Brasch, Ilka; Starre, Alexander; Lanzendörfer, Tim; Mayer, Ruth; Sulimma, Maria; Shapiro, Stephen; Lüthe, Martin; Horn, Katrin; Dunst, Alexander; Junker, Carsten (2022):
"Forum: Method as Practice." Amerikastudien/American Studies 67.1: 5-34.
Journal Article

Given the diversity of objects and objectives of research in the field and recent debates about method, there should be a more robust conversation about the concrete practices of analysis and interpretation that are pursued in American studies in Germany and beyond. This forum brings together ten scholars who tackle the question of what exactly it is that we do when we engage in reading, analysis, and interpretation. On the one hand, the participants of this forum question core assumptions behind the methods of literary inquiry as it is often taught. The result is a renewed awareness of their own positionality as academic participants in larger fields of cultural interaction. On the other hand, each statement proposes new ways to conceptualize interpretation, affirming the role the situatedness of researchers plays in the production of scholarship. Several contributions strongly reaffirm or challenge past methods, while others place the methodological question in the context of neoliberal structures in higher education. Still others propose ways to move forward that combine existing approaches and add new means of engagement with cultural texts. In different registers, these statements help chart the affordances of critical inquiry and depart from an understanding of interpretation as objective, repeatable, and disembodied.