Entitled “The European Imagination of the Americas, the 11th annual Graduate Student Symposium in Transatlantic History took place Oct. 28 in the E.H. Hereford University Center.
Divided into two panels, six graduate students from across the United States presented their doctoral research. The first panel dealt with Europeans’ expectations with regards to the United States and Mexico in accounts of travelers and literature. In her paper “‘Wie herrlich ist das schöne Amerika!’: Reception and Perception of German Sailors in America,” Simone de Santiago Ramos (University of North Texas) analyzed the naval diaries of two German brothers who traveled several times to the United States in the 1920s and 1930s. The second presentation, “Memories Yet to Come Back: Le Clezio’s Revolution of Time in The Mexican Dream” by Rachel Ney (Northwestern University) presented a postmodern approach to memory, offering an alternative to traditional historiography. UT Arlington sutdent Greg Kosc presented “An Atavistic and Obsolete Race?: Native Americans in British Hunting Accounts,” which dealt with the confrontation between British hunters and the “noble savages“ at the end of the 19th century.
The second panel focused on the opposition of fiction and reality, and the process of identity formation. In “Tejanos and Mexicans in the German-Texan Experience, 1844-1870,” Julia Brookins (University of Chicago) dealt with immigrant acculturation, arguing that nationality and race was key to the understanding of American citizenship. In his paper “Regions Especially Advantageous for ‘New Settlement’: The Physical Geography of America in German Immigrant Prospectuses of the 1820s and 1830s,” Michael Beatty (Texas A&M University) focused on Gottfried Duden’s immigrant prospectuses from 1829 concerning migration from the Germany to the Missouri River valley. Pawel Goral’s (UT Arlington) presentation entitled “Cultural Imperialism or Intercultural Transfer: German Western Films and the Cold War” analyzed the role of the westerns for the formation of East and West German identities in the context of the Cold War.
The keynote speaker, Dr. Meredith McClain (Texas Tech University) presented “Karl May’s Imaginary Llano Estacado and its Impact,” illuminating the connection between the Llano Estacado, an area in the Texas panhandle, and German Karl May fans of the 21st century.
Overall, the presentations offered various approaches on the topic of “The European Imagination of the Americas” and provided inspiration for potential dissertation topics for graduate students.
For more on the Transatlantic History Doctoral Program, visit the program’s website at http://www.uta.edu/history/transatlantic.
[Story by Isabelle Rispler, University of Texas at Arlington]