In its original form, pragmatism is a philosophical theory about truth. In contrast, pragmatists claim that our thinking is always goal-directed. Thinking is a problem-solving device. As a consequence, pragmatism can not only account for a plurality of coexisting perspectives; it also provides a philosophical justification of the inevitability of such a plural universe. Pragmatism, as developed, in different varieties, in the writings of Emerson, William James, John Dewey, Charles Sanders Peirce, and Hilary Putnam, has insisted that there can be no one formal system of knowledge, since knowledge is processual and mutable; accordingly, if we let our sense of the world be guided by our experience of it, our perspectives on the world will have to continuously shift.
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Kulturbegriff und Methode. Moreover, in recent theoretical debates these acts of forgetting—or outright dismissal—are inextricably linked with acts of remembering. In this way, Fluck, on the one hand, reminds us of those German contributions to continental theory that have been marginalized by dominant poststructuralist paradigms. In a move analogous to that of Stanley Cavell, who argued that Emerson anticipated modern continental philosophy, Dewey not only becomes the proponent cultural studies avant-la-lettre Fluck, Pragmatism , Theories of cultural studies also become an American trademark.
Focusing on how discourses create our sense of the world, our concepts of reality and truth, poststructuralist thought has capitalized on the production and reproduction of meaning and cultural imaginaries. Rather than judging which answer is more to the point, though, we may simply want to register which reply becomes prominent at what time. Intent to speak of the relation between literary text and world without merely falling back into pre-deconstructionist positions, she proposes a literary theory that reintegrates previously discarded concepts such as meaning and mimesis while maintaining essential deconstructionist insights concerning the openness, decenteredness and infinity of discourse, the cultural constructedness of the self, and the plurality of sign processes.
Judith Butler, for instance, has always acknowledged that neither are subject positions and views of the world imposed or inscribed upon the individual nor do embodied selves pre-exist the cultural conventions. Butler, The Psychic Life. At the same time for Butler, the agent remains an arena of ambivalence, the effect of powers that precede him or her as well as the possibility of a radically conditioned form of agency.
Intended or not, the revitalization of pragmatism catalyzes the renaissance of an Emersonian American individual, ideas of progress, and the belief that aesthetic experience is the motor of both individual and cultural progress. Experience of art or other aesthetic artifacts thus transforms into a future-oriented politics of change.
Likewise, it might be more pragmatic to consult, in matters that pragmatism relegates to the periphery, those theories that are really good on peripheral matters. What about, for instance, the fact that aesthetic experience can mean many things to many individuals? Pragmatism—especially if employed as a theory of interpreting literary texts—reempowers the reader.
Who is that reader, though, and what is he or she reading? Most likely, he or she is a literary critic. So what does the critic read? What about the reader who resists being empowered, who is there simply for the ride see Eco ? And what about the reader who prefers not to read and tunes in or interactively engages computer games?
Theorizing work on media other than literature evolving within German American Studies also remains yet unrealized; work, which capitalizes on American cultural productions, yet, does not necessarily conceptualize its disciplinary leanings. Its significance is not so much due to the theories it discusses; in fact, there is much less of such debate than one might perhaps expect. Work in the realm of popular culture and the new media—including visual cultures photography, film, video, multimedia , new technologies hypertext, CD-ROM, computer and video games , the history of the sciences, ecocriticism, performance studies, explorations of intermediality and reconceptualizations of time and space 64 —have suggested that we have meanwhile made a whole series of turns, turning out to be quite transdisciplinary after all.
Moreover, the practice of theorizing new media also adds another dimension to current attempts to internationalize American Studies. After all, the internationalization of our pursuits is as much the result of the globalization of certain technologies as it is indebted to the singular efforts of particular individuals located in particular places. Thus, if some of us redefine American Studies as media studies, 66 we necessarily challenge the authority of certain texts and readers, by embracing a different, a processural sense of inter subjectivity instead.
Theory opens perspectives on the world while the readings of the world they enable hopefully, ideally, reflect back upon and readjust our perspectives. Readings of the world and its media, in turn, evolve paradigms which may challenge and extend our established ways of approaching cultural practices. Theorizing thus remains a highly dialectical matter.
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It also foregrounds that dialectics does not necessarily mean thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Nowadays more often than not dialectics spells thesis, antithesis, contradiction. It is to emphasize that distance, like clarity, is hard to be had. At the risk of repeating myself : wherever we may turn next—American Studies is dead. Long live American Studies! Adorno, Theodor. A Study in Secondary Superstition. Amian, Katrin. Heidelberg : Winter, New Historicism : Literaturgeschichte als Poetik der Kultur.
Bender, Thomas. Berkhofer, Robert F. Brigitte Georgi-Findlay and Heinz Ickstadt. Berressem, Hanjo, ed. Brook, Thomas. Princeton : Princeton UP, Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble : Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York : Routledge, Sue-Ellen Case.
Baltimore : Johns Hopkins UP, Frankfurt : Suhrkamp, Stanford : Stanford UP, Lenz, eds. Amerikastudien—Theorie, Geschichte, interpretatorische Praxis.
Claviez, Thomas. Winfried Fluck and Thomas Claviez.
Stimme der Wahrheit. The German-Language Broadcasting of the BBC World Service
Trier : WVT, Winfried Fluck. Or : What Indeed Is in a Name? Derrida, Jacques. David Lodge. London : Longman, Dickstein, Morris, ed.
Durham : Duke UP, Eco, Umberto. Michael Franz and Stefan Richter. Leipzig : Reclam, Elliott, Emory, ed. Columbia Literary History of the United States. New York : Columbia UP, Fishkin, Shelley Fisher. Fluck, Winfried, and Thomas Claviez. Fluck, Winfried, ed. Donald E.
Pease and Robyn Wiegman. Pragmatism and Literary Studies. Theorien amerikanischer Literatur. Freese, Peter, and Charles B.
Harris, eds. Essen : Blaue Eule, Friedl, Herwig. Rudi Keller and Karl Menges. Galinsky, Hans. Marshall W. Philadelphia : U of Pennsylvania P, Gassert, Philipp. Stuttgart : Steiner, Gernalzick, Nadja.
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Goodman, Russell B. Pragmatism : a Contemporary Reader. London : Routledge, Haas, Renate.
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