Re-forming the Nation in Literature and Film

Preece (Re-forming) coverIn the year that Europe commemorates the centenary of the outbreak of World War I and the European Union faces a crisis of legitimacy, the national question is once again being posed across the Continent. This volume assesses how contemporary German-language writers and filmmakers have approached this troubled question over the last decade. It addresses whether the collective entity known as Germany should more properly be conflated with the Federal Republic, with its successful sixty-five-year history (‘the best Germany we have ever had’), rather than the ‘nation’ with all its tainted connotations and corrupted concepts such as ‘Vaterland’. Contemporary Germany is a product not only of its history up to 1945 but also of the process of understanding that history and acting upon that understanding since the defeat of National Socialism. Each of the sixteen essays collected here illuminates a different segment of a bigger picture, whose shape and shades are themselves evolving. Presented as a whole their purpose is to provoke further discussion among observers of the contemporary German-speaking scene.

Julian Preece is Professor of German Studies at Swansea University. He has written, edited or translated more than a dozen books, including The Cambridge Companion to Kafka (2002), The Life and Works of Günter Grass: Literature, History, Politics (2001/2004), The Rediscovered Writings of Veza Canetti: Out of the Shadows of a Husband (2007) and Baader–Meinhof and the Novel: Narratives of the Nation / Fantasies of the Revolution, 1970–2010 (2012). With Frank Finlay he edits the Peter Lang series Contemporary German Writers and Filmmakers, for which he edited the volume Ilija Trojanow in 2013.

Contents / Inhalt: Julian Preece: Introduction: Uncertain Nations at the Heart of Europe – Greg Bond: ‘Willkommen in jenem unbekannten Land, das Deutschland heißt’. Moritz von Uslar, Deutschboden. Eine teilnehmende Beobachtung – Christopher Meid: ‘Nur die Germania konnte ich noch ansteuern’. Wolfgang Büschers literarische Deutschlandreise – Aniela Knoblich: ‘Irgendwo stehen geblieben zwischen Mann und Frau’: Gendered National Identities in Contemporary German Travel Writing – Christian Sieg: Judith Schalanskys vorpommersche Steppe. Der Niedergang einer Region aus der Perspektive neoevolutionistischer Kulturkritik – Carmen Ulrich: Zerfurchte Porträts deutscher Geschichte in Reinhard Jirgls Roman Die Stille – Miriam Runge: ‘Als hätte er das große deutsche Rätsel gelöst’. Konstruktionen nationaler Identität in Friedrich Christian Delius’ Roman Mein Jahr als Mörder – Julian Preece: The Soothing Pleasures of Literary Tradition: Christian Kracht’s Imperium as an Allegory of a Redeemed Germany – Matthias Uecker: National Identity for International Audiences? Identity Constructions in Post-unification German Cinema – Alexandra Ludewig: Ein Fall von deutscher Selbstverachtung? Die Erfahrungen jugendlicher Migranten in den Berlin-Filmen Wut, Neukölln Unlimited und Prinzessinnenbad – Gerhard Jens Lüdeker: Die Konstruktion der Nation als Werte- und Emotionsgemeinschaft in deutschen DDR-TV-Events – Sven Hanuschek: Es gibt nichts Uninteressanteres als das Interessante. Andreas Maiers ‘Heimat’-Projekt als Distanzierung von Kollektiven – Thomas Irmer: Christoph Schlingensief: Aufreger für ein entspannteres Deutschland. Vom verspotteten Underground-Freak zum gefeierten Staatskünstler – Maria Mayr – Überwältigende Vergangenheit: Questioning European Identity in Contemporary German-Language Literature about the Former Yugoslavia – Angelika Welebil: Zur Frage der Nationalstaatsbildung am Balkan in der deutschsprachigen Literatur anhand des Kriminalromans Der kalte Traum von Oliver Bottini – Jakob Christoph Heller: ‘Das entschiedene, stolze, traurige Hinterwädlertum’. Peter Handkes Die morawische Nacht wider die Nation – Julia Schöll: Die Schweizer Matrix. Intertextuelle und intermediale Konstruktionen der Nation in Christian Krachts Roman Ich werde hier sein im Sonnenschein und im Schatten.

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