American Literature and the Public Sphere since 1945



Time and place

  • Mo 16:15-17:45, .ics

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


This online seminar invites students to explore concepts and manifestations of the public sphere and to consider how the publication and discussion of literary writing participates in the formation of public opinion. Based on revisions of Jürgen Habermas’ historical description of the public sphere by Nancy Fraser, Seyla Benhabib and others, the seminar will focus on four prominent cases to study the dynamics of the literary system (the discursive and institutional contexts and conditions for publication including the publishing industry, education, the media landscape and the marketplace) in the second half of the twentieth century and into the present. These are Allen Ginsberg’s poem “Howl” (1955) and the scandal it caused, Toni Morrison’s highly acclaimed iconic novel |Beloved| (1987), Suzanne Collins’ globally best selling dystopian novel |The Hunger Games| (2008) and Amanda Gorman’s recent inauguration poem “The Hill We Climb” (2021). The case studies provide occasion for contextualized close readings and will serve as starting points for a more general exploration of the ways in which literature matters.

Additional information

Expected participants: 15