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
In view of the computerized production of the journal, manuscripts of articles and reviews can only be accepted if submitted as computer files (preferably MS Word) and accompanied by a printout. Please note the following formal requirements:
– Article manuscripts - manuscript text, abstract, notes, list of works cited - should not exceed 60,000 to 70,000 characters (including spaces).
– All articles must be preceded by an abstract in English of no more than 200 words.
– Since Amerikastudien / American Studies follows a blind-review system, articles should contain no references to the author.
– An Amerikastudien / American Studies style sheet is available under
The editorial team gladly provides a MS Word document template file (DOT) that is used for pre-typesetting (preflighting).


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 2015: Risk, Security: Approaches to Uncertainty in American Literature, Vol. 60, No. 4

Chance, Risk, Security: Approaches to Uncertainty in American Literature, An Introduction

Providence and Contingency in Edwards, Emerson, and Dickinson

"The Spectre of Uncertainty": Chance in Bellamy's Utopian Fictions

Edward Bellamy's utopian novels Looking Backward (1888) and Equality (1897) imagine a new society of equality, justice, and a life of plenty, where no one has to fear for the security and wellbeing of their own or future generations. In Bellamy's utopian future, the "spectre of Uncertainty," which had been a permanent threat to the lives of people in the late nineteenth century, is presented as having disappeared. And yet, for all of its emphasis on security, Bellamy's utopian vision in fact does not exclude chance, risk, or accident. Placing statistics at the center of his utopian economy, Bellamy imagines a society that is based on probability rather than certainty. Bellamy's industrial workforce of the utopian future is modeled on the ideal of the army, which he envisions as both a rational organization and an organization predicated on risk. Meanwhile, the possibility of accident not only plays a considerable role in the smooth workings of the utopian system but is also the very precondition for the transportation of the novel's protagonist, Julian West, into the future of the year 2000. Thus, in both Looking Backward and Equality, the unpredictable event, the error, and the accident have to be possible for utopia to exist.

Necessary Chances: A Response to Grimstad and Dikant

Frederick Douglass's The Heroic Slave - Risk, Fiction, and Insurance in Antebellum America

Published in 1853 as part of Julia Griffith's abolitionist gift-book and fundraiser Autographs for Freedom , the novella The Heroic Slave became canonized as Frederick Douglass's sole and somewhat negligible attempt at sentimental fiction. The novella offers a speculative account of moments in the life of Madison Washington, one of the ring-leaders of the 1841 slave revolt aboard the brig Creole. The following essay proposes a rereading of The Heroic Slave in light of the historic events of the Creole incident and the subsequent tort lawsuit Thomas McCargo v. The New Orleans Insurance Company. I outline how Douglass's novella taps into the probabilistic logic of the legal case and thus traces the lineage that historically connects slavery, risk, and marine insurance. My essay proposes a reconsideration of Douglass's novella as an aesthetic experiment; it shows how The Heroic Slave employs elements of genre convention, narrative form, and symbolically charged spaces to present the reader with a case for self-empowered, African American agency, which hinges on a newly emergent probabilistic paradigm rather than providential convictions. A radical and deeply ambiguous text, the novella confronts the reader with the racial bias of historiography; it struggles to find a form that reflect slaves' experiences of exposure to the seemingly aleatory uncertainties of the slave-keeping system, in which bodies became chattel and risks turned human futures into tradable commodities. Douglass's text presents Madison Washington's heroism not primarily as based on escape and violent revolt but on his voluntary and self-conscious act of seizing self-ownership and charge of his future. Thus, the novella bears witness to the inherently Janus-faced nature of risk, which indelibly ties its historic function as an economic tool of profitable slave trade to the liberating potential a probabilistic paradigm may hold for individual self-empowerment.

Risk and Nostalgia: Fictions of the Financial Crisis

This essay reads novels responding to the 2008 financial crisis against the backdrop of competing definitions of risk and uncertainty in our financialized economies. Whereas finance produces profits by turning future uncertainty into stochastically modeled, tradable risk categories, Ulrich Beck's "world risk society" is haunted by the anticipation of non-computable catastrophes. Disavowing such radical uncertainty and allowing only for a probabilistically variable continuation of the present, financialization effectively forecloses the future while it also invades daily life. Financial risk-taking has been reframed as a precondition for success and self-acquisition -- a promise that the recent financial crisis crushed for many. The representative contemporary subjectivities therefore alternate between the self-managing agent navigating global financial flows and the "indebted man" caught between the moral obligation to honor his debt and apparatuses of social control (Lazzarato). Paul Auster's Sunset Park and David Eggers's Hologram for the King address the interplay of risk and uncertainty, our cultural investments in the future, and the divergent and gendered poles of financial subjectivity in the wake of the financial crisis. Dwelling in an "aesthetic of uncertainty" (Heise) and presenting a crisis of masculinity, these novels' nostalgia is representative of a wider cultural response to the uncertainty brought on by the triumph of financialization and the failures of the financial markets. If finance transforms future uncertainty into present risk, nostalgia in these novels projects an idealized past to deal with present uncertainty. In turn, the nostalgia for an economy grounded in material production in these novels creates a space of resistance vis-à-vis the logic and temporality of finance and potentially generates alternative, open, and indeed uncertain, futures.

The Presence of Risk in Finance and Fiction: A Response to Hoepker and Kloeckner

At War with the Unknown: Hollywood, Homeland Security, and the Cultural Imaginary of Terrorism after 9/11

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Bush administration established a security discourse based on the paradigm of "uncertain threats," characterizing the "war on terror" as a war against the "unknown." From the point of view of this new security discourse, counterterrorism should not confine itself to the accumulation of data concerning the goals, strategies, and means of terrorist networks. It also depends on ingenuity on the part of security analysts in the imagination of possible present and future events. Besides analyzing facts, counterterrorism has to work speculatively through possibilities, to think in the subjunctive. Consequently, members of the Hollywood entertainment industry were invited by the Pentagon in October 2001 "to brainstorm about possible terrorist targets and schemes in America and to offer solutions to those threats." The present article argues that the consideration of fiction as potential fact is symptomatic of the discursive response to terror, which oscillates between the real (actual incidents of political violence) and the imaginary (anticipated further attacks), both drawing on and contributing to what I propose to conceptualize as the cultural imaginary of terrorism. Although this dynamic became particularly salient after 9/11, it has a much longer history, going back to the first emergence of sub-state violence against public targets at the close of the nineteenth century, when several literary writers devised spectacular scenarios of attacks from the air or with biological weapons. What distinguishes these late-Victorian fictions from post-9/11 counterterrorist discourse, however, is that the latter has made the imaginary an integral feature of homeland defense and thus a basis for political practice.

In the Future, Toward Death: Finance Capitalism and Security in DeLillo's Cosmopolis

This essay aims to come to terms with the cultural power of security, which -- so this article contends -- is better understood as a fascination with insecurity. The essay focuses on Don DeLillo's Cosmopolis in order to show that this novel stages the appeal of (in)security as resting on its promise to offer an alternative to the future-fixation of the risk regime of financial capitalism. In DeLillo's homecoming tale of a mega-rich currency trader, financial risk and the contemporary cult of security come together as the novel's two thematic axes. The future-mindedness of financial risk management is counteracted by the lethal threat constructions that drive the concern with security and that emphasize finitude and mortality. The preoccupation with security enables a turn to existential matters that the virtual abstractions of finance have seemingly made inaccessible. Yet, DeLillo's novel isn't a fantasy of some simple return to the real and authentic. Ultimately, DeLillo suggests, in a financialized world like ours there is no direct exit out of the temporality of risk, and security certainly does not provide it. But the focus of security on vulnerability does offer a way of perverting the contingency management of finance capitalism: It is security's fascination with mortality that can transform finance capitalism's business with the future into what DeLillo calls "the business of living," i.e., a life lived in the awareness of contingency and the certainty of death. Security thus promises a revitalization of life itself. The paradox is that, seen from a different angle, security's recovery of the business of living appears as enamored with death itself, as is attested by the violence committed in its name.

The Dialectical Enlightenment of the Security Imaginary: A Response to Frank and Voelz

"America at Large?" Inter-American Studies, Transnationalism, and the Hemispheric Turn: Research Survey and Review of the Book Series Inter-American Studies/Estudios Interamericanos (vol. I-V)

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