SANAS (Swiss Association for North American Studies)

What Is SANAS? A Portrait

The Swiss Association for North American Studies was founded in 1978 to provide a structure that would facilitate contact among Swiss scholars interested in American Studies and allow them to be represented institutionally in the European Association for American Studies (EAAS). Among the founding members were Max Silverschmidt (History, University of Zürich) and Heinrich Straumann (American Literature, University of Zurich), who had both been active in the founding of EAAS.

Originally called the Swiss Association for American Studies, the Association’s name was changed in 1986 to the appellation “North-American Studies,” to indicate a concern for Canadian issues on the part of some members. Though most of our members are attached to departments of English, signalling a primary concern for culture and literature, other members  belong to university departments of History, Geography, Sociology, Politics or Economics. Thus, our biannual conferences have dealt with themes that extend across history and literature to other disciplines: “Artists and Audiences in the Age of Henry James” (1992), “Apocalypse” (1998), “Representing Realities” (2004), “American Poetry: Whitman to the Present” (2006), “American Aesthetics” (2008), "Literature, Ethics, Morality: American Studies Perspectives" (2014), and "American Communities: Between the Popular and the Political" (2016). Our annual in-house “Reading Group” seminars have concentrated on inviting U.S. scholars and writers to discuss their work and combining cultural, historical and literary approaches to individual works of literature.

SANAS cultivates good relationships with other American Studies Associations, notably the  (AAAS). In the past, SANAS and the Austrian Association for American Studies (AAAS) have held very successful binational conferences: “Empire” (Salzburg, 1996), “American Foundational Myths” (Zürich, 2000), “The Visual Culture of Modernism” (Innsbruck, 2010) and “Cultures in Conflict / Conflicting Cultures” (Zürich, 2012). More recently, since 2013, an ongoing collaboration with the Swiss Philosophical Society (Schweizerische Philosophische Gesellschaft) was established.

Our current membership counts about eighty members. Unlike many European professional associations, SANAS makes a point of welcoming the participation of graduate students, teaching assistants, and professors of all ranks. This egalitarian emphasis results in stimulat-ing discussions in our biannual conferences, where members share the program with estab-lished scholars from abroad, primarily other European countries and the United States. These occasions are also a forum for trying out innovative modes of presenting an academic paper or organizing a workshop.

Joining SANAS

SANAS welcomes new members with a scholarly, artistic or journalistic interest in the study of the United States of America, their history, culture and society. We especially invite graduate students working in the field of American studies to join SANAS. The membership fee is currently CHF 40 per year. Members receive the SANAS newsletter, which appears twice per year, as well as the proceedings of SANAS conferences, which are held biannually. SANAS members are automatically members of the European Association for American Studies (EAAS) and are entitled to participate in any EAAS event, notably by organizing workshops and offering papers at the biennial EAAS conferences. As members of a constituent association of EAAS, SANAS members equally have access to conferences held by the American Studies Association (ASA) in the United States.

To apply for membership, e-mail a 1-page CV to the President and the Secretary. New members are elected at the Annnual General  Meeting in November.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Schweighauser  (ph.schweighauser     at

Secretary and Webmaster:
PD Dr. Julia Straub  (straub    at


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