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uni'wissen 02-2015_ENG

Television series, the most American medium of all, have also changed in the way they portray social and economic inequality in the past ten years. The once so tirelessly propagated American dream appears through the lens of “precarious television” as a wasteland that has become the setting: The series Breaking Bad, for instance, tells the story of the antihero Walter White, a chemistry teacher diagnosed with cancer who becomes a drug lord to save his family from financial ruin; in Undercover Boss, to take another example, millionaire corporate managers dirty their hands for a few hours conducting pseudo- sensitive social studies in the underbellies of their own companies; finally, Girls chronicles the struggles of four young women from wealthy families to gain a foothold in trendy Brooklyn – their temporary existence on the brink of poverty appearing as a sexy alternative to their comfort- able upbringing. Film studies has yet to tackle such topics, until now: the anthology Class Divi- sions and Serial Television, co-edited by Lemke, is set to appear in 2016. Further Reading Lemke, S. (2016): Poverty and inequality in contemporary American culture. New York (in preparation). Lemke, S. / Schniedermann, W. (Eds.) (2016): Class divisions and serial television. London (in preparation). Lemke, S. (2013): Poverty and Class Studies. In: Fluck, W. / Redling, E. / Sielke, S. / Zapf, H. (Eds.): American studies today: New research agendas. Heidelberg, pp. 71–99. Prof. Dr. Sieglinde Lemke studied English and history in Constance. After earning her PhD at the Free Univer- sity of Berlin, she went on to complete her habilitation thesis at the same institu- tion in 2003, in which she developed a transcultural approach to literary studies. Lemke then taught and con- ducted research at several American universities, including Harvard University; the University of California, Irvine; the University of Cali- fornia, Berkeley; New York University; and Georgetown University. Since 2006 she has served as professor of American studies at the University of Freiburg. She is currently preparing her fourth monograph for publi- cation. Her research inter- ests include gender studies, film, cultural class studies, African American literature, modernism, and cultural theory. Photo: private In the television series Breaking Bad, Walter White, a chemistry teacher who has been diagnosed with cancer, deals drugs to save his family from bankruptcy after his death. Source: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment “That is the privilege of art: it allows us to explore areas that we would other- wise find unpleasant.” 11