Linford D. Fisher, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (Oxford/New York: Oxford UP, 2012, 2014), 312 pp.
Mar15

Linford D. Fisher, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (Oxford/New York: Oxford UP, 2012, 2014), 312 pp.

Linford D. Fisher, The Indian Great Awakening: Religion and the Shaping of Native Cultures in Early America (Oxford/New York: Oxford UP, 2012, 2014), 312 pp. Amerikastudien / American Studies 61.2     Im Zentrum der anregenden Studie des an der Brown University lehrenden Historikers Linford Fisher stehen die unterschiedlichen und facettenreichen Modi, mit denen Native Americans im südöstlichen Neuengland zwischen 1700 und 1820 dem christlichen Glauben begegneten, ihn ablehnten oder annahmen und auf ihre ganz eigene Art modifizierten. Dabei stellt Fisher die Selbstbestimmung („agency“) der Native Americans ganz in den Mittelpunkt seiner Analyse, die auf einer beeindruckend breiten und vielfältigen Quellengrundlage basiert. Die ersten beiden Kapitel konturieren die historischen Hintergründe und Rahmenbedingungen, vor denen die Interaktionen zwischen Native Americans und den christlichen Kolonisten zu sehen sind. In Kapitel 1, Rainmaking, rekonstruiert Fisher die europäischen Bemühungen, das Christentum unter den Native Americans zu verbreiten, wobei er insbesondere John Eliot in den Blick nimmt. Es sei ihnen noch bis in die ersten Dekaden des 18. Jahrhunderts gelungen, ihre traditionelle Lebensweise beizubehalten, ehe dann in diesem Zeitraum die evangelistischen Bemühungen nochmals erheblich intensiviert worden seien. Eben diese Evangelisierungsbemühungen stehen im Zentrum des zweiten Kapitels. Es gelingt Fisher auf überzeugende Weise, die Komplexität dieses Prozesses der Auswahl, Aneignung und Ablehnung christlicher Glaubensinhalte darzustellen, die in hohem Maße durch den spezifischen soziokulturellen Kontext in Neuengland bedingt waren. In Übereinstimmung mit anderen Forschungsergebnissen der jüngeren Zeit – hier ist etwa an die Arbeiten von Felicity Jensz oder Rachel Wheeler zu denken – war es vor allem der Zugang zu Bildung, der den Übertritt zum Christentum attraktiv werden ließ. In diesem Zusammenhang ist auch das fünfte Kapitel von Bedeutung, in welchem Fisher das Bildungsbemühen nach der Erweckung analysiert. Der Bildungserwerb war stets mit dem Bestreben verbunden, hierüber eine gewisse Eigenständigkeit und Handlungsfähigkeit zu erhalten. Im dritten Kapitel steht dann die Erweckung („awakening“) im Mittelpunkt des Interesses. Das titelgebende Indian Great Awakening sieht Fisher als das Resultat eines Zusammenwirkens von einerseits über dreißig Jahren Missions- und Evangelisierungsbemühungen und andererseits der wachsenden Anstrengungen der indianischen Gemeinschaften, „education, literarcy, and acceptance“ (S. 67) innerhalb der kolonialen Gesellschaft zu erwerben. Die eigentlichen Aneignungsprozesse werden von Fisher nuanciert und gründlich dargestellt, wobei er zu höchst aufschlussreichen Beobachtungen gelangt. So zeigt er etwa, dass die Interaktionen zwischen den christlichen Geistlichen und den indianischen Stammesgemeinschaften zu durchaus innovativen Glaubenspraktiken führten, wie z.B. zu lebhaftem Gesang oder anderen individuelle Ausdrucksformen während des Gottesdienstes. Linford Fisher plädiert im vierten Kapitel für den Begriff „affiliation“, um die vielfältigen Erweckungserfahrungen von Native Americans, zu beschreiben. Im Gegensatz zur religiösen Bekehrung („religious conversion“) sei „affiliation“ nämlich besser geeignet, die ganze Handlungspalette der Reaktionen im Kontext des Indian Great...

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Steve Longenecker, Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (New York: Fordham UP, 2014), 246 pp.
Mar15

Steve Longenecker, Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (New York: Fordham UP, 2014), 246 pp.

Steve Longenecker, Gettysburg Religion: Refinement, Diversity, and Race in the Antebellum and Civil War Border North (New York: Fordham UP, 2014), 246 pp. Amerikastudien / American Studies 61.2 Steve Longenecker’s micro-historical study attempts to carve out the significance of Gettysburg beyond its role as the site of a three-day Civil War battle, or its place in the name of Lincoln’s address as he dedicated the Soldier’s National Cemetery. Longenecker seeks to uncover Gettysburg by shifting the focus away from the stifling legacy of the war and to the town as representing small-town America in the antebellum Border North (1). Longenecker’s project is to read Gettysburg through the lens of three key terms—refinement, diversity, and race—in order to demonstrate that this small town was indicative of antebellum trends and tendencies in the larger Border North as well as on the national level (1). In so doing, Gettysburg hovers between the special and the ordinary: while it was “typically American” in subscribing to a “pursuit of material gain and improvement” (i.e., refinement), Longenecker calls Gettysburg “unusually diverse and modern” (33) for its rural setting. Relating the key terms to their significance for and within religion and religious practices in this “intriguing” (33) town of Gettysburg is supposedly the core of Longenecker’s study. As the chapters progress, however, one might argue that what he calls once “race,” “diversity,” or “war” might actually be at the heart of the matter. Longenecker’s outline is straightforward. He first introduces Gettysburg and its inhabitants, its history and development, and, most importantly, its various religious congregations. He then moves on to highlight the different characteristics of refinement, diversity, and war “in theory” and “in practice” (chs. 2 and 3), as well as their interplay with lived religious practices in Gettysburg: refinement as “the quest for improvement” (1) among the middle-class touched, for example, the church buildings as well as “polished worship” (2); diversity in Gettysburg, for Longenecker, comprises not only denominational but also doctrinal, educational, and ethnic diversity (3). The war’s impact on religion in town, so Longenecker’s conclusion, was only “moderate” (5), in the sense that most congregations recovered rather quickly and resumed their “routine” after July, 1863 (5). Therefore, the actual battle only figures in the last chapter, and although there is a factual account of the lead-up and its course of action, the focus is put on its aftermath and direct impact on the inhabitants and religious communities. This is part of Longenecker’s strategy to de-nationalize the Battle of Gettysburg and to contradict the superlatives of historiography that have contributed to turning it into an American lieu de mémoire. The book chapters are interspersed...

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Lawrence I. Berkove and Joseph Csicsila, Heretical Fictions: Religion in the Literature of Mark Twain (Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2010), 271 pp.
Mar15

Lawrence I. Berkove and Joseph Csicsila, Heretical Fictions: Religion in the Literature of Mark Twain (Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2010), 271 pp.

Lawrence I. Berkove and Joseph Csicsila, Heretical Fictions: Religion in the Literature of Mark Twain (Iowa City: U of Iowa P, 2010), 271 pp. Amerikastudien / American Studies 61.2   For many people, the name “Mark Twain” is synonymous with American humor. Therefore, it is worth noting that this book says very little about humor, in fact the term’s entry in the index is shorter than that on “hell.” Berkove and Csicsila regard Twain’s gift of narrative and humor as simply a surface feature that served to establish and maintain his popular appeal, but does not have enough weight to justify Twain’s status as “one of literature’s most accomplished writers” (xiv). Similarly, the authors pay virtually no attention to the regional and historical dimensions of Twain’s work that are a mainstay of traditional scholarship. Instead, it is their ambition to identify the fundamental values, convictions, and the literary strategies which establish the unifying bond that connects all of Twain’s writings and thus provides a consistency to his work that is the true hallmark of the literary artist. In this endeavor, entertaining episodes of life in the West, adventures along the Mississippi River, the pranks of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and imaginary excursions into the world of King Arthur are nothing more than means to an end. Twain’s main purpose, the authors contend, is to “expose life as a cruel hoax” (136) and to identify “an ingenious, deceptive, and malevolent” (11) God as its cause.   To substantiate their ideas, Berkove and Csicsila take on the task of explaining how religion, and more specifically Calvinism, served as a powerful, if painful, catalyst for Twain’s literary imagination. The authors’ approach is plausible and promising. In his noteworthy observation about the role of religion in the United States, Tocqueville stated that “there is no country in the world where the Christian religion retains a greater influence over the souls of men than in America.”[1] The statement appeared in the American translation of Tocqueville’s book in 1838, three years after the birth of Mark Twain, or rather Samuel Langhorne Clemens, and may serve as a reminder that nineteenth-century American culture in general, and American literature in particular, unfolded under the influence of a powerful belief system.   In view of this situation it may be surprising to see that, as Berkove and Csicsila note in their introductory chapter, the topic of religion has been “mentioned in Twain studies” (3), but has rarely been pursued with sufficient intensity.[2] It is perhaps a telling sign that even A Companion to Mark Twain, a standard reference book from 2005, does not feature an essay on...

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Laura Bieger, Ramón Saldívar and Johannes Voelz, eds., The Imaginary and its Worlds: American Studies after the Transnational Turn (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College P, 2013), 312 pp.
Feb17

Laura Bieger, Ramón Saldívar and Johannes Voelz, eds., The Imaginary and its Worlds: American Studies after the Transnational Turn (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College P, 2013), 312 pp.

Laura Bieger, Ramón Saldívar and Johannes Voelz, eds., The Imaginary and its Worlds: American Studies after the Transnational Turn (Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College P, 2013), 312 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   The collection of papers in The Imaginary and its Worlds was developed out of a conference hosted at the John-F-Kennedy-Institut of the Freie Universitӓt Berlin in the summer of 2009 to honor the scholarly career of Winfried Fluck. Fittingly, the contributors here consider ways in which conceptions of the “imaginary” have shaped American studies both during and after the “transnational turn,” as that idea became institutionalized during the first decade of the twenty-first century. About half the contributors here are from Germany and half from elsewhere, and one of the most valuable aspects of this critical anthology involves its illumination of different ways in which the term “social imaginary” has been used and the different intellectual traditions it evokes. As Fluck himself observes, whereas for Cornelius Castoriadis the “radical instituting imaginary” was “the source of the self-creation of society ex nihilo,” for other scholars, such as Charles Taylor, the notion of a social imaginary has tended in the direction of “interpellation and subjection” (259), particularly in its more recent uses. In their introduction, Laura Bieger, Ramón Saldívar and Johannes Voelz observe that whereas the Lacanian imaginary has worked through misrepresentation, the genealogy of the imaginary in Germany has been influenced more by Wolfgang Iser’s reception theory, and indeed it is that exploration of “the imaginary through the lens of reception aesthetics” that constitutes Fluck’s major contribution to this field (xxv). Saldívar’s own essay emphasizes Fluck’s debt to Iser (12), while Fluck himself in his “coda” lays stress on how literary texts are above all “aesthetic objects” (238). The fact that they “continue to provide an aesthetic experience,” even though the “historical situation” framing their conditions of production may have changed, has the effect of ensuring in Fluck’s eyes that the Fredric Jameson maxim “‘always historicize’ [. . .] cannot solve the problem of interpretive conflict” (238). For Fluck, such “interpretative disagreement and conflict” is not “an irritating problem but, quite the contrary, an indispensable resource” (257), one that locates the value of cultural texts in relation to their transhistorical afterlife. The German tradition of American studies that Fluck espouses, as we see here, has tended always to be intertwined with the shifting horizons of reception theory. This has lent it a vestige of philosophical idealism that has served to differentiate it from more popular Marxist approaches, grounded as they are in social and economic contexts. Herwig Friedl’s essay in this collection, “William James versus Charles Taylor,” establishes...

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Winfried Fluck, Donald E. Pease, and John Carlos Rowe, eds., Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies (Hanover: Dartmouth College P, 2011), 460 pp.
Feb17

Winfried Fluck, Donald E. Pease, and John Carlos Rowe, eds., Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies (Hanover: Dartmouth College P, 2011), 460 pp.

Winfried Fluck, Donald E. Pease, and John Carlos Rowe, eds., Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies (Hanover: Dartmouth College P, 2011), 460 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   The late 2000s and early 2010s saw a considerable number of monographs and edited collections reconsidering the nexus of transnational and global American studies. Coming out of a discipline that tries to move beyond the exceptionalist legacy of Cold War American studies, transnational American studies questions established and new directions in the discipline alike, including frequently its own project and the legacy it builds on. The articles collected in Re-Framing the Transnational Turn in American Studies exemplify this trend by bringing together methodologically and thematically diverse articles that self-critically position themselves within a field in transition. The book is the result of a series of conferences that were financed through a research grant procured by scholars at the Humboldt University of Berlin, the Free University of Berlin, and the University of Potsdam, and collaboratively organized with John Carlos Rowe at USC and Donald Pease at Dartmouth College. Consequently, the list of contributors reads like a “who is who” of American studies in and around Berlin circa 2007 with a few international contributors including Rowe and Pease, as well as Nancy Fraser, Macarena Goméz-Barris, Peter D. O’Neill, and William Arce. As suggested by the reputation of the editors and the contributors who include many major forces in the reshaping of American studies, the book contains a number of excellent contributions to the field that will be essential reading for anyone seeking to enter it, and will add new perspectives to those already invested in it. The book is divided into four sections consisting of four (and in one case five) chapters each and an almost fifty page introduction by Donald Pease, in which Pease reviews the state of transnational and global American studies with remarkable lucidity, offering an overview over a diverse field that reveals both Pease’s profound knowledge and his investment in a more political direction for American studies. Although the first sentence proclaiming the “transnational turn” to be “the most significant reimagining of the field of American studies since its inception” (1) might signal otherwise, Pease is nevertheless careful to not be overly celebratory of transnational studies as the final step to get away from American Exceptionalism. Instead, he reviews work done over the past two decades, examining it from a range of different perspectives in order to illuminate its many different agendas, as well as the historical forces that shaped and continue to shape transnational approaches in American studies. While positioning the transnational project as part of a...

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Hartmut Lutz, Contemporary Achievements: Contextualizing Canadian Aboriginal Literatures (Augsburg: Wißner, 2015), 334 pp.
Feb17

Hartmut Lutz, Contemporary Achievements: Contextualizing Canadian Aboriginal Literatures (Augsburg: Wißner, 2015), 334 pp.

Hartmut Lutz, Contemporary Achievements: Contextualizing Canadian Aboriginal Literatures (Augsburg: Wißner, 2015), 334 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   The front cover of this outstanding collection shows a beadwork turtle designed by Anette Brauer with Canada’s national symbol, the maple leaf, on its back. The animal here echoes Turtle Island, a term used by many native tribes such as the Anishinaabe and Iroquois to denote North America, and by extension texts such as Thomas King’s The Back of the Turtle, and, more generally, well-known creation stories such as Beth Brant’s Mohawk version “This is History,” in which the earth is always shaped and built on the back of a turtle. The cover of Contemporary Achievements thus hints at the “Canadian cultural mosaic” and at the “Indigenous inhabitants on whose ancestral lands, Turtle Island, the beautiful mosaic was […] based” (23). As such, this book does not exclusively study Canadian and Canadian Aboriginal histories and their relations. It also examines the role of the people and peoples who populate(d) Turtle Island and had an impact on its politics, cultures, literatures, academia, and knowledge in the context of Canada’s multiculturalism policies, transnational relations and interactions with Europe and the United States. Most importantly, the “process of recognition and assertion of the Aboriginal presence in Canadian culture” (10). Celebrating these processes and achievements is Hartmut Lutz, whose expertise in American and Canadian Studies, and especially in Native American and First Nations scholarship, is reflected in the excellent compilation that is Contemporary Achievements. As a professor and guest professor at many distinguished universities in Germany, Canada, the United States, Poland, and Finland, among others, and with an extensive list of awards and publications, longstanding Indigenous Studies scholar and expert Hartmut Lutz delivers a major contribution not only to the SALC (Studies in Anglophone Literatures and Cultures) series, but to the interdisciplinary and challenging field of Indigenous Studies as a whole. The essays in this collection have all originally been published in a diverse range of internationally highly acclaimed journals and edited volumes. They have now been compiled into the edition at hand and have been organized into five thematic clusters all striving towards one major aim, namely to survey, contextualize, and give credit and voice to Canadian Aboriginal authors and texts. Lutz’s introduction, entitled “About this book,” addresses the history of the manuscript, gives thanks to colleagues and friends who have contributed in one way or another to the making of this volume, and provides a brief overview of the contents of the book. “Surveys of Canadian Native Literatures,” the first section of the volume, opens with an essay entitled “The Beginnings of Contemporary...

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Oliver Scheiding and Martin Seidl, eds., Worlding America: A Transnational Anthology of Short Narratives before 1800 (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2015), 245 pp.
Feb17

Oliver Scheiding and Martin Seidl, eds., Worlding America: A Transnational Anthology of Short Narratives before 1800 (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2015), 245 pp.

Oliver Scheiding and Martin Seidl, eds., Worlding America: A Transnational Anthology of Short Narratives before 1800 (Stanford: Stanford UP, 2015), 245 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   Anthologies are by nature provocative: the chosen selections will always impress some and dismay others, and, by prioritizing certain writers and values, editors make literary and political statements. There is nothing hidden, however, about the agenda behind Worlding America.  Rather than aiming to create or revise a pedagogical canon (in the mode of the Norton, Heath or Bedford anthologies), this slim collection is designed to make and illustrate a critical statement about the untapped abundance of short narratives that fall within the broad category of early American writing. It is therefore an invaluable resource for two overlapping areas of scholarly interest: the evolution of the American short story and new perspectives on early American writing. Because of the sheer diversity and the plot-driven designs of the narratives, the anthology is also a great read. The thirty selected narratives, which range from two to fifteen pages in length, are grouped into five categories: Life Writing, Female Agency, The Circum-Atlantic World, Cultures of Print, and Ghost Stories. These overlapping and eclectic subheadings reflect the anthology’s aim of being suggestive rather than exhaustive. Like boxes containing boxes, each category is divided into smaller subgroups, so that, for instance, what is meant by “Cultures of Print” becomes clarified by the section’s further division into Orientalism, Migrant Fictions and Sensationalism, each of which is represented by two texts. Under Sensationalism, for example, we find a fictionalized account of a man who murdered his family because he believed God commanded it, and a revenant love story set in Italy, pirated from a French collection, and published anonymously in an American periodical. For those familiar with Brockden Brown’s Wieland and the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, the connections are appealing, and despite the editors’ assertion that this anthology is not simply an Ur-context for the emergence of the American short story, the material certainly could be used to that end. The critical headnotes mostly skirt such teleological goals and focus instead on the peculiarities of early American literary culture, including the importance of eighteenth-century periodicals in shaping these brief, plot-driven narratives, and the prevalence of literary piracy and other forms of recycling that complicate the notion of authorship.  Within the subdivided structure of the anthology we find some predictable themes and genres: captivity narrative and slavery are there, for instance. But accounts from different locales, times, and cultures are thoughtfully juxtaposed so that adjacent to the dramatic account of New England’s Hannah Duston, who scalped her captors, is the...

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Sebastian Emling und Katja Rakow, Moderne religiöse Erlebniswelten in den USA. “Have Fun and Prepare to Believe!” (Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2014), 266 pp.
Feb17

Sebastian Emling und Katja Rakow, Moderne religiöse Erlebniswelten in den USA. “Have Fun and Prepare to Believe!” (Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2014), 266 pp.

Sebastian Emling und Katja Rakow, Moderne religiöse Erlebniswelten in den USA. “Have Fun and Prepare to Believe!” (Berlin: Reimer Verlag, 2014), 266 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   Can spirituality be expressed through “modern religious experience worlds?” The answer is in the affirmative. Are religions, when marketed to appeal to broad audiences, inevitably watered down? Not necessarily. The volume documents the outcomes of the DFG-funded project “Moderne religiöse Erlebnisgesellschaften” at the Institute for Religious Studies at the University of Heidelberg and is the first publication in the new book series Transformierte Religionen. The authors, Katja Rakow and Sebastian Emling, present their field research of two key evangelical organizations in the U.S.: the Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, and the Creationism Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. Lakewood is currently the biggest neo‐pentecostal megachurch in the U.S. attracting over 43,000 people to its seven services each week. In 2005 it moved into a former basketball arena with 9,000 parking spaces, an auditorium featuring 16,000 seats and a huge stage framed by two artificial waterfalls, providing space for a choir, orchestra, and three big screens. Aided by over 4,000 volunteers, the church is headed by Pastor Joel Osteen—the so-called “Smiling Preacher” (Washington Post, January 2005) and “a religious specialist and entrepreneur on the American market of religion” (10)—which also makes the church the site of his eponymous and (inter)nationally broadcasted TV-show. In turn, Lakewood serves both the local and the (inter)national community (96-103). As Rakow comments, the structure and atmosphere of the building is deliberately left neutral and reminds her more of a conference venue than a church (11). A similar observation about the lack of resemblance to a church is made by Emling, who compares the Creationism Museum to a shopping mall (15). Within the first five years since its opening in 2007, the museum has attracted over five million visitors and is led and financed by Answers in Genesis (AiG) with Ken Ham serving as its president. AiG is the most influential and successful American Young Earth-Creationism organization, a Christian-apologetic body with over 300 employees, its own monthly magazine (Answers), and over 900 international radio stations (121). The 6,200m2 complex located at Interstate 275 features not only the museum, a cafeteria, and book and souvenir store but also outdoor facilities such as a lake and a petting zoo. Taken together, the authors make three crucial claims and thereby revise scientific and common preconceptions of evangelicalism especially held by Europeans: First, against the tendency to portray them as hard-liner, conservative fundamentalists who denounce modern technology,[1] both authors present evangelical organizations as heterogeneous, complex, adaptive, and innovative religious providers on the competitive American...

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Felix Krämer, Moral Leaders: Medien, Gender und Glaube in den USA der 1970er und 1980er Jahre (Bielefeld: transcript, 2015), 416 pp.
Feb17

Felix Krämer, Moral Leaders: Medien, Gender und Glaube in den USA der 1970er und 1980er Jahre (Bielefeld: transcript, 2015), 416 pp.

Felix Krämer, Moral Leaders: Medien, Gender und Glaube in den USA der 1970er und 1980er Jahre (Bielefeld: transcript, 2015), 416 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2     On March 30, 1981, President Ronald Reagan was shot by a deranged man, John Hinckley, Jr. This well-known tidbit of US-American history is one of the examples Felix Krämer uses to illustrate the production of what he calls “moral leadership” in the televised evening news. He locates this figure at the intersection of media production, white hegemonic masculinity, and the new religious politics in the 1970s and 1980s. In contrast to earlier Presidents, like Richard Nixon who, after his resignation, had become so ill he was sent to the hospital and was portrayed in the news as a frail, sickly, and defeated body (119), Reagan “proved” his virility by walking upright into the hospital (159-163, 176-178). There, he was “born again,” not only by surviving a punctured lung and heavy blood loss, but also as an exemplary leader who bested the erratic attack of a madman and showed the magnanimity to forgive him (180). Hinckley, the shooter, who inspired by the movie Taxi Driver had sought to impress actress Jodi Foster through his action, was declared legally insane. In the media coverage, Hinckley and Reagan came to symbolize violent, immoral anomy and decisive, moral leadership respectively, inscribing the dichotomy between good and evil into the public discourse (163-167). In the figure of Reagan, the combination of virility and virtue crystalized, making his blood a relic, the bartering of which made the evening news in 2012 (385).   Felix Krämer is a historian focusing on North America, discourse analysis, and gender studies. The reviewed book, written in German and published in 2015, was adapted from his dissertation submitted to the Westfälische-Whilhelms University, Münster in 2012.In Moral Leaders, Krämer undertook the herculean task of analyzing two decades of evening news of the three major US-American TV stations ABC, CBS, and NBC, translating the audio-visual discourse not only into text but also into German. Critical of an apparent crisis of masculinity during the 1970s and startled by the emergence of the New Christian Right at the end of that decade (386, 387), Krämer studiously examined the evening news to figure out how the media facilitated the enjoining of religious virtue and virility and produced a dispositive of (male, white, heterosexual) moral leadership, cumulating in the figure of the President as pastor.   The first three chapters of the book follow a loosely chronological order, moving from the media portrayal of various insurgent movements and related topics in the 1970s to the emergence of the new...

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Saskia Hertlein und Hermann Josef Schnackertz, eds., The Culture of Catholicism in the United States, American Studies – A Monograph Series 213 (Heidelberg: Winter, 2012), 396 pp.
Feb17

Saskia Hertlein und Hermann Josef Schnackertz, eds., The Culture of Catholicism in the United States, American Studies – A Monograph Series 213 (Heidelberg: Winter, 2012), 396 pp.

Saskia Hertlein und Hermann Josef Schnackertz, eds., The Culture of Catholicism in the United States, American Studies – A Monograph Series 213 (Heidelberg: Winter, 2012), 396 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   Wie kann man gleichzeitig ein guter Amerikaner und ein guter Katholik sein? Diese Frage treibt katholische und nicht-,  ja antikatholische Amerikaner seit über 200 Jahren um: Auf der einen Seite die dogmatische, hierarische und autoritäre Institution der Kirche mit ihrem unfehlbaren Oberhaupt in Rom, der überdies absoluter Herrscher eines eigenen Staatswesens ist, auf der anderen Seite das selbsternannte neue auserwählte Volk Gottes mit seiner Tradition eines auf Protestantismus, Liberalismus, und englische Tradition gegründeten Demokratie- und Freiheitsverständnisses. Diese durch die katholischen Massenmigrationen des 19. und frühen 20. Jahrhunderts zusätzlich angefeuerte aporetische soziokulturelle Grundkonstellation sorgt weiterhin, auch im 21. Jahrhundert, für gesellschaftspolitischen Zündstoff, obwohl die schlimmsten Konflikte, die sich im Laufe der Zeit immer wieder gewaltsam entluden, ausgestanden scheinen. Der Grunddissens zwischen Katholizismus und „Amerikanismus“ wurde noch bis 1965 durch die Spezifik der vor allem von Papst Leo XIII. und der Neuscholastik entwickelten katholischen Staatsdoktrin verschärft, nach der eine Trennung von Staat und Kirche nicht zuletzt in einem Staat mit katholischer Mehrheit nicht in Frage kam. Erst die Erklärung über die Religionsfreiheit des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils hat diese kirchlich-naturrechtliche Selbstpositionierung der römischen Kirche  aufgehoben und damit faktisch einer Amerikanisierung der Weltkirche im Sinne einer kooperativen Trennung von Staat und Kirche ohne laizistische Ideologie den Weg gebahnt. Dennoch bleibt der Katholizismus aus mancherlei Gründen ein Fremdkörper im kulturellen Organismus der Vereinigten Staaten, wie der inhärente Antikatholizismus aktueller amerikanischer TV-Serien belegt. Eine mit herausragenden Kennern der Kulturgeschichte des amerikanischen Katholizismus besetzte Konferenz der Katholischen Universität Eichstätt unter Federführung des leider viel zu früh verstorbenen Kollegen Hermann Josef Schnackertz  und Saskia Hertleins hat sich dieser vielschichtigen Problematik angenommen und ihre Ergebnisse nun in einem profunden Sammelband vorgelegt. Leider fehlt dem Band eine systematische Historisierung dessen, was in der US-amerikanischen Geschichte eigentlich unter Trennung von Staat und Kirche verstanden wurde, und wie sich die katholische Kirche jeweils dazu verhielt.  Das 19. Jahrhundert kannte im Grunde keinen wall of separation, eine Doktrin, die erst seit 1948 die verfassungsrechtliche Basis für die kirchenpolitischen Entscheidungen des United States Supreme Court bildet. Für die katholische Kirche und den Katholizismus hatte dies ambivalente Folgen. Man profitierte einerseits von der Abkehr von identitätspolitischen Vorstellungen, die Protestantismus und amerikanische Freiheitstradition einfach gleichsetzten. Auf der anderen Seite engte die mehr und mehr auf Abgrenzung denn auf Kooperation setzende staatskirchenrechtliche Doktrin des obersten Bundesgerichts die Spielräume katholischer Selbstentfaltung ein. Doch davon später. Nach einer knappen Einleitung, der es freilich an einer präzisen Definition, ja sogar überhaupt an einer Diskussion der beiden zentralen...

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Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank, eds., Quakers and Abolition (Urbana, Ill: U of Illinois P, 2014), 233 pp.
Feb17

Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank, eds., Quakers and Abolition (Urbana, Ill: U of Illinois P, 2014), 233 pp.

Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank, eds., Quakers and Abolition (Urbana, Ill: U of Illinois P, 2014), 233 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2     As Gary Nash writes in the final chapter of Quakers and Abolition, “The story of Quaker leadership in the abolition movement has been known and proudly recounted by Friends and friends of Friends for two centuries […] yet public consciousness [about their activism] remains largely as it was in the days of our grandparents” (209).  While Nash intends this quote to introduce his own exploration of the memory of Quaker antislavery, it also serves as a fitting conclusion to this volume, highlighting one of the chief accomplishments of the work as a whole. To those scholars unfamiliar with the Religious Society of Friends or with its work on behalf of antislavery, Quakers and Abolition provides an excellent introduction.  Each chapter illuminates important aspects of the history and theology of Quakerism, deftly navigating the reader through the at times perplexing features of Quaker faith and practice.  At the same time, this volume proves much more than a primer or summary, and scholars well versed in the history of abolitionism will learn much from its contents.  Editors Brychan Carey and Geoffrey Plank bring together an impressive set of scholars whose contributions offer a richer and more complex portrait of Friends’ involvement in and leadership of the transatlantic antislavery movement than we have to date. Too often, as in the 2006 film, Amazing Grace, Friends have been reduced to a mere presence in more mainstream scholarship regarding abolition.  Silent, stoic, (and somewhat stodgy), they remain stock characters in the drama of antislavery.  They are witnesses to the action but rarely its protagonists; as a result, they often linger at the margins and in the shadows of the narrative.  What’s more, even those authors who highlight the Society’s involvement with antislavery tend toward an overly simplistic understanding of Friends: too often, these Quakers are good, moral, unyielding—the voice and conscience of a people.  While appealing in its positivity, this portrayal is equally as distortive and erases the wide range of actions (and inaction) by Society members.  There are, of course, notable exceptions—scholars such as David Bryon Davis and Christopher Brown, both often cited by the volume’s contributors, highlight the complex political, economic, and social terrain navigated by worldly Friends—but by and large, two-dimensional caricatures have prevailed. Quakers and Abolition seeks to correct these reductive analyses.  Each of the essays grew out of presentations from the stimulating and productive “Quakers and Slavery, 1657-1865” conference organized by Carey and Plank and held in Philadelphia in 2010.  Taking place over three days...

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Ulrich Rosenhagen, Brudermord, Freiheitsdrang, Weltenrichter. Religiöse Kommunikation und öffentliche Theologie in der amerikanischen Revolutionsepoche (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2015), 370 pp.
Feb17

Ulrich Rosenhagen, Brudermord, Freiheitsdrang, Weltenrichter. Religiöse Kommunikation und öffentliche Theologie in der amerikanischen Revolutionsepoche (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2015), 370 pp.

Ulrich Rosenhagen, Brudermord, Freiheitsdrang, Weltenrichter. Religiöse Kommunikation und öffentliche Theologie in der amerikanischen Revolutionsepoche (Berlin/Boston: De Gruyter, 2015), 370 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2   Die Heidelberger Dissertation im Fach Systematische Theologie des lutheranischen Pfarrers und als Dozent am Institute for the Study of the Abrahamic Religions der University of Wisconsin in Madison/Wisc. tätigen Ulrich Rosenhagen präsentiert sich als Anwendung des aktuell intensiv diskutierten Konzepts der sogenannten Öffentlichen Theologie auf das historische Beispiel, die religiös aufgeladene Rhetorik im Vorfeld und Verlauf der Amerikanischen Revolution ca. 1763-1783. Gerade die Evangelische Kirche von Kurhessen-Waldeck, der sich Rosenhagen eng verbunden fühlt (S. IX), ist mehrfach in den letzten Jahren mit vehementen Plädoyers zu dieser Form der Theologie hervorgetreten, die Lehrkonzepte Martin Luthers aufgreift.[1] Rosenhagen argumentiert in gewisser Weise pro domo und zugunsten der Bedeutung eigener Positionen, Praktiken und Prämissen, wenn er der protestantischen Religion, deren prominenten Vertretern, den Pfarrern, und biblisch verbrämter Rhetorik in Britisch-Nordamerika bzw. in den gerade formierten USA eine wesentliche Rolle bei den entscheidenden Phasen der Revolution zuschreibt. An dem Punkt ist zu bedenken, dass diese positive Einschätzung aus der  sichernden Rückschau der Sieger in der Geschichte erfolgt: unter heutigen Verhältnissen könnten in bestimmten Weltgegenden, auch in den USA, Geistliche, die ihre Gemeinden zum Kampf gegen tradierte Obrigkeiten und Machtverhältnisse aufrufen, als sogenannte ‚Hassprediger’ oder Befürworter einer fundamentalistischen Propaganda bezeichnet werden, die für weltliche Ziele die allgemein akzeptierte Autorität religiöser Basistexte instrumentalisieren.   Rosenhagen vermittelt den Eindruck, dass ausschließlich protestantische Pfarrer im Neuengland der 1770er Jahren das Beste für ihre bedrängten Schäflein zumindest verbal erkämpfen wollten, jenes Beste allein durch den Protestantismus in Nordamerika entstanden und in der protestantischen Religion die Einheit von Glaube und Freiheit gegeben sei.   Diese Thesen sowie grundlegende Begriffe und Forschungsansätze werden in der Einleitung (S. 1-37) und im ersten Teil mit der Hinführung zum eigentlichen Untersuchungsobjekt (S. 41-62) kurz vorgestellt, ehe dann eine bekannte Karikatur von 1769 An Attempt to land a Bishop in America die anglikanische Bischofskontroverse aufgreift und über die Stamp Act Crisis von 1764 zur Rezeption eines zum Massaker aufgeblähten Scharmützels in Boston 1773 überleitet. Die Unabhängigkeitserklärung der 13 Kolonien von 1776, der Schlüsseltext, der den eigentlich revolutionären, den alles verändernden Akt der Unabhängigkeit darstellt und vollzieht, steht in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft zu Zeugnissen von sekundärer Bedeutung, die mit konkreten militärischen Ängsten und sozialen Traumen korrespondieren, die auch in der Jeffersonschen Erklärung angesprochen werden. Rosenhagen beschäftigt sich mit Flugblättern des Kontinentalkongresses, mit denen deutsche Militärs im Dienste Königs Georg III. unter Verweis auf den zürnenden alttestamentarischen Gott zum Desertieren und zur Übernahme amerikanischer Genüsse (Landeigentum, Freiheit, Sicherheit) bewegt werden sollten. (S. 63-124).   Besondere Beachtung schenkt der Autor in Teil II...

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Stephanie Kirk and Sarah Rivett, eds., Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas (U of Pennsylvania P, 2014), 360 pp.
Feb17

Stephanie Kirk and Sarah Rivett, eds., Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas (U of Pennsylvania P, 2014), 360 pp.

Stephanie Kirk and Sarah Rivett, eds., Religious Transformations in the Early Modern Americas (U of Pennsylvania P, 2014), 360 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 62.1     The history of empire and religion in the Americas remains as politically relevant as ever. Pope Francis, as the first Latin American pope, was reminded of this last year when he first apologized for the “grave sins committed against the native people of America in the name of God” during his tour of Latin America, and then generated protests a few months later when he canonized Junípero Serra, the controversial eighteenth-century Franciscan friar and missionary in California loved by some and accused by others of suppressing Amerindian culture and imposing Christianity by force. Over the past 30 years, scholars have sought to understand the history of religion in the Americas in increasingly nuanced ways that move beyond mere accusations, apologies or apologetics. One of the most recent contributions to this scholarship is the new essay collection Religious Transformations, which considers not just how European Christianity shaped the peoples and cultures of the Americas, but how their experiences in the Americas reshaped European religious traditions and practice. In Religious Transformations, editors Stephanie Kirk (Spanish Dept., Washington University of St Louis) and Sarah Rivett (English Dept., Princeton University) have brought together renowned scholars to analyze and compare the histories of Ibero-Catholic and Anglo-Protestant empires through what they call the “provocative” lens of religion. The comparative colonial context is uniquely suited to this task. The essays in this cross-disciplinary volume reflect on the complexity and variety of the colonial world in its intimate relationship to Christian belief and practice, “while also maintaining nuanced attention to the particularities of a diverse range of communities and experiences” (20). Through case studies examining cartography, demonology, or missiology among others, each of the essays examines how “Christianity changed as a result of Atlantic transit into new forms of faith, ecclesiology, and theology” (1). One of the main interests of the collection is to problematize the common assumption that Anglo-Protestantism alone brought modernity to the New World—a part of the exceptionalist paradigm reinforced by the “Black Legend,” according to which the Spanish regime was particularly brutal and cruel towards Native peoples while the English were more benign. The articles in the book seek to present new connections across what has been seen as “an Anglo-Protestant versus an Iberian-Catholic paradigm,” emphasizing how they were parallel endeavors, linking “religious ideas and legal government to the organization and maintenance of a colonial community that also sought to extend its boundaries through missionary projects” (21). For communities seeking new beginnings in New Spain or New...

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Heike Brandt, Invented Traditions: Die Puritaner und das amerikanische Sendungsbewusstsein [Schriften der Forschungsstelle Grundlagen Kulturwissenschaft. Bd. 4] (N.P.: Verlag Karl Stutz, 2011), 292 pp.
Feb17

Heike Brandt, Invented Traditions: Die Puritaner und das amerikanische Sendungsbewusstsein [Schriften der Forschungsstelle Grundlagen Kulturwissenschaft. Bd. 4] (N.P.: Verlag Karl Stutz, 2011), 292 pp.

Heike Brandt, Invented Traditions: Die Puritaner und das amerikanische Sendungsbewusstsein [Schriften der Forschungsstelle Grundlagen Kulturwissenschaft. Bd. 4] (N.P.: Verlag Karl Stutz, 2011), 292 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2     “Uppon the first sight of New-England, June 29, 1638”                           Hayle holy-land wherin our holy lord                         Hath planted his most true and holy word                         Hayle happye people who have dispossest                         Your selves of friends, and meanes, to find some rest                         For your poore wearied soules, opprest of late                         For Jesus-sake                                                 . . .                         Come my deare little flocke, who for my sake                         Have lefte your Country, dearest friends, and goods                         And hazarded your lives o’th raginge floods                         Posses this Country; free from all anoye                         Heare I’le bee with you, hear you shall Injoye                         My Sabbaths, sacraments, my minestrye                         And ordinances in their puritye.                                                                                     Thomas Tillam                             Escaped from the house of bondage, Israel of old did not follow after the ways of the Egyptians. To her was given an express dispensation; to her were given new things under the sun. And we Americans are the peculiar, chosen people—the Israel of our time; we bear the ark of the liberties of the world. Seventy years ago we escaped from thrall; and, besides our first birthright—embracing one continent of earth—God has given to us, for a future inheritance, the broad domains of the political pagans, that shall yet come and lie down under the shade of our ark, without bloody hands being lifted. God has predestinated, mankind expects, great things from our race; and great things we feel in our souls. The rest of the nations must soon be in our rear. We are the pioneers of the world; the advance-guard, sent on through the wilderness of untried things, to break a new path in the New World that is ours. . . . Long enough, have we been skeptics with regard to ourselves, and doubted whether, indeed, the political Messiah had come. But he has come in us, if we would but give utterance to his promptings. And let us always remember that with ourselves, almost for the first time in the history of earth, national selfishness is unbounded philanthropy; for we can not do a good to America but we give alms to the world. Herman Melville, White-Jacket (1850)     Intellectuals wince at the jingoistic rhetoric prevalent in American oratory, especially when unctuous politicians running for high office invoke lofty metaphors of the “Citty upon a Hill”: We Americans are a chosen people on an errand to bring freedom and democracy...

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Abram C. van Engen, Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England (New York: Oxford UP, 2015), xii + 311 pp.
Feb17

Abram C. van Engen, Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England (New York: Oxford UP, 2015), xii + 311 pp.

Abram C. van Engen, Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England (New York: Oxford UP, 2015), xii + 311 pp. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 61.2     Anyone who picks up a copy of Sympathetic Puritans might wince at what purports to be something of an oxymoron: “Sympathetic Puritans”? Are you kidding me? Whatever happened to H.L. Menken’s old gibe, “A Puritan is one who is afraid that someone, somewhere, is having fun,” or: when the Puritans arrived on New England’s shore, they first “fell on their knees and then on the Indians.”? Clichés about witch-crazed Puritan killjoys and hardnosed Indian haters are more popular than ever, and Professor van Engen’s fine book, I am afraid, is not going to change anyone’s mind reared on Jonathan Edwards’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, let alone Hawthorne’s obligatory high-school read, “Young Goodman Brown” or his classic The Scarlet Letter (A+). If anything, Adam Simon’s and Brannan Braga’s serialized TV drama Salem (2014), now in its third season, will only boost our national obsession with dour superstitious Puritan zealots who gave us Cotton Mather, Salem witchcraft and, yes, Thanksgiving! To be sure, van Engen’s Sympathetic Puritans is about none of the above. Quite to the contrary, it posits that a “Calvinist theology of sympathy shaped the politics, religion, and literature of seventeenth-century New England” and that the manifestation of “fellow feeling and mutual affections” among the elect served as visible markers to distinguish the community of saints from carnal hypocrites (2). As is well known, the early seminal conflict between John Cotton’s sudden Pauline conversion and Thomas Shepard’s preparational theology constituted the stone of stumbling in the formative Antinomian Controversy. It pitted the followers of John Cotton and Anne Hutchinson with their emphasis on a rapturous conversion (like that of Paul on the road to Damascus) against those who embraced a gradualist conversion morphology as codified in the “preparationism” of Shepard and his father-in-law Thomas Hooker. The latter defined the ordo salutis as a drawn-out process of successive stages—contrition, humiliation, vocation (grace), justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification—which became normative in New England. They knew that undergoing conversion could be an emotional rollercoaster of the first order. For instance, the posthumously published account of Joanna Drake’s harrowing experience, in The Firebrand Taken Out of the Fire (1647, 1654), testifies to the agony of one caught in the maelstrom of self-condemnation engulfing the rock of assurance. Those familiar with Thomas Hooker’s oft-reprinted vademecum Poor Doubting Christian Drawn unto Christ (1628) or with John Bunyan’s popular allegory Pilgrim’s Progress (1678) can testify to Christian’s doleful encounter with Giant Despair and the Slough...

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Jan Stievermann, Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather’s “Biblia Americana” (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 493 pp.
Feb17

Jan Stievermann, Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather’s “Biblia Americana” (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 493 pp.

Jan Stievermann, Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity: Interpreting the Hebrew Scriptures in Cotton Mather’s “Biblia Americana” (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016), 493 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 61.2     Prophecy, Piety, and the Problem of Historicity is a rarity in this day of ideologically inflected cultural history, a lucid fusion of textual, intellectual, theological, and literary history that confirms Jan Stievermann’s place among the very best historians of early America on both sides of the Atlantic.  In the hands of someone less talented than Stievermann, a description of how Cotton Mather developed his commentaries on the books of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Canticles (Song of Solomon), Isaiah, and Jeremiah for the “Biblia Americana” he spent so much of his life preparing could easily become unreadable.  Here, instead, we have a book that is informative, interesting, and astute at every turn.   Stievermann’s purpose of this book is three-fold: first, to identify the writers on whom Cotton Mather drew in developing his commentary; second, to identify the challenges—exegetical, historical, theological, and the like—Mather was facing and how, in the context of those challenges, he juggled his sources; and third, to place Mather in the “evidentialist” turn of c. 1700, that is, the moment when orthodox Protestants began to rely on external (historical) evidence to validate the singularity of the Bible as divine revelation.   Not that Mather ever doubted the principle that the Bible was perceived and understood through a spiritual sense or that he questioned the orthodoxy he inherited from the Reformed tradition.  But the times demanded something else by way of proof, a transition Stievermann sees through the lens of Hans Frei’s The Eclipse of Biblical Narrative (1974).    Each of these tasks required not only close attention to the manuscript commentaries, which Stievermann has published separately, but also to the many writers on whom Mather depended—some more than others, for like Calvin before him, he borrowed source material from compilations or commentaries that his contemporaries had assembled.   What emerges from all this work is an excitingly astute survey of pan-European exegetical and historical scholarship on ancient Israel, biblical geography, philology (before there was such a field), natural history, and the like, scholarship in the service of reaffirming or, as in the case of Grotius, challenging the singular authority of Scripture.  But for Stievermann, all of this information is prolegomena to his real purpose, namely, to establish Cotton Mather’s modernity—or proto-modernity—as someone who began to practice a “representational-factualist model of biblical realism” even as he remained a thoroughly traditional exegete who took for granted “the absolute veracity and infallibility of biblical narratives” and a  Christianized reading of the Hebrew Bible (7).  Moreover,...

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