Past Program

Sep 25 - Sep 28, 2009

American Studies Symposium-Globalization and American Popular Culture


The globalization of American popular culture has been the subject of much critical attention in recent years - particularly in debates questioning whether American culture bears primary responsibility for increasing global cultural homogenization or whether, on the contrary, it has facilitated the development of a fascinatingly complex global cultural heterogeneity. American cultural influences have had a major effect on other cultures and they continue to play a crucial role in the cultural dynamics of globalization. What does "American popular culture" mean in an era in which cultural industries are thoroughly international in terms of ownership and in terms of the contents of the cultural commodities they produce? Of the remaining 'majors' in the music business, only one could be described as remotely 'American'. Jazz is often considered to be the classical music of America, yet is this phenomenon perhaps being misinterpreted by applying nationalist parameters? US cinema has from the beginning been part of a transatlantic cultural exchange, but with regard to production this exchange has been limited to economic and cultural elites, working in both the US and Europe. Television is yet a different case since national TV industries are more resistant to US influence than national cinema industries, although in the last five years 'quality' American television has become far more prominent in European countries. There will be discussion about US nationalism in cinema and electronic games in the context of the US's use of the New International Division of Cultural Labor to obtain and maintain its geopolitical objectives, emphasizing the role of the state in the export and textuality of these culture industries. Participants will also discuss two contradictory directions in which American mass cultural forms have been taken at the European receiving end - one where the appropriation of an American mass cultural vernacular has been used to produce statements which can be seen as cultural resistance - the other a direction where American cultural influence has served to commodify, or commercialize, European ventures in the area of public history (the Disneyfication of public history). The purpose of the symposium is to examine the above issues in depth by exploring the dynamics and impact of American popular culture on national and local cultures, on national cultural industries, on American cultural diplomacy, and on the process of globalization.


The 2009 SSASAA symposium is open to all Salzburg Global Seminar alumni interested in American Studies, as well as non-alumni working in a field related to the topic. The symposium will consist of presentations, plenary discussions, and theme-based working groups, led by distinguished American Studies scholars. Additional events include a barbeque, receptions, and a concert and gala dinner on the final evening.


Financial information:

The cost of the SSASAA Symposium is euro 500 for a single and euro 800 for a double room. Tuition, and all meals and accommodations are included in the cost. TRAVEL is not included. The fee is payable no later than August 1, 2009, by check, money order or credit card.


A deposit of euro 100 is due at the time of registration to confirm your participation. The deposit is not refundable after August 15, 2009.


For further information, please contact Symposium Director Ms. Marty Gecek


To download a registration form, please click below.

SSASAA registration form