German Memory Contests

German Memory Contests

The Quest for Identity in Literature, Film, and Discourse since 1990

Edited by Anne Fuchs, Mary Cosgrove, Georg Grote

Essays shedding light on the increasingly open cultural debate on the German past.
Since unification in 1990, Germany has seen a boom in the confrontation with memory, evident in a sharp increase in novels, films, autobiographies, and other forms of public discourse that engage with the long-term effects of National Socialism across generations. Taking issue with the concept of "Vergangenheitsbewältigung," or coming to terms with the Nazi past, which after 1945 guided nearly all debate on the topic, the contributors to this volume view contemporary German culture through the more dynamic concept of "memory contests," which sees all forms of memory, public or private, as ongoing processes of negotiating identity in the present. Touching on gender, generations, memory and postmemory, trauma theory, ethnicity, historiography, and family narrative, the contributions offer a comprehensive picture of current German memory debates, in so doing shedding light on the struggle to construct a German identity mindful of but not wholly defined by the horrors of National Socialism and the Holocaust.

Contributors: Peter Fritzsche, Anne Fuchs, Elizabeth Boa, Stefan Willer, Chloe E. M. Paver, Matthias Fiedler, J. J. Long, Dagmar C. G. Lorenz, Cathy S. Gelbin, Jennifer E. Michaels, Mary Cosgrove, Andrew Plowman, Roger Woods.

Anne Fuchs is Professor of modern German literature and Georg Grote is Lecturer in German history, both at University College Dublin. Mary Cosgrove is Lecturer in German at the University of Edinburgh.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Germany's Memory Contests and the Management of the Past - Anne Fuchs and Mary Cosgrove
What Exactly Is Vergangenheitsbewältigung? Narrative and Its Insufficiency in Postwar Germany - Peter Fritzsche
The Tinderbox of Memory: Generation and Masculinity in Väterliteratur by Cristoph Meckel, Uwe Timm, Dagmar Leupold, and Ulla HahnDagmar Leupold, and Ulla Hahn - Anne Fuchs
Telling It How It Wasn't: Familial Allegories of Wish-Fulfillment in Postunification Germany - Elizabeth Boa
Being Translated: Exile, Childhood, and Multilingualism in G.-A. Goldschmidt and W. G. Sebald - Stefan Willer
"Ein Stück langweiliger als die Wehrmachtsausstellung, aber dafür repräsentativer": The Exhibition Fotofeldpost as Riposte to the "Wehrmacht Exhibition"Exhibition" - Chloe Paver
German Crossroads: Visions of the Past in German Cinema after Reunification - Matthias Fiedler
Monika Maron's Pawels Briefe: Photography, Narrative, and the Claims of Postmemory - Jonathan Long
Imagined Identities: Children and Grandchildren of Holocaust Survivors in Literature - Dagmar C. G. Lorenz
Of Stories and Histories: Golem Figures in Post-1989 German and Austrian Culture - Cathy Gelbin
Multi-Ethnicity and Cultural Identity: Afro-German Women Writers' Struggle for Identity in Post-Unification GermanyGermany - Jennifer E. Michaels
The Anxiety of German Influence: Affiliation, Rejection, and Jewish Identity in W. G. Sebald's Work - Mary Cosgrove
Between "Restauration" and "Nierentisch": The 1950s in Ludwig Harig, F. C. Delius, and Thomas Hettche - Andrew Plowman
On Forgetting and Remembering: The New Right since German Unification - Roger Woods


Winner of the 2007 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title Award

The studies collected in this volume succeed in substantiating the overarching claim of a pluralization of memorialization and in illuminating its facets. ARBITRIUM

This volume presents a timely and comprehensive summary of the current interest ... in post-unification discourses of memory in relation to Germany's various "pasts", above all the Nazi past.... This volume makes a significant contribution to the field of cultural memory and to the study of contemporary responses to Germany's multifaceted past. MODERN LANGUAGE REVIEW

The strength of this book lies in the fact that the issue of German memory is an important current topic in Germanistik and German Studies and will likely continue to flourish as more primary sources on this topic are published in Germany and Austria. MONATSHEFTE

Of particular interest are essays on underresearched topics: post-Shoah Jewish writing, Afro-German writers in postunification Germany, and strategies of the New Right in Germany. ...A splendid volume. CHOICE

The book contains many thought-provoking and balanced essays as well as a very helpful critical apparatus for postgraduates working on self-reflective German literature and/or film of the 20th century. GERMANISTIK IN IRELAND

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