PD Dr. Stefanie Schäfer (FAU Erlangen-Nürnberg): "America's Sweetheart Charms European Royals: Annie Oakley, Gun Culture, and Western Myths"

Tuesday, 08.01.2019, 6:15-7:45 p.m., SP17/00.13

In 1890, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West played in Munich for 18 days, and in Vienna for three weeks, bringing more than 20,000 spectators to the Viennese Prater. In 1906, the entertainment took on a second, even more successful tour, inspiring European versions of the American West alive in the cultural imaginary until today. This talk examines the transnational formation of the Western myth with a specific focus on Annie Oakley’s persona and performance in Germany. It locates the markswoman’s act between turn-of-the-century girlhood tropes, discourses of the American frontier, and horse and gun cultures in continental Europe. Testing Cody’s cue that American women had more freedom than their European sisters and were as good or even better than men at cowboying, I trace Oakley’s reception through newspapers coverage and visual advertisements, looking also ahead at Karl May’s German Western literature and the representation of women with guns.

PD Dr. Stefanie Schäfer is assistant professor of American Studies at FSU Jena, and visiting professor of American Studies (especially Culture) at the Chair of American Studies at FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg (2018-19). She holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Heidelberg (2009) and a habilitation/venia legendi for North American Literature and Culture from Jena University (2017). Her second book, "Yankee Yarns. Storytelling and the Invention of the National Body in 19th-Century American Culture", examines the performance of white American masculinity in the Yankee figure.

Stefanie Schäfer’s work centers on gendered figurations of the national in the US and Canada and draws from concepts from Transnational North American Studies, American and Canadian Studies, as well as Popular Culture and Visual Culture. Her research interests include auto/biographies and self-narration, cultural mobilities, gender and identity performance and popular culture in literature and film. She has co-edited books on contemporary subjectivity, teaching 9/11 literature, and on impostors in North American Culture.

She is currently co-editing a special issue on “Black Womanhood in Popular Culture” for Open Culture Studies (fall 2018) and preparing a research project on female cowboys in the transnational North American West.