Levke Harders

American Studies: Disziplingeschichte und Geschlecht

Transatlantische Historische Studien. Band 48. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner Verlag, 2013.

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The institutionalization of American Studies as an interdisciplinary academic field was a reaction to a specific academic and social context within the USA. The field played a role in developing a certain national-cultural construct. This and the process of shaping the discipline led to exclusions whereby women, people of color and non-academic American Studies scholars were defined as marginal to the discipline. Here the forms of knowledge in which the contributing disciplines were embedded and mechanisms of gender-specific differentiation worked together. The author shows that American Studies boasts many examples of unequal career paths and very varied institutional and material frameworks. She argues that gender is always a decisive element of the content and concepts of the field. Levke Harders, in this first history of the discipline of American Studies, links new approaches to the history of science with a gender and socio-historical perspective to reveal the social and political factors at work during the field’s development as well as the (re)production of structural and epistemological inequalities.