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Svetlana Seibel

Svetlana Seibel
Address University of Trier
DM 249
E-Mail svetlana.seibel@uni-saarland.de
 

Dissertation

"Personal Totems": The Poetics of the Popular in Contemporary Indigenous Popular Culture in North America

(Supervisors: Astrid Fellner, Saarbrücken / Robert Schwartzwald, Montréal)

In his recent essay entitled “Popular Totems,” Laich-kwil-tach visual artist Sonny Assu critically assesses Native audience’s engagement with images of contemporary popular culture, stating: “[T]he fact of the matter is that my generation and the generation after me have felt the effects of consumer culture since we began to walk. And this is why I believe that, as pop culture generation, we have the right to use these icons as our own personal totems: we are so inundated by items and imagery of pop culture, we also have the right to use it as a way to dictate our own lineage. Yes, we are the Pepsi Generation.” (139). At the same time, US American critic Jennifer K. Stuller argues that “superhero stories are American culture’s modern expression of myth. . . . Modern myth serves a function similar to that of ancient myth, namely, telling and hearing stories helps us make sense of our lives. Narratives reflect the world and comment on it as they document events and also imagine them” (3). Taking my cue from these two assertions, the aim of my project is to examine closely a selection of twenty-first century works by Native American and First Nations Canadian authors that incorporate various aspects of mainstream Eurowestern popular culture. I am interested in what exact ways popular stories and icons become reinterpreted in order to mirror the issues that concern Native people of today’s North America, that is I am interested – in Assu’s terms – how they become “personal totems,” and what constitutes the significance of this reinterpretation. In my thesis, I argue that through the use of popular mythopoeic genres of fiction and alternative means of storytelling (other-than-print media, (fan) activity in cyberspace), these texts contribute to a revival and reformulation of indigenous mythologies and epistemologies so as to adapt them to the realities of the indigenous experiences within the present-day cultural moment, landscape, and mediascape. In my work, therefore, I am also concerned with modes and models of cultural relationality and cultural dialogic practices and pathways as implemented by North American authors/producers of indigenous origin. My corpus of primary material includes literary texts such as Drew Hayden Taylor’s The Night Wanderer, Joseph Bruchac’s Killer of Enemies, Jeffrey Veregge’s “The Undead Legacy of the King,” as well as APTN’s anime series Animism: The God’s Lake.

Works Cited
Assu, Sonny. “Personal Totems.” Troubling Tricksters: Revisiting Critical Conversations. Ed. Deanna
Reder and Linda M. Morra. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurer UP, 2010. 135-154.
Stuller, Jennifer K. Ink-Stained Amazons and Cinematic Warriors: Superwomen in Modern Mythology.
London: I.B.Tauris, 2010.

Current Activities

Thesis Defense
Svetlana Seibel successfully defended her thesis on 15 July 2016. See also: http://irtg-diversity.com/index.php?page=now-and-upcoming&article=186

Education

since 2012
Postgraduate Student, Department of English, North American, and Transanglophone Studies, Saarland University, Germany PhD Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Astrid Fellner
2005 - 2012
Student of English, Ancient History andClassical Archaeology (M.A.) at Saarland University, Germany Diploma: M. A. in Amerikanistik (Major), Anglistik (Minor) and Classical Archaeology (Minor)
Jan.-May 2009
Erasmus semester at the University of Limerick, Ireland, Department of English and Irish Literature and Culture
April 2007
Excavation Training Limberg (Wallerfangen), Germany, organised by Saarland University, Department of Prehistory
Sep. 1999 - July 2001
Student of English to become a teacher at the Tomsk State, Teacher-Training University, Russia

Work Experience

2013/14
Instructor: "If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?": (Self-)Representation of Native Peoples in North America (Department of North American Literary and Cultural Studies Saarland University, Germany, Chair: Prof. Dr. Astrid M. Fellner, Module: Culture Studies II)

2013
Instructor: "For the Dead Travel Fast": Vampires in Contemporary American Literature and on TV (Department of North American Literary and Cultural Studies Saarland University, Germany, Chair: Prof. Dr. Astrid M. Fellner, Module: Culture Studies II)

2008 - 2012
Saarland University, Department of English, North American and Transanglophone Studies

2010
Saarland University, Department of English, North American and Transanglophone Studies, Chair of North American Literature and Cultural Studies, Prof. Dr. Astrid Fellner Tutor

Publications

“Radical Relating: Vampirism as a Utopian State in Black Atlantic Women’s Vampire Fiction”, in: Ralph Poole / Yvonne Kaisinger / Saskia Fürst (Eds.), US American Expressions of Utopian and Dystopian Visions (Vienna: Lit Verlag, 2016). (Forthcoming)

"What Do You Write? Legends, That Kind of Thing?": Genre Expectations and Native Writing in Drew Hayden Taylor’s alterNatives. (Forthcoming)

Conference Presentations

Dec. 2016
Understanding America: From Westward Movement to Standing Rock
Presentation, 24-Stunden-Vorlesung, Saarland University, Germany, 08/12/2016.
Nov. 2016
Visual Sovereignty: Jeff Barnaby’s Rhymes for Young Ghouls
ANG 1005 – Reading Popular Culture, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada, 08/11/2016.
Nov.2016
‘A Native Vampire! That Is So Cool!’: Conceptualizing Indigenous Popular Culture and Genre Narratives
Decolonizing Conference CIARS 2016: Race, Anti-Racism and Indigeneity: Anti-Colonial Resurgence and Decolonial Resistance, OISE, Toronto, Canada, 03-05/11/2016.
July 2016
'There’ll Be Another Song For Me': The Significance of the Orpheus Myth in Angel’s 'Orpheus'
EuroSlayage: Seventh Biennial Conference of the Whedon Studies Association, Kingston University, Kingston upon Thames, UK, 07-10/07/2016.
June 2016
‘The Truth about Stories’: Indigenous Popular Culture in North America
Saarland University, Germany, 19/06 and 26/06/2016.
June 2016
'Apocalypse Now-ish': Figurations of (Post)Apocalypse in North American Indigenous Fiction
Tenth Biennial MESEA Conferenc: Cultural Palimpsests: Ethnic Watermarks, Surfacing Histories, University of Warsaw, Poland, 22-24/06/2016.
June 2016
Continuous Transference: Indigenous Transgeneric Fiction in North America
Conference: In-Between: Liminal Spaces in Canadian Literature and Culture, University of Graz, Austria, 02-04/06/2016.
July 2015
Narratives of Indigenous Resistance
Summer School, Université de Montréal, Canada, 06-11/07/2015.
July 2014
Expressions of Decolonization: Indigenous Literature and Film in the Americas
Summer School, Université de Montréal, Canada, 07-12/07/2014.
May/June 2014
'Am I Dreaming You or Are You Dreaming Me?': Fictionalizations of Jesus in Louise Erdrich's Tracks and Drew Hayden Taylor's Motorcycles and Sweetgrass
Ninth Biennial MESEA Conference Crossing Boundaries in a Post-Ethnic Era: Interdisciplinary Approaches and Negotiations. Universität des Saarlandes, 29/05-01/06/2014 .
Oct. 2013
’What Do You Write? Legends, That Kind of Thing?’: Genre Expectations and Native Writing in Drew Hayden Taylor’s alterNatives
Conference: Transcultural Canada, Winnipeg, Canada, 24-25/10/2013.
Nov. 2013
’Erotic Visionaries and Revolutionaries’: Vampirism as a Utopian State in African American Women’s Writing
40th Annual Austrian Association for American Studies Conference: American Utopias, Salzburg, Austria, 08-10/11/2013.
 
 
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