Spatial Fictions: Imagining (Trans)national Space in the Southern and Western Peripheries of the Nineteenth Century United States

Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez (SFB 1199 & Leipzig U), Steffen Wöll (SFB 1199) & Deniz Bozkurt (SFB 1199)

Publication Date

February 2018


Leipzig: Leipziger Universitätsverlag




Working Paper

Working Paper Series

SFB 1199 Working Paper



Abstract (excerpt)

Using a wide variety of fictional and non-fictional textual sources—novels, pamphlets, poems, speeches, essays, etc.—our project investigates the geographical imagination of American writers regarding these peripheral spaces by asking questions such as: How did Americans think about the peripheries, and how do American literary and cultural discourses produced in and about the margins of the United States reflect ideas about space? How did these spatial imaginations relate to—or contradict—the dominant national narratives? Trying to answer these questions, we also aim at uncovering the complexity of discursive reactions to the then undetermined position of the United States both nationally and globally, between expansionism and consolidation, between the desire to acquire ever more territories and the need to define the essential character of a nation that was simultaneously embedded in a network of economic ties with other places on the continent and abroad. Building on frameworks such as globalized American Studies, Critical Regionalism, and New Geography, our project wants to help overcome the dichotomy of national / local and transnational / global perspectives in explaining spatial narratives about the United States, endorsing the validity of both perspectives as well as their mutual dependencies in American nineteenth century spatial discourses.

Biographical Notes

Prof. Dr. Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez (SFB 1199 & Institute for American Studies, Leipzig University, Germany)
Gabriele Pisarz-Ramirez is a professor of American studies and minority studies at Leipzig University. Her research interests and fields of publication include inter-American Studies, race and ethnicity (especially Latino/a studies), transculturation, early American Studies, and nineteenth century popular literature.

Steffen Wöll (SFB 1199 & Institute for American Studies, Leipzig University, Germany)
Steffen Wöll is a researcher at the SFB project C2 investigating (re)imaginations of nationality in the southern and western peripheries of the United States at the end of the nineteenth century, in which he pursues his PhD. He received his MA at the Leipzig University’s Institute of American Studies. His research interests include postmodern literature and its depiction of the (post)human body, agency and otherness, American foreign policy, interventionism, and transatlantic security communities.

Deniz Bozkurt (SFB 1199, Leipzig University, Germany)
Deniz Bozkurt received a BA degree in translation and interpreting studies with a thesis that studies the impacts of nationalism on the literary translations from Azeri to Turkish. She followed an academic path that has allowed her to continue the interdisciplinary approach that she gained during her BA studies. The MA programme in American studies at Leipzig University provided her with the opportunity to combine her interests in politics, sociology, and literature in an academic field. Currently, she is working on her MA thesis on the official discourse on the middle-class issue in the US.