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Map of the 1858 Atlantic Cable route Bildinformationen anzeigen
Election Night 2016 Bildinformationen anzeigen
Miriam Strube, Vijaya Kohli und Cornel West (v.l.) anlässlich eines von Cornel West durchgeführten Kolloquiums am Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik der UPB Bildinformationen anzeigen
Transatlantikdampfer "Berengaria" (1920); Route: Liverpool-New York-Liverpool. Bildinformationen anzeigen

Map of the 1858 Atlantic Cable route

Foto: Von Unbekannt - Howe's Adventures & Achievements of Americans; en:Image:Atlantic_cable_Map.jpg, Gemeinfrei, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=622111

Election Night 2016

Foto: Kathrin Kasperlik

Miriam Strube, Vijaya Kohli und Cornel West (v.l.) anlässlich eines von Cornel West durchgeführten Kolloquiums am Institut für Anglistik/Amerikanistik der UPB

Foto: Tanja Reiffenrath

Transatlantikdampfer "Berengaria" (1920); Route: Liverpool-New York-Liverpool.

Foto: Wikimedia Commons

Book of the Month

October 2017
© Penguin Books

Lan Cao: Monkey Bridge (New York: Penguin, 1997)

“This was my realization: we have only to let one thing go — the language we think in, or the composition of our dream, the grass roots clinging underneath its rocks — and all at once everything goes.”

What exactly is it that you have to let go of when forced to settle in a foreign country? Artfully depicting the struggles of a Vietnamese refugee family in the United States, Lan Cao’s Monkey Bridge remains without doubt a significant contribution to Vietnam War representations. Inspiring to question commonly accepted perceptions about the war, Cao’s narrative reconceptualizes loud, Ramboesque battle-field-spectacles and uncovers instead the no less tumultuous inner lives of two women —mother and daughter— at war with their own identities in an alien surrounding.

But Monkey Bridge is not a moralizing lecture about times desperate for a different perspective. And it refuses to define change and cultural adaptation strictly as the loss of a former self. Instead, the novel invites to build bridges —not tear them down— between shores, ancestors, mothers and daughters, selves and, of course, between strangers. 

– recommended by Stela Dujakovic

September 2017
© Penguin Random House

Philip Roth: The Plot Against America (New York: Vintage, 2004)

What would American fascism look like? This question guides Philip Roth’s alternate history, in which the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh defeats Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940 presidential elections.

It’s a question that seems more pertinent today, seven months into the presidency of Donald Trump, than it has in many years. In the novel, Lindbergh signs a non-aggression pact with Hitler and remains silent when racist mobs attack Jews in the South. The parallels astonish. Trump’s adoption of the slogan “America First,” popularized by an organization that counted Lindbergh as its spokesman, adds to this feeling of uncanny repetition.

The invention of “alternative facts” has been a feature of the Trump administration thus far. Roth’s thought experiment reminds us that fictions need not be lies but may imagine the world as it might have been, or what the world might become.

 

– recommended by Alexander Dunst

August 2017
© Harper Collins

Thomas C. Foster: How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines (New York: Harper Collins, 2014)

Ever wonder why so many famous literary characters – Oedipus and Milkman Dead, for instance – literally limp through their stories? Or why so many stumble about blind, impotent, or scarred? With his engaging book, How to Read Literature Like a Professor, Thomas C. Foster helps readers become more adept at decoding “the grammar of literary language.” 

Targeting foremost the uninitiated reader, be that college freshmen or middle-aged members of book clubs, Foster provides “a broad introduction to the codes and patterns that inform our readings.”  Yet, even for the literary scholar, Foster’s book offers fun and intellectually satisfying romps through chapters such as “If She Comes Up, It’s Baptism” or “It’s My Symbol and I’ll Cry If I Want To.” References to many canonized literary texts and tell-tale snippets from pop culture favorites dovetail nicely with aspects from our own department’s Intro and Survey literature courses. 

Reading Foster’s book will help you master lit/cult’s “analytical apparatus” and in an entertaining way increase your understanding of Richard III’s twisted back, Oedipus’s sore feet, Jake Barnes’s wounded weenie, and, yes, even Harry Potter’s lightning-bolt scar.

– recommended by Andrea Krause

July 2017
© Random House

Teju ColeKnown and Strange Things (New York: Random House, 2016)

It is always beautiful, and often painful, to look at the world through the eyes of Teju Cole – be it by means of his curious camera lens or his poetic prose.

After his award-winning novels Open City and Every Day Is for the Thief, the Nigerian-American author has written another masterpiece which defies categorization as cleverly as its creator himself. Known and Strange Things is a collection of more than fifty essays – previously published in, among others, The Atlantic and The New York Times – that range from literature to photography to travelling, from high to low culture, from James Baldwin to Instagram, from Lagos through Brooklyn to Leukerbad. Cole skillfully combines a wide-angle and macro lens to make us see familiar things in a strange light, and the other way around. 

This book is an idiosyncratic yet accessible snapshot of our confusing times. Dare to take a closer look!

– recommended by Madita Oeming

June 2017
© Saraband

Graeme Macrae BurnetHis Bloody Project (Salford: Saraband, 2015)

Graeme Macrae Burnet’s second novel His Bloody Project relates the peculiar case of Roderick Macrae, a seventeen-year-old ‘murderer’ of three, from a remote crofting community in the northwest of Scotland. The tale of those gruesome killings committed in the summer of 1869 is told through a series of supposedly ‘found’ documents and predominantly revolves around the question whether or not the boy-culprit can be deemed sane in the eyes of Scots Law of that time. It is, in essence, a novel about a crime, but by no means is it merely a crime novel.

In short, it is a psychological inquiry into the very nature of truth, authenticity and authorship. What I love most about this remarkable example of non-linear epistolary metafiction are the numerous nods to its predecessors in Scotland’s literary past, its highly complex unreliable narration, and its beautifully crafted dialectical reader manipulation. The preface, in particular, is a masterpiece in its own right, and the respective 19th century registers and writing styles are second to none. If you think that this is laying it on a bit thick, don’t just take my word for it: His Bloody Project was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

We are thrilled to have the author himself come visit us all the way from Scotland to read from and discuss his work at the Studiobühne on July 1, at 7.30. 

– recommended by Robert Wirth

May 2017
© Salt Publishing

Alison Moore: The Lighthouse (Cromer: Salt Publishing, 2012)

Hiking in southern Germany, 40-something Futh reflects on his life and childhood. His mother left him and his father when Futh was twelve years old - and that is the traumatic loss he has never come to terms with. When Futh stays at a hotel in the Koblenz region, a series of unfortunate events leads to a catastrophe that neither Futh nor any reader might have expected.

I loved reading The Lighthouse for (at least) two and a half reasons: From the very first page, it is clear that Futh is ill-fated. An uncanny atmosphere looms over the novel, but it is difficult to put your finger on what precisely generates this sense of impending doom. The Lighthouse is a good read because of its very rare co-presence of brevity and depth. The language is easy to understand and at the same time creates passages of intense beauty. I discussed the novel with university students, and they were no less fascinated than were my high school students. When they sent an email to Alison Moore, she replied promptly, sending us detailed answers to our questions. (And this is reason two and a half.) 

– recommended by Peter Hohwiller

April 2017
©BlazeVOX [books]

Elizabeth Hatmaker: Girl in Two Pieces (Buffalo: BlazeVOX, 2010)

Elizabeth Hatmaker’s poetry collection Girl in Two Pieces circles around a 1947 murder case in Los Angeles. The victim, Elizabeth Short, also known as "the Black Dahlia,” has inspired a host of films, novels, and popular histories. But none of these narratives shows as many nuances and as much elegant toughness as Elizabeth Hatmaker's version. “A girl is no poem,” she writes in Girl in Two Pieces. Nonetheless, it is the uncanny closeness between the poems and their protagonist that makes her book so powerful. 

Elizabeth Hatmaker passed away on March 3rd, 2017. She was an instructional assistant professor at Illinois State University. In the summer of 2011, the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Paderborn had the great pleasure to host Elizabeth Hatmaker as a guest professor. We will remember her as a marvelous teacher and poet. 

– recommended by Paderborn American Studies

March 2017
© Simon & Schuster Books for young Readers

Kenneth Oppel: The Nest (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015)

This book was given to me as a present – and what a treat it was, indeed (thanks again, Eva)! It is not often that I, as an adult reader, am so enthralled by a children’s book: I simply could not put it down…

Written by Kenneth Oppel and skilfully illustrated by Jon Klassen, The Nest is a multimodal book about a family with a sick baby. There are things going on in their house that cannot be explained logically. They circle around the baby, Theo, and the oldest brother, Steve, from whose perspective the story is told. The mysterious incidents force Steve to face his fears, take on responsibility and, eventually, put his own life in jeopardy to protect his baby brother. In the end, the interplay of the supernatural and the fictional world leaves the reader dazzled. 

I highly recommend The Nest to readers of all ages who enjoy a suspense-packed read or appreciate multimodality; and to future English teachers I say: read it, enjoy, and use it in class! 

– recommended by Ivo Steininger

February 2017
© Pearson

Jeremy Harmer: How to Teach English (London: Pearson, 2016)

I believe there are three important factors in English language teaching (ELT). And Lola May sums them up best: “know your stuff; know whom you are stuffing; and then stuff them elegantly.” Jeremy Harmer's newest edition of How to Teach English provides a digestible overview of what this entails. In 14 short chapters, which include hands-on task files, Harmer discusses factors such as how to teach language skills; how learner types and teachers' styles influence lessons as well as how to plan and evaluate students' output. I like the "What if?" section that suggests different ways of dealing with tricky classroom situations. The enclosed DVD shows experienced and inspiring language teachers in action. Harmer's book is worth a read especially for beginner-level teacher trainees who seek to gain a practical overview of English language teaching.

– recommended by Katharina Hagenfeld

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