Dr. M. Lynn Rose and Dr. Steven D. Reschly (Truman State University, Missouri): "Staring at the Amish: An American Mirror"

20.06.2011, 18:15 Uhr, MS12/00.09

Who are the Amish? Contemporary media portrayals of the Amish reveal shifting North American ideals and anxieties: the Amish are represented as the ultimate remnants of American adherence to Pioneer simplicity, old-time Christian chastity, and naïve religious doctrine. They embody the Good Old Days. This lecture links popular portrayals of the Amish to the early 20th century side-show carnival, which situated the limits of normalcy by exhibiting corporal and social abnormality.

Aspects of purported Amish lifestyle have made their way into popular culture via ‘reality’ television shows such as “Amish in the City,” “The Simple Life,” and “The World’s Squarest Teenagers.” In all cases, the perception of Amish society is distorted and packaged as a didactic commodity for mainstream Americans, and the resulting relationship lends itself to Freak Studies: Amish communities are put on-stage (both figuratively and literally) for shock value or to be morally uplifting, just as the daily life of so-called exotic tribes was exhibited at the State Fair. Using the Disability Studies concept of freakery and critical analyses of staring, the lecture discusses intersections of myths and reality in the way that Amish communities are packaged for American consumption.

Lynn Rose ist Professorin für Geschichte an der Truman State University, Missouri, und hat sich besonders auf dem Gebiet der Cultural Studies und Disability Studies profiliert. Sie ist Autorin von The Staff of Oedipus: Transforming Disability in Ancient Greece (2003) und mitwirkende Autorin der Encyclopedia of Disability (2006).

Steven Reschly ist ebenfalls Historiker an der Truman State University, und ist spezialisiert auf die Geschichte und Kultur der Amish. Er ist Autor von The Amish on the Iowa Prairie, 1840-1910 (2000) und Mitherausgeber von Strangers at Home: Amish and Mennonite Women in History (2002).

Vortrag in englischer Sprache, Diskussion auf Englisch und Deutsch.