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Approaching Transnational America in Performance

Edited By Birgit M. Bauridl and Pia Wiegmink

The volume is uniquely located at the interdisciplinary crossroads of Performance Studies and transnational American Studies. As both a method and an object of study, performance deepens our understanding of transnational phenomena and America’s position in the world. The thirteen original contributions make use of the field’s vast potential and critically explore a wide array of cultural, political, social, and aesthetic performances on and off the stage. They scrutinize transnational trajectories and address issues central to the American Studies agenda such as representation, power, (ethnic and gender) identities, social mobility, and national imaginaries. As an American Studies endeavor, the volume highlights the cultural, political, and (inter)disciplinary implications of performance.

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Performing Heidelberg at the Golden Gate (Leonard Schmieding)

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Leonard Schmieding

Performing Heidelberg at the Golden Gate

Abstract: My essay analyzes how Wilhelm Meyer-Förster’s play Alt Heidelberg served as a blueprint for the cultural performances of Germanness in the San Francisco restaurant Heidelberg Inn in the 1910s. It shows how the play’s themes of youthfulness, student life, and drinking and singing informed the transnational interactions in the ethnic restaurant.1

A Postcard from Heidelberg

In March 1910, a certain Mrs. L. Weidner of West Shokau, New York, received a picture postcard from her friend Liz in San Francisco. While the message—the usual reports about the weather and her general well-being—is rather banal, it is the medium that deserves special attention. Printed by the Hansen Company in San Francisco, the postcard’s front displays a black and white photograph of a man and a woman at a table of a beer garden. Sitting in front of an apple tree, she is seated on his lap, and both are holding up beer steins. He is sporting a typical nineteenth-century German student uniform with a hat and sash in the colors of his fraternity. He seems to have given his sash to her, as she is wearing it across her chest. One of them is making a toast in German, which translates into “one has deprived me of everything long enough, but now it is time to get a thousand times merrier and jollier” (fig. 1). The restaurant Heidelberg...

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