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Winter 2007/08

Di. 22.1.2008: Jutta Schwarzkopf: "Freddy Pile's Popsies: The Gender Dynamics of Mixed Anti-Aircraft Batteries in Britain in the Second World War."

Die erste Veranstaltung in der neuen Serie wird von Jutta Schwarzkopf bestritten werden mit einem Vortrag aus ihrem gegenwärtigen größeren Projekt zu Frauen in britischen Luftabwehrbatterien:

"Freddy Pile's Popsies: The Gender Dynamics of Mixed Anti-Aircraft Batteries in Britain in the Second World War."

Sommer 2008

Do., 10.4.2008: Cornelia Hamann/ Birger Kollmeier, Sprachverstehen im fluktuierenden Störschall

Prof. Dr. Cornelia Hamann, Institut für Fremdsprachenphilologien und Prof. Dr. Birger Kollmeier, Institut für Physik sprechen zu Sprachverstehen im fluktuierenden Störschall.

Di., 29.4.2008: Eva Ogiermann, "Universal Speech Acts? Theory vs. Practice"

Eva Ogiermann, Universität Oldenburg:

This presentation discusses the extent to which speech acts have been regarded as, and shown to be, universal in previous as well as my own research. I will begin with early pragmatic theory by looking at how speech acts have been portrayed in the writings of Austin, Searle and Grice.
The main part of the talk, however, will be concerned with empirical speech act research, inspired by Brown and Levinson’s Politeness Theory. Their claims to universality will be critically discussed in the light of data collected in four languages - English, German, Polish and Russian. The focus will be on a speech act that does not conform to the correlation between indirectness and politeness characterising Anglo-Saxon politeness norms and underlying their theory, namely that of apologising.

Do., 22.5.2008: Stefanie Gropper / Ingrid Hotz-Davies: "Exzentrische Positionierungen"

Prof. Dr. Stefanie Gropper und Prof. Dr. Ingrid Hotz-Davies, Universität Tübingen:

Exzentrik und Exzentrizität – und bereits das ist eine Unterscheidung, die wir einführen werden – ist eine bisher überraschend wenig erforschte oder verstandene Befindlichkeit. In der Tat: bereits die Annahme, es sei ein Befindlichkeit – und wenn ja: in wessen Augen? – ist eine Annahme, die nicht selbstverständlich ist und die zu diskutieren wäre. Denn wir haben es mit einem sehr schwierigen Phänomen zu tun, das in der bisherigen Forschung (sofern es sie gibt) gerne allzu vorschnell und nicht weiter hinterfragt in bestehende Wissenskonventionen eingeordnet, ihnen untergeordnet wird noch bevor auch nur die Grenzen und Möglichkeiten des Gegenstands angemessen befragt wurden. Angesichts dieses Befunds haben wir uns zusammengetan und angefangen, das Phänomen der Exzentrizität/Exzentrik auch mit einem neuen Verfahren der Zusammenarbeit auszuloten, immer von der Annahme geleitet, dass wir nicht tatsächlich wissen – und beim derzeitigen Diskussionsstand wissen können –, was unser Forschungsgegenstand ist und wie er funktioniert.
Man muss sich also mit dem Gedanken anfreunden, dass im Gravitationsfeld der Exzentrik andere Bedingungen herrschen als die, die wir gewöhnt sind: dass man damit auch andere und im Verhältnis zu den etablierten Mechanismen der wissenschaftlichen Projektanbahnung ‚exzentrische’ Wege finden muss, um sich diesem Thema zu nähern – jenseits der Hierarchien der ‚Federführung’ (und ‚Federgeführtheit’).
Unser Vortrag verfolgt daher zwei Ziele: Zum einen wollen wir einen Teil dessen, was wir bisher über die Exzentrik und Exzentrizität herausgearbeitet haben, mit anderen teilen; zum anderen wollen wir aber auch unser eigenes Herangehen offen legen und zur Diskussion stellen, auch in der Hoffnung, dass andere von uns lernen können, sich etwas von uns ‚leihen’ können, oder auch beschließen können, es so jedenfalls nicht machen zu wollen.

Di., 10.6.2008: Manuela Schönenberger, "Article use by native speakers of Russian in L2 and L3 English"

Dr. Manuela Schönenberger:

The core concept in Chomsky's Principles and Parameters theory is Universal Grammar (UG), which consists of principles and parameters. While principles are invariant (universal), parameters are variable (language specific) and are set during the process of language acquisition. In applying this theory to Second Language Acquisition there are two immediate questions to address: Do learners of a foreign language still have access to UG after they have acquired their first language (mother tongue)? And is there transfer between languages, e.g. from one's mother tongue to a 2nd language, or from a 2nd language to a 3rd? Our study investigates article use in English by native speakers of Russian–which does not have any articles–and compares Russians whose 2nd language is English (L2) with Russians who have learned German (L2) before learning English (L3). We examine the article-choice parameter proposed by Ionin and colleagues (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008). Articles are assumed to be set according to either definiteness (e.g. English, German) or specificity (e.g. Samoan). In Ionin et al.'s studies, carried out in the United States, article misuse is common in the L2 English of Russians, while in our data article omission is predominant and article misuse is hardly attested at all. Moreover, article omission is much more pronounced in the group of Russian speakers with L2 English than in that with L3 English. Furthermore there is some evidence for transfer of German word order in the latter group.

Di., 24.6.2008: Nadja Gernalzick: "Planetarity in Literature and Literary Studies"

Prof. Dr. Nadja Gernalzick, Universität Oldenburg:

In the past 10 years, the planet has been theorized anew in American literary and cultural studies. Generally, this recent interest in the planet is part of reconsiderations of the meaning of world literature and of what global literary and cultural studies might be within American Studies or Comparative Literature and Culture after the Cold War. This paper traces the main – albeit conflicting – strains of "planet thought" (Spivak) in works of Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak and Wai Chee Dimock, relates them to relevant views of the planet by Ralph Waldo Emerson and Friedrich Nietzsche, and proposes the use of the concept of the Copernican planet in the analysis of narrative perspective in the novels Anil's Ghost (2000) by Michael Ondaatje and Everyman (2006) by Philip Roth. Suggested Reading: chapter "Planetarity" in Gayatri C. Spivak's Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003).

Mo., 30.6.2008, 19:00: Jakob Dittmar, "Alternative worlds in computer games: utopias, dystopias, or what?"

Jakob Dittmar, TU Berlin:

Computer games offer active participation in alternative societies and worlds. Some are constructive, some destructive, some highly competitive, and some all about socializing.
When looking at computer games as utopias/dystopias we can describe them as imagined communities that are engaged in processes of nation building, for example. We will look at gamers in “our” world and avatars in the specific worlds of their own...

Di., 1.7.2008: Georgiana Banita , "Emerson's Planetary Ethics"

Georgiana Banita M.A., Universität Konstanz:

In her recent book Through Other Continents: American Literature across Deep Time (2006) Wai Chee Dimock argues that “rather than being a discrete entity, American literature is better seen as a crisscrossing set of pathways, open-ended and ever multiplying, weaving in an out of other geographies, other languages and cultures.” However, despite her injunction to inclusion and planetarity, Dimock maintains the concept of national literature as a heuristic for her study. This talk investigates the implications of this tension between national and global concerns by considering the pioneering comparative work of Emerson, with a focus on his literary ethics. I aim to show that planetarity – while part of a modernist theoretical discourse – goes back to the incipient colonial rhetoric of Transcendentalism and retains many of its problems until today.
From his relativizations of dogmatic, “historical” Christianity to his empathetic translations of Persian poetry, Emerson expressed a strong interest in the transnationality of culture and used his insights to anchor his own. Less obvious than this planetary openness, although equally important, is the extent to which this program contrasted with Emerson’s ethical precepts on the essential isolation of the intellectually-minded (especially in “Literary Ethics”). Emerson lived and wrote during the expansionist decades of an American empire-to-be struggling to extend its manifest destiny on a global scale. At the end of this process, it becomes necessary to reconsider how the movement towards what Paul Gilroy calls “planetary humanism” started out and what problems have plagued it from the beginning.
As a case in point, Emerson unveils the insufficiency of propounding a methodology of planetary ethics without supporting it with a strong foundation in individual solidarity and moral agency. To better grasp the potential of literary “worldling” as a process of ethical globalization, we need to look closely into the against-the-grain processes of estrangement and abjection, one of which has been the deeply-engrained transcendentalist doctrine of individualism and self-reliance. In light of this reconsideration, we can re-read Spivak and Dimock’s planetary critique and strengthen it with some useful objections.

Di., 1.7.2008: Thomas Wägenbaur, "Re-thinking the World: from Buckminster Fuller to the 'Global Brain'"

Prof. Dr. Thomas Wägenbaur, IU Bruchsal:

The basic paradox versions of the global have to face is “internal externality”, that is they view the world as if from outside, which clearly is impossible. On such epistemological grounds we can on the one hand discard all versions of the global, but on the other hand there is nothing else to do in order to understand our proper domain (earth, planet, world, globe etc.). The as if in the respective paradox has always been s.th. like the “poetic license” to imagine not only other worlds but our very own as it lies beyond our (immediate) grasp and from there – which could be called epistemological “outer space” or fantasy – humanity was able to think up models that later actually “worked” – or didn’t. We did so individually as well as collectively with mixed results depending on our degree of realism or idealism and our conceptual adaptability to the actual domain. (Let it be understood that “adaptability” includes both passive biological adaptation to our environment and active cultural adaptation of our environment to us. In this sense concepts were always already actions, especially when globalized.)
Starting out from Buckminster Fuller’s Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth I will scrutinize various versions of the global that are currently popular.

Winter 2008/09

Tue. Nov. 4, 2008: Kalí Tal, "Trauma Theory and the Candidacy of John McCain"

John McCain's war experiences and political career provide an excellent example for measuring the interaction between personal experience and national mythology. The psychological and personal reality of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder intersect with popular culture mythology about Vietnam war veterans and POWs. In McCain's career, this trajectory can be measured by his personal responses to difficult moments in his life and the way they match or contrast with changing U.S. opinions about Vietnam war veterans and about the POW-MIA controversy. Looked at through this lens, the current U.S. election can be seen as not only a political choice, but a narrative choice on the part of the American people.

Tue. Dec. 2, 2008: Isabel Karremann: "The Art of Forgetting in Literary and Cultural Studies"

When Umberto Eco raised the question whether there might be an art of forgetting, he dismissed the very possibility from the start: "An ars oblivionalis? Forget it!" (1988). His rejection was based on the strictly semiotic assumption that it is impossible to represent what has been forgotten because each use of signs makes the signified present, conscious and hence remembered/memorable. This model can only think forgetting as a negative power, as an absence, a destructive force of nature against which an inherently positive ars memorativa is pitched. However, the relation between memory and forgetting is more complicated than this dichotomous model of presence and absence, of compensation and loss, of culture and nature suggests. Today's talk will give a systematic survey of the cultural techniques and practices available for consigning a specific memory content to oblivion, as well as the hermeneutic tools available for studying forgetting.

Tue. Dec. 9, 2008: Angela Baier: "I feel, I feel the Deity within" - Georg Friedrich Händels Oratorien und der whiggistische Enthusiasmus

Was die Entstehung von Georg Friedrich Händels Oratorien in der ersten Hälfte des 18. Jahrhunderts angeht, hält sich in der Händelforschung hartnäckig die Meinung, Händel habe seine nun englischsprachigen und religiösen Werke für eine aufsteigende bürgerliche Mittelklasse komponiert, während die italienische Opera seria als typisch „aristokratische“ Kunstform zunehmend in Vergessenheit geriet. Das Oratorium wird also, quasi als „Handelian variation on Habermas“, zum einem der wichtigsten Instrumente bei der Verbürgerlichung der hohen Kunst und damit auch der Gesellschaft im Allgemeinen. Die Verbürgerlichungsthese gehört – trotz Originalklangbewegung – nach wie vor zu den Heiligtümern der Händelforschung, die anzugreifen dem Sakrileg gleichkommt. Sie ist zugegebenermaßen praktisch in der Handhabung und liefert eine simple Erklärung für den Aufstieg einer neuartigen Kunstform. Sie hat nur einen einzigen Fehler: mit der historischen Realität hat sie wenig zu tun.
Als theoretisches Konstrukt, das Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts in Deutschland entstand, kann die Verbürgerlichungsthese nicht weiterhelfen bei der Ermittlung des tatsächlichen Zielpublikums und der realen politischen und religiösen Aussagekraft der Werke. Mein Vortrag wird in einem interdisziplinären Ansatz versuchen, das englische Oratorium in ein ungewöhnliches, aber historisch akkurateres Licht zu rücken.

Tue Dec. 16, 2008: Christina Meyer, "Trauma Frames"

Ever since he published his book Maus (1991), Art Spiegelman has established himself as a well-known author all over the continents, and has become a challenge (not only) for literary scholars. In Maus Spiegelman chooses the medium “comix” as a mode of inquiry and as a means to convey the events of the past. In his recent publication on the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 with the stirring title In the Shadow of No Towers, Spiegelman has once again picked up the pen to narrate/draw the events of that day. Whereas he created a monochromatic montage full of silhouettes, black lines and shadings in Maus, he now produces a collage of color images flickering on the paper-screen in front of the reader’s eye.
The attacks on the WTC in the morning hours of September 11, 2001 are probably the most well documented events (be that in photographic images, in VHS-video images, official TV reportage, or any kind of digitalized pictures). All over the world, people would/could watch what was shown on TV (and on the Internet). In years to come, everybody will have a personal story at hand to tell where s/he was and what s/he did on that particular day.
Spiegelman’s graphic text is his personal response to immense shock, disbelief, disorientation and incomprehension – feelings he shares with so many other people. The syntax of his text is built of framed images that capture all kinds of sensations (in words and images), only to be subverted in the next instance. Frames no longer hold the picture. Buildings and figures become elastic, they transgress borders. The only border then is the limited space available on a given page of the book. Content and form of Spiegelman’s In the Shadow of No Towers (and their interdependency) will be the center of attention in my talk. His work represents an aesthetic challenge in the frame of postmodern strategies so widely discussed these days.

Tue Jan. 13, 2009: Holger Limberg, "Teacher-Student Interaction at University: The Discourse of Academic Office Hours"

Gleich et al. (1982: 44) have described academic office hours “as an institutionalized form of ‘taking time’ for the student”. While both sides involved in this interaction generally agree on the importance of these encounters, the participants seldom reflect on the possibilities and difficulties that these interactions entail (especially for students). Ethnographic studies have pointed out the necessity for an improvement of teacher – student contact outside of class (e.g. Gleich et al. 1982; Boettcher and Meer 2000). In the research field of academic discourse analysis, very little is known about how teachers and students mutually construct these consultations and how they design their verbal actions to achieve a (successful) outcome. The features of this academic talk (i.e. face-to-face, interactive, student-driven, non-evaluated, institutionally-bound, task-oriented, asymmetrical, etc.) make it a multifaceted and interesting form of interaction for discourse analysis.
This study includes both an ethnographic account of academic interactions between teachers and students within the culturally-situated context of a German university as well as a more detailed analysis of the interactional organization of this speech event. Drawing on naturally-occurring data from two German universities, the overall structural organization of these interactions is investigated using a micro, CA-type analysis of participants’ actions. The analytical focus is put on the sequential activities teachers and students engage in during the different phases of the consultation. This includes, e.g., how participants open office hour talk, how they establish an agenda, how they manage advice-giving, and, finally, how they close the consultation. Implications are drawn regarding the interactional effectiveness as well as the socio-academic importance of this talk. Furthermore, suggestions are made as to how these findings might be implemented in an academic setting.

Tue Jan. 20, 2009: Megan Macdonald, "Liturgical Lens: Performance Art and Christianity"

Megan Macdonald at the Department of Drama, Queen Mary, University of London
What influence do western spiritual practices have on how we understand religion and spirituality? Through examples from contemporary performance practices and a comparison between academic analyses of Marina Abramović's The House With the Ocean View this talk will open up questions surrounding how we use language to discuss and write about the spiritual.

Summer 2009

5.5.2009: Dr. des. Annika McPherson "The Role of Cultural Studies in the English Studies Curriculum"

12.5.2009: David Tizon Couto (University of Vigo, Spain): "The Topic Marking Function of Left Dislocation: Evidence from Late Modern English

7.7.2009: Daniel Stein (Göttingen) - "Herbariums of Artistic Life: Louis Armstrong's Writings, Recordings, and Photo-Collages

Winter 2009/10

28.10.2009: Prof. Dr. Miriam Locher (University of Basel): "Politeness research: past, present, future"

Since the late 1970s Brown and Levinson's work on politeness has been a bestseller and to this day it is a fundamental work that still finds many followers. However, in the late 1990s and in the 2000s politeness research in the Brown and Levinsonian tradition has been challenged and new ideas have been tested. We can now look back on more than thirty years of active politeness research that has recently also started to widen its scope to include the study of impoliteness as well. This talk aims at presenting important research trends from the past and present and will indicate some of the challenging issues that we are facing in the future.

20.01.2010: Prof. Dr. Monika Rothweiler (University of Bremen): "Mehrsprachige Kinder und spezifische Sprachentwicklungsstörung"

Forschungsergebnisse aus mehr als 20 Jahren zeigen, dass Mehrsprachigkeit an sich keine Entwicklungsprobleme hervorruft. Wenn es zu Problemen im Erwerb einer zweiten Sprache kommt, dann liegt das an externen Faktoren, also ungünstigen Bedingungen, unter denen der Erwerb von zwei Sprachen erfolgt. Solche Kinder profitieren von einer gezielten Sprachförderung. Eine andere Problematik ergibt sich bei mehrsprachig aufwachsenden Kindern mit einer genuinen Sprachentwicklungsstörung (Spezifische Sprachentwicklungsstörung, SSES). Hier geht es um Kinder, deren Erwerbsproblem sich auf den Erwerb jeder Sprache, ob Erst- oder Zweitsprache, auswirkt. Die Frage, wie sich eine SSES bei mehrsprachigen Kindern ausprägt und inwieweit Mehrsprachigkeit eine SSES verstärkt oder entlastet, wird zur Zeit intensiv untersucht. Der Vortrag wird aktuelle Ergebnisse aus einem Forschungsprojekt zu früher Mehrsprachigkeit und SSES bei türkisch-deutschen Kindern vorstellen.

27.01.2010: Ilka Flöck (University of Oldenburg): "Let's listen to The Commitments, you wanna?": Realising and identifying suggestions in spoken English conversations

In his programmatic publication How to Do Things with Words John Austin estimates that there are between 1,000 and 9,999 different speech acts. Of these illocutions, only a handful has been empirically and systematically analysed. ‘Famous’ illocutions include requests, apologies and compliment (responses). Suggestions, on the other hand, belong to the vast group of speech acts which have so far been largely neglected by researchers. They are, however, an interesting case because they not only seem to challenge Searle’s (1976) very influential classification of illocutionary types but they also share many attributes and surface realisations with other speech acts (e.g. requests and offers). This functional overlap has raised the question of how conversationalists are able to (correctly) identify the illocution, i.e. the speaker’s intention, of a speech act. The talk will give an overview of how suggestions are realised in British and American English and will provide ideas of how identification of illocutions can be studied in spoken language.