Beyond Karl May: Teaching Native Cultures in Europe

"Beyond Karl May: Teaching Native Cultures in Europe"

International Workshop for Research and Teacher Development

Europa-Universität Flensburg

Department of English and American Studies, in cooperation with EULE

With the kind support of the Fördergesellschaft der Universität Flensburg, e.V.

May 23-24, 2016, HG 247

Native American and First Nations literatures are the oldest and arguably among the most fascinating forms of North American cultural expression. In Europe, however, most people associate "Indians" with nineteenth-century stereotypes promoted by Karl May and Hollywood, featuring teepees, feathered headdresses, Pocahontas, and Dances with Wolves. In these performances of what Hartmut Lutz calls "Indianthusiasm," actual Indigenous people are relegated to the background or rendered entirely invisible.

Targeting especially high-school teachers of English and students training to be teachers, this workshop served as a forum for information and exchange on the intercultural challenges of teaching Native cultures in North America and in Europe. Twelve international experts provided both overviews and in-depth case studies combined with specific concepts and materials for teaching. In addition to the Native American and First Nations cultures of the U.S. and Canada,  Sámi and Inuit cultures in Norway, Finland, and Greenland were included

Our speakers were: Prof. Dr. Renae Watchman (Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada), Drew Hayden Taylor (Toronto, Canada), John Blackbird (Saskatchewan, Canada), Ellen Marie Jensen (Center for Sámi Studies, University of Tromsø, Norway), Prof. Dr. Kennet Pedersen (University of Greenland), Rauna Rahko-Ravantti (University of Lapland, Finland), Prof. Dr. Hartmut Lutz (Universität Greifswald), Prof. Dr. Kerstin Knopf (Universität Bremen), Prof. Dr. Karsten Fitz (Universität Passau),Dr. Sabine N. Meyer (Universität Osnabrück), PD Dr. Maria Moss (Leuphana-Universität Lüneburg).

Keynote Speaker: Gerald Vizenor (Anishinaabe)

According to Osage scholar Robert Warrior, Gerald Vizenor is "the most innovative and theoretically sophisticated contemporary Native author. Born of Anishinaabe descent in Minneapolis in 1934, Vizenor is the author and editor of more than forty books, including award-winning novels, plays, poems, autobiographical texts, and essays, as well as seminal contributions to literary and cultural theory, politics, and Indigenous Studies. During his career, Vizenor has received innumerable honors, among them the PEN Excellence Award, two American Book Awards, as well as the MELUS Lifetime Achievement Award. His work has been firmly committed to intercultural and transnational dialogue; battling commercialized stereotypes of indians, and working toward nuanced understandings of the historical and contemporary conditions that connect North America’s Native people to indigenous and non-indigenous cultures around the globe. He has influentially shaped the field of Native American Studies at universities across the United States, including UC Berkeley, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of New Mexico. In Flensburg, Gerald Vizenor talked about "Luther Standing Bear and Karl May: Native Survivance and Simulations in the Progressive Era."

You can download the workshop program right here.

Organization: Prof. Dr. Birgit Däwes

Seminar für Anglistik und Amerikanistik

Europa-Universität Flensburg
Auf dem Campus 1
24943 Flensburg

Steven Paul Judd is a Native American artist, script writer and filmmaker. His latest short film, Ronnie BoDean, was released in 2015.


Here you can download the "Beyond Karl May: Teaching Native Cultures in Europe" program:

- Conference program (PDF)

Press Coverage

On June 2nd, the Flensburger Tageblatt published an article on the conference (p. 25). You can find a PDF of it here (in German only) .


A gallery of photos taken at the workshop. Clicking on an image will enlarge the picture.