Sunday, September 7, 2008
Indianthusiasm Lecture on Th, Sept. 11, 7pm
On Thursday, September 11, 7 pm, Professor Karsten Fitz of Passau University, Germany, will deliver a public lecture hosted by our department (2028 Brown Hall) on "German 'Indianthusiasm' Reconsidered: The 'Noble Savage' in the German Cultural Imagination." While Native Americans are historically the original people of North America and the imagined “Indian” a product of the popular American imagination (e.g., frontier romances, dime novels, Hollywood westerns), the fascination with – and appropriation of – “the Indian” swept over to Europe early on. Beginning with the letters of Christopher Columbus, Europeans fabricated their own images of “Indians,” most influentially maybe that of the “noble savage” à la Rousseau. In Germany, there has been a long tradition of Indianertümelei, a term translated by Hartmut Lutz as German “Indianthusiasm,” most prominently reflected in the novels written by Karl May. Focusing on visual representations, this talk will trace popular German constructions of the West and “the Indian” from the mid-19th century to their culmination in the screen adaptations of the Karl May novels and the so-called Indianerfilme produced by Eastern German Film Academy in the 1960s and 1970s. This tradition of “Indianthusiasm,” it will be argued, influences the ways German audiences “see” Native Americans to this day.