The department's chief areas of research and teaching reflect recent changes in the understanding of culture, language, literature, teacher training and didactics employing:

  • a notion of culture centred on conflict and difference, understanding culture not simply as a given national tradition, but as a juncture and crossing point of languages, systems, and histories;
  • a notion of literature which transcends the constraints of the intrinsic approach, including new practices in the production of knowledge, strategies of verbalisation, medialisation, and the relation between text and image;
  • a notion of language based on usage, approaching language as a means of communication and cultural transfer, both in everyday interactions and in language contact.

On the one hand, these priorities represent key developments in the scholarly disciplines of English and American Studies. On the other hand, they also promote interdisciplinary research and teaching both within the department (such as combining research into linguistic variation with postcolonial literary studies) and across the Faculty of Philosophy (for example in the successful interdisciplinary cooperation in the research area Unsettled Cultures / Mobilised Cultures).
Departmental research focuses on forms of linguistic, cultural, and literary representation which mirror the globality of the modern world both as it is today and as it is characterised by its historical heritage. This approach also yields the requisite know-how to move in the multicultural environments in which we live and work.
Through the reflection on language and text, English and American Studies convey intercultural competence not merely as a body of knowledge that could equally well be acquired by just reading and memorising. They aim to understand the languages and cultures of Great Britain, the United States, and the anglophone former colonised countries in their interaction with historical as well as current connections to other languages and cultures. In doing so, they do not try to level the differences between the languages and cultures of Great Britain, the United States, and the anglophone former colonised countries based on any one universal paradigm. Neither do they assume that by way of cultural transfer this plurality of languages and cultures can be counted among the assets of any single national tradition. The focus of discussion lies with selected manifestations of language and culture in intercultural communication, in literary and other cultural artefacts, in past and present.
Thus understood, English and American Studies approach the multifarious interpenetration of the own and the foreign in their target cultures with research questions designed to trace the complex processes of communication, leadership and decision making.
The research profile of the Department of English and American Studies at the University of Potsdam thus highlights a methodically reflected perspective on the development and highly diverse modes of expression of cultural practices with regard to

  • intertextuality (mobilised cultures / migration, minority cultures);
  • textuality (textual structures, text and theatre);
  • intermediality (forms of representation and production of changing cultural realities; visual cultures, visualisations);
  • gender (presence, representation and difference); and
  • social interaction (linguistic structures as resources, collaborative production of meaning).

This concept of research and teaching stays abreast of the increasing public significance of aesthetic forms and media besides literature, the growing importance of processes of intercultural communication, and the mediality of the target cultures.