The Bavarian-American Academy Summer Program in American Studies


This June, seven Wayne State graduate students working on dissertations in American Studies, accompanied by faculty from the English department, took part in the Eighth Annual Summer School of the Bavarian-American Academy, a network of scholars from American Studies departments across Bavaria headquartered in Munich, Germany.

The program was held this year in Miami Beach, was hosted and cosponsored by Florida International University, and took place at their facility at the Wolfsonian Museum. The program was intensive, lasting from June 4-11, and involved a series of faculty lectures, dissertation presentations by graduate students, cultural excursions, and socializing.

One faculty (Barrett Watten) and seven Wayne State students took part: John Landreville, Tara Forbes, Diana Rosenberger, Kelly Roy Polasek, Scott DeGregoris, and Phillip Barnhart, from English; and Andrew Hnatow, from History. They were joined by sixteen students from the U.S., Canada, Germany, Switzerland, and Poland, all working on dissertations in American Studies. The program is based around early dissertation writing, with a session dedicated to student presentations and feedback. Each student presented a core section of their dissertation project to an audience of peers and mentors, gaining invaluable early perspectives on the methods, scope, and content of their projects.

Wayne State students presented work on digital humanities; literature and war; transnational fiction; African-American literature; sites of memory in Detroit; urban planning and deindustrialization; and the literature and iconography of working-class radicalism. Their core concerns were each informed by the perspectives of an urban research university in Detroit, and notable for their adventurousness and liveliness of inquiry.

The faculty program, organized by Prof. Martha Schoolman of FIU, was excellent and included a number of prominent Americanists: Profs. April Merleaux (FIU), Gesa Mack- enthum (Rostock), Nathaniel Cadle (FIU), Hester Blum (Penn State), Kyla Wazana Tompkins (Pomona), Ashli White (U Miami), and Barrett Watten (Wayne State). As with last year's program, the organizing theme was "Material Cultures," which included material cultural studies, the New Materialism, modernist studies, the history of print and book cultures, food studies, and historical materialism. For the concluding keynote, Barrett Watten presented a lecture on "The Millennial Condition," based on his seminar at Wayne State, and organized a poetry reading with Jaswinder Bolina and Sandra Simonds that was particularly dramatic, taking place outdoors and under a tent during a torrential downpour.

Prof. Dr. Heike Paul (University of Erlangen-Nuremberg), Dr. Margarethe Schweiger-Wilhelm (administrator), and Dr. Meike Zwingenberger (director of Amerika Haus in Munich) co-organized and participated in the program. Next year's program returns to Germany; topic to be announced. For more information on the Bavarian American.For more information on the Academy please visit:

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