Englisches Seminar

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Prof. Dr. Astrid Franke


Astrid Franke studied English, Biology and Philosophy in Berlin and Edinburgh. She did her PhD on the function of stereotypes in literature at the John F. Kennedy Institute, with some research stays at UCLA. The work on her second book, a study of American public poetry from the 18th to the 21th century, was conducted in Frankfurt/M. and, for a year, at UC Berkeley. Since 2008, she is professor of American Studies in Tuebingen where she lives with two children. She has been a member of the Collaborative Research Center "Threatened Orders" with a project on the resilience of the racial order in the US. Other research interests include Popular Culture, Cultural History and Theory, Modern and Contemporary Novel, and, as an underlying thread, intersections of literature and sociology.

Recent Academic Talk

Current Research Interests

  • Relational Sociology (Pierre Bourdieu, Norbert Elias) in relation to American Studies
  • American Poetry
  • American Cultural History

Selection of Taught Courses (All courses taught in English):

Survey Courses

  • Introduction to English and American Literature
  • Interpretation and Literary Theory
  • Introduction to American Cultural History, American Studies, and Cultural Theory
  • Issues in American Literature and Culture

Courses (equivalent to undergraduate/graduate level)

  • Problems of Representation in American Modernism (Stein, Dos Passos, Du Bois, Van Vechten, McKay, Hughes, Locke, Yezierska)
  • Public Voices in American Poetry (Funeral Elegies, Freneau, Whitman, Lindsay, Hughes,Ginsberg, Lowell, the role of folk music, Hip Hop)
  • T.S. Eliot (Early Poems to “Four Quartets,” Literary Criticism, Drama)
  • Whitman and his Contemporaries (Whitman, Emerson, Fuller, Sigourney, Longfellow, Lowell, Whittier, English Romanticists, Romanticism in Germany)
  • American Immigrant Novels (Antin, Cahan, Wong, Kingston, Hoffman, Divakaruni, Lahiri)
  • Blindness and Invisibility: A Motif in African-American Literature (Wheatley, Du Bois, Cullen, Locke, Hughes, Brooks, Larssen, Ellison; on invisibility and acknowledgment: Axel Honneth)
  • American Outsiders: Comparing Ethnic Literatures

Advanced Courses (equivalent to graduate/postgraduate level)

  • Norbert Elias (cultural theory, figurational sociology)
  • Cultural Theories of Modernism (Kallen, Du Bois, Dewey, James, Locke, Simmel, Elias, Freud, Spengler)
  • Streams of Thought: James, Du Bois, Dewey, and Mead
  • Tracing Sentimentalism: 18th to 21st Century (A. Smith, J. J. Rousseau, Rowlandson, Stowe, Abolitionist poetry, Sigourney, Joyce C. Oates, Anne Nelson, “The Guys,” Poets Against the War)
  • Contemporary American Novels (Franzen, Eugenides, Whitehead, Lahiri, Kingston, Powers)
  • Recent Publications in American Poetry (Chin, Bernstein, Mullen, Spahr, and others)
  • Between Categories: John Cage and the New York School (Duchamp, Cage, Rauschenberg, Rothko, Boulez, Feldman)
  • Individualism and Community: Social Diagnoses of the 20th Century (David Riesman, Herbert Marcuse, Christopher Lash, Robert Bellah, Robert Putnam, Nina Eliasoph)

Curriculum Vitae

Academic Education

since 2011
Principal researcher for “Multiple Threats in American Race Relations after 1949” and Member of the Board of the Research Cluster Threatened Order

Birth of a son, parental leave

Professor for American Studies at the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Birth of a daughter, parental leave

Habilitation Frankfurt University; “Problems of Public Poetry,” advisor: Christa Buschendorf

January 2000-2006
Assistant Professor in American Studies, Frankfurt University

March 2003 – 2004
Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley, with a scholarship by the German Research Foundation (DFG), on leave from Frankfurt University

Oct. 1997-Jan. 2000
Research Assistant in American Studies, Frankfurt University

PhD, Free University Berlin: “Keys to Controversies: Stereotypes in Modern American Novels,” advisors: Heinz Ickstadt and Winfried Fluck

May-October 1995
Research Fellow at UCLA, with a scholarship by the German Research Foundation

October 1994
Scholar in the interdisciplinary postgraduate program “Democracy in the US” at the John F. Kennedy Institute, Berlin

State Exam in English, Biology, and Philosophy Free University Berlin

Exchange Student at Edinburgh University with a scholarship by the European Union

Awards & Fellowships

Rob Kroes Prize of the European American Studies Association for the best European book manuscript in English on American Studies

Invitation by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung to chair a panel on Literature at the Symposion “Frontiers of Humanities”

Travelling Scholarship awarded by the Friends and Supporters of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe Universität Frankfurt to participate in a conference of the National Poetry Foundation

Research grant of the German Research Foundation for „Problems of Public Poetry in America“

American Studies Network First Book Award for Keys to Controversies: Stereotypes in Modern American Novels

Scholarship for an interdisciplinary postgraduate program, “Democracy in the US” by the German Research Foundation

1988 – 1993
Scholarship by the German National Scholarship Foundation

Erasmus-scholarship by the European Union

Academic Service

Reviewer for the journal Amerikastudien/American Studies

Organizer for “German-American Frontiers of the Humanities” by the American Philosophical Society and the Humboldt Foundation in 2006/07

‘Ombudsperson’ for women’s issues at the Institute for English and American Studies (IEAS)

Representative of the Junior Faculty at the IEAS

Representative of the Junior Faculty in the Senate of the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt

Serving on a senate committee to improve working conditions of junior faculty (’02-’03)

Co-Organizer of a series of East-West American Studies Conferences at the Center for North American Studies, Frankfurt (ZENAF):

“East-West American Studies” in October 1998,

“New European Approaches to American Studies?“ in May 2001,

“Cultural Exchanges between Central/Eastern Europe and America“ in May 2002

Co-Editor of the ZENAF Conference Proceedings

Speaker for the 20 graduate students of the program “Democracy in the US”




  • Pursue the Illusion: Problems of Public Poetry in America. Heidelberg: Winter, 2010.


  • Keys to Controversies: Stereotypes in Modern American Novels. New York: St Martins, 1999, awarded American Studies Network First Book Award.

Edited Books


  • With Michael Butter and Horst Tonn. Von Selma bis Ferguson: Rasse und Rassismus in den USA. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2016.


  • With Christa Buschendorf und Johannes Völz. Civilizing and Decivilizing Processes: Figurational Approaches to American Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011.



  • “Revisiting Robert Lowell’s Mental Hospital Poems.” In: Robert Lowell In a New Century. European and American Perspectives. Ed. Thomas Austenfeld. Rochester: Camden House, 2019. 14-24.
  • “Robert Lowell’s Hidden Cats: From Lord Weary’s Castle to Dolphin.” In: An Eclectic Bestiary. Encounters in a More-than-Human-World. Eds. Birgit Spengler, Babette B. Tischleder. Human-Animal Studies, Vol. 20. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2019. 151-160.
  • "“’Tis the Gift to be Simple”: A Source of Homemade American Modernism.” In: Simplify, simplify! Brevity, Plainness and Their Complications in American Literature and Culture. Eds. Isabell Klaiber, Oliver Scheiding, Jan Stievermann. Beiträge zur Englischen und Amerikanischen Literatur, Band 37. Ferdinand Schöningh, 2019. 153-162.


  • Satin-Legs Smith and a Mississippi Mother: Dissections of Habitus in two Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks. Power Relations in Black Lives: Reading African American Literature and Culture with Bourdieu and EliasEd. Christa Buschendorf. Bielefeld. 2017Manuscript reviewed and accepted.
  • „Rassismus in den USA und die Trägheit sozialer Ordnungen.“ Neue Gesellschaft / Frankfurter Heft 1.2 (2017). 54 – 57.


  • ’The Death of the Sixties?’ Afroamerikanische Geschichte in Colson Whiteheads John Henry Days. Von Selma bis Ferguson: Rasse und Rassismus in den USA. Eds. Michael Butter, Astrid Franke, Horst Tonn. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2016. 157 – 171.


  • “Poetry and (In)Justice.” New Perspectives on American Poetry. From Walt Whitman to the Present. Eds. Jiri Flajsar, Pavlina Plajsarová. Proceedings from an International Cultural Studies Conference vol 5. Olomouc, 2015. 37 – 52.
  • „Phillis Wheatley’s ‚On Being Brought from Africa To America’ and George Moses Horton’s ‚On Hearing of the Intention of a Gentleman to Purchase the Poet’s Freedom.’“ A Handbook of American Poetry: Contexts – Developments – Readings. Eds.Oliver Scheiding, Rene Dietrich, Clemens Spahr. Handbücher zum literaturwissenschaftlichen Studium. Bd. 15. Tirer: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier, 2015. 2-16.


  • With Nicole Hirschfelder. “‘Maycomb was itself again’: Wandel und Resilienz einer ungerechten Ordnung.” Aufruhr - Katastrophe - Konkurrenz - Zerfall. Bedrohte Ordnungen als Thema der Kulturwissenschaften, hrsg. Ewald Frie und Mischa Meier. Tübingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2014. 197 – 228.
  • With Christa Buschendorf. “The Implied Sociology and Politics of Literary Texts: Using the Tools of Relational Sociology in American Studies.” In: American Studies Today: Recent Developments and Future Perspectives, hrsg. Winfried Fluck, Erik Redling, Sabine Sielke, and Hubert Zapf. Heidelberg: Winter, 2014. 75–104.


  • “Drinking and Democracy in the Early Republic.” Civilizing and Decivilizing Processes: Figurational Approaches to American Studies. Hrsg. Christa Buschendorf, Astrid Franke, Johannes Völz. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011. 63-86.


  • “The Janus-faced Iconography of the Billy the Kid.” American Icons. Eds. Bernd Engler und Günther Leypoldt. Heidelberg: Winter, 2010. 361-382.


  • “John Ashbery”, Elizabeth Bishop”, “Wallace Stevens: Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction.” Kindlers Literatur Lexikon. Stuttgart: Metzler Verlag, 2009.


  • “Dismantling the Public Sphere: the poetics of apathy.“ American Studies as Media Studies. Eds. Frank Kelleter and Daniel Stein. Heidelberg: Winter, 2008. 249-259.
  • “’We are all made up of many parts, other halves’: Hybridität in zeitgenössischen amerikanischen Romanen.” Amerikanisches Erzählen nach 2000: eine Bestandsaufnahme. Ed. Sebastian Domsch. München: Edition Text & Kritik, 2008. 358-368.


  • With Christa Buschendorf. „Preface.“ Transatlantic Negotiations. Heidelberg: Winter, 2007. ix – xiii.
  • “The Powerless Power of Poets: Experimenting with the Self-in-Relation.” Another Language - Contemporary US-American Poetic Experiment in a Changing World. Ed. Kornelia Freitag. Münster: LIT-Verlag 2007. 65-73.


  • “The Poet’s Burden.” Aesthetic Transgressions: Modernity, Liberalism, and the Function of Literature. Eds. Thomas Claviez, Ulla Haselstein und Sieglinde Lemke. Heidelberg: Winter 2006. 149-161.


  • “Phillis Wheatley, Melancholy Muse.” New England Quarterly June 2004. 224-251.
  • “The Poetic Promiscuity of Robert Lowell.” Sexualities in American Culture. Ed. Alfred Hornung. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter, 2004. 95-108.


  • “William Carlos Williams and John Dewey on the Public, its Problems, and its Poetry.” Theories of American Culture, Theories of American Studies. Eds. Winfried Fluck and Thomas Claviez. REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature Vol. 19. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 2003. 269-292.
  • “Possibilities of Public Mourning in American Poetry of the 1960s.” Proceedings: Anglistentag Bayreuth. Eds. Ewald Mengel, Hans-Jörg Schmid, and Michael Steppat. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag, 2003. 61-71.


  • “Imagining ‘Harlem’ in the 1920s.” Cultural Encounters. American Studies in the Age of Multiculturalism. Eds. Mario Klarer and Sonja Bahn. Tübingen: Stauffenburg Verlag, 2000. 103-118.
  • “Public Voices in American Poetry: Robert Lowell and Bob Dylan.” The Mechanics of the Mirage. Postwar American Poetry. Eds. Michel Delville, Christine Pagnoulle. Liège: Liège Language and Literature, 2000. 197-212.


  • “Individualism versus Integration? Art and Society in Dewey and Mukařovsky.” Pragmatism and Literary Studies. Ed. Winfried Fluck. REAL: Yearbook of Research in English and American Literature Vol. 15. Tübingen: Gunter Narr, 1999. 243-256.
  • “Struggling with Stereotypes: The Problems of Representing a Collective Identity.” The Critical Pragmatism of Alain Locke. A Reader on Value Theory, Aesthetics, Community, Culture, Race, and Education. Ed. Leonard Harris. Lanham: Rowman&Littlefield, 1999. 21-38.


  • “‘The Broken Heart’ and ‘The Trouble with the Truth’: Understanding Clichés in Country Music.” Poetics Today 18.3 (1997). 67-77.


  • “Attempting to Reconcile the Irreconcilable: Whitman’s Construction of a Multi-Voiced and/but Universal Self.” Democracy and the Arts in the United States. Eds. Alfred Hornung, Reinhard R. Doerries und Gerhard Hoffmann. München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 1996. 327-336.



  • “Eagleton, Terry. Ideology. An Introduction.” Das Argument. Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Sozialwissenschaften 1 (Jan./Feb. 1992). 136-138.


  • “Greenblatt, Stephen. Verhandlungen mit Shakespeare.” Das Argument. Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Sozialwissenschaften 4 (Juli/August 1991). 623-625.

Selection of Conference Presentations & Talks

Selection of Conference Presentations & Talks


  • 17.-19.01.2016 – Workshop "Who Can Speak and Who is Heard/ Hurt? Ethnic Diversity, ‘Race’ and Racism in American Studies in Germany", Universität Tübingen.


  • 02.12.2015 – "Meredith Hunter und "The Death of the Sixties": Afroamerikanische Geschichte in Colson Whiteheads Romanen". im Rahmen der Studium Generale Vorlesungsreihe "Von Selma bis Ferguson - Die USA nach der Bürgerrechtsbewegung", Universität Tübingen.
  • Studium Generale WiSe 2015/16, Ringvorlesung : “Von Selma bis Ferguson – Die USA nach der Bürgerrechtsbewegung” (Org. Michael Butter, Astrid Franke & Horst Tonn, Tübingen, 21. Oktober 2015 bis 3. Februar 2016)
  • 26.06.2015 - "Iconography and Relational Sociology". im Rahmen der Konferenz "The Implicit Sociology of Literature", Goethe-Universität Frankfurt, 25.-27.06.2015
  • 01.10.2015 - "Poetry as Ethical Challenge: The Voices of the Perpetrators" im Rahmen der Konferenz "Poem Unlimited: New Perspectives on Poetry and Genre", Universität Augsburg, 1.-3. Oktober 2015


  • 27.06.2014 – Workshop "Race, Rights, and Religion", Universität Tübingen. 


  • 07.- 09.11.2013 – Workshop "Ungerechte Ordnungen - The Structure and Dynamics of Inequality", Universität Tübingen. Bericht zum Workshop.