Reading Cultures and the Business of Literature in the US



Time and place

Das Hauptseminar kann wie folgt verwendet werden:

  • MA North American Studies - Culture and Literature: Modul 7,8
  • MA The Americas / Las Américas: Modul 3b,4
  • MA Literaturstudien - intermedial und interkulturell: Modul 4,5,7,8
  • MA Ethik der Textkulturen: M3, M4
  • Lehramt Englisch an Gymnasien: Hauptmodul L-GYM Literature (Zulassungsvoraussetzung: Zwischenmodul L-GYM Literature)
  • BA English and American Studies: Hauptmodul A mit begleitender Independent Study Group
  • MA English Studies: "Freie Ergänzungsstudien/Wild Card" mit begleitendem Kurs


In four historical case studies focusing on the Early Republic, the Antebellum period, the Gilded Age and the early 20th century, this seminar invites students to explore the conditions for the production, publication and reading of literary writing in the US. The seminar thus seeks to grasp what “easily remains invisible”, namely “the cultural meanings of printedness” (Michael Warner). The seminar’s text base includes shorter prose pieces by Washington Irving and Catherine Maria Sedgewick; Ralph Waldo Emerson and Lydia Maria Child; Mark Twain and Rebecca Harding Davis; Henry James, Ernest Hemingway and Zora Neale Hurston. These writings will be conceptually framed by critical material illuminating the professionalization of the literary market and the conditions determining the cultural position of ‘the author’, the demographic of the reading public as well as the significance of high and popular conventions of literary expression. The seminar trains students in the practice of text-based, historically and institutionally framed interpretation. One course goal is to develop an understanding for how the cultural mediation of the print medium shapes notions of individual citizenship, authorship and the nation. Another goal is the explication of the cultural functions, the insight and weight of culturally conditioned literary discourses.

Additional information

Expected participants: 15

Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg