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American Studies

Der Fachrat ist die fachbezogene Zusammenkunft von Studierenden, akademischen Mitarbeitern und Hochschulprofessoren eines Instituts der Universität.

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Hasan Adwan

(Geschwister Supp Foundation)

Hasan Adwan holds a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in political science (with emphasis on political philosophy) and American history from Westminster College in Missouri and is a graduate of the HCA's master's program. His dissertation "Money, Democracy and the Decline of the Peace Party" was supervised by Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker and PD Dr. Martin Thunert.

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Debarchana Baruah

(BASF Scholarship)

Debarchana Baruah was born in Guwahati in north-east India. In 2005, she moved to Delhi and later completed her B.A. (2008), M.A. (2010), and M.Phil. (2012) in English Literature at the Department of English, University of Delhi. Some of her areas of interest are American cinema and television, consumer culture and representations of modernity, post-war American literature, whiteness studies, feminist theories, body politics and ideologies of dissent. In July 2012, Baruah submitted her M.Phil thesis entitled "Elusive Dreams: Suburbia in Post World War II American Literature". During her M.Phil. program she taught as a guest lecturer at Sri Venkateswara College, University of Delhi. In October 2012, she moved to Heidelberg and started her doctoral studies at the Heidelberg Center for American Studies (HCA). At present, Baruah teaches a course at the English Department, University of Heidelberg on the representations of the suburb in post-war American literature.

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Raluca-Lucia Cimpean

(HCA PhD in American Studies Scholarship, Landesgraduiertenförderung)

Raluca-Lucia Cimpean studied English and Romanian Language and Literature at the Babes-Bolyai University of Cluj-Napoca. In 2006, she received an M.A. in American Studies at the University of Heidelberg. Her dissertation, supervised by Prof. Dr. Manfred Berg, is entitled "John F. Kennedy Through the Looking Glass: Docudramatic Representations of the JFK Image."

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Maria Diaconu

(Heidemarie Engelhorn Ph.D. Scholarship)

Maria Diaconu received her B.A. from the University of Bucharest, Romania, majoring in English and minoring in American Studies, and completed an M.A. degree in American Studies at Heidelberg University. Her dissertation, "Literature and Democratic Criticism: The Post-9/11 Novel and the Public Sphere," was supervised by Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss.

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Michael Rodegang Drescher

(Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes)

Michael Drescher studied English philology, political science and law at Heidelberg University and received his Magister degree with honors in 2011. His dissertation, supervised by Prof Dr. Günter Leypoldt, is entitled “Poets of Protest: Mythological Resignification in American Antebellum and German Vormärz Literature.”

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Gordon Friedrichs

Gordon Friedrichs was born in Heppenheim, Germany, in 1984. He studied political science and South-Asian Studies, first as an undergraduate at the Johann-Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt/Main from 2005 to 2007, and later as a graduate student at Heidelberg University from 2007 to 2012. In addition, he spent a year at Arizona State University in 2009-2010. He graduated in 2012 with a Magister Artium, specializing in international relations, U.S. foreign policy, South-Asian security studies, as well as international organizations. After his graduation, Gordon Friedrichs worked at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin before he joined the HCA's Ph.D. program in 2013. In his dissertation, Gordon Friedrichs focuses on the quality and direction of the U.S. leadership role in the twenty-first century.

Primary supervisor: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Harnisch

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Melanie Gish

(Curt Engelhorn Ph.D. Scholarship)

Melanie Gish graduated from the University of Mannheim with a B.A. in German in 2003. She holds an M.A. in German Studies from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada (2004), and an M.A. in American Studies from the HCA (2008). Her dissertation, “Wrestling With the Wounds of God’s World Amidst Cultural and Political Polarization: The Creation Care Movement at the Intersection of American Evangelicalism and Environmentalism,” was supervised by Prof. Dr. Günter Leypoldt and Dr. Martin Thunert. Melanie is currently revising her thesis for publication with Baylor University Press.

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Ryan Hoselton

(Heidemarie Engelhorn Ph.D. Scholarship)

Ryan Hoselton was born in New Mexico, U.S.A. He earned a B.A. in history from the University of New Mexico and an M.Div. and Th.M. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY. Ryan wrote his undergraduate thesis on the history of religious studies in America, and his Master's thesis examined the Baptist theologian Andrew Fuller's theology of virtue. His doctoral dissertation focuses on the history of biblical interpretation in early American theology. Ryan also works as a research assistant to Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann on the Biblia Americana Project.

Ryan Hoselton’s dissertation entitled "Spiritually Discerned: Cotton Mather, Jonathan Edwards, and Experiential Exegesis in Early Evangelicalism" was supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann and Prof. Dr. Christoph Strohm. It explores how early American evangelicals conceptualized the relationship between experiential knowledge and biblical interpretation in the context of the early enlightenment. Examining under-researched exegetical writings from the corpus of Cotton Mather and Jonathan Edwards in particular, the study demonstrates how early evangelicals commingled experimental philosophies of the early Enlightenment with their post-Reformation Protestant exegetical traditions in ways that served their own agendas for religious renewal amidst modernizing conditions.

Primary supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann


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Heike Jablonski

(Heidemarie Engelhorn Ph.D. Scholarship)

Heike Jablonski pursued her higher education in English and American Studies, Business Administration, and Economics at the Universities of Passau and Kassel as well as at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. She was awarded her M.A. in English and American Studies at the University of Kassel in 2012. Her dissertation, "John Foxe in America: Discourses of Martyrdom in the Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century United States," was supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann.

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Axel Kaiser

(Friedrich Naumann Stiftung)

Axel Kaiser holds an MA degree in American Studies from the HCA, and an MA degree in international law from Heidelberg University. He worked under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Katja Patzel-Mattern, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Detlef Junker, and Dr. habil. Martin Thunert. In 2014, Axel completed his dissertation entitled “The American Philosophical Foundations of the Chilean Free Market Revolution.”

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Barbara Kujath

Barbara Kujath studied English and German as a Foreign Language at Heidelberg University, where she graduated with an M.A. in 2007. She completed her dissertation, entitled "'Sympathy for the Devil': A Literary and Cultural History of the Psychopath, the Late 1950s to 1980," under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss in 2016.

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Agnese Marino

(BASF Scholarship)

Agnese Marino was born in Naples, Italy. In 2008, she received her B.A. in English and Spanish languages and literatures at the University of Naples “L’Orientale” with a thesis in North-American history. The thesis was about the contribution of Chicano women (Chicanas) to the shaping of a Chicano identity and to the development of the Chicano movement. In 2011, she completed her M.A. degree. Her M.A. thesis, entitled “Performative Identities and Premises of Post-ethnicism in contemporary USA: an analysis of two novels by Gish Jen and Rebecca Walker”, provided insight into the history of the American national identity and a critical analysis of Multicultural ethno-racial identities from a post-ethnic point of view. The following year her work was awarded by the Italian Association for North- American Studies (AISNA). Now, as a PhD student at HCA, she is working on a project that analyzes mixed- race memoires and the way they can contribute to the shape of a new cosmopolitan identity in contemporary USA.


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Christian Maul

(HCA PhD in American Studies Scholarship, Landesgraduiertenförderung)

Christian Maul studied English and German literature and linguistics at the University of Heidelberg and at San Francisco State University. His dissertation, which he completed under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Dieter Schulz, is entitled “From Self-Culture to Militancy, From Conscience to Intervention: Henry David Thoreau Between Liberalism and Communitarianism.”

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Eva-Maria Mayer

(Konrad Adenauer Stiftung)

Eva-Maria Mayer received her Magister degree in American Studies, psychology and political science from Bonn University. Her dissertation “U.S. Government in Times of Crisis: How Securitization shaped Congressional Behavior after 9/11” was supervised by Prof. Dr. Sebastian Harnisch and PD Dr. Martin Thunert.

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Mohamed Ahmed Taha El Sayd Metawe

Mohamed Metawe graduated from Cairo University before he joined the HCA PhD Program in October 2008. He worked under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Junker and Dr. habil. Martin Thunert and completed a dissertation entitled “The Middle East in Transatlantic Politics, 2003-2009.”

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Anja Milde

(BASF Dissertation Scholarship)

Anja Milde received her M.A. in American Studies from Heidelberg University in 2008. Her dissertation, supervised by Prof. Dr. Manfred Berg, is entitled "'Liberal Oases in Conservative Hell': Blacks, Gays, and the Struggle for Equality."

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Sina Movaghati

Sina Movaghati completed his doctoral studies in 2022. His research interests are late 19th-century and early twentieth-century transatlantic literature, continental philosophy, and film. His recent works have appeared in academic journals such as Quarterly Review of Film and Video (Routledge), Interdisciplinary Literary Studies (Penn State University Press), Journal of Modern Literature (Indiana University Press), and New Review of Film and Television Studies (Routledge). Sina’s latest work will appear in an edited volume titled Fictional Worlds and the Political Imagination, edited by Garry L. Hagberg.

Sina’s doctoral dissertation, “The Poetics of Renunciation: The Jamesian Tradition of Recognition in Modern and Contemporary Transatlantic Novels,” offers fresh readings of the renunciation pattern observed in some seminal literary fiction of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. By foregrounding recognition (anagnorisis) as the dominant literary preoccupation for canonical modernists such as Henry James and Edith Wharton, the dissertation tackles the ever-present problematic issue of passivity of action existing in modern and contemporary transatlantic fiction. It has been argued that even though anagnorisis, in the Aristotelian sense of the word, has often been employed as the most critical plot element by modernist and contemporary writers, this revelatory moment tends to produce passivity in the modern protagonists rather than to induce a dramatic action. In this sense, Sina argues that some well-known contemporary novelists, such as Kazuo Ishiguro and Ian McEwan, are strictly Jamesian in their treatments of the concept of recognition. The method of study relies on close readings in a comparative mode. Also, to shed light on the characters’ passivity, Sina partially incorporates Emmanuel Levinas’ phenomenology of aesthetics. Levinas is primarily a philosopher of ethics, but he has an interesting philosophy on art and aestheticism. His philosophy of aesthetics is drawing more attention from critics in recent years. Similar to philosophers such as Plato, and Walter Benjamin, Levinas is a critic of art and aestheticism. Like Adorno, Levinas believes that art and artistic practices have such power that can derail the subject’s intentionality from the real towards the non-real or imaginary. For him, since an aesthetic image is pleasurable and complete, it does not need to enter a dialogue with a world outside itself; hence it is an autonomous existence that provides an escape route for the subject and disengages him/her from the real world. In the dissertation, Sina argues that the passivity observed in modern protagonists is due to their engagement with the aesthetic mental image. Due to this aesthetic image, the protagonists are gradually disengaged from the real world. Therefore, the protagonists prioritize the imaginary over the real. As a result, the recognition loses its functionality because the ego is already lulled by the aesthetic image.

Primary supervisor: Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss


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Jonathan Pike

(BASF Scholarship)

Jonathan Pike most recently earned an MSt in Theology from the University of Oxford where he wrote on Samuel Clarke's Newtonian theology in relation to moral agency and human liberty. Prior to that he obtained an MA in History from Oxford Brookes University where he wrote on the rejection of original sin and the recrudescence of more Pelagian perspectives in relation to the American Revolution. He earned his BA in History from Brigham Young University. He studies the impact of theology on political thought through the history of ideas. He is particularly interested in the long-eighteenth century's transatlantic flow of ideas in relation to the American Revolution and Founding. His dissertation focuses on the Trinitarian debates and their impacts on the substance and character of the American Revolution.

Jonathan Pike's dissertation continues his interest in the anatomy of an ideational revolution, or, more specifically, the theological roots of the American Revolution. Within the context of his prior graduate studies, his PhD dissertation centers on the Trinitarian debates and controversies that formed a primary impetus toward the tripartite nexus of theological, societal, and political thought that fed into the justifications for and subsequent supporting structures of the American Founding. Related aspects of the political theologies held by principal Founders and other significant voices (such as Benjamin Franklin and Jonathan Mayhew), as well as the transatlantic impact of seminal publications (such as Samuel Clarke's Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (1712)), are significant areas of endeavor in his research project, which aims to contribute to a greater and more cultivated understanding of the American Revolution and its origins.

Primary supervisor: Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann


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Natalie Rauscher

(Heidemarie Engelhorn Ph.D. Scholarship)

Natalie Rauscher graduated from the HCA Ph.D. program in 2020. Her dissertation on “The Discourse on the Future of Work in the United States under the Influence of Automation and the Platform Economy” was supervised by Dr. habil. Martin Thunert, Prof. Dr. Welf Werner. It looks at how the topic of technological change has played out in political and public discourse in United States. These discourses contribute to technological change itself, for example through the use of narratives. It is therefore crucial to analyze and understand the discourse around technological change in the political and public sphere in the U.S. today. The dissertation therefore conducts an in-depth quantitative and qualitative analysis of congressional hearings and journalistic sources using corpus linguistic methods and close reading techniques. Although the discourses investigated are broad and very detailed, one can see that there seems to be some understanding that the future of work might be challenging for some parts of the American workforce, for example due to the growth of the sharing economy platforms. Yet, there is little consensus on how to truly address these challenges and to give more Americans a chance to participate in this future.

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Anthony Santoro

(BASF Dissertation Scholarship)

Anthony Santoro was part of HCA’s first MAS Class of 2005 before joining the Ph.D. program in 2006. His dissertation is entitled “Exile or Embrace: The Religious Discourse on the Death Penalty in the Contemporary Era.” The project was supervised by Prof. Dr. Manfred Berg and Prof. Dr. Inken Prohl.

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Styles Sass

(Curt Engelhorn Scholarship)

Styles Sass received his bachelor's degree in English from the University of Iowa and his master's degree in American Studies at Heidelberg University. His dissertation, "Swaying the Nation: Campaign Narratives in the 2008 and 2012 Presidential Elections," was supervised by Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss.

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Karsten Senkbeil


Karsten Senkbeil graduated from the University of Osnabrück, Germany, and the City College of New York before he joined the HCA PhD Program in October 2006. He worked under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Marianne Hundt and completed a dissertation entitled “The Language of American Sports: A Corpus-Assisted Discourse Study.”

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Erhan Simsek

Erhan Simsek received a B.A in English language teaching from Middle East Technical University and an M.A. in American Studies from Heidelberg University. His dissertation, “Changing Images of Business and Businessmen in American Fiction and Social Thought, 1880-1929,” was supervised by Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss.

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Cristina Stanca Mustea

(BASF Dissertation Scholarship)

Cristina Stanca-Mustea received her M.A. in American Studies from Heidelberg University  in 2006. She majored in Literature, Religious Studies, and Law. Her thesis was entitled “Carl Laemmle and the Making of Hollywood.”

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Bryce Taylor

Bryce Taylor holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from Utah Valley University and an M.A. in American Studies from Heidelberg University. His dissertation on the life of nineteenth-century New England clergyman Adin Ballou was supervised by Prof. Dr. Jan Stievermann.

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Stephen Urich

Stephen Urich holds an MBA from Virginia Tech and graduated magna cum laude from the Centre Européen de Recherches Internationales et Stratégiques with a master’s degree in international politics. Supervised by PD Dr. Martin Thunert, his dissertation focuses on “Delegation of Power as a Political Tool of the United States Congress.”

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Stefanie Weymann-Teschke

(BASF Scholarship)

Stefanie Weymann-Teschke studied English and American Studies as well as modern German literature at the University of Freiburg, where she graduated in 2006 with a B.A. In 2008, she earned an M.A. degree in English from King’s College London. She completed her dissertaion, which was supervised by Prof. Dr. Dietmar Schloss, in 2015. It is entitled "The City as Performance: The Contemporary American Novel and the Power of the Senses.”

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Latest Revision: 2023-06-29
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