The academic discipline of American Studies is extraordinary in at least two respects. Compared to other fields of study, it is a comparatively young field, and it is a discipline that, as its chief characteristic, defines itself through its interdisciplinarity. Heinz Ickstadt, professor emeritus of the JFK Institute in Berlin, has recently related these two aspects to one another, claiming that the “openness [of American Studies] may well be taken as proof of its vitality, of its ability to map new areas of research, to generate new questions, and to stimulate new interests and intellectual energies with a younger generation of scholars” (545). His observation on the link between American Studies’ vitality and youth and its disciplinary openness is important for us for one more aspect: He specifically mentions a younger generation of scholars, and this younger generation, of course, is what aspeers is all about.

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