TACOMO: Transatlantic Cowgirl Mobilities

Stefanie Schäfer, Marie-Skłodowska-Curie Fellow

TACOMO studies the performances of cowgirls and female sharpshooters at Buffalo Bill's Wild West in Austria and Germany at the turn of the 20th century and their contribution to the formation of European Western myths and mobility regimes. It integrates their showwomanship in contemporary popular culture and explores how they built the figure of the cowgirl.

TACOMO is funded by the European Union's Horizon 2020 reseach and innovation programme as Marie Sklodowksa Curie Action (grant agreement #833574).

I am a scholar of North American Studies interested in the nexus between Literary, Feminist and Gender Studies, Visual and Popular Culture, and Mobility Studies. I hold a PhD in English (Heidelberg, 2009) and a venia legendi in North American Literature and Culture (Jena, 2017) and have worked as visiting professor of American Studies at Erlangen-Nürnberg (2018/19 and 2022) and Augsburg (2020), Germany.

My research clusters around figurations of the national. Next to Western performances, this also includes figures linked to the nation state and to politics, such as First Ladies or Uncle Sam. "Yankee Yarns", my second book (habilitation), was published in 2021 with Edinburgh University Press's Critical Studies in Atlantic Literatures and Cultures Series.

October 2022

International Conference: Ladies in Arms

From October 19-21, 2022, Stefanie Schäfer co-organized the international conference "Ladies in Arms: Representations of Shooting Women in Contemporary Popular Culture" at the University of Vienna, with Prof. Teresa Hiergeist (French and Spanish Literature and Culture). The conference papers covered gunwomen in civil and military gun cultures, the revival of historic figures and artists such as Harriet Tubman, Nasta Roic, or Louise Michel, cinematic representations in Russian, Colombian, French, and Bollywood movies, and popular genres such as the romance novel. 

October 2022

Book Launch Event: New Perspectives from American Studies

In October 2022,  Stefanie Schäfer presented her monograph "Yankee Yarns" in the Series "Erlesenes Erforschen" hosted by Vienna's University Library. In conversation with Prof. Alexandra Ganser, she discussed Pirates and Yankees as transnational figures in the webcast "Pirates and Yankees in the Atlantic World: New Perspectives  from American Studies".

July-August 2022

European Summer School in Canadian Studies

With the teams of the Canadian Studies Centres at Vienna and Innsbruck, Stefanie Schäfer co-organized the ESSCS 2022 and held a workshop "Teaching Canadian Studies".

Publications (recent and forthcoming)

  • monograph: Yankee Yarns: Storytelling and the Invention of the National Body in 19th-Century US Culture. Edinburgh University Press 2021.
  • edited collection: Ladies in Arms. Women, Guns, and Feminisms in Contemporary Popular Culture. co-edited with Teresa Hiergeist. Bielefeld: transcript 2024. in preparation.
  • “Cowgirling in Thuringia: The German Police Procedural Tatort goes Western“. in Ladies in Arms. Women, Guns, and Feminisms in Contemporary Popular Culture. ed. Teresa Hiergeist and Stefanie Schäfer. Bielefeld: transcript 2024. submitted.
  • “Grief became my friend, my work”: Mary Todd Lincoln’s Uneasy Union with Memory in LeAnne Howe’s Savage Conversations (2019).New American Studies Journal, special issue:“Women and Service in the Long 19th Century“, ed. Isabella Heinz, Kristeena Lute, Julia Nitz, Sandra Petrulionis, Esther Wetzel. 73(2023).
  • “Not Form which You See, but Emotion which You Feel: Crisis, Time, and Hyperempathy in Octavia Butler’s Earthseed-Novels.” The Transformative Power of Literature and Narrative: Promoting Positive Change. Ed. Corinna Assmann, Jan Rupp, Christine Schwanecke. Tübingen, Narr 2023. 53-63.
  • “Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016).” The Lexicon of Global Melodrama. Ed. Heike Paul, Sarah Marak, Katharina Gerund and Marius Henderson. Bielefeld: transcript 2022. 353-356.
  • “The Donald, FLOTUS, and the Gendered Labors of Celebrity Politics at 1600, Pennsylvania Avenue.” Amerikastudien/American Studies, special issue “Common Grounds? Transatlantic Perspectives on the State of American Democracy”, ed. Cedric Essi, Heike Paul, and Boris Vormann, 66.1 (2021): 302-307.
  • “Geraldine Brooks.“ Blackwell Encyclopedia of Contemporary American Fiction, 1980-2020, ed. Patrick O’Donnell, Stephen Burn, und Lesley Larkin. London: Wiley-Blackwell 2022.
  • “Washington Irving.” De Gruyter Handbook of the American Short Story. Ed. Erik Redling and Oliver Scheiding. Berlin: De Gruyter 2022: 103-118.
  • “Funny Men. An Introduction in Three Jokes.” Anglistik 31.2 (2020): 69-76. (with Wieland Schwanebeck).
  • “Knots and Knowledges: The Canadian West, Settler Colonial Intimacies, and Aritha Van Herk’s Calgary Stampede.” Zeitschrift für Kanada-Studien ZKS 70 (2020): 163-178.

Conference talks and guest lectures (selection)

  • “The Man-Made Place: Yankee Storytellers and the Early American Short Story.“ Invited Paper, international symposium “The Persistence of the Short Story: Traditions and Futures”, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany, July 10-12, 2024
  • “Haywire Girls. Storytelling, Gender, and the New Wild West.“ Guest Lecture, Trier University, Jul 12, 2023.
  • “Buffalo Power: Origin Stories and Métis Futurisms in Chelsea Vowel's “Michif Man“.“ Canada Day Lecture, Marburg Centre for Canadian Studies, Jul 4, 2023.
  • “Vanguard Wheel Estate: Property, Grief, and the American Road Myth in Chloe Zhao‘s “Nomadland“ (2020).“ Invited paper, workshop “Spatial Movement and the Refusal of Ownership“; GAAS/DGfA Annual Meeting “America and Ownership: Territory, Slavery, Jubilee“, Jun 1-3 2023, Rostock.
  • “Return of the Bison? Canadian Literature meets Indigenous Futurism in Chelsea Vowel's Buffalo is the New Buffalo (2022)“; guest lecture, University of Innsbruck, Mar 21, 2023.
  • “Rewriting the Cowgirl: Perspectives from Contemporary Indigenous Literature“; guest lecture; North American Literary History: A Survey; Prof. Alexandra Ganser, University of Vienna, Mar 28, 2023.
  • “I must dress in costly materials: On First Lady Fashion and the Sentimental Labors of American Womanhood.“ Workshop, “Civil Sentimentalism in the Americas”, Nov 9-11 2022, LMU München.
  • ““Chicks Who Love Guns“ and other Shooting Women in Quentin Tarantino’s American Pop Culture Historiographies.“ International Conference “Ladies in Arms. Representations of Shooting Women in Contemporary Popular Culture“, Oct 19-21, 2022, University of Vienna.
  • “History reloaded? Eternal girlhood in the afterlives of Annie Oakley.“ Guest lecture, Mainz, January 31, 2020.
  • “Cowboys all! Settler colonialism and the invention of tradition at the Western spectacle.“ Guest lecture, Mainz, January 30, 2020.
  • “Between “Flintenweib” and “Fräuleinwunder”: Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill’s Wild West in Germany and Austria.“ Western Historical Association Conference 2019, Las Vegas, October 16-19, 2019.

Podcast: LadyFiction (2021-)

...a conversation about American literature by women writers, hosted by Stefanie Schaefer @Amerikazentrum Hamburg. 21 episodes and counting!

2023 episodes:

E16: Gasp! Gossip's Public Intimacies in the 19th Century (with Kathrin Horn)

E17: Oline Eaton on Her Biography of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Finding Jackie

E18:  Oksana Marafioti on Immigration and Belonging in her Memoir "All of Us Fragile and Brave"

E19: Cultivating Democracy Now: A Conversation with Nora Krug

E20:  My Body Is Not Your Battleground(with Kathrina Motyl)

E21: Solastalgia-The Feeling in the Anthropocene (with Lindsay Tuggle)

Affiliations and academic networks

  • Executive Director, Centre for Canadian Studies, Uni Vienna (https://canada.univie.ac.at/)
  • Interdisciplinary research platform Mobile Cultures and Societies, Vienna (https://mobilecultures.univie.ac.at/)
  • The Global Sentimentality Project, FAU Erlangen-Nuremberg (https://www.sentimental.phil.fau.de/)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Amerikastudien (DGfA)
  • Gesellschaft für Kanada-Studien (GKS)
  • Deutscher Anglistenverband (DAV)
  • BAA (Bayerische Amerika-Akademie) Munich