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Dr. habil. Michael Basseler

Background and Research

I'm a student of American literature and culture. In my PhD dissertation I tackled questions of cultural memory and trauma in the contemporary African American novel, especially in works by Toni Morrison, Charles Johnson, Colson Whitehead, Edward P. Jones, and Paul Beatty. My postdoctoral dissertation (Habilitationschrift) then dealt with notions of literature as a form of "life knowledge" by focussing on North American short stories from the late 19th to early 21st century. In my recent work I'm dealing with the concept of (cultural) resilience, with issues of race and racism, and with current developments in US literature. 


Research interests:

  • Literary and Cultural theory
  • African American literature and culture
  • Literature and knowledge
  • Narrative theory and cultural narratology
  • Interdisciplinary resilience studies
  • genre theory and history



International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture (GCSC)

Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen
Room 005
Alter Steinbacher Weg 38
35394 Gießen

Phone: +49 641- 99-30 040



Recent Publications (Selection)
  • Monographs

2019. An Organon of Life Knowledge: Genres and Functions of the Short Story in North America. Bielefeld: transcript.

2008. Kulturelle Erinnerung und Trauma im zeitgenössischen afroamerikanischen Roman. Theoretische Grundlegung, Ausprägungsformen, Entwicklungstendenzen. Trier: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Trier.


  • Edited Volumes and Journal Issues

2020. Europe's Crises and Cultural Resources of Resilience: Conceptual Explorations and Literary Negotiations. Trier: WVT 2020. (with Imke Polland, Sandro Moraldo, and Ansgar Nünning)

2019. The American Novel in the 21st Century: Cultural Contexts – Literary Developments – Critical Analyses. Trier: WVT (Series: WVT-Handbücher zum literaturwissenschaftlichen Studium, Vol. 21) (with Ansgar Nünning)

2015. "Reframing the Modernist Short Story", special section in the peer-reviewed Journal of the Short Story in English 64, p. 21-187 (with Mathijs Duyck, Anne Levita, Christine Reynier & Bart van den Bossche).

2015. Emergent Forms of Life in Anglophone Literature: Conceptual Frameworks and Critical AnalysesTrier: WVT. (Reihe ELCH, Band 66, with Daniel Hartley & Ansgar Nünning.

2013. The Cultural Dynamics of Generic Change in Contemporary Fiction: Theoretical Frameworks, Genres, and Model Interpretations. Trier: WVT (Series: English Literary and Cultural History, Vol. 56, with Ansgar Nünning & Christine Schwanecke)

2011. A History of the American Short Story: Genres – Developments – Model Interpretations. Trier: WVT. (Series: WVT-Handbücher zum literaturwissenschaftlichen Studium, Vol. 14). (with Ansgar Nünning)


  • Articles in journals and edited volumes 

2021. "Mixed-Genre Fiction.” Encyclopedia of American Fiction, 1980-2020. Ed. Stephen Burn, Patrick O’Donnell and Lesley Larkin. Wiley-Blackwell. [forthcoming]

2020. "Rassismus als Katalysator von Krisen: Krisennarrative, Krisenszenarien und kulturelles Gedächtnis in der US-amerikanischen Kultur des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts am Beispiel der 'Central Park Five'". In: Germanisch Romanische Monatsschrift 70.3: 357-372.

2019. "Stories of Dangerous Life in the Post-Trauma Age: Toward a Cultural Narratology of Resilience." In: Astrid Erll & Roy Sommer (Hg.), Narrative in Culture. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter. 15-36.

2019. "The Post-Civil-Rights Novel: Re-negotiating African American Identities, Racism, and Cultural Memory in Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad (2016) and Paul Beatty’s The Sellout (2015)." In: M. Basseler & A. Nünning (eds.), The American Novel in the Twenty-first Century: Cultural Contexts – Literary Developments – Critical Analyses. Trier: WVT 2019. 101-16. (with Isabel Kalous)

2019. "Lebens-Experimente und generisches Lernen: Mark Twains Autobiography als Lern-/Lehrstück für die Performativität von Genres." In: M. Basseler & A. Nünning (eds.), Fachdidaktik als Kulturwissenschaft: Konzepte – Perspektiven – Projekte. Trier: WVT. 113-126.

2018. "Short-Short Fiction" In: Paul Delaney & Adrian Hunter (eds.), The Edinburgh Companion to the Short Story in English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. 147-59.

2017. "Literary Canons and the Dynamics of Generic Change." In: Philipp Löffler (ed.), Reading the Canon. Literary History in the 21st Century. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter. 71-101.

2017. "Narrative Empathy in George Saunders's Short Fiction." In: Steve Gronert Ellerhoff & Philip Coleman (eds.), Critical Perspectives on the Works of George Saunders. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. 153-72.

2015. "Legacies of Modernism: Robert Hayden’s 'Middle Passage' and Melvin B. Tolson’s 'Dark Symphony'" In:  René Dietrich, Clemens Spahr & Oliver Scheiding (eds.), A History of American Poetry. Trier: WVT. 301-318.

2015. "Emerging Forms of Life in Literary Fiction: From Narrative Techniques to Genres." In: M. Basseler, Daniel Hartley & Ansgar Nünning (Eds.), Emergent Forms of Life in Anglophone Literature: Conceptual Frameworks and Critical Analyses. Trier: WVT, 2015. 75-96.

2015. "A Normal Biography Reversed: The Temporalization of Life in F. Scott Fitzgerald's 'The Curious Case of Benjamin Button'". In: Journal of the Short Story in English 64 (Spring 2015). 105-17.

2015. "Cognitive Liminality: Short Stories as Epistemological Fiction." In: Jochen Achilles & Ina Bergmann (eds.), Liminality and the Short Story. London: Routledge. 77-91.

2013. "Literary Studies as a Form of 'Life Science': The Knowledge of Literature." In: Ansgar Nünning & Greta Olson (eds.), New Theories, Models and Methods in Literary and Cultural Studies: Theory into Practice. Trier: WVT. 189-212 (with Ansgar Nünning).

2009. "Literatur – Erfahrung – Lebenswissen. Perspektiven einer pragmatischen Literaturwissenschaft." In: Ottmar Ette & Wolfgang Asholt (Hg.), Literaturwissenschaft als Lebenswissenschaft. Programm – Projekte – Perspektiven. Tübingen: Gunter Narr. 205-222.


Current Projects
  • Short Forms Beyond Borders (EU Strategic Partnerships, 2020-2023) 

    With the "Short Forms Beyond Borders (SFBB)" project, we intend to work collaboratively on short forms as a tool for cultural, educational and social mediation in Europe. The relevance of short forms is becoming more and more visible in today's society. Brevity is becoming a way of doing things, a question of time and style, indeed of thinking. Examples of short forms include short videos, text messages, short stories, Instagram stories, sound fragments, television series, short speeches, sales pitches, news briefs, slogans etc. 


    Specialists of short forms from six European universities (Angers, France; Athens, Greece; Szeged, Hungary; Santiago de Compostela, Spain; Giessen, Germany; Leuven, Belgium) and a private firm, Baludik (Nantes), will work together to develop short forms as both tools and objects of pedagogical innovation and cultural mediation.

PhD Supervision

Completed Dissertations

  • Winkler, Robert A.: "Generation Reagan Youth: Representing and Resisting White Neoliberal Forms of Life in the U.S. Hardcore Punk Scenes (1979-1999)" (completed June 2019)
  • Hülsen, Lea: „Caribbean Literary Interventions: Critiques of Humanism in the Works of Beryl Gilroy, Claudia Jones and Sylvia Wynter“ (completed July 2020) 
  • Kalous, Isabel: "Contemporary Black Travel Narratives: Tracing Roots/Routes to Africa and beyond" (completed December 2020)
Ongoing Dissertations
  • Völker, Nicola: „(Un)real Estate: A Cultural Narratology of Gentrification in Central Brooklyn, 2003-2018“

  • Flaß, Alexander: „The Body and/as Art in Contemporary American Fiction“
  • Goodrich, Candace: "Ecosemiotic constructions - An analysis of the contemporary use of visual and narrative signs in non-western and western eco-art and eco-fiction"
  • Rezaei, Somaye: "The Laughing Chorus: Anti-racist humor in Contemporary American Late-night Shows" 
abgelegt unter: Kohorte XVI, IPP