Uniform TitleHermann Kant's critical realism
NameWang, Huiping (author), Donahue, William (chair), Rennie, Nicholas (internal member), Naqvi, Fatima (internal member), Herminghouse, Patricia (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School-New Brunswick,
DescriptionFollowing the fall of the Berlin Wall and socialism's collapse as a system in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), the united Germany, still struggling with its Nazi past, is confronted with a new task, that is, coming to terms with its socialist, or more accurately, Stalinist past. Some intellectuals of the united Germany, uneasy with both tasks, launched a massive, devastating attack on the socially relevant, political literature in both German states. Hermann Kant, a prominent author and a powerful politician of the GDR, became the natural target of the attack, along with Christa Wolf, Günter Grass and many other politically engaged German writers. Accusation of espionage for the State Security, his own adamant denial thereof, his declaration of being an activist for the GDR, and his continuing critique of the Western capitalism make him ever more unpopular in the post-reunification era. This study will examine and reclaim the political and aesthetic value of Kant's works through theoretical inquiry and the textual and inter-textual close reading of his short stories collected in Ein bißchen Südsee and his novels Die Aula, Das Impressum, and Der Aufenthalt. The project reveals Kant as an important author who is in constant meaningful dialogue with the realism/modernism debate of the twentieth century. It will demonstrate how Kant strives to balance modernism and realism to take advantage of the strengths of both literary traditions and avoid their pitfalls. This project also critically examines the theme of coming to terms with the Nazi past in GDR novels and Kant's contribution to it. My work will reveal Kant as a less didactic, more thought-provoking author than many of his contemporaries, without shying away from the weaknesses present in his works. By examining Die Aula, a novel published in 1965, my study also shows how intricately critics' own ideology interacts with the reception of the novel. Furthermore, my study will demonstrate how literature in the realist tradition can provide insightful social critiques, and how myopic it is to pigeonhole East German literature in general, and Kant in particular, as state literature or as pure propaganda.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references (p. 187-196).
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.