The Unifying Aspects of Cultures


Frontier Metamorphoses: Americanization and Otherness

Heinz Ickstadt (Kennedy-Institut, FU Berlin)
American Frontiers and German Transformations - the Frontier as a Metaphor of Cultural Change

The "frontier" as a crucial element in the rhetoric of American self-interpretation has gone through several semantic mutations. It has been used as a metaphor of cultural separation as well as of cultural transformation; it has been projected into the past as much as into the future, has been a matter of nostalgia as well as of quasi-utopian expectation. The lecture shall discuss some mutations of the frontier in the context of American modernization during the late 19th century, and then inquire into its function as an intercultural metaphor in Germany's highly ambivalent reception of modernizing America.