Reflections on 1989/90 in Literary Texts of Younger German and Czech Authors

Ende des Projektes: January 2019

Completed associated PhD project
Funded by the Schroubek Fund, LMU Munich

This project focuses on a comparative analysis of literary texts of young German and Czech authors dealing with the final years of the GDR and the ČSSR, as well as with the events of 1989/90 and its social consequences. The interest in the recent past among writers born in the 1970s has evidently been growing since Jana Hensel published her bestselling book Zonenkinder in 2002, which was followed by numerous autobiographical publications by other authors. However, the literary interest in the history of the GDR and its legacy goes beyond autobiographical memoirs and is also reflected in many fictional texts, which focus on questions of continuity and social changes since the 1990s in the eastern parts of Germany and try to describe a still existing, diffuse post-GDR identity (Clemens Meyer, Jochen Schmidt, Judith Zander, Julia Schoch).

In the current Czech literature, there are also several books on the childhood memories of socialist Czechoslovakians, but more striking is the fact that a majority of young authors recount stories of travelling or living abroad (Petra Hůlová, Jaroslav Rudiš, Markéta Pilátová, Šimon Šafránek, David Zábranský). These young writers thus seemingly turn away from the history of their country. Yet, by comparing their experiences made abroad with their self-perception as Czechs, they also raise questions of identity and deal with different kinds of stereotypes, for example within the European Union.

By comparing selected German and Czech texts, I wish to stress certain similarities and differences in the way in which young authors of both countries deal with and experience the system change after 1989/90.

In which ways (thematic, aesthetic, narrative) do the authors refer to the socialist society and literature of the GDR and the ČSSR, and are these references connected to present-day identity struggles that are specific to this ‘generation’? The comparison of two groups of literature from the former Soviet bloc and their latest developments also provides the opportunity to identify trends with regard to the process of European integration.

Academic Advisor: Professor Helmut Peitsch (University of Potsdam / German Studies), Professor Alfrun Kliems (HU Berlin, Western Slavic Studies)

Forschung

Reflections on 1989/90 in Literary Texts of Younger German and Czech Authors

Ende des Projektes: January 2019

Completed associated PhD project
Funded by the Schroubek Fund, LMU Munich

This project focuses on a comparative analysis of literary texts of young German and Czech authors dealing with the final years of the GDR and the ČSSR, as well as with the events of 1989/90 and its social consequences. The interest in the recent past among writers born in the 1970s has evidently been growing since Jana Hensel published her bestselling book Zonenkinder in 2002, which was followed by numerous autobiographical publications by other authors. However, the literary interest in the history of the GDR and its legacy goes beyond autobiographical memoirs and is also reflected in many fictional texts, which focus on questions of continuity and social changes since the 1990s in the eastern parts of Germany and try to describe a still existing, diffuse post-GDR identity (Clemens Meyer, Jochen Schmidt, Judith Zander, Julia Schoch).

In the current Czech literature, there are also several books on the childhood memories of socialist Czechoslovakians, but more striking is the fact that a majority of young authors recount stories of travelling or living abroad (Petra Hůlová, Jaroslav Rudiš, Markéta Pilátová, Šimon Šafránek, David Zábranský). These young writers thus seemingly turn away from the history of their country. Yet, by comparing their experiences made abroad with their self-perception as Czechs, they also raise questions of identity and deal with different kinds of stereotypes, for example within the European Union.

By comparing selected German and Czech texts, I wish to stress certain similarities and differences in the way in which young authors of both countries deal with and experience the system change after 1989/90.

In which ways (thematic, aesthetic, narrative) do the authors refer to the socialist society and literature of the GDR and the ČSSR, and are these references connected to present-day identity struggles that are specific to this ‘generation’? The comparison of two groups of literature from the former Soviet bloc and their latest developments also provides the opportunity to identify trends with regard to the process of European integration.

Academic Advisor: Professor Helmut Peitsch (University of Potsdam / German Studies), Professor Alfrun Kliems (HU Berlin, Western Slavic Studies)

Forschung