This blog is the collaborative effort of Ilka Brasch, Felix Brinker, and Svenja Fehlhaber, three doctoral candidates in the discipline of North American Studies at Leibniz University Hannover, the Free University of Berlin, and the University of Osnabrück, respectively. It collects fragments from our research on 20th and 21st century American culture, media, and aspects of modernization – abstracts, conference papers, leftover arguments, bits and pieces on American film, literature, and television, and other things that have fallen by the wayside of our graduate work. The fragmentary nature of the blog format allows us to collect posts on a variety of things and subjects that interest us here, without necessarily having to fit them into a bigger picture. Mostly, however, this blog covers things that could be considered pointless in one way or another, i.e. without an apparent or obvious practical use in the everyday, the stuff of distraction, entertainment, or intellectual reflection – as well as cultural artifacts that appear to be devoid from utilitarian purposes, but turn out to be implicated in them after all. That’s the idea, anyway.
Ilka Brasch is a PhD candidate and lecturer at Leibniz University of Hannover, Germany. She is also a member of the research unit „Popular Seriality – Aesthetics and Practice,“ which is based at the Free University of Berlin and funded by the German Research Foundation. She is currently working on her PhD Thesis on crime fiction plotlines and the depiction of technology in film serials between 1910 and 1940. The thesis is part of a joint subproject of the research unit, which is titled „Serializing Mass Culture: Popular Film Serials and Serial Structures in the United States, 1910-1940“ and which is led by Ruth Mayer. Her research interests include popular seriality, film serials, silent and early sound film, late 19th and early 20th century technologies, crime fiction, critical theory, phenomenology, but also classical Hollywood cinema, contemporary television, and more. More information is online at academia.edu.
Felix Brinker is a doctoral candidate at the John F. Kennedy Institute’s Graduate School of North American Studies at the Free University of Berlin, Germany, and an associate member of the German Research Foundation’s research unit on „Popular Seriality – Aesthetics and Practice.“ His research interests include popular seriality, film and television, media studies, critical theory, and the politics of (American) popular culture. He is currently working on a dissertation project that examines contemporary televisual and cinematic takes on comic book superheroes – like the recent string of Marvel Studios‘ superhero movies, adaptations of DC comics properties like Man of Steel and the TV show Gotham, and a handful of other titles – in order to come to terms with the relationships between serial storytelling and the active engagement of audiences. You can find his academia.edu-page here.
Svenja Fehlhaber is a doctoral candidate of American Studies who holds a Georg-Christoph-Lichtenberg-scholarship in the interdisciplinary PhD Program „Theorie und Methodologie der Textwissenschaften und ihre Geschichte“ which is jointly held by the University of Osnabrück as well as the Georg-August-University of Göttingen. In Osnabrück, she is currently working on her PhD Thesis that conceptually maps the aesthetics and cultural (self-)position(ing) of an ‚alternative modernist practice‘ that materializes on the conceptual margins of ‚modernist literariness‘ in American prose by, for instance, Nathan Asch, Mary Borden or Waldo Frank. The project aims to assess this aesthetics of constitutive ambivalence, which constantly undermines its stylistic and structural affinity to literary ‚modernism‘ in order to realize its socio-critical agenda within a discourse that materializes alongside a first ‚wave’ of acceleration at the turn to the 20th century. Her research interests include modernist studies, post-structuralist theory, the culture and critical history of modernity, memory- and trauma studies as well as media studies and literary/cultural theory in general. For more information, visit her profile on academia.edu.