East German Literature after the Wende, Kerstin Hensel, Angela Kraub, and the Weiterschreiben of GDR-literature

Wilson, Ulrike Kalt, Department of Germanic Languages and Literature, University of Virginia
Martens, Lorna, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Virginia

This project contributes to the current debate about the future role of GDR literature in Germany's post-WWII literary history. Among three distinct groups of literary critics and historians, the first focuses on the formal and aesthetic similarities between East and West German literatures and argues for a merging of the two. The second maintains that literature from the former GDR should be considered a regional variant of post-WWII German literature, thus emphasizing and preserving the political, historical, and cultural differences between the two countries and their literatures. Within this second group, some even claim that though the state GDR no longer exists, GDRliterature is still being written. Siding with this third group, I argue that the GDR's unique history-its socialist past and the dramatic effects of the Wende-gave, and still gives, rise to a literature with a distinctly regional character both in form and content. In support of my argument, I first address the question of what we mean by GDR-literature and identify certain characteristic features of this literature. I then show that there is indeed such a phenomenon as a Weiterschreiben of GDR-literature. To demonstrate that there is indeed a post-GDR-literature in the tradition of GDR-literature, I examine three fictional texts by East German writers Kerstin Hensel and Angela Krauß. I discuss how both writers' choices of subject matter are directly related to the GDR's unique past and present situation and how their narrative methods can be traced back to the kinds of writing styles previously identified as particular to the GDR's literary scene. Maintaining the idea of two German literatures preserves the memory of a unique and important phase in postiii WWII German literary history and accords with the emerging pluralism and multiculturalism in Germany's literary scene.

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PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
WWII, East German literature, post-unification East German Literature, Germany
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