Representations of German Identity
Who is «German»? What defines «Germanness»? These questions about national identity have continued to confound both Germans and foreign observers in light of Germany’s complex history: its changing borders between 1871 and 1989 make even a geographic definition of the nation complex, let alone allowing for a clear definition of the national character. Questions about German identity continue to play out not only in political discussions but also in visual cultural forms.
This essay collection examines the multi-faceted nature of German identity through the lens of myriad forms of visual representation. The contributors explore the nature of German national identity in different historical periods from the Middle Ages to the present and consider how conceptions of that identity have been depicted across the broad spectrum of visual culture: from painting to sculpture, advertising to architecture, television and film to installation art. Because of the unusual approach, the essays address broad questions about identity formation, authenticity, and affirmation in the German context. Together, the essays in this volume demonstrate the complexities of identity construction and offer new insights into the «German Question» from the perspective of visual culture.
This is the first volume in the German Visual Culture series.
Deborah Ascher Barnstone is Professor of Architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney, Australia. She is a licensed architect as well as an historian. Her publications include The Transparent State: Architecture and Politics in Postwar Germany (2005) and her current research examines early twentieth-century German modernism in light of larger contemporary cultural debates. Barnstone is Co-Coordinator of the Visual Culture Network of the German Studies Association in the United States.
Thomas O. Haakenson is Chair and Professor of Liberal Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He earned his doctorate from the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. He has published articles in New German Critique, German Quarterly, and the anthologies Legacies of Modernism and Memorialization in Germany Since 1945. Haakenson is Co-Coordinator of the Visual Culture Network of the German Studies Association in the United States.