Gender Studies: The Challenges of Intersectionality: Race and Gender in German and American Literature and Culture

This is a proseminar that can be credited for BA (as Proseminar Literary Studies and Wahlpflicht) and the MA (as elective).

With the rise of populism in the US and Europe, and a continuing push toward social conservatism on both sides of the Atlantic, it has become painfully clear that the United States and Germany have neither entered a post-racist era nor a post-sexist one. Instead, both countries find themselves confronted with political, social and cultural dynamics that demand critical engagement with questions of race and gender from an intersectional and transatlantic perspective. The 2016 US presidential election, many have argued, has not only led to an increase in racist and misogynist violence in the United States, it has also attracted notice to the work of a broad range of social movements fighting for the rights of women, people of color, and immigrants. Resulting public debates surrounding the ongoing pervasiveness of racism and sexism in the US-as manifested in movements such as Black Lives Matter or Me Too-have also begun to resonate in Germany, where politicians of the (far-)right continue to instrumentalize discourses around women's rights and safety to stir up anti-immigrant sentiments, while at the same time calling for an end to "gender mainstreaming" and attacking feminists for promoting allegedly dangerous "gender ideology" (cf. AfD Grundsatzprogramm, section 8.3). 

This seminar on issues of race and gender in German and American literature and culture seeks to explore the challenges facing 21st-century feminism by taking a comparative and historical perspective. It highlights several moments in the history of feminism in Germany and the United States when issues of race and gender became entangled in particularly problematic or productive ways, for example at the time of the abolitionist and suffragist movements in the United States, during the era of German colonialism, in Nazi-Germany, and during the American Civil Rights movement. By tracing feminists' varying engagements with questions of race, this course hopes to offer participants a space to rethink the complex interrelationships of feminist and anti-/racist discourses at play in Germany and the US today as well as in the past.

The course will be taught in English. Course materials will be either in English or German. With the exception of one primary text, English translations will be available for all German course materials.

The course is offered for all students at the Faculty for Languages and Literatures and will be taught by visiting lecturer Judith Rauscher.

Judith Rauscher is researcher and lecturer in American Studies at Otto-Friedrich-Universität Bamberg. She holds an MA in Comparative Literature from Dartmouth College, (USA) and an MA in American Studies from Bamberg University. She has been a visiting research scholar at the Women and Gender Studies Program at Dartmouth College and a Postgraduate Research Fellow at the Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Social Sciences at Duke University (USA). Currently, she is finishing a PhD project on "Ecopoetic Place-Making: Nature and Mobility in Contemporary American Poetry."