Uniform TitleCultural memory, identity and representations of flight and expulsion
NameDiers, Kai Artur (author), Naqvi, Fatima (chair), Helfer, Martha (internal member), Levine, Michael (internal member), Kosta, Barbara (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Grass, Günter, 1927- --Criticism and interpretation,
Lenz, Siegfried, 1926- --Criticism and interpretation,
Jirgl, Reinhard, 1953- --Criticism and interpretation,
Schmidt, Arno, 1917-1979--Criticism and interpretation,
DescriptionSince the beginning of the 21st century, the topic of the expulsion of Germans after 1945 has received more attention in the wider public sphere, professional historical and in fictional writing than ever before. As a consequence, over the last years the field of German Studies has developed an enormous interest in this topic, which is part of the recent discourse of German victimhood during World War II. The issue of flight and expulsion is intimately related to the ongoing evolution and also construction of a German cultural identity through the creation of a 'usable past.'
This dissertation examines the interdependence of aesthetic representations of flight and expulsion with the development, emergence and constitution of cultural memory as well as the effect of this experience on individual identity and that of German society. The textual analysis of four fictional works is located at the intersection of history, sociology and literary studies. The genre Vertreibungsliteratur seems perfectly suited to elucidate the difficulties that German society has in finding a way to dissolve the rigid dichotomy of victim vs perpetrator without marginalizing or neglecting either side.
I address three main points in conjunction with the literary texts I discuss: first, the circumstances that led to the emergence of the--now widely rejected--notion of a 'taboo' surrounding the discourse on German victimhood. In the discussion of Günter Grass's Im Krebsgang (2002) it becomes evident that it is rather the problem of contextualization in a particular political climate that compelled Grass to nurture this popular view of a taboo that only he can break. Secondly, the analysis of Siegfried Lenz's Heimatmuseum (1978) suggests that this text can be read as an allegory to the evolution and character of a normative and constructed German cultural memory.
Thirdly, Arno Schmidt's Leviathan (1949) and Reinhard Jirgl's Die Unvollendeten (2003) reveal the advantage of modernist writing in terms of its potential to represent the devastating impact of trauma on identity.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 176-193).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.