appeared in 2012. The next three years saw this 60-minute documentary on Holocaust survivors amassing one award … Continue reading Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home

Mother Love
Bijan woke to the voice of the muezzin calling people to prayers, fell asleep again, and then woke to his mother’s quiet voice in the living … Continue reading Mother Love

The Window as Mirror
Look through a window and we see the world outside. Change of focus, and we can see ourselves reflected in that same window. As an American … Continue reading The Window as Mirror

Going Green in the U.S.? Yes!
General perception has it that Americans do not care about the environment. But did you know that according to the Gallup Poll in March 2014, 80% … Continue reading Going Green in the U.S.? Yes!

God at the Bank
We were the only two waiting in the New Accounts section in the bank. For us gregarious Americans, this is a slightly awkward situation. In most … Continue reading God at the Bank

“My feets is tired, but my soul is rested” – A Meditation on International Women’s Day
“Mommy, mommy. The other mothers are all unemployed,” were the first words out of my son’s mouth as he darted toward our car. Not exactly the … Continue reading “My feets is tired, but my soul is rested” – A Meditation on International Women’s Day

Wild
Walking 1,100 miles in one consecutive hike with a heavy backpack – really heavy, so heavy that you can hardly stand, let alone walk – might not … Continue reading Wild

A Reading with Teju Cole
American writer Teju Cole reads from his novel, Open City (2011) at the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. In this award-winning first-person narrative, Cole recounts the story of … Continue reading A Reading with Teju Cole

The Butler
It’s February, African American History Month in the U.S. So let’s look at a fabulous film that depicts a young black man and his powerful, but … Continue reading The Butler

RAGBRAI: Take the Ride of Your Life
For those of you who missed it, the 2013 conference theme of the American Studies Association of Germany held in Erlangen was “Rural America.” As someone … Continue reading RAGBRAI: Take the Ride of Your Life

Couch Conversations with William H. New – An Impromptu Interview
CHARACTERS WILLIAM H. NEW   renowned Canadian lit crit and author (as himself) INTERVIEWER 1      Sabrina Völz INTERVIEWER 2      Maria Moss INTERVIEWER 3      Maryann Henck   UNIVERSITY … Continue reading Couch Conversations with William H. New – An Impromptu Interview

Is Serial Over? A New Phenomenon on Public Radio
If you read beyond news stories about the aftermath of Ferguson, the killing of two NYPD police officers, and conjectures about the 2016 presidential race, something … Continue reading Is Serial Over? A New Phenomenon on Public Radio

A Supporting Role for Tom Hanks and Community Colleges
President Obama has proposed to make the first two years of community colleges (CC) free, and Tom Hanks thinks it’s a good idea. His New York … Continue reading A Supporting Role for Tom Hanks and Community Colleges

Apples Having a Ball
Last Saturday, I stood in a long line to buy apples. Bored as I was, I looked at the apples on display: Gravenstein, Elstar, Braeburn, Pink … Continue reading Apples Having a Ball

Marketing and Performing History
As far as I can tell, history has a bit of an image problem among future English teachers. It does not seem to be one of … Continue reading Marketing and Performing History

Don Quixote Saving America
You know what tribe I belong to? Put your hand on a table. Now hit it with a rock. If it hurts, then you and I … Continue reading Don Quixote Saving America

Expatriate Life through the Lens of a Third Culture Kid: Home Leave by Brittani Sonnenberg
Allow TCK, journalist, and fiction writer Brittani Sonnenberg take you on a transnational adventure in her debut novel, Home Leave. Listen to the reading that took place … Continue reading Expatriate Life through the Lens of a Third Culture Kid: Home Leave by Brittani Sonnenberg

The Ultimate Christmas Movie Playlist
Ah, Christmas! The holidays are around the corner, and this means a combination of an incredible amount of delicious food (don’t we all love Grandma’s cooking?!) … Continue reading The Ultimate Christmas Movie Playlist

Various Varieties: How to Teach English Accents
I recently noticed that whenever I read a book there is a voice inside my head. It’s my own voice. Me talking – or rather thinking … Continue reading Various Varieties: How to Teach English Accents

The Chat(ter) Box Interview with Drew Hayden Taylor
Drew Hayden Taylor is an award-winning Canadian Ojibway author of plays, short stories, novels, and critical essays. He has lectured worldwide on a variety of Native issues … Continue reading The Chat(ter) Box Interview with Drew Hayden Taylor

12 Years a Slave
When Salomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) accepts a two-week job offer as a musician from two white men with whom he travels from Upstate New York to … Continue reading 12 Years a Slave

Marijuana in America: Election Night at the Pot Shop
Earlier this week, a state appeals court in Michigan ruled that a prosecutor’s “personal diatribe” in court against that state’s medical marijuana law spoiled a conviction … Continue reading Marijuana in America: Election Night at the Pot Shop

Lonely
I wrote the short story “Lonely” in one of my university seminars. It was meant to be an assignment. Just an assignment. But my professor convinced … Continue reading Lonely

Of Conceptual Haunts and Tacit Assumptions:
A Current Take on Multiculturalism

On January 9, 2014, Berndt Ostendorf, Professor Emeritus of North American Cultural History at the Amerika-Institut, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, gave a talk on “The Rise and Fall … Continue reading Of Conceptual Haunts and Tacit Assumptions:
A Current Take on Multiculturalism

Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Nation, Arizona
I first came across White House Ruin in Canyon de Chelly (pronounced dəˈʃeɪ or də·shā′) in N. Scott Momaday’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, House Made of … Continue reading Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Nation, Arizona

U.S. Election Day Results
As you may have heard, the results from this year’s mid-term elections are quite clear: control of both the Senate and the House of Representatives will … Continue reading U.S. Election Day Results

B.Y.O.B. – Bring Your Own Bag
Americans have never paid for grocery bags – paper or plastic. Markets would even double-bag on request. No charge. Hence, we were slow to observe that … Continue reading B.Y.O.B. – Bring Your Own Bag

An Early Halloween Treat – Patricia Briggs at Leuphana
Halloween arrived early at Leuphana this year – to be precise around the end of May. That is when best-selling Urban Fantasy writer Patricia Briggs conducted … Continue reading An Early Halloween Treat – Patricia Briggs at Leuphana

Tricks or Treats – Halloween Goes German
It’s the time of the year for the undead to become alive again and for the living to be given the creeps. It’s a time of … Continue reading Tricks or Treats – Halloween Goes German

The Fault in Our Stars
Hazel Grace Lancester will never be a normal teenager. She doesn’t know that people don’t do pot but smoke it, or what it feels like to … Continue reading The Fault in Our Stars

The U.S. Election Project
Let’s face it: Generation Y – affectionately known as Gen ‘Why’ – is not exactly politically minded. This was all the more due cause to develop … Continue reading The U.S. Election Project

A Study Trip to Las Vegas?
Yes, a Study Trip!

The two-semester project, “Ethnic Studies and Eco-Criticism Meet Intercultural Exchange: A Study Trip to Las Vegas,” brought together students and faculty from Leuphana University in Lüneburg … Continue reading A Study Trip to Las Vegas?
Yes, a Study Trip!

A Night in Berlin with Michael Lederer
The U.S. Embassy Literature Series at the English Theatre Berlin in cooperation with PalmArtPress presented Michael Lederer on February 11, 2014. In the following video, Lederer … Continue reading A Night in Berlin with Michael Lederer

A Game of Thrones: Heroes Wanted
We all know him—the tall, strong, brave man. The hero. The prince. The knight in shining armor whose decisions are infallible, his visions wide-ranging, and his … Continue reading A Game of Thrones: Heroes Wanted

Number 13: Unbraiding the Short Story
Regardless of the field, conferences come in all shapes and sizes. Some are forgotten quickly while others become engraved in one’s memory. The latter experiences are … Continue reading Number 13: Unbraiding the Short Story

Shooting for the Stars: Creativity and Competition in the English Classroom
It has been my experience that competition, apart from the kind found in television quiz shows, is often frowned upon in Germany. For Americans, however, competition … Continue reading Shooting for the Stars: Creativity and Competition in the English Classroom

Creative Writing Contest for Non-Native Speakers
When I entered a creative writing contest for non-native speakers of English, the 2014 Daniil Pashkoff Prize, I never imagined I would win 3rd prize in … Continue reading Creative Writing Contest for Non-Native Speakers

Only Lovers Left Alive – A Stroll Down Eternal Lovers’ Lane
After a three-year respite, iconic independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch is back with a quietly intriguing new film: Only Lovers Left Alive – a tale of two lovers and … Continue reading Only Lovers Left Alive – A Stroll Down Eternal Lovers’ Lane

Obama’s Clean Air Act
The German daily newspaper, Der Tagesspiegel, recently featured an article on President Obama’s policy for limiting greenhouse gas emissions. President Obama’s environmental stance was a contributing … Continue reading Obama’s Clean Air Act

How Do Americans Really Talk?
We know that not all American English is the same: Southerners love to talk about sipping ‘coke’ while drinking a sprite; New Yorkers talk about their … Continue reading How Do Americans Really Talk?

New Kids on the Blog
As the latest edition to the ‘ASJ family,’ we would like to take this opportunity to introduce ourselves to current as well as new followers of … Continue reading New Kids on the Blog