Number 62 (2017)

Edited by Hans-Jürgen Grabbe


The Phasing-Out of 18th-Century Patterns of German Migration to the United States after 1817

The years 1816 to 1819, at the beginning of the 19th century, saw the last wave of immigration into the United States that basically followed patterns of travel, finance, and trade established in the 1700s. Migrants from the German-speaking areas of Central Europe, in particular, reached British North America and later the United States under arrangements allowing them to book a passage on credit which they were to pay off by entering into a term of service for room and board which generally lasted from three to seven years. Their debt was redeemed this way, and such migrants were known as redemptioners. The contract agreement consisted of an original and a copy. When separating the two, the upper margins became indented—hence the term indentured servant. The reasons for the disappearance of this major 18th-century migration pattern, caused, above all, by the collapse of the redemptioner system, will be the focus of this article.

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Lesbian Investigations: Encoded Detective Films in the Late Twentieth-Century USA

The last twenty years have seen an unexpected eruption of interest in lesbian narratives or stories with lesbian protagonists, with films such as Mulholland Drive (2001), Blue is the Warmest Colour (2013), or Carol (2015), making an impact on general audiences and pointing to a certain mainstreaming in transcending the lesbian-interest label. In an archaeology of lesbian representation in film, it is, however, useful to consider other relevant films aimed at the general public that bridge the encoded pre-Stonewall narratives and the current, unconcealed lesbian characters and stories. The present essay looks at two closely-related mainstream dramas from the 1980s and 1990s which, despite having received little critical attention, bridge that gap because they are poised on the historical line between encoded and uncoded films amenable to lesbian readings: Black Widow directed by Bob Rafelson (1987) and Hit and Run directed by Dan Lerner (1999).

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Numerology and Ritual in William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying

In As I Lay Dying William Faulkner employs numerology to concretize the ritual of death as well as draw the reader’s attention to its function and significance. Although multiple studies have offered detailed analyses of the text, none until today has tackled the subject of numbers in association with the theme of death. The aim of this article is to demonstrate that the writer used numerology in order to present the nihilism of the human condition, to outline the manner by which the experience of nothingness can transform a pessimistic view into an optimistic one, and to show that the process of redemption and transcendence can spring from “the Reductio ad absurdum of all human endeavor” (Volpe 131). The article will also stress that death constitutes a major transitional state through which, Addie, the protagonist, must travel from this world to the next; and elucidate the characters, the plot, and the structure of the novella via the signified nuances attached to the chosen numbers.

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Invisible Women, Fairy Tale Death: How Stories of Public Murder Minimize Terror at Home

Repeated true-crime narratives tend to deflect serious examination of the misogynistic attitudes, abuse, and/or fatal violence that too frequently precede a public massacre. A reconsideration of surviving writings by Charles Whitman, the 1966 UT Austin sniper, alongside newly-discovered letters of his wife and second victim, Kathy Leissner, reveals how inflexible gender attitudes and judgments took a profoundly toxic and eventually fatal toll in private, long before Whitman’s display of hyper-masculine force from atop a landmark tower. 

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“Hero Widow”: The Making of Lisa Beamer’s 9/11 Celebrity

“You’ve become it,” Larry King advised the woman he was hosting on his nationally syndicated talk show, for the seventh time in six months. Seconding the opinion of a caller who had referred to her as “the spokesperson across America for all the World Trade Center […] and plane victims,” King would permit no polite demurrals from his guest: “By choice or not, you’re it” (Larry King Live, 22 Feb. 2002). “It” by that moment, early in 2002, Lisa Beamer surely had become: if not exactly the “spokesperson,” the preeminent witness to the trauma of 9/11 and the event’s most widely recognized celebrity. Wife of the man whose call “Let’s roll!” helped rally fellow passengers to action on a hijacked flight above Pennsylvania, five months pregnant at the time of her loss, Beamer came to be known as the “hero widow.”

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Never the Oval Office? From Eleanor Roosevelt to Michelle Obama—First Ladies and Their Social and Feminist Agenda

Prompted by the 2016 elections in the United States, women’s prospects in U.S. politics have received renewed attention among scholars and politically interested circles. Hillary Clinton, without any doubt one of the—if not the most qualified candidates for the Presidency ever, suffered an unexpected defeat on November 9th. Polls, experts, and the candidates were taken by surprise. Only in hindsight do critics claim to have known all along that Hillary Clinton’s defeat might have been foreseeable. As a former First Lady, Hillary Clinton belongs to a group of women in U.S. politics that at least have made it into the White House—though not as an elected representative of the administration. As different as these women have been, they all have one thing in common: the chance to shape policy.

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Cli-Fi in American Studies: A Research Bibliography

Over the last two decades, the global landscape of cultural production has been teeming with a cornucopia of fictional texts, in print, in live performance, and on the screen, engaging with the local and global impact of advanced human-induced climate change. In academia as well as in popular culture, this rapidly growing body of texts is now commonly referred to by the catchy linguistic portmanteau ‘cli-fi.’

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