Events | Symposium with Heike Paul: "Disenchanted Democracy? Cultural Imaginaries of Order and Belonging in a Transatlantic Perspective" [CANCELLED]

Ohio | March 30, 2020 – March 31, 2020

The President of Ohio State University has announced that all public events and non-necessary events are cancelled as part of a university-wide response to the outbreak of COVID-19.


This symposium held on the campus of the Ohio State University brings together speakers from the U.S. and Germany to address aspects of democratic culture and its discontent in the present moment. The latter reveals itself in particular expressions of emotion and negative affect, such as anger, resentment, indignation, and rage, that often thrive on populist simplification and ‘othering’ of specific groups and/or individuals. This has prompted interventions by scholars, journalists, and activists to think about modes of dialogue and reconciliation across various kinds of divides and in different cultural registers.

This event seeks to add to the ongoing debate by historicizing the role of affect and feeling in the history of Western democracies and to develop new perspectives on questions of inclusion and exclusion in social, political, and cultural imaginaries with a view to different media (music, television series, etc.) and forms of political communication. In times of strained ‘official’ transatlantic relations and right-wing populist successes on both sides of the Atlantic, this symposium seeks to identify common ground and shared concerns in working through the current moment of crisis. Participants include Noëlle McAfee, Nikolai Blaumer, Elisabeth Bronfen, Katharina Gerund, Nadine Hubbs, Benjamin McKean, Heike Paul, Marie Rotkopf, Barry Shank, and Michelle Sizemore.


Monday, March 30

5 p.m. Symposium Opening by the Organizers

Keynote Address I: Noëlle McAfee (Emory U)
“Cherchez La Thing: The Melancholic Demands of Extremism”

Keynote Address II: Elisabeth Bronfen (Zurich U)
“Political Enchantments: The Vexed Question of
Belonging in The Americans”

Reception at Ohio State University

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

9 a.m. Michelle Sizemore (U of Kentucky, Lexington)
“The President’s Two Bodies and the People’s Two Voices.”
Heike Paul, Response to Michelle Sizemore

Marie Rotkopf (Hamburg/Leuphana U, Lueneburg)
“Who Is the Boss”

Lunch break

2 p.m. Benjamin McKean (OSU, Columbus)
“Populism and the Anxiety of Equality”
Katharina Gerund, Response to Benjamin McKean

Coffee break

Nadine Hubbs (U of Michigan, Ann Arbor)
“What if this Machine Really Does Kill Fascists?
Reckoning with Music’s Political Power”
Barry Shank, Response to Nadine Hubbs

Final discussion & wrap-up

Photo: Karoline Glasow

Heike Paul was born in Koblenz in 1968. From 1987 to 1994, she studied American Studies, Political Science, and English Studies at Goethe University Frankfurt and at the University of Washington, Seattle. After her master’s degree, she obtained her doctorate in the context of the research training group “Gender Difference and Literature” at LMU Munich and subsequently worked as a postdoc and assistant professor at Leipzig University, where she earned her postgraduate degree (Dr. phil. Habil.) in 2004. In the same year, she was appointed chair of American Studies at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg.  Her research in cultural studies focuses especially on forms and functions of the sentimental (Global Sentimentality Project) and on dimensions of tacit knowledge. Heike Paul is a member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and director of the Bavarian American Academy, in which she is deeply committed to transatlantic networking.


River Den, Drake Performance Center, Ohio State University

Free Admission

The event is a collaboration with the Ohio State University and the Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg  

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