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In: Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte
In: Contesting Environmental Imaginaries
Author: Klaus Benesch

Taking Henry David Thoreau’s ‘nature’ writing as a point of departure, my paper investigates the complex, often ambiguous relations between concepts of nature and culture in the American Renaissance. I am interested particularly in the uses of natural places as sites of new beginnings: philosophically, culturally, and also politically. If the landscape at Walden Pond figures in Thoreau’s imagination as a site of both individual and national regeneration, the woods along Tackahoe Creek or Chesapeake Bay in Frederick Douglass’s autobiography are equally loaded with cultural meaning. While being translated into art (that is, literary texts) these sites not only become inscribed with complex cultural meanings; they also project ‘anti-geographies’ that question our traditional perception of nature and thereby enable us to envision a new beginning, a reshaping of human relations and American society at large.

In: Perspectives on Mobility
In: Gründungsorte der Moderne
In: Übertragene Anfänge
In the humanities, the term ‘diaspora’ recently emerged as a promising and powerful heuristic concept. It challenged traditional ways of thinking and invited reconsiderations of theoretical assumptions about the unfolding of cross-cultural and multi-ethnic societies, about power relations, frontiers and boundaries, about cultural transmission, communication and translation. The present collection of essays by renowned writers and scholars addresses these issues and helps to ground the ongoing debate about the African diaspora in a more solid theoretical framework. Part I is dedicated to a general discussion of the concept of African diaspora, its origins and historical development. Part II examines the complex cultural dimensions of African diasporas in relation to significant sites and figures, including the modes and modalities of creative expression from the perspective of both artists/writers and their audiences; finally, Part III focusses on the resources (collections and archives) and iconographies that are available today. As most authors argue, the African diaspora should not be seen merely as a historical phenomenon, but also as an idea or ideology and an object of representation. By exploring this new ground, the essays assembled here provide important new insights for scholars in American and African-American Studies, Cultural Studies, Ethnic Studies, and African Studies. The collection is rounded off by an annotated listing of black autobiographies.
Volume Editors: Klaus Benesch and Kerstin Schmidt
America's sense of space has always been tied to what Hayden White called the narrativization of real events. If the awe-inspiring manifestations of nature in America (Niagara Falls, Virginia's Natural Bridge, the Grand Canyon, etc.) were often used as a foil for projecting utopian visions and idealizations of the nation's exceptional place among the nations of the world, the rapid technological progress and its concomitant appropriation of natural spaces served equally well, as David Nye argues, to promote the dominant cultural idiom of exploration and conquest.
From the beginning, American attitudes towards space were thus utterly contradictory if not paradoxical; a paradox that scholars tried to capture in such hybrid concepts as the middle landscape (Leo Marx), an engineered New Earth (Cecelia Tichi), or the technological sublime (David Nye). Not only was America's concept of space paradoxical, it has always also been a contested terrain, a site of continuous social and cultural conflict. Many foundational issues in American history (the dislocation of Native and African Americans, the geo-political implications of nation-building, immigration and transmigration, the increasing division and clustering of contemporary American society, etc.) involve differing ideals and notions of space. Quite literally, space and its various ideological appropriations formed the arena where America's search for identity (national, political, cultural) has been staged. If American democracy, as Frederick Jackson Turner claimed, is born of free land, then its history may well be defined as the history of the fierce struggles to gain and maintain power over both the geographical, social and political spaces of America and its concomitant narratives.
The number and range of topics, interests, and critical approaches of the essays gathered here open up exciting new avenues of inquiry into the tangled, contentious relations of space in America. Topics include: Theories of Space - Landscape / Nature - Technoscape / Architecture / Urban Utopia - Literature - Performance / Film / Visual Arts.
Imperiale Figurationen um 1800
Series:  Anfänge
Das Buch geht dem eigenartigen Phänomen nach, dass Geschichte auch und vielleicht gerade dann, wenn sie glaubt, einen absoluten Anfang zu setzen, Übertragung oder Wiederholung von etwas ist, das bereits stattgefunden hat. Die mannigfachen Formen und Funktionen der übertragenen Reichsidee, die vom Reich der Zwecke und Reich der Freiheit über das Reich Gottes auf Erden zum Reich des Schönen reichen, stehen im Zentrum des Bandes. Seine Beiträge fragen nach der Bereicherung, die das neue Reich durch den Rückgriff auf ein anfängliches Reich in der griechischen und römischen Antike erfährt.
Von St. Petersburg bis Occupy Wall Street
Series:  Anfänge
Was ist ein Gründungsort? Wie werden solche Orte gemacht und gepflegt? Was für Geschichten werden mit ihnen erzählbar und für wen? Welche Widerstände oder Widersprüche fordern sie heraus?
Der Band präsentiert die Ergebnisse des internationalen Abschlusssymposiums der Forschergruppe »Anfänge (in) der Moderne« an der LMU München. Die Beiträge befassen sich mit fiktiven wie realen Gründungsorten des 19. bis 21. Jahrhunderts. Ob St. Petersburg, Jerusalem, Washington/D.C. und Florenz oder die Künstlerkolonien in der Bretagne, die Inseln der Südsee und die Occupy-Camps oder aber auch Tlön, Wolkenkuckucksheim und der literarische Spaziergang – die Anfänge sind so vielfältig wie die Orte, an denen sie stattfinden. Die Autoren betrachten diese gemeinsame Konstruktion von Anfang und Ort in verschiedenen Medien in Hinblick auf ihre symbolische, politische, historische, kulturelle und ästhetische Bedeutung.