Seminar für Englische Philologie

Books by Our Faculty

Cultures of Obsolescence

Cover Cultures of Obsolescence_kleinEdited by Babette B. Tischleder and Sarah Wasserman. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.
For the table of contents and further infos see the publisher's website; you can download the introduction "Thinking Out of Sync: A Theory of Obsolescence" as sample chapter.

Obsolescence is fundamental to the experience of modernity, not simply one dimension of an economic system. The contributors to this book investigate obsolescence as a historical phenomenon, an aesthetic practice, and an affective mode. Because obsolescence depends upon the supersession and disappearance of what is old and outmoded, this volume sheds light on what usually remains unseen or overlooked. Calling attention to the fact that obsolescence can structure everything from the self to the skyscraper, Cultures of Obsolescence asks readers to rethink existing relationships between the old and the new. Moreover, the essays in this volume argue for the paradoxical ways in which subjects and their concepts of the human, of newness, and of the future are constituted by a relationship to the obsolete.

"This fascinating collection rethinks the meaning of obsolescence, from its historical relation to consumer capitalism and environmental blight to the ambivalent sentiments toward progress, tradition, fashion, and decay that inform its meanings in contemporary art, media, and material culture. A must-read for anyone interested in the intertwined itineraries of humans and things."
Lynn Spigel, Professor, Screen Cultures, Northwestern University, USA and author of Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America.

"Is planned obsolescence a conceptual paradox? How do we reconcile our era's impatience for the outmoded with our equally strong attachment to fantasies of endurance, be they about things or people? What is the place of the human in an age of obsolescence? This volume addresses these pressing questions and more. Each essay in this collection is a gem, and collectively they do the important work of expanding the conversation about the question of obsolescence beyond the realm of the technological to those of art, culture, environment, and politics."
Anne Anlin Cheng, Professor, English and the Center for African American Studies, Princeton University, USA.



The Literary Life of Things

BT_LiteraryLife_smallBabette B. Tischleder's The Literary Life of Things: Case Studies in American Fiction is out now.

Please visit the publisher's webpage: Campus
International distribution by University of Chicago Press

Engaging a great range of American literature from Harriet Beecher Stowe and Edith Wharton to Vladimir Nabokov and Jonathan FranzenThe Literary Life of Things illuminates scenes of animation that disclose the aesthetic, affective, and ethical dimensions of our entanglement with the material world.

"Babette Tischleder's readings of texts are no less fresh and forceful than the topics those texts bring into focus: object agency, obsolescence, patina, and (magnificently) the recalcitrance of things. The book is a timely and important contribution to American studies and to object studies both."
Bill Brown, author of A Sense of Things: Case Studies in American Fiction

For more details on the book launch reception that took place on February 10, 2014, please click here.








Is It 'Cause It's Cool?

Hamscha_cool_smallIn January 2014, LIT published the edited volume Is It 'Cause It's Cool? Affective Encounters with American Culture. The book is co-edited by Susanne Hamscha (with Astrid M. Fellner, Klaus Heissenberger, and Jennifer Moos).

Even a global political watershed such as the end of the Cold War seems to have left a fundamental characteristic of cultural relations between the U.S. and the rest of the world unchanged: American popular culture still stirs up emotion, its products, artifacts, and practices entangling their consumers in affective encounters characterized by feelings of fascination, excitement, or even wholesale rejection. What is it that continues to make 'American' popular culture popular or unpopular? Is it because 'American' culture is still cool? Which role does Cool play in the consumers' affective encounters with 'America'? This volume of essays offers new insights on the post-Cold-War dissemination of American popular culture, exploring the manifold ways in which Cool has emerged as an elusive yet determining factor of an American culture gone global.
Please visit the publisher's website.








The Fiction of America

Hamscha_fiction_smallSusanne Hamscha's monograph The Fiction of America: Performance and the Cultural Imaginary in Literature and Film was published by Campus in 2013.

The book juxtaposes classic literature of the American Renaissance with twentieth-century popular culture - pairing, for instance, Ralph Waldo Emerson with Finding Nemo, Walt Whitman with Spiderman, and Hester Prynne with Madonna - to investigate how the 'Americanness' of American culture constitutes itself in the interplay of the cultural imaginary and performance. Conceptualizing 'America' as a transhistorical practice, Susanne Hamscha reveals disruptive, spectral moments in the narrative of 'America,' which confront American culture with its inherent inconsistencies. Please visit the publisher's website.