German Beats

Friendship and Collaboration

Authored by: Alexander Greiffenstern

The Routledge Handbook of International Beat Literature

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415785457
eBook ISBN: 9781315210278
Adobe ISBN:


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When the relationship between Europe and the US comes up for discussion it can easily be forgotten how closely they have been bonded together from the very start. In one way this can be seen by the fact that Europeans as well as Americans tend to refer to the United States simply as “America.” The name, which is about 270 years older than the United States itself, is often regarded as symptom of US hegemonic dominance of the continent. Yet “Amerika,” the first ever written use of the name, precisely underlines the historic connection between the US and Germany. For it was in 1507 that the German cartographer and poet Matthias Ringmann (1482–1511), falsely assuming the new continent to have been discovered by Amerigo Vespucci (1454–1512), chose the name in accordance with the female names of the other continents for the new map created by his fellow cartographer Martin Waldseemüller of Freiburg (1470–1520). This map and the name it put into circulation quickly gained traction, and, although Ringmann tried to correct his mistake, it was America that stuck.

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