Pirates and Yankees in the Atlantic World: New Perspectives from American Studies

17.10.2022 18:00 - 20:00

Book Presentation and Discussion

As part of the series Erlesenes Erforschen Alexandra Ganser and Stefanie Schäfer will present their monographs "Yankee Yarns: Storytelling and the Invention of the National Body in Nineteenth-Century American Culture" and "Crisis and Legitimacy in Atlantic American Narratives of Piracy: 1678–1865". In English!


Alexandra Ganser, Crisis and Legitimacy in Atlantic American Narratives of
Piracy: 1678–1865 (Palgrave Macmillan, Cham, 2021)

Alexandra Ganser examines literary and visual representations of piracy beginning with A.O. Exquemelin's 1678 Buccaneers of America and ending at the onset of the US-American Civil War. Examining both canonical and understudied texts - from Puritan sermons, James Fenimore Cooper's The Red Rover, and Herman Melville's "Benito Cereno" to the popular cross-dressing female pirate novelette Fanny Campbell, and satirical decorated Union envelopes, this book argues that piracy acted as a trope to negotiate ideas of legitimacy in the contexts of U.S. colonialism, nationalism, and expansionism.

The readings demonstrate how pirates were invoked in transatlantic literary production at times when dominant conceptions of legitimacy, built upon categorizations of race, class, and gender, had come into crisis. As popular and mobile maritime outlaw figures, it is suggested, pirates asked questions about might and right at critical moments of Atlantic history.


Stefanie Schäfer, Yankee Yarns. Storytelling and the Invention of the National Body in Nineteenth-Century American Culture (Edinburgh University Press, Edingburgh, 2021)

In her systematic study of the most iconic national character in the US in nineenth-century literature and culture, Stefanie Schäfer critiques US national historiographies by revealing an indulgence in storytelling, fraudulence, and self-irony at the heart of the US national character.

Reading together Yankee Doodle, Brother Jonathan, Uncle Sam, the Yankee Peddler and the Down Easter, the book highlights the Yankee's ambiguity. An invention of transatlantic origin, the Yankee straddles regional and sectional, rural and urban, working class and bourgeois US identities. For nineteenth-century audiences at home and abroad, he becomes the hegemonic embodiment of US national character, its political and material culture and the homespun agent of its imperial fantasies.


Alexandra Ganser is professor in North American literary and cultural studies at the University of Vienna and heads the interdisciplinary research platform and FWF doc.funds program „Mobile Cultures and Societies" there. Further research foci include popular culture, science & fiction, Indigenous studies, and cultural theory.

Stefanie Schäfer is a Marie-Curie fellow at the Unviersity of Vienna, currently researching the project TACOMO (Transatlantic Cowgirl Mobilities). Her research in North American Studies covers Literary, Feminist and Gender Studies, Visual and Popular Culture, and Mobility Studies. She has worked as as visiting professor of American Studies at Erlangen-Nürnberg and Augsburg, Germany.





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