Activities & Publications

Upcoming Publication (January 2022): Lexicon of Global Melodrama

This new go-to reference book, edited by Heike Paul, Sarah Marak, Katharina Gerund and Marius Henderson, assembles contributions on global melodrama by experts from a wide range of disciplines, including cultural studies, film and media studies, gender and queer studies, political science, and postcolonial studies. The melodramas covered in this volume range from early 20th-century silent movies to contemporary films, from independent ‚arthouse‘ productions to Hollywood blockbusters. The comprehensive overview of global melodramatic film in the Lexicon constitutes a valuable resource for scholars and practitioners of film, teachers, film critics and anyone who is interested in the past and present of melodramatic film on a global scale. The Lexicon of Global Melodrama includes essays on All That Heaven Allows, Bombay, Casablanca, Die Büchse der Pandora, In the Mood for Love, Nosotros los Pobres, Terra Sonambula, and Tokyo Story.




Upcoming: Global Sentimentality Lecture Series II: „Affective Landscapes“

Our virtual lecture series continues in cooperation with Mirja Lecke (University of Regensburg) in the winter term 2021/22.

The lecture series sets out to examine “affective landscapes” (a concept used in literary and cultural studies, for instance by Berberich et al.) in their specific historical, cultural, and socio-political contexts. It aims to connect the paradigm of “affect studies” (Clough, Gregg & Seigworth) in the humanities and social sciences at large to the scholarship around the various dimensions and meanings of “landscape” and “region.” Case studies will be concerned with fictional landscapes of belonging, “haunted” places of past suffering, and material geographies of neglect and despair. How do feelings constitute and permeate landscapes – real and imagined? How do they move and linger between specific spatial constellations? And how can concepts such as “critical regionalism” (Herr, Powell) and “crossmapping” (Bronfen) help us understand and analyze specific cultural synergies and dissonances? In a comparative perspective, we seek to exemplarily define and discuss “affective landscapes” in and across regions in scenarios of belonging and alienation – and many nuances in between.

Jennifer Ladino (University of Idaho), author of Memorials Matter: Affect and Environment at American Memory Sites (2019) and co-editor of Affective Ecocriticism: Emotion, Embodiment, Environment (2019) will kick off the series on October 21st. Information on registration and a full programm coming soon!


Upcoming: Virtual Workshop „Sentimental Extraction“

Even though it is well established that the extraction and burning of fossil fuels are a major motor of climate change, modern societies continue to rely on them. Debates about the perseverance of coal, oil, and gas are often centered on financial profitability and socio-economic benefits, reflecting the unwavering power of “fossil capital” (Andreas Malm). However, there is also a cultural dimension that reinforces societies’ “devotion, even love” (Stephanie LeMenager) to fossil resources. This three-day workshop sets out to untangle the links between fossil fuel extraction, gender, and sentimentality and aims at analyzing how cultural narratives make use of the sentimental mode to promote or challenge extractivism.

Confirmed keynote speakers Cara Daggett (Virginia Tech), Macarena Goméz-Barris (Pratt Institute), and Sarah Jaquette Ray (Humboldt State University) will join us from September 29th to October 1st.

Read the Call for Papers here.

The workshop is generously funded by the Office of Equality and Diversity (FAU) and organized by Axelle Germanaz, Daniela Gutierrez, and Sarah Marak.

Heike Paul: „Civil Sentimentalism and its Discontent“

Inaugural Lecture in the MALS Distinguished Lectureship. Dartmouth College (Zoom), 14.07.2021, 22.00h (MEZ)


Marius Henderson: „An das ‚Ungedachte‘ rühren: Anti-Blackness, Afro-Pessimismus und zeitgenössische Kunst und Literatur“

The talk is part of the lecture series “Differenz_gestalten.” Folkwang University of the Arts, 18.00h, online, 06.07.2021


„Mächtige Gefühle“ –  Heike Paul im Gespräch mit Ute Frevert (Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung)

12.05.2021, 18 Uhr. Die Veranstaltung findet über Zoom statt. Anmeldungen gerne an

© Andreas Reeg

„Mächtige Gefühle“: Ein Gespräch mit Ute Frevert über Angst, Liebe und Wut

Die Emotionshistorikerin Ute Frevert spricht mit Heike Paul über die Bedeutung von Gefühlen in Politik und Gesellschaft. Dabei werden konkrete Gefühlsäußerungen beleuchtet und analysiert – ihre Formen und Funktionen in unterschiedlichen historischen Situationen und in der Gegenwart. Wie werden Affekte und Emotionen zum Ausdruck gebracht und von wem? Welche Macht haben öffentliche Gefühle? Wie verbinden sich emotionale Codes mit gesellschaftspolitischen Anliegen und politischer Mobilisierung? Und wo liegen die Grenzen der Emotionalisierung (bzw. Sentimentalisierung) von Politik und politischer Programmatik? Am Beispiel ausgewählter Gefühlswörter – Angst, Liebe und Wut – werden diese und weitere Fragen erörtert.




New Publication:

Heike Paul. Amerikanischer Staatsbürgersentimentalismus. Zur Lage der politischen Kultur der USA (Wallstein Verlag, 2021)

„Das Sentimentale in der amerikanischen politischen Kultur mag konjunkturellen Schwankungen unterliegen, ist aber seit der Gründung der USA ein fest etabliertes Muster zur Erzeugung von öffentlichem Gefühl und Gemeinschaft. Dabei war das verstärkte Auftreten des Sentimentalen in der US-amerikanischen Geschichte stets ein Symptom für politische Krisen und damit einhergehende Krisen der politischen Kommunikation. Dennoch hat sich der Staatsbürgersentimentalismus für amerikanische Staatslenker und Protestbewegungen gleichermaßen bewährt. Die Präsidentschaft Donald Trumps stellt eine eklatante Abkehr von den Konventionen des Staatsbürgersentimentalismus dar. Trump hat immer wieder bewiesen, dass ihm Zeichen der Empathie, des Mitleids, der Trauer fremd sind. Zahlreiche Beispiele zeigen jedoch, dass Amerikanerinnen und Amerikaner in ihrem zivilgesellschaftlichen Engagement den Staatsbürgersentimentalismus in öffentlichen Artikulationen von Trauer, Mitleid und Sorge weiterhin bemühen. Nicht erst seit dem letzten Wahlkampf ist allerdings überdeutlich, dass Mitgefühl und affektive Identifikation nicht mehr hinreichend sind, um die tiefgreifenden gesellschaftlichen Polarisierungen im Land zu überbrücken.“

Eine Rezension des Buches in der Sendung „Andruck – Das Magazin für Politische Literatur“ des Deutschlandfunks findet sich hier.





Lecture and Symposium: „Affective Worldmaking: Narrative Counterpublics of Gender and Sexuality„,  14.01.2021-15.01.2021

The Elisabeth-List Fellowship Research Group „Intimate Readings“ organized a lecture by affect scholar Ann Cvetkovich (Carleton University, Ottawa) and a symposium with (among others) Heike Paul, Claudia Breger, and Jana Aresin. The events were co-organized by FAU and Karl-Franzens-University Graz (KFU). Find the program here.

The „Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I“: 12.11.2020 – 04.02.2021

A virtual lecture series in the winter term 2020/21 with scholars from different disciplines and from around the globe. Read the full program here.


Annika McPherson (Augsburg University): Nostalgia, Sentimentality, and the Melodramatic Mode: Conceptualizing Netflix in/and the Global South

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 04.02.2021

Marc Matten (FAU): „Strong Leaders, Strong Nation? Notions of Nostalgia in the Political Culture of Modern China“

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 21.01.2021

Danai Mupotsa (University of the Witwatersrand): „The Agreement“

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 07.01.2021

Simon Strick (FU Berlin): „Sentimental Fascists? The Affectice Collectives of Digital Neofascism“

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 10.12.2020

Elisabeth Bronfen (University of Zürich): „Pandemic Sentimentality: Outbreak Narratives and the American Cultural Imaginary“

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 26.11.2020

Elisabeth Anker (George Washington University): „Ugly Freedoms: Disappointment, Despair, and Political Agency“

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 19.11.2020

Mark Kelley (Florida International University): „Alone, Together. Feeling Through 19th-Century Sailors in Eras of Global Isolation“

Global Sentimentality Lecture Series I, 12.11.2020



Marius Henderson: „Crisis and Continuity: Spectra of Suffering in Contemporary Experimental North American Poetry“

Guest lecture at the DFG-Centre for Advanced Studies “Russian-Language Poetry in Transition.” University of Trier, 05.02.2020. 


Kay Kirchmann: „Weinen im Kino“

Talk at „Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften“, Erlangen, 19.10.2019


Heike Paul: „World Literature? American Sentimentalism in a Transcultural Perspective“

Talk delivered at the German-Japanese DFG-Symposium „Cultures in Translation: World History – World History – World Society. Germany, Japan, and the World in Transcultural Comparison,“ University of Tokyo, 9.10. – 11.10., 2019 in Tokyo, Japan. [PDF]


Christian Krug: „Sentimentale und gebrochene Helden Shakespeares: Altes und Neues von Romeo, Julia, Richard und Prinzessin Diana“

The talk is part of the lecture series „Strahlende Helden – Gebrochene Helden. Heldenbilder im Wandel der Zeit“.

16.15h, Bismarckstraße 1, Room C601, 24.07.2019.


Claudia Breger (Columbia University, NYC): „With A Sentimental Touch? High-Affect Aesthetics in Contemporary European Cinema“

The talk is part of the American Studies research colloquium.

10.15h, Bismarkstraße 1, Room C603, 03.07.2019.

Doris Feldmann and Christian Krug: „Sentimentales, Heroisches und Männliches in filmischen Repräsentationen der britischen Arbeiterklassen, 1960-2000“

18.00h,  KH 1.019, Universitätsstr. 15, Erlangen, 08.07.2019.


Emmy-Noether-Vorlesung 2019

Heike Paul, „Tränen für Melania, Rosen für Nancy? Sentimentalismus und Politik in den USA.“

18.00 Uhr s.t., Senatssaal Kollegienhaus, Erlangen, 27.06.2019.


US TV Series Discussions: American Nostalgia

11.04.2019 – 06.06.2019 at the DAI (Nürnberg) and the vhs Club International (Erlangen)

Katharina Gerund, Peter Maurits, and Stephen Koetzing explore and discuss nostalgia in

contemporary American TV series such as Mad Men, Westworld, and The Americans.

Detailed Program


Panel at the 2019 BAA Summer Academy: „Global Sentimentality“

29.05.2019, 10.00-12.00, at the DAI Nuremberg

Chair: Heike Paul

Katharina Gerund: „Home Front Sentimentality: Military Spouses in Contemporary TV Series“

Kathy-Ann Tan: „Disidentifying (with) the State: Decolonial Aesthetics and its Affective Entanglements“


„Tränen“ – Student exhibition organized by Kay Kirchmann

21. Internationales Figurentheaterfestival Erlangen, May 24 – June 2, 2019 and Lange Nacht der Wissenschaften, 19.10.2019.


Villa Vigoni Dialogue:  „Civil Religion and Civil Sentimentalism: Cultural and Political Imaginaries of Order and Belonging“

13.3. – 16.3. 2019, Villa Vigoni

organized by Heike Paul with Donatella Izzo (Università di Napoli “L’Orientale”) and Margaretha Schweiger-Wilhelm (BAA)


Talk and Workshop: Rebecca Wanzo (Washington University, St.Louis): „Civil Rights Sentimentality“

13.12. 2018, 18.00 c.t., room A602, Bismarckstraße 1, 91054 Erlangen.


Kantorowicz Lecture by Heike Paul: „Staatsbürgersentimentalismus, American Style“

In October 2018 Heike Paul gave the „Kantorowicz Lecture in Political Language“ at the Goethe Universität Frankfurt.

Find the full lecture here.





Publication: „Sentimentalism“

by Katharina Gerund and Heike Paul

published in: Handbook of the American Novel of the Nineteenth Century.

Ed. Christine Gerhardt. Berlin/München/Boston: Walter de Gruyter, 2018. 17-33.





International Conference: Public Feeling in Global Contexts

9.4. – 10.4. 2016, Alte Universitätsbibliothek, Erlangen

organized by Katharina Gerund and Heike Paul

Following a broader ‘turn to affect’ (Patricia Clough) in the humanities and the social sciences, this conference set out to investigate public feeling – as articulation, representation, and cultural and institutional practice – and the various functions it has in every-day life, in political communication, in allegedly private realms as well as in constructions of “intimate public spheres” (Lauren Berlant). The conference brought together scholars from different disciplines (sociology, literary studies, political science, art history, and media studies) to discuss the changing cultural specificities and the global impact of “affective economies” (Sara Ahmed) and “feeling rules” (Arlie Hochschild) in a framework of transnational and comparative cultural studies. In the course of our two-day conference, we addressed phenomena such as a post-9/11 political culture and its repertoire of affects; strategies/processes of (political) inclusion and exclusion via affective protocols; fear, anger, and (romantic) love as, purportedly, global “structures of feeling” (Raymond Williams); the (re)turn to/of aesthetics and affect in contemporary (popular) culture and art; and the role of affect for contemporary protest movements and political opposition. From the various cultural and disciplinary angles involved, we shed light on the ways in which public feeling-scholarship extends – and still needs to be extended further – beyond its current US-centered, Euro-American framework. Topics included how affects and emotions impact individual and collective identity formation in the age of globalization; how affect and feeling are entangled with cultural difference and constructions of otherness, and what kind of political work they perform in every-day situations and in ‘states of exception’.

Detailed Program