SoSe 15: All New! Functions of Novelty in American Cultural Theory and Practice
The category of the new has been a key ingredient in descriptions of North American culture ever since Europeans named the continent across the Atlantic "the new world." Pondering the innovative ... read more
The category of the new has been a key ingredient in descriptions of North American culture ever since Europeans named the continent across the Atlantic "the new world." Pondering the innovative potential of Anglo-American society, Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur wondered in his Letters from an American Farmer (1782): "What then is the American, this new man?" The turn of the 20th century then marked the rise of a veritable "regime of the new" (A. Reckwitz), perhaps best incorporated in Ezra Pound’s modernist credo to "make it new."
In this course, we will thoroughly investigate the phenomenon of novelty from a variety of perspectives. As the basis for this inquiry, students will explore and critically compare recent theories of the new by authors such as Boris Groys, Niklas Luhmann, and Michael North. In individual case studies, we will then locate the rhetorical, aesthetic, and ideological function of novelty in specific contexts of American cultural history. Possible topics range across the fields of modernist and postmodernist literature and visual art, intellectual history, social movements (e.g. New Woman, New Negro), theory (New Criticism, New Historicism, New American Studies), and popular culture. ---
Please register on Blackboard and carefully read the syllabus for this course BEFORE the beginning of the term. Attendance of the first session is mandatory to secure a spot in this class. If you cannot attend this session, please let me know in advance via email. close