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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, 15.1

Guest Editors’ Editorial 15.1 (2014)

Dropouts on the Frontier: T.C. Boyle’s Drop City

This essay will explore the depiction of the hippie movement in the novel Drop City by T.C. Boyle. Drawing on the theoretical background of the 1960s counterculture formulated by Stuart Hall, I will trace how the novel depicts the development of the dropout community from their members' initial desire to move outside of society to a movement back towards the very system that was rejected beforehand by reading the counterculture against the paradigm of the frontier.

Remembering through Retro TV and Cinema: Mad Men as Televisual Memorial to 60s America

This article examines ways in which some contemporary American television and cinema set in the 1950s and 1960s such as Pleasantville and Mad Men share a critical engagement with the period they represent. The engagement is through the twin processes of identification and dissonance. The article describes this way of reviewing the past as retro representation. The article further explores the idea of retros as televisual memorials for the present, as they contribute to preserving memories of the represented period. Mad Men is examined as such a televisual memorial of the 60s.

Collective Action and Public Self-Representation of Undocumented Youth Surrounding the United States DREAM Act Controversy

This article investigates the advocacy of undocumented immigrant youth to realize the passage of the United States DREAM Act, a highly controversial legislation proposal that would provide qualifying undocumented, educated immigrants a pathway to permanent citizenship. While earlier phases of activism (2001 to 2007) have been classified as following the strategies of a neoliberal immigration reform discourse, from 2007 onwards undocumented youth changed their tactics, using a more radical approach which involved increased visibility and vocality, the use of civil disobedience tactics, and the disclosure of their undocumented status. It will be argued that discourse participants thereby managed to create narratives and acts that challenge existing neoliberal discursive frameworks and reconstructed their self-understanding and representation.

Of "Half-Rembered Dream[s]" and "Unanswered Myster[ies]" -- The Trope of Trauma in Inception and Alan Wake

By means of their own genre-specific techniques, the movie Inception and the video game Alan Wake incarnate the same concept -- that of trauma. While the origin of a trauma is generally agreed upon among trauma theorists, the issue of representation is widely debated. It is the aim of this paper to investigate the representation of traumas across media, to compare the results and thus shed some light on the question of whether trauma can only be psychologically categorized or if it even has become a significant societal trope.

“A Good Story”: On Black Abjection in Improv Comedy

This paper discusses Black absence in Improv Comedy as a symptom for the racial exclusion inherent in Humanism. Critiquing Enlightenment thought as the epistemological basis for Improv's liberatory and democratic ideals, I engage in deconstructive play with one of the era's central literary motifs, the Doppelgänger. I analyze Improv as a particular symptom of White aesthetic, cultural, and political hegemony.

Gothic Remembering in Stephen King’s “It Grows On You”

This essay introduces the notion of gothic remembering as a means to conceptualize hauntings in a small-town setting. It emphasizes the breakdown of a normative construction of communal past by foregrounding the focus of remembering on abject images and semiotic processes of signification that undermine communal strategies of closure in remembering, thus leading to gothic hauntings.

The Thomas Jefferson Icon in the Web of Rhetorical Appropriations

This essay analyses the rhetorical appropriation of Thomas Jefferson by diverse Congressmen between 1934 and 1943. The critical discourse analysis reveals how the consensual and dissentaneous interpretations and appropriations of Jefferson contributed to the construction of the "free-floating" Jefferson icon. I explain why depictions and appropriations of Jefferson as humanitarian, (Christian) radical, and Socialist became the saving grace during the years of social and economic crisis.

The Black Male as Ancestor in John Edgar Wideman’s The Homewood Trilogy

This essay focuses on John Edgar Wideman's representation of the black male's role as ancestor in his Damballah. It investigates why black male ancestry is traditionally not well-established, and how Wideman recreates such ancestry to empower the current generations of young black males. In The Homewood Trilogy Wideman creates ancestral figures to establish connections with the past, reclaim a forgotten history, and better understand the contemporary black male crisis.

Multiplying Perspectives through Text and Time: Jamaica Kincaid’s Writing of the Collective

Throughout Jamaica Kincaid's fictional works, the literary technique of narrative repetition and revision multiplies narrative perspectives both with regard to singular events as well as through generations and thereby through history, pointing back to the year 1492. This article demonstrates how Kincaid thus inscribes a multitude of perspectives into what has hitherto been largely read as autobiographical fiction and, in this way, engages collective Caribbean experience as profoundly affected by the history of colonialism and slavery.

Previously on the Quality Debate

This essay examines and compares the quality debates surrounding serialized narratives in nineteenth-century periodicals and in contemporary television. It explores the processes of cultural hierarchization, the media, and the spaces of reception, both aspects that form the basis of the quality debate.

"You ought to stop trying because you had too many birthdays?" - Heroic Male Aging in the Rocky Films

This essay deals with one of Hollywood's most popular action heroes, Rocky Balboa. It discusses the whole Rocky franchise as six age narratives in which the athletic protagonist faces the obstacles of age. By looking at male identity especially with regard to retirement and the aging male body, the depiction of male aging and what it signifies in these sport action films will be discussed.

Between Meritocracy and the Old Boy Network: Elite Education in Contemporary American Literature

This article focuses on the discourse of elite education in the United States. I argue that the discourse generates two dominant topoi -- merit and network -- in order to make sense of elite education and its socio-political implications. Examining Tom Wolfe's I am Charlotte Simmons (2004) and Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep (2005) against the backdrop of different positions within the discursive framework, I read literary texts as counter-discourses that provide spaces of subversion and resistance to dominant meanings.

“John Birch Blues”: The Problematization of Conspiracy Theory in the Early Cold-War Era

This paper argues that the status of conspiracy theory changed from legitimate to illegitimate knowledge in the mid-20th century. By tracing the scientific, cultural, and political discourses of the early Cold-War era I show that World War II, the Red Scare of the 1950s, and the rise in political extremism in the 1960s significantly contributed to the delegitimization of conspiracy theory.

Other Issues

2013, Number 14.1,
2012, Number 13,
2011, Number 12,
2010, Number 11
2009, Number 10
2008, Number 9
2007, Number 8
, 14.2
2006, Number 7
2003, Number 4
2004, Number 5
2005, Number 6