Founded In    2007
Published   annually
Language(s)   English

Fields of Interest


interdisciplinary american studies scholarship

ISSN   1865-8768
Editorial Board


Submission Guidelines and Editorial Policies

Detailed submission guidelines are available at:
- Articles should not exceed 10,000 words in length (including notes, abstract and works cited) and must be written in English.
- Contributors must be enrolled in an MA(equivalent) program at a European University at the time of submitting.

Mailing Address

American Studies Leipzig
Beethovenstr. 15
04107 Leipzig

aspeers: emerging voices in american studies

The editors at aspeers recognize the quality and importance of work being done at the graduate level in European American Studies Institutions.
Advanced students all over Europe produce outstanding and innovative American Studies scholarship. However, many excellent student theses, essays, and papers are not receiving the attention they deserve.

Therefore, aspeers seeks to give emerging scholars a voice: A platform to showcase their work beyond the graduate classroom and a forum for discussion and exchange. We believe that such wider circulation of graduate scholarship has great potential to further energize the field of American Studies. At the same time, aspeers offers emerging scholars the unique opportunity to publish and get recognition for their research at an early point in their careers.

For more information please reference our call for papers (, or visit our website at

aspeers is a project within the American Studies MA Program at the University of Leipzig, Germany. With most members of the reviewing editorial staff being MA candidates, it currently is the only peer-reviewed publication channel for graduate students in European American Studies programs.


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aspeers 10 (2017), 10

The contributions featured in the tenth issue of aspeers provide an array of significant interventions to both the field of American studies in general and some of its keywords in particular, such as the monstrous and the frontier. In addition, the editors investigate how the process of making this journal has developed throughout the years, and what this experience has meant for its editors.


Greeting by the President of the German Association for American Studies

Introduction: Of Monsters, Frontiers, and Apocalypses: Ten Years of American Studies Graduate Scholarship

"Every New Land Demands Blood": 'Nature' and the Justification of Frontier Violence in Hell on Wheels

This paper demonstrates how AMC's TV show Hell on Wheels portrays the ideological force of nature to justify violence in frontier mythology. After a short look into the historical and ongoing relevance of frontier mythology in US culture, I will argue for its ideological reliance on nature. The following chapter will provide a theoretical background on social Darwinism, determinism, and scientism. I will then analyze how these relationships are examined in Hell on Wheels. First, as Thomas Durant's social Darwinist monologue is paralleled with imagery that challenges the providential myth of Manifest Destiny, the show reveals that both ideologies equally replace human responsibility with a quasi-evolutionary rhetoric of inevitable progress. Second, the Swede's deterministic notions of nature demonstrate the mythical power of the natural environment and evolutionary biology, which can easily assume Manifest Destiny's divine authority as a justification for violence. Finally, the Swede's and Reverend Cole's discursive replacement of God with blood signifies a shift from religion to a redemptive scientism, in which science purports not only to explain but also to justify the violence of westward expansion. In these renditions, nature is variably utilized as the prime model for social behavior, as the ultimate victor over culture, and as the final authority whose imperatives are intelligible only through science.

"We All Go a Little Mad Sometimes. Haven't You?": Psycho and the Postmodern Rise of Gender Queerness

Film historians consider Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) a pivotal point in the rupture from classic forms of horror film and the introduction of a shift in sensibilities. Simultaneously, Psycho represents a landmark achievement in terms of queer depictions on screen. The means of generating shock value first presented in this film was a new, visible queerness embodied in the character of Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins). This article argues that apart from Bates's queer performativity, to a certain degree, every character in Psycho's cosmos is queered due to a postmodern, all-pervasive deconstruction of gender roles. While these gender-bending film elements can be regarded as groundbreaking, the ways in which queerness in the film is portrayed follows a retrogressive cinematic tradition of queerness as monstrous. Lastly, the article parallels the 1960 original with Gus Van Sant's eponymous 1998 remake. Remaking a cinematic work from an updated societal standpoint is of utmost relevance to this study since the comparison between the original and the remake not only highlights the changing perspectives regarding queer issues but also reveals how movies that are almost identical can sustain very different meanings.

What If the Pen Was Mightier Than the Sword? Civil War Alternate History as Social Criticism

Alternate histories about the American Civil War seem ideally set up to explore the possibilities and tensions of social criticism through art and literature. Counterfactual stories about the war easily invoke contemporary issues of inequality and exploitation, and they are part of a genre -- alternate history -- that has traditionally lent itself to social commentary. Yet while scholarship on alternate history has captured the presentist orientation of many alternate histories in the fantasy-nightmare dichotomy, these categories appear reductive as a reflection of the layered and intriguing forms social criticism takes in Civil War alternate history. This article examines two examples of this genre that position themselves as political statements. Frank Purdy Williams's largely forgotten novel Hallie Marshall: A True Daughter of the South (1900) subverts major literary traditions of its time to mount a counterintuitive critique of capitalist exploitation. Kevin Willmott's mockumentary C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America (2004) is both a scathing critique of American racism and a multilayered satire on the distortion of history in popular culture. Both works use the conventions of alternate history as conduits for critique and provocation, which makes the revelation of their ideological investments ingenious but perhaps dangerously circuitous.

Environment and Emotion in The Revenant: A Cognitive Approach

This paper investigates the role of the environment in cuing spectator emotions in The Revenant. In order to analyze how the environment is portrayed to evoke emotional responses, this article utilizes a cognitive approach toward film. One important way in which this process works is through the protagonist's experience of his surroundings. By following Hugh Glass on his journey through the wilderness, the viewer shares his experience of it and responds emotionally in a congruent way: with terror, fear, and compassion as well as with curiosity and genuine interest in nature. However, The Revenant additionally encourages a different set of emotions toward the wilderness that are not connected to Glass's fate or desires. Spectators are invited to feel emotions toward the environment per se, both in The Revenant and in real life. Cutaways to fascinating shots of unspoiled wilderness invite contemplation about the human impact on natural life and the lack of willingness to change harmful behavior ever since the beginnings of environmental exploitation as depicted in The Revenant. The latter emotions can nevertheless not be regarded as independent from the narrative but rather as part of the cinematic experience, since they are evoked within the context of the film.

Little Maison on the Prairie

"I Think We're Going to Need Some Scary Monsters": An Interview with Picador Professor Paul La Farge

Reflections by Former Editors

Other Issues

aspeers 11 (2018), 11
aspeers 9 (2016) - American Youth, 9
aspeers 8 (2015) - American Health, 8
aspeers 7 (2014) - American Anxieties, 7
aspeers 6 (2013) - American Memories, 6
aspeers 5 (2012) - American Food Cultures, 5
aspeers 4 (2011) - Nature and Technology, Revisited, 4
aspeers 3 (2010) - Crime and America, 3
aspeers 2 (2009) - Migration and Mobility, 2
aspeers 1 (2008), 1