Back to homepage

Svenja Hohenstein


Academic Résumé:

  • 2007 - 2010: earned her B.A. from the University of Freiburg majoring in English and American Studies and minoring in Sociology
  • since 2010: academic assistant and student instructor in the English Department of the University of Freiburg
  • 2010 - 2013: studied British and North American Cultur Studies at the University of Freiburg earning an M.A.
  • since April 2013: associate member of the CRC 948 Heroes- Heroizations - Heroisms

Dissertation Project:
Female Heroines in Contemporary American Culture (Working Title)

In recent years, young female heroines have started to appear in increasing numbers in American popular culture. Katniss Everdeen of The Hunger Games trilogy, Princess Merida from Pixar's Brave and the strong and self-determined Snow White of the movie Snow White and the Huntsman are just a few examples.

My research will first of all investigate how these young heroines are constructed and represented. In order to do so, I will look at the character traits and skills that render these girls heroes in their respective environments. In addition, my interest also lies on the issues and inequalities the young women fight against. The aim of this particular aspect is to trace back current problems, fears, and changes in American culture and society.

In a second step, the project will look at the way the heroines are treated outside of their texts, i.e. in magazines, fan fiction or social networks. My main interest is to find out what fans like about the young women and which aspects of their heroism they find inspiring or problematic respectively. Are the powerful and independent roles of the heroines acknowledged and celebrated, or are the privileged position negated and diminished?

The ultimate aim of the research project is to explore current trends and changes in both mainstream popular culture, but also American society as a whole. Why are female heroines so "in" at the moment? Why are the issues they stand for and fight against so important right now and what exactly are these issues? Since the heroization of certain characteristics and skills always reflects upon the society that makes a hero, or in my case, a heroine, I hope to be able to find out more about American culture by investigating what this society regards as good, brave and inspiring.