Welcome! Thank you for your interest in American Studies.
Professor of North American Literary and Cultural History
Dean of the Faculty Arts and Humanities, University of Siegen
PhD in American Studies from Georg-August-University Göttingen
Research and Teaching at the University of Siegen, Germany
American Studies Master’s degree from Johannes Gutenberg-University Mainz
Studied and worked at Austin College, University of Michigan, U.S.
My research revolves around current and past U.S. popular culture, from nineteenth-century mystery novels and intersections of literature and popular music to comics and other forms of graphic narrative. I am particularly intrigued by the nexus of cultural history and popular narrative and the functions of genre evolution and media-specific transformations. In addition to my ongoing interest in African American history and culture, I work a lot on serial storytelling and have recently turned to studying popular archival practices as means of constructing and negotiating cultural memory. All of my work is shaped by a profound interest in transnational and transcultural exchange and the perpetual crossings of all kinds of borders, be they geographical, social, political, or cultural.
I am one of the editors of Anglia: Journal of English Philology and The Anglia Book Series, as well as the recently launched SIEGN: Siegen Research in Graphic Narrative book series. I am also a member of the African Atlantic Research Group.
Comics and Graphic Narrative
Since the late 2000s I have published extensively on superhero comics, particularly on their serial forms and functions, most prominently in my monograph Authorizing Superhero Comics: On the Evolution of a Popular Serial Genre (Ohio State UP, 2021).
I have also studied adaptations of literature into comics, intermedial and transmedial dynamics, and the pedagogical potentials of the medium. I am currently involved in the joint research project The Serial Politics of Pop Aesthetics: Superhero Comics and Science Fiction Pulp Novels, which I direct together with Niels Werber as part of the Collaborative Research Center 1472 Transformations of the Popular.
Literature and Music
I have long been fascinated with intersections of literature and music. My special focus is jazz autobiographies and other forms of musicians’ memoirs. This interest is at the center of my dissertation about trumpeter and singer Louis Armstrong, which eventually became Music Is My Life: Louis Armstrong, Autobiography, and American Jazz (University of Michigan P, 2012). I have also published essays on the autobiography of Jewish hipster clarinetist Mezz Mezzrow and on country artists Loretta Lynn and Steve Earle, as well as on graphic musical biographies.
African American Literature
I have always been intrigued by African American literature and (popular) culture. Central to this intrigue is my work on Louis Armstrong as a cultural icon and jazz autobiographer, but I have also looked at writers like Toni Morrison, Walter Mosley, and Barack Obama. Most recently, I have started working on a book about the resurgence of history in recent African American graphic narratives that addresses questions of cultural memory and the archive. Some of this research is affiliated with the African Atlantic Research Group.
City Mystery Novels
My engagement with US popular culture is mostly anchored in the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, but I also study nineteenth-century crime writing and serial literary culture. Focusing on the period of the 1840s and 1850s, I have written about city mystery novels by authors like George Lippard, Ned Buntline, and George Thompson, and I have also started to investigate so-called Geheimnisromane by German American writes like Friedrich Börnstein, Emil Klauprecht, and Ludwig von Reizenstein. This research began with a third-party-funded project on the serial politics of the genre as part of the DFG research unit Popular Seriality – Aesthetics and Practice and continues in an ongoing project titled Serial Circulation: The German-American Mystery Novel and the Beginnings of Transatlantic Modernity (1850-1855).