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Research The Groningen Research Institute for the Study of Culture (ICOG) Research Research centres Research Center for the Americas

Inaugural lecture Ms Prof L.C. Bieger: Reading Publics: American Democracy and its Culture of Letters

When:Tu 12-06-2018 16:15 - 17:00
Where:Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

The chair of Professor Laura Bieger is in American Studies, Political Culture and Theory. True to this designation, her vision is to turn American Studies at Groningen into an international hub for the study of U.S. democracy.

Western democracies are currently undergoing vast transformations that involve the restructuring of public and private spheres, the increasing cooptation of daily life with market principles, globalization and the transnational flow of goods, people and ideas. And they involve responses to these transformations such as electing an autocrat, who ran his campaign on shunning democratic values and ideas, to the office of the U.S. president.

Coming to terms with these transformations is a pressing task for an American Studies teaching and research dedicated to producing socially relevant insights today. Moreover, American Studies scholars are in a privileged position when it comes generating and disseminating knowledge about the inner workings of modern democracies. As a matter of fact, Bieger believes that one of the most important tasks of her discipline in our present moment is to foster a historically sound, geopolitically nuanced and critically engaged understanding of democracy in all of its social and cultural ramifications, problems, tensions and contradictions.

Bieger's lecture takes on this responsibility by turning to a pillar of U.S. democracy — the reading public — to think about its past and present significance for the proper functioning of democratic order.

More information

  • Inaugural lecture: Ms Prof L.C.Bieger
  • Title: Reading Publics: American Democracy and its Culture of Letters
  • Chair: American Studies, Political Culture and Theory
  • Faculty: Arts

Laura Bieger is Chair of American Studies, Political Theory and Culture. She is the author of Ästhetik der Immersion (transcript 2007), which examines public spaces from Washington’s government district to the Las Vegas Strip that assert their function aesthetically—by turning world-image-relations into immersive spectacles. In another book, Belonging and Narrative (forthcoming), she considers the need to belong as a driving force of literary production and the novel as a primary place and home-making agent. Her essays and reviews have appeared in New Literary History, Narrative, Amerikastudien/American Studies, Studies in American Naturalism, American Literary History Online Review and ZAA. She has held teaching and research positions at Freie Universität Berlin, Universität Wien, Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg, the University of California at Berkeley, IFK Wien and New York University. Her inaugural lecture “Reading Publics: American Democracy and its Culture of Letters” deals with the public sphere as a democratic institution, its ties to reading and literature, and its contested state in American society and culture.

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