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MASNEWS 1/2013:
Welcoming and Seeing Off MAS-Students Around the Year

Dear All,

Detlef JunkerWelcome to the Heidelberg Center for American Studies’ MAS newsletter!

This edition offers information about what it is like to be a former MAS graduate and to be a student who just started at the HCA: Fei Ye from China and María Dolores Saura Campillo from Spain, respectively, tell us about their lives.

We are happy to say that also our current HCA Scholar-in-Residence, Prof. Saje Mathieu, offered to give us an insight about what it is like to live, teach and study in a foreign country.

Please feel free to forward our newsletter to anyone interested in American Studies. Of course, we appreciate any feedback you would like to share with us.

Many thanks and best wishes,

Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker
HCA Founding Director

MAS 2015 – Application Process Has Ended

On March 31, the deadline for the applications for the MAS Class of 2015 expired. As in previous years, postgraduate students from all over the world applied for the three semester program at the HCA. In all, students from nineteen nations, such as Cameroon, China, Iran, Lebanon, the Philippines, Turkey, the US, Germany, and other European countries sought to take part in the MAS experience.


Online applications for the new MAS class of 2016 will be accepted starting October 2013, with March 31, 2014 being the closing date for applications.

This fall the HCA’s MAS program goes into its tenth year. Since its establishment in 2005, the program gave 117 students from 36 nations the opportunity to gain inside knowledge of the United States from an outside perspective. They are joined by the fourteen students of the MAS 2013, who graduated in mid-April.

We are looking forward to welcoming our new students in October at the HCA and hearing about the experience of our new MAS-alumni in the future!

Life After the MAS – Fei Ye

Fei Ye completed her MAS in 2009 and returned afterwards to her home country China. She met up with our excursion team to China in 2012, as we reported in our last newsletter. Today, she tells us how her stay in Germany influenced her and how her life changed after the MAS.

September 28 has always been a special date for me to celebrate – every year since 2008, as I started my adventure in Heidelberg University on that specific day, getting to know friendly and helpful HCA staff and dear fellow students with whom I shared a great year together. I miss them so much and I would like this letter to be a message to bring my best wishes to them all.


After returning to China, I got into the public relations industry and started working for China’s largest communication group named BlueFocus, firstly as management trainee rotating in a group. I am currently focusing on CSR (corporate social responsibility) projects as project leader as well as an account manager, cooperating with NGOs to help mothers and children in need, for my major client is an infant nutrition company. I travel a lot, have a busy life and work under huge pressure, but the smile of children whom our project helped always cheers me up. The HCA helped me to gain an international horizon and trained me to think logically, which is very important in dealing with my daily tasks. I think that’s what higher education means: to teach people how to fish instead of giving them fish. The HCA taught know how to learn, what to learn and where to learn instead of just imparting me with pure concrete knowledge, and I feel strong, confident and proud as a HCA graduate.

It was my great honor and pleasure to meet Prof. Junker and the HCA team last October in Beijing when they were promoting the program here. For me it was like a family reunion, and I expect to see more HCA “family members” in the future, whether here in China or Germany or somewhere else. It’s a big world, but it can be a very small one, too.

Welcome to the MAS – Maria Saura Campillo

The HCA welcomed 15 new students to its MAS program in the fall semester of 2012. Maria from Spain of the MAS class of 2014 tells us about her experiences during her first semester studying here at the HCA.


My name is María Saura and I came to the HCA looking for a change in my career. I must admit that in October, when classes began, I was a bit scared of not shaping up to the challenge that this Master’s degree represents for me, in particular for somebody whose previous degree was Translation and Interpreting. Nevertheless, and although I still have a year ahead, I have no words to express how satisfied and glad I feel to be at the HCA. Our MAS class is not very big but multicultural, which creates a familial environment that makes us feel comfortable to express our opinions or doubts anytime and make good friends while learning from other cultures. Regarding the courses given this first semester, they all have enriched me as a person and prepared me for a better career in the future. Although I have a particular preference for Political Science and History, every single professor and tutor I have had so far has demonstrated what a professional he or she is. Our tutors have played an important role by allowing us to learn or review the material seen in class in a friendly and collaborative way during our weekly tutorials. I am quite eager to start my second semester at the HCA, keep learning, and expand my knowledge. If you are wondering whether to join the HCA, I strongly encourage you to do so, because you will not regret it. I personally think it has been one of the wisest decisions I have made in my life so far.

New HCA Alumni Platform

The HCA offers its alumni a new platform to stay in touch with fellow students and those who came before or after and who share a common experience as graduates of one of the HCA’s programs (BAS, MAS, PhD). The platform is part of the university-wide Heidelberg Alumni International (HAI) network. 

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Since 1386, Heidelberg University has not just been shaped by its current students and faculty but also by the people who came before, on whose shoulders we stand, and on whose research we build. Being able to connect to that vast knowledge, to build bridges to the students, faculty, fellows, employees, guest scholars and friends of the university past and present is the goal of Heidelberg Alumni International. With over 8000 alumni members and still counting, the HAIsociety offers a rich program for Heidelberg alumni with get-togethers, regional groups, national groups, and groups ordered according to subject.

If you would like to maintain ties with other Heidelberg alumni around the world, we heartily invite you to sign on to HAI. In particular, make sure to join the HCA group on HAI and help create the vibrant network you have been dreaming about. 

Free registration is available at: http://www.alumni.uni-heidelberg.de/en/anmeldung.html

HCA Scholar-in-Residence – Prof. Saje Mathieu

Not only students but scholars as well like to visit the HCA to spend some time in the beautiful city of Heidelberg. This year we are happy to welcome Professor Saje Mathieu from the University of Minnesota. After teaching her course “New Approaches to African American History” in the last winter semester, she now continues her research while staying at the HCA.

Portrait MathieuThe Great War’s centennial is fast approaching and with it comes a reconsideration of the war’s import and impact. Whereas the war has traditionally been written up as a calamitous fracas between Germany and its neighbors, we understand more fully that the Great War was a global conflict that polarized even the most remote corners of the world. For one thing, race and imperialism proved more central to the war than originally believed, especially since France, Great Britain, and Belgium pressed millions of colonial combatants into service as soldiers and laborers. To these numbers were later added African Americans who fought on the Somme and worked backbreaking shifts in French and British port cities. Military service abroad, namely on the Western Front and in the Mediterranean theatre, alighted black soldiers to new ideas, political possibilities, partnerships, friendships, and organizational models. These new alliances—forged from Ypres to Verdun and from Dunkirk to Marseille—feed my interests and are the marrow of my current research.

I am very grateful to be the 2012-13 HCA Scholar-in-Residence. Since coming to Germany last August, I have split my time between teaching and writing my new book The Glory of Their Deeds: A Global History of Black Soldiers in the Great War Era. The book explores black soldiers’ experiences during World War One and looks at race and the politics of enlistment and engagement in the Allied Forces. I interrogate the various myths about black soldiers’ fitness for fighting and how service in the Great War taught black combatants a new way of defining their civic duty, be it to the nation or the empire. The book begins by looking at which black soldiers fought in the Great War and how stereotypes cloaked as science shaped the very nature of black contributions to the war. My book then examines how service abroad and time spent sandwiched in trenches or doing double duty as dockworkers created for most black soldiers conditions too grievous to ignore, especially once the war mood turned riotous. Black soldiers who endured racialized torment on the battlefields or in port cities banded together and forged new alliances that defied national or imperial boundaries, making real a postwar transnational radicalism among black veterans unimagined before the Great War.

Since joining the HCA, I also taught a Hauptseminar in the fall and had the great pleasure of working with an excellent cadre of intellectually curious and enthusiastic students. My class, “New Approaches to African American History” looked at how African Americans articulated their political and social concerns from the end of the Civil War to the dawn of the Civil Rights Era. Students upended myths about African American life by working firsthand with primary sources and discussing the enduring polemics of race. While this seminar focused on African Americans, my course offered so much more. By approaching the African American experience as a looking glass, we came away with a broader and more richly nuanced understanding of twentieth century American life.

With teaching now finished, I return with greater earnest to my research, writing, and continuing to discover German culture. While I had visited Germany several times before, I had never strayed south of Bonn and never stayed more than a fortnight. My prior attempts at learning German ended in failure but thanks to evening lessons and Frau Larenz’s patience and gentle encouragement, I hope soon to add German to my linguistic quiver. My renewed interest in German is born from having fallen instantly under Heidelberg’s charm and relishing since my first weeks here strolling throughout various neighborhoods or biking to nearby towns. My daughter and I could not have wished for a warmer welcome from the folks at the HCA and the University of Heidelberg’s Welcome Center, and even from total strangers who routinely stop us and invite us into their homes. Even after six months here, I am still joyful for having welcomed the HCA’s invitation, stuffing a year’s worth of possessions into four suitcases, tossing my English-German dictionary into my bag, and leaping at the challenge of spending my sabbatical year in Germany. We love that just about any occasion here is capped with champagne, that Heidelberg is awash in Bäckereien and chocolateries, and that sunshine has finally returned on the Neckar. Das ist ein tolles Erlebnis gewesen!

Further News from the HCA

10th Spring Academy

On March 18-22 the HCA held its 10th Spring Academy.


The Spring Academy invited outstanding Ph.D. students from diverse academic disciplines to Heidelberg to pres­ent their dissertation projects in the field of American Studies. All presentations were thematically arranged into ten panels. We asked the participants to prepare a twenty-minute presentation of their research projects which was followed by a forty-minute discussion session. The participants of the HCA Spring Academy greatly benefited from the insights generated by this cross-disciplinary and intercultural dialogue.

Additionally, the HCA invited international scholars to share their expertise with the participants of the Spring Academy. To this end, the conference was complemented by workshops, a panel discussion, and an excursion.

You can find this year’s program here.

Enjoy Jazz

During the 2012 Enjoy Jazz Festival, distinguished experts, artists, and journalists met at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA) on November 8 and 9 to look at the diversity of jazz in Europe and the United States. They discussed the social relevance of the genre on both sides of the Atlantic, similarities and differences of European and American jazz, and their effects on our societies.

On the occasion of the initiation of the UNESCO World Jazz Day this year, the participants of the symposium explored the political dimension of a genre that was seen as the epitome of freedom in the 1960s and traced transatlantic reciprocities. With this symposium, the HCA, in cooperation with Enjoy Jazz, attempted to establish a venue where intellectual curiosity and musical zest will feel equally at home.

This symposium was conceptualized by Christian Broecking and supported by BASF SE.

Topics discussed and presented were “Jazz and Human Rights,” “American Idols – European Identity,” and “Jazz and Politics”. On these two days, keynote speakers were, among others,  Daniel Fischlin (University Research Chair and Full Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph, Guelph), Eric Porter (Professor of American Studies, History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz), Wolfram Knauer (Director, Jazzinstitut Darmstadt), Yusef Lateef (Grammy Award-winning composer, recipient of the Jazz Master Fellowship Award), Archie Shepp (Saxophone player, pianist, singer), and Tom Carter (President, Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, Member U.S. National Commission for UNESCO, Washington, DC).

Upcoming Events at the HCA

May 28, 2013, HCA – 6.15 pm
Religion in American War and Diplomacy: A History
Andrew Preston, Senior Lecturer in American History, University of Cambridge           

June 13, 2013, HCA – 6.15 pm
Conspiracy Theory – Redux
Clare Birchell, Senior Lecturer, Institute for North American Studies, King’s College London

June 20, 2013, Old University (Old Lecture Hall, Grabengasse 1) – 6.15 pm
The Institution of Nothing: David Foster Wallace in the Program
Marc McGurl, Professor of English, Stanford University

July 4, 2013, HCA – 6.15 pm
The Constitution in American History: Continuity and Change
Mark C. Christie, Commissioner, Virginia State Corporation Commission, Adjunct Professor, University of Virginia School of Law, and former chief legal counsel and director of policy for the Governor of Virginia

July 9, 2013, HCA – 6.15 pm
Didn't My Lord Deliver Daniel: Biblical Witness and the African American Freedom Struggle
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, Victor S. Thomas Professor of History and Professor of African and African American Studies, Harvard University / James W.C. Pennington Fellow, HCA


Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA)
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Hauptstraße 120
69117 Heidelberg

Tel.: + 49 6221 543710 
E-Mail: hca@uni-hd.de 

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