Cover

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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-ix

Contents

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pp. x-xi

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Series Editor’s Preface: Günter Lenz’s Transculturation of U.S. American Studies

Donald E. Pease

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pp. 12-17

From its beginning, the overarching aim of Günter Lenz’s scholarly project was to foster transnational reframings of U.S. American Studies. To realize that aim Lenz devised complex strategies—transculturation, hybridization, and dialogics—that challenged U.S. Americanist scholars in particular to relinquish their privileged positions and take up concepts and strategies that would interconnect the transnational, intercultural process already at work in the United States with networks whose complexity and diversity exceeded the grasp of nationalist discourse.1...

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Introduction

John Carlos Rowe

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pp. 18-31

Günter H. Lenz (1940–2012) was one of the leading scholars of American Studies in Germany. He was born in Braunschweig on February 7, 1940, grew up in Frankfurt, and completed his undergraduate studies in English and American Literature and Culture, German Literature, Philosophy, and Sociology at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, where he also completed his PhD (1968) with a dissertation titled S. T. Coleridge’s Theory of Poetry: The Paradigmatic Role of the Concept of the Imagination in Romantic Poetics. For more than two decades (1972–93), he was Professor of American and English Studies at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University. In 1993, he accepted the position...

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1 | After Deconstruction: Reconstructing American Literary and Cultural Studies in the 1980s

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pp. 32-63

Late in 1985, the French critic Tzvetan Todorov began his review essay of his American colleague Robert Scholes’s new book, Textual Power: Literary Theory and the Teaching of English in the London Times Literary Supplement with the following statement:

When a foreigner visiting France asks me, “What’s going on in French criticism these days?” I always feel rather stupid; I either remain silent or else change the subject. I am unaware of the trends, being familiar with a certain number of individuals following paths that have no obvious connection with one another. Conversely, in the United States, where I spend only...

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2 | New Historicism, New American Exceptionalism, and New American Studies: Versions of a New Synthesis

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pp. 64-92

After a period of diversification, the fragmentation of the field into new interdisciplinary studies programs, an emphasis on difference and pluralism, and new experimental and often conflicting approaches and concepts appropriated from various disciplines, we are seeking a “new synthesis” or “New American Studies.” As Elizabeth Fox-Genovese puts it in an essay in American Quarterly, “Between Individualism and Fragmentation: American Culture and the New Literary Studies of Race and Gender” (1990): “Today the most pressing question appears to be whether any new synthesis is possible or even desirable. How, in other...

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3 | American Studies and Literary and Cultural Critique: The Question of Radical Traditions [in the 1980s]

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pp. 93-119

In the 1980s, scholars in American Studies became more conscious of the methodological problems of their work and made wide-ranging use of the developments in various disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.1 They also discovered the importance of a critical perspective on the history of their discipline.2 But there clearly was a feeling of a loss of direction, an uneasiness about the purposes and objectives of American Studies. Often the appropriation of new methods and approaches was pursued under the old premises, and awareness of the history of the field reduced to a stereotypical periodization of phases characterized by...

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4 | American Cultural Critique: Toward a Politics of Postmodernism and Postcolonial Discourse [1970–1990]

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pp. 120-157

The different reactions to the crisis of the Left or of radical literary and cultural criticism and the controversies about the existence and uses of a radical tradition in American literary, cultural, and social history that were characteristic of the late 1970s and the 1980s helped to bring the theoretical debate in literary and cultural studies back home to the United States. The critical works discussed in the preceding chapter focused on the question of the specific forms and traditions of American literary and cultural radicalism, on the achievements and failures of writers and critics to discover, explore, and elaborate analytical strategies and affiliations of a radical cultural critique that could complement or provide American...

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5 | Postmodern Anthropology, Multicultural Critique, and American Culture Studies

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pp. 158-185

When Henry Nash Smith defined American Studies in 1957 as “the study of American culture past and present, as a whole,” he summarized more than two decades of a wide-ranging and self-conscious critical analysis of culture in the United States and, at the same time, initiated the search for the unified or holistic “method” through which American Studies would, finally, achieve maturity as an (interdisciplinary) discipline. The 1930s were the decade when, as Warren Susman pointed out years ago, the complexity of American culture as well as the culture concept were discovered and discussed in the wider public. We think of the work of cultural anthropology, of the studies in cultural relativism by Margaret Mead or of patterns of culture by Ruth Benedict that emphasized the unity of...

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6 | Cultural Hybridity and Diaspora in African American Literature and Criticism: Fictions of a Postmodern Multiculturalism

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pp. 186-225

The notions and theories of postmodernism and multiculturalism were for a long time rejected, or at least regarded with deep suspicion, and often still are, by writers and critics from minority groups as well as by women writers and feminist theorists in the United States. Postmodernism in its early phase was seen as an aestheticist celebration of the “anything goes” variety or as an expression of self-doubt, self-pity, and / or self-reflective language games of the “literature of exhaustion” (John Barth) by white late modernist male writers who could afford to neglect the more urgent cultural and political issues at the center of minority and feminist discourses. Where postmodernism was permeated by the American version of what was called “French poststructuralist thought,” the...

Appendix | Publications of Professor Dr. Günter H. Lenz (1940–2012)

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pp. 226-233

Notes

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pp. 234-255