Heinz Ickstadt, Aesthetic Innovation and the Democratic Principle: Essays on Twentieth-Century American Poetry and Fiction. Eds. Susanne Rohr, Peter Schneck, Sabine Sielke. Heidelberg: Winter, 2016. 402 pp.

HEINZ ICKSTADT, Aesthetic Innovation and the Democratic Principle: Essays on Twentieth-Century American Poetry and Fiction. Eds. Susanne Rohr, Peter Schneck, Sabine Sielke. Heidelberg: Winter, 2016. 402 pp. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 63.1     It may seem peculiar to spend the first two paragraphs of a relatively short book review on a preface to a collection of…

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Clare Hayes-Brady, The Unspeakable Failures of David Foster Wallace: Language, Identity, and Resistance

CLARE HAYES-BRADY, The Unspeakable Failures of David Foster Wallace: Language, Identity, and Resistance (New York: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016), 232 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     Clare Hayes-Brady’s provocative title disguises a very measured review of David Foster Wallace’s oeuvre. Hayes-Brady defines “failure” as “incompletion,” and uses the term in a broadly conceptual sense to…

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Sascha Pöhlmann, ed., Against the Grain: Reading Pynchon’s Counternarratives (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010), 379 pp.

SASCHA PÖHLMANN, ed., Against the Grain: Reading Pynchon’s Counternarratives (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2010), 379 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     Pynchon scholarship and scholars tend to echo the defining characteristics of the author at the center of their discipline, namely, paranoia and erudition. In other words, Pynchon’s paranoid texts often spawn paranoid readings, and his…

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Siri Hustvedt, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016), 552 pp.

SIRI HUSTVEDT, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women: Essays on Art, Sex, and the Mind (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2016), 552 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     Siri Hustvedt’s sixth collection of essays, A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women, even deeper than her previous work, explores the gaps between…

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Joel Pfister, Surveyors of Customs: American Literature as Cultural Analysis (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016), 276 pp.

JOEL PFISTER, Surveyors of Customs: American Literature as Cultural Analysis (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2016), 276 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies 63.1     Joel Pfister’s Surveyors of Custom: American Literature as Cultural Analysis is a timely contribution to the current debate around critique and post-critique. In his monograph, Pfister makes the case for an understanding of…

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Matthew Wilkens, Revolution: The Event in Postwar Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2016), 176 pp.

MATTHEW WILKENS, Revolution: The Event in Postwar Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2016), 176 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies 63.1     Readers of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man will remember a pivotal scene in which the narrator—the Invisible Man of the title—witnesses an elderly black couple being evicted from their Harlem apartment. An angry crowd gathers.…

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Sybille Machat, In the Ruins of Civilization: Narrative Structures, World Constructions and Physical Realities in the Post-Apocalyptic Novel (Trier: WVT, 2013), 330 pp.

SYBILLE MACHAT, In the Ruins of Civilization: Narrative Structures, World Constructions and Physical Realities in the Post-Apocalyptic Novel (Trier: WVT, 2013), 330 pp. Amerikastudien/American Studies. 63.1     Contemporary culture is awash with images and narratives anticipating its own demise or, as the case may be, documenting its on-going decay. Scenarios depicting the aftermath of…

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Sonja Schillings, Enemies of All Humankind: Fictions of Legitimate Violence, Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies (Hanover: Dartmouth College P/UP of New England, 2016), 302 pp.

SONJA SCHILLINGS, Enemies of All Humankind: Fictions of Legitimate Violence, Re-Mapping the Transnational: A Dartmouth Series in American Studies (Hanover: Dartmouth College P/UP of New England, 2016), 302 pp. Amerikastudien/American Studies, 63.1     Can acts of violence ever be legitimate, and how have claims of legitimate violence been theorized and represented in legal theory…

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Emily Petermann, The Musical Novel: Imitation of Musical Structure, Performance, and Reception in Contemporary Fiction, (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014), 250 pp.

EMILY PETERMANN, The Musical Novel: Imitation of Musical Structure, Performance, and Reception in Contemporary Fiction, (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2014), 250 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     The descriptive structuralist semiotic analyses presented in this book evolved from discussions at the Word and Music Association Forum (WMAF; viii). The WMAF was formed in 2009…

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Habiba Ibrahim, Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism (Minneapolis, U of Minnesota P, 2012), 256pp.

HABIBA IBRAHIM, Troubling the Family: The Promise of Personhood and the Rise of Multiracialism (Minneapolis, U of Minnesota P, 2012), 256pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies. 63.1     In his anthology Interracialism (2000), Werner Sollors diagnosed an “American exceptionalism” in the policing of racialized boundaries, a “300-year-long tradition” in which sexual and familial relations across the…

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Hanna Wirth-Nesher, ed., The Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature (New York: Cambridge UP, 2016), 732 pp.

HANNA WIRTH-NESHER, ed., The Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature (New York: Cambridge UP, 2016), 732 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     This much-needed volume brings Jewish American literature as an ethnic literature back on the critical agenda. That the very concept should have almost vanished from the landscape of critical debates is noteworthy…

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Mark Storey, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities: A Geography of Gilded Age American Literature (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013), 208 pp.

MARK STOREY, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities: A Geography of Gilded Age American Literature (Oxford: Oxford UP, 2013), 208 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     Mark Storey’s study, Rural Fictions, Urban Realities, aims to read markers of modernity as “absent presences” (2) in a number of novels set in rural environments of the Gilded Age.…

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Philipp Löffler, Pluralist Desires: Contemporary Historical Fiction and the End of the Cold War (Rochester: Camden House, 2015), 190 pp.

PHILIPP LÖFFLER, Pluralist Desires: Contemporary Historical Fiction and the End of the Cold War (Rochester: Camden House, 2015), 190 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     Philipp Löffler’s Pluralist Desires seeks to rethink historical fiction after the end of the Cold War. As Löffler argues, the novels he discusses share a belief that “when we…

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Elizabeth S. Anker and Rita Felski (eds.), Critique and Postcritique (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2017), 329 pp.

ELIZABETH S. ANKER AND RITA FELSKI (eds.), Critique and Postcritique (Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2017), 329 pp. Amerikastudien/ American Studies, 63.1     Another death of Theory? Another burial? Another entombment during which no one sheds a single tear and all one hears are listlessly uttered anecdotes, as well as some mumbled and incoherent obscenities?…

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