Founded In    1956
Published   quarterly
Language(s)   English, German

Fields of Interest


literature, cultural studies, history, political science, linguistics, critical theory, teaching of American Studies

ISSN   0340-2827
Publisher   Winter
Editorial Board

General Editor:
Oliver Scheiding

Review Editor:
Christa Buschendorf

Editorial Board:
Christa Buschendorf
Andreas Falke
Hans-Jürgen Grabbe
Alfred Hornung
Sabine Sielke

Managing Editor:
Damien B. Schlarb

Assistant Editor:
Nele Sawallisch

Submission Guidelines and Editorial Policies

For our full submission guidelines, please visit
Manuscripts and books for review should be submitted to the editorial office in Mainz. There is no obligation to review unsolicited books.
Amerikastudien / American Studies
Prof. Dr. Oliver Scheiding
FB 05 Dept. of English and Linguistics Amerikanistik
Johannes Gutenberg - University Mainz
Jakob Welder Weg 20 (Philosophicum II), room 02-229
55128 Mainz, Germany
Phone: +49 6131 39 20 296
Fax: +49 6131 39 20 356
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– Article manuscripts - manuscript text, abstract, notes, list of works cited - should not exceed 60,000 to 70,000 characters (including spaces).
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Amerikastudien / American Studies


Amerikastudien / American Studies is the journal of the German Association for American Studies. It started as the annual Jahrbuch für Amerikastudien in 1956 and has since developed into a quarterly with some 1200 subscriptions in Europe and the United States. The journal is dedicated to interdisciplinary and transnational perspectives and embraces the diversity and dynamics of a dialogic and comparatist understanding of American Studies. It covers all areas of American Studies from literary and cultural criticism, history, political science, and linguistics to the teaching of American Studies. Special-topics issues alternate with regular ones. Reviews, forums, and annual bibliographies support the international circulation of German and European scholarship in American Studies.
Editor: Oliver Scheiding
Address: Amerikastudien/American Studies
FB 05 Dept. of English and Linguistics Amerikanistik
Johannes Gutenberg - University Mainz
Jakob Welder Weg 20 (Philosophicum II), room 02-229
55128 Mainz, Germany
Phone: +49 6131 39 20 296
Fax: +49 6131 39 20 356


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Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012: Tocqueville's Legacy: Towards a Cultural History of Recognition in American Studies , Vol. 57, No.4


Lost in a Boudoir of Mirrors: The Pursuit of Recognition in the Biographical War of the Early Republic

"All revolutions," Alexis de Tocqueville claims in Democracy in America, "enlarge the ambition of men." This article takes a look at the complex relationship between two major American discourses of recognition in the revolutionary and early republican periods, one focusing on ambition as a force potentially undermining the foundations of the commonwealth, the other on the pursuit of esteem as an anthropological universal that contributed to the progress of civilization. In a language partly reminiscent of David Hume's and Adam Smith's social mirrors, John Adams's architectural metaphor of a mirrored 'boudoir' captured the ambivalence of recognition in the late American Enlightenment, an ambivalence negotiated primarily in the period's highly aestheticized approaches to history as a literary genre. The revolutionary generation eventually competed for a sublimated recognition on the battlegrounds of the 'biographical war' of the early nineteenth century, in a genre including commissioned biographies, unsent letters, and clandestine memoirs. Trying to achieve the impossible aim of representing their hopes for recognition as self-sacrificing republicans in writing, the aging revolutionaries reached a moral and aesthetic impasse, thus ending up lost, or so this article claims, in their own historical boudoir of mirrors.

Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Dual Economy of Recognition

Combining a historical with a theoretical perspective, this essay begins by reconstructing Ralph Waldo Emerson's evolving theory of recognition and the central role it played for his concept of 'self-reliance.' Initially having adopted the theorizations of recognition developed by Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, Emerson came to articulate the idea of self-reliance by way of developing an alternative approach to recognition, in which the source allocating recognition is neither society nor an inborn moral sense, but rather the transcendentally conceptualized self. Emerson's shift towards self-recognition poses questions seldom asked in the contemporary debate on recognition. Moving beyond a reconstructive aim, one such question is considered in the article's second part: What role does recognition come to play in the act of reading? Taking Emerson's own essays as a case in point, the author argues that the aesthetic experience afforded by non-fictional texts can be understood as a facilitator of self-recognition -- as a continuous process of imaginarily experiencing the enlargement of the self. This process intersects with dynamics of social recognition, producing a 'dual economy of recognition.' The article concludes by challenging the assumption found in currently dominant paradigms of recognition which assumes that recognition can come to successful completion. Conceived as a dual economy, the article argues, recognition is to the contrary constitutively open-ended.

Cinematic Shocks: Recognition, Aesthetic Experience, and Phenomenology

In this article I suggest that we, as human beings, gain personal recognition not only through intersubjective encounters with others, but also through aesthetic experience. To support my claims about what I call 'aesthetic recognition,' I focus on a pervasive but rarely explored phenomenon: the cinematic shock. Not only a staple ingredient of thrillers, horror films, and disaster movies, it is also found in art-films. The cinematic shock will serve as the case in point of my argument because in its lived intensity, density and conspicuousness we can describe it more easily with appropriate words than other aesthetic experiences that are equally able to foster aesthetic recognition but are less readily accessible via language. When experienced in the social environment of the movie theater, cinematic shocks enable two widespread types of aesthetic recognition: aesthetic experience as individual self-recognition, and aesthetic experience as a collective recognition of accord. Due to the strongly affective lived-body experience brought about by an encounter with the aesthetic object, the recipient not only feels self-aware of and self-affirmed in his or her own embodied existence, he or she also experiences confirmation as part of a group responding equally -- in accordance -- to an aesthetic object. This double recognition gained from the cinematic experience of shock derives from the individual film experience and the collective theatrical experience. An additional outcome of my methodological reliance on dense phenomenological descriptions may be an argument for the value of phenomenology in both the study of film and of aesthetics more generally.

"Recognition is a Form of Agreement": The Workings of Self-Narration in The Catcher in the Rye and Invisible Man

Theories of recognition provide an understanding of selfhood as based on narrative identity. In striking up and maintaining a relationship with the Other through telling my story, I am acknowledged as a conversation partner and as a self, endowed with a personal history and biographical experience. The driving force of this process is the hope or struggle for recognition, for being seen and acknowledged by the Other. This essay uses Paul Ricœur's concept of recognition to read fictional first-person narration as a scenario of encounter between narrator and addressee. It draws from narrative psychology, autobiography theory, and narratological concepts of reader positioning to consider how readers encounter a fictional narrator. The relevance of such a reception-based model is illustrated by revisiting two classics of twentieth-century American literature featuring narrators who raise their voices from the margins: J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. By reading these novels as narratives of recognition, I argue that the rise to iconic status of the narrators, Holden Caulfield and the Invisible Man, can be related to the intense scenario of address that calls readers to recognize these fictional tellers.

Transcultural Autobiography and the Staging of (Mis)Recognition: Edward Said's Out of Place and Gerald Vizenor's Interior Landscapes: Autobiographical Myths and Metaphors

While the importance of 'recognition' for individual self-constitution is uncontested in theoretical debates, discussions -- particularly in the 1990s -- have increasingly sought to apply the concept also to social groups. This contribution looks at autobiographies by two cultural theorists, Edward Said and Gerald Vizenor, that draw on a variety of cultural contexts and codes and address experiences of marginalization and dislocation. Asking how 'recognition' and 'misrecognition' are negotiated in the texts, I argue that both autobiographies connect -- although in very different ways -- the narration of individual self-constitution to claims of collective recognition.

Narratives of Recognition in Contemporary American Fiction: Edward P. Jones's The Known World and Richard Powers's The Echo Maker

This essay is a contribution towards a more systematic consideration of the relation between recognition and autonomy in literary and cultural studies. The readings presented here rest on two premises: First, I assume that literary texts negotiate recognition in ways different from and not completely accessible to philosophy and the social sciences; and second, that the individualistic language of liberalism, which is preoccupied with autonomy and dependence, changes depending on how recognition is negotiated. Both Edward P. Jones's neo-slave narrative The Known World and Richard Powers's novel of ideas The Echo Maker stage historically and socially specific convergences of autonomy and dependence in their depictions of precarious subjectivity. The Known World, situated in the mid-nineteenth- century slave South, shows how the liberal ideal of self-mastery is implicitly linked to the mastery of others as chattel slaves. The Echo Maker, set in the early twenty-first-century Midwest, stages another form of precariousness that in some ways answers the questions of submission and self-mastery raised in the other novel. It suggests an at once more democratic and more literary model of individuality that does not depend on ownership so much as on the logic of storytelling. The novels project distinct diegetic worlds and rely on divergent generic patterns; in exploring the logics of possessive individualism and a more democratic model of storytelling respectively, they offer contingent concepts of agency that are dependent for their private and public stabilizations on very different forms of recognition of the other.

"Freedom, Equality, Beauty for Everyone": Notes on Fantasizing the Modern Body

"Freedom, Equality, Beauty for Everyone" -- these were the words of a recent advertising slogan of one of the world's leading producers of purely natural cosmetics. Drawing on the emphatic creed of the French Revolution and capitalizing upon its iconic formulation of democratic values, the slogan captures a powerful double bind of modern culture that plays out with special force in its dominant mode of bodily production. For implied in this call for a radical democratization of physical beauty is the idea that one has to work for it; that universal beauty is, indeed, not given but the product of achievement; and that it takes commitment, for example by buying the right cosmetic products and using them with dedication and care. As something that one 'has' and cultivates rather than 'is,' the modern body is, indeed, a primary resource to gain recognition in a society of equals. In turning to material as diverse as Leonardo da Vinci's 'Vitruvian Figure,' Theodor Dreiser's Sister Carrie, the godfather of body-building Eugene Sandow, the video-clip for Pink's song "Stupid Girls," the Madonna of the album Hard Candy, and the work of contemporary artists such as Vanessa Beecroft, Cindy Sherman, and Orlan, I argue in this article that the history of the modern body as a primary site in the struggle for recognition evolved from an immensely productive (and equally problematic) conjunction of the actual and the imagined body. But the call for universal beauty not only captures this basic constitution of modern bodily production. In promoting 'natural' rather than surgical enhancement, it also speaks to its latest installment: a mode of production that, in blurring the different ontologies of the material body and its virtual image, creates substantial problems for living in the bodies thus produced.

Fiction and the Struggle for Recognition

In the past decades the concept of recognition has moved to the center of social theory. Can this concept be of use for American Studies, and, more specifically, American literary and cultural studies? My essay tries to answer this question in five parts: first, a discussion of two opposite views of the social and cultural role of recognition, exemplified by Charles Taylor and Alexis de Tocqueville; second, a reconsideration of the concept of identity, since recognition is inextricably linked with questions of identity formation in current debates; third, a description of the ways in which the struggle for recognition stands at the center of fictional texts and forms an imaginary core that has often been forgotten in the professionalization of literary studies; fourth, an analysis of how recognition can be understood and described as an effect of the reading experience (and of aesthetic experience more generally); and fifth, a return to the starting question of this essay, namely what the concept of recognition can contribute to American Studies and how it can be assessed in comparison with other, currently dominant approaches in the field.

Other Issues

Amerikastudien / American Studies 2018: Digital Scholarship in American Studies, Vol. 63, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2018, Vol. 63, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2017: Marx and the United States, Vol. 62, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2017, Vol. 62, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2017: Poetry and Law, Vol. 62, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2017, Vol. 62, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2016: Environmental Imaginaries on the Move: Nature and Mobility in American Literature and Culture, Vol. 61, No.4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2016, Vol. 61, No.3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2016: Turkish-American Literature, Vol. 61, No.2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2016, Vol. 61, No.1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2015: Risk, Security: Approaches to Uncertainty in American Literature, Vol. 60, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2015, Double Issue, Vol. 60, No. 2/3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2015: Network Theory and American Studies, Vol. 60, No.1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2014: South Africa and the United States in Transnational American Studies, Vol. 59, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2014, Vol. 59, No. 3,
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2014, Vol. 59, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2014, Vol. 59, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2013: Iconographies of the Calamitous in American Visual Culture, Vol. 58, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2013, Vol. 58, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2013: Pragmatism's Promise, Vol. 58, No. 2
Amerika Studien / American Studies 2013, Vol. 58, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012, 57.3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012 - Conceptions of Collectivity in Contemporary American Literature, Vol. 57, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2012, Vol. 57, Vol. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2011: American Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Vol. 56, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2011, Vol. 56, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2011, Vol. 56, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2011, Vol. 56, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2010: African American Literary Studies: New Texts, New Approaches, New Challenges , Vol. 55, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2010: Trauma's Continuum -- September 11th Reconsidered, Vol. 55, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2010, Vol. 55, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2010: Poverty and the Culturalization of Class , Vol. 55, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2009, Vol. 54, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2009: American History/ies in Germany: Assessments, Transformations, Perspectives, Vol. 54, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2009, Vol. 54, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2009: Appropriating Vision(s): Visual Practices in American Women's Writing, Vol. 54, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008, Vol. 53, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008: Die Bush-Administration: Eine erste Bilanz, Vol. 53, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008, Vol. 53, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2008: Inter-American Studies and Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 53, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007, Vol. 52, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007 - Teaching American Studies in the Twenty-First Century, Vol. 52, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007, Vol. 52, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2007 - Transatlantic Perspectives on American Visual Culture, Vol. 52, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006, Vol. 51, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006 - Asian American Studies in Europe, Vol. 51, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006, Vol. 51, No. 2
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2006 - Multilingualism and American Studies , Vol. 51, No. 1
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2005, Vol. 50, No. 4
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2005 - Early American Visual Culture, Vol. 50, No. 3
Amerikastudien / American Studies 2005 - American Studies at 50, Vol. 50, Nos. 1/2