Founded In    1999
Published   annually
Language(s)   English, German

Fields of Interest


literary studies, history, popular culture and media cultures, visual culture, political science, sociology, and geography

ISSN   1861-6127
Editorial Board

Editors: Susanne Leikam, Sascha Pöhlmann, Juliane Schwarz-Bierschenk, and Klara Stephanie Szlezák
Address: University of Regensburg
Department of English and American Studies
93040 Regensburg
Phone: +49 941 943 3475
Fax: +49 941 943 3590
Web site:

Submission Guidelines and Editorial Policies

We invite postgraduate researchers to send us their contributions. We especially encourage young American Studies scholars who have just or are about to finish their master’s or doctoral theses to send us their submissions. We welcome papers from the various areas of American Studies, such as literature, history, popular culture and media cultures, visual culture, political science, sociology, and geography.

Papers should be between 6 and 10 pages in length, including a list of works cited. Prospective authors should also include an abstract of no more than 60 words and a brief CV. We refer authors to the guidelines of the COPAS style sheet available on our web site. Authors should submit their manuscripts via email as attached documents in MS Word format. The manuscripts will then be reviewed by the editors. This process takes about 1-2 months. There will be no print journal-style editing process. Responsibility for content and form remains with the author. Authors agree to consider scholarly comments on their papers that are in accordance with the standards and etiquette of critical discussion.

Scholars interested in guest-editing an issue should contact the editors. For further inquiries please also contact the editors.


COPAS: Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies


Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies (COPAS) is devoted to research by young Americanists. The e-journal was conceived as an opportunity for publication in the interdisciplinary field of American Studies and as an easy-to-access platform for scholarly exchange by young Americanists. The publication project originated in the 1999 Postgraduate Forum of the German Association for American Studies (GAAS) in Regensburg. It is located at the Chair of American Studies at the University of Regensburg. The editors are Susanne Leikam, Sascha Pöhlmann, Juliane Schwarz-Bierschenk, and Klara Stephanie Szlezák. COPAS connects its readers and contributors to ongoing and recently completed research projects in American Studies. It publishes papers from the various areas of American Studies, such as literature, history, popular culture and media cultures, visual culture, political science, sociology, and geography.


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2010, Number 11

From October 30 to November 1, 2009, we had the pleasure of hosting the annual Postgraduate Forum at Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, and the current COPAS contributions originate from this event. Volume 11 of COPAS continues the cooperation between the journal and the Postgraduate Forum, a term which has come to refer to both an event and a group: The PGF is a three-day conference that offers younger scholars in American Studies the chance to present their work to their peers, but the PGF is also that very group of scholars, the target audience of the symposium as well as those organizing it or presenting papers—the postgraduate students of the German Association for American Studies (DGfA).
Torsten Kathke and Sascha Pöhlmann

Encountering the Familiarity of a Foreign Culture: Julie Dash's Novel Daughters of the Dust

This essay analyzes Julie Dash's 1997 novel Daughters of the Dust with regard to its portrayal of the Gullah culture, its strategies of familiarizing an outsider readership with a foreign culture, and the way it depicts representations of culture in anthropology and literature. The analysis works on two levels: it examines how intercultural encounters are portrayed in the novel as well as how the novel itself functions as "entry point" to the Gullah culture. It argues that Dash presents cultures as distinct though not disclosed entities where boundaries can be transgressed though not transcended.

In a Time-Warp: The Issue of Chronology in Siri Hustvedt's The Blindfold

The complexities of both the narrative situation and the time structure of Siri Hustvedt's The Blindfold have, so far, been neglected in secondary literature. This essay makes an attempt at restoring the novel's chronology as far as possible. In a second step, I will then try to interpret the significance of the anachronic way of rendering the plot and deduce certain implications for the novel's ontology using post-structuralist and postmodernist approaches as well as neurological and astrophysical research findings.

"They looked German, albeit with even tighter pants and uglier shoes, but there was something different about them": The Function of East and West Germany and the Fall of the Berlin Wall in Paul Beatty's Slumberland

The essay examines Paul Beatty's novel Slumberland (2008) as representative for a still neglected field of American literary expression: American literary representations of Germany after 1989 which address issues of Germany's former division into East and West, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and German reunification. It argues that the function of the German setting is not used to affirm a U.S. American identity through the othering of Germany but that it critically addresses controversial issues in the United States through the use of displacement.

Hunger and Self-Fashioning in Richard Wright's Black Boy and Knut Hamsun's Sult

Despite their obvious differences in style, setting, and literary background, Richard Wright's novel Black Boy and Knut Hamsun's Sult share a marked similarity in their contemplation of hunger as both a social and existential issue. This matter is one that is bound up with the creation and understanding of self-fashioning and identity, as related through the subjective perceptions and experiences of the narrator.

Writing Jazz History: The Emergence of a New Genre

While very early jazz criticism was often limited to the form of journal articles, music critics in the 1930s started to publish longer books on the music and -- as I will argue in my paper -- created a new genre: the jazz history.

"A Lynching in Blackface": The Representation of History and Fantasies of Black Male Violence in John E. Wideman's The Lynchers

John Edgar Wideman's novel The Lynchers (1973) dramatizes African American plans to lynch a white policeman and thus promote the constitution of a black nation. Drawing on Linda Hutcheon's intertextual conception of parody as elaborated in A Theory of Parody (1985), this article examines the inversion of the lynching narrative at the core of The Lynchers as a "repetition with a critical difference" (32). It argues that the novel's adoption of parody serves three major functions: First, it exposes the specific workings of lynching. Second, it debunks central ingredients of the lynching mythology and third, it expresses a critical position towards the premises and implications of gendered black nationalism.

Arbitrary Ruptures: The Making of History in Michael Chabon’s The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007)

Michael Chabon’s alternate history novel The Yiddish Policemen’s Union (2007) is one of a few novels of that genre that have received recognition from beyond its fan community. This essay argues that the novel’s success can be attributed to its thematic participation in a post-9/11 public discourse which addresses and complements the generic conventions of alternate history.

“I won’t always ask”: Complicating Agency in Octavia Butler’s Fledgling

This study reads Octavia Butler’s Fledgling as a narrative of agency. Critically engaging previous scholarly tendencies to focus solely on the main protagonist’s successful struggle for self-determination, this essay investigates the ways in which Fledgling complicates and irritates simplistic notions of agency, as the novel questions both the possibility and desirability of a high level of agency.

Ralph Waldo Emerson versus Cormac McCarthy: The Annihilation of Emerson’s Values in McCarthy’s The Road

Focusing on the significant and also ambivalent role that nature has always played in American literature and culture, the article examines the striking contrast between Emerson’s description of nature in his essay “Nature” (1836) and McCarthy’s approach to the same subject in his novel The Road (2006). The aim of the article is to reveal the presence of a subtext in which McCarthy hints at the alienation between humans and the natural environment and thus puts forth a radical disillusionment with Emersonian values. Whereas transcendentalists come to read nature as a medium to find spirituality and to be able to communicate with the divine, McCarthy projects confusion and disorder through (human) terror onto nature—or rather what is left of it in the darkened and almost entirely destroyed world in The Road. Against the background of a journey through a burned-out America which is usually celebrated for its natural beauty, the protagonists have to face a desolate waste land: ‘Nature’s Nation’ has turned into a stifling landscape of degeneration. The article examines how the idealistic concept of American nature with which the country once strove to identify itself is exposed, rejected and in fact, heavily attacked in The Road.

Unconventional Allies Reunited: Liberal Hawks and Neoconservatives at the Turn of the Century

The paper argues that liberal hawks and neoconservatives formed an at first glance unconventional alliance during several international conflicts after the end of the Cold War. An analysis of the respective histories of the two schools of thought shows though that the cooperation is actually rooted in common origins and various similarities in their ideologies.

Camping with the Stars: Queer Perfomativity, Pop Intertextuality, and Camp in the Pop Art of Lady Gaga

The article is concerned with the possibility of employing countercultural and subversive strategies in U.S. mainstream media. The concept in question is camp, historically rooted in gay subculture, as performed by pop artist Lady Gaga. She is presented as challenging gender as well as aesthetic norms in her performances via the employment of camp -- thus opening her public persona to queer readings.

Inherent Defeatism in Barry Hannah's "The Agony of T. Bandini" and "Uncle High Lonesome"

William Faulkner’s themes and motifs are topical for the (literary) South to the present day, expressed by an inherent defeatism and structural pessimism. This reading of Barry Hannah’s short stories “The Agony of T. Bandini” and “Uncle High Lonesome” traces this heritage by identifying Hannah’s settings and psychological environment as ones of anticipated failure and lethargic acceptance of fate.

The Purloined Chamber: A Lacanian Reading of Richard Powers’s Plowing the Dark

This article focuses on the short chapters in Richard Powers’s novel Plowing the Dark that describe obscure rooms which cannot easily be related to the novel’s action. Comparing these rooms to the letter in Poe’s short story “The Purloined Letter,” I propose a Lacanian interpretation of these rooms that will illuminate their character and function.

Other Issues

2013, Number 14.1,
2012, Number 13,
2011, Number 12,
2009, Number 10
2008, Number 9
2007, Number 8
, 15.1
, 14.2
2006, Number 7
2003, Number 4
2004, Number 5
2005, Number 6