Number 51 (2008)

Ethnic Visions of the United States of America

Edited by Peter Freese and Martina Kohl

American National Identity in a Globalized World as a Topic in the Advanced EFL-Classroom

In order to make an issue as complex and controversial as that of ‘national identity’ teachable in the advanced EFL-classroom, it has to be reduced to exemplary aspects and illustrated with concrete examples. Therefore, I will suggest an appropriate “Course Opener,” briefly survey the historical unfolding of the American identity concept in order to provide teachers with the necessary background knowledge, and then suggest two teaching units, the first of which traces some major developments by means of “classic” texts, whereas the second deals with the crucial issue of whether a shared language is a prerequisite for a shared identity.

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From Zorro to Jennifer Lopez: US-Latino History and Film for the EFL-Classroom

The essay introduces some aspects of the history, demography, and culture of Latinos and gives an overview on films particularly suitable for discussing the history of this ethnic minority in the EFL-class. Questions of representation of Mexican-Americans-the biggest group of U.S.-Latinos-in Hollywood film and of self-representation in Chicano film are addressed in the last part of the essay.

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The Reflection of Race and Law in African American Literature

Since the law has been crucial in defining and delineating the dimensions of African American experience both in slavery and in freedom, the encounter with the American legal system and its representatives has left a strong imprint on African American cultural and literary memory and expression. The article sketches out a few aspects and features which characterize the reflection of law and race in African American culture and literature.

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Screen Indians in the EFL-Classroom: Transnational Perspectives

This article addresses the question of what different audiences ‘see’ when watching movies depicting Native Americans, arguing that ways of ‘seeing’ are deeply embedded in specific cultural contexts. In particular, it is concerned with what a German movie-going audience—our EFL-students, in particular—see when watching blockbuster Hollywood movies like Dances with Wolves or popular Native American productions like Smoke Signals? Against the background of the West German Winnetou films and the East German DEFA westerns, respectively, German audiences on both sides of the iron curtain have been appropriating ‘Indians’ on their own terms, ‘using’ them for their own purposes and within their own cultural frames of reference.

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