Reworking the German Past

August 2010
4 black and white illustrations
294 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, PER004030, HIS014000

Reworking the German Past

Adaptations in Film, the Arts, and Popular Culture

Edited by Susan G. Figge, Jenifer K. Ward

Views adaptations as a way in which Germany seeks to come to terms with its past.
Coming to terms with the past has been a preoccupation within German culture and German Studies since the Second World War. In addition, there has been a surge of interest in adaptation of literary works in recent years. Numerous volumes have theorized, chronicled, or analyzed adaptations from novel to film, asking how and why adaptations are undertaken and what happens when a text is adapted in a particular historical context. With its focus on adaptation of twentieth-century German texts not only from one medium to another but also from one cultural moment to another, the present collection resides at the intersection of these two areas of inquiry. The ten essays treat a variety of media. Each considers the way in which a particular adaptation alters a story - or history - for a subsequent audience, taking into account the changing context in which the retelling takes place and the evolution of cultural strategies for coming to terms with the past. The resulting case studies find in the retellings potentially corrective versions of the stories for changing times. The volume makes the case that adaptation studies are particularly well suited for tracing Germany's obsessive cultural engagement with its twentieth-century history.

Contributors: Elizabeth Baer, Rachel Epp Buller, Maria Euchner, Richard C. Figge, Susan G. Figge, Mareike Hermann, Linda Hutcheon, Irene Lazda, Cary Nathenson, Thomas Sebastian, Sunka Simon, Jenifer K. Ward.

Susan G. Figge is Professor of German Emeritus at the College of Wooster, Ohio, and Jenifer K. Ward is Associate Provost, Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Adapting (to) History - Linda Hutcheon
Introduction: Adapting the Past for the Present - Susan G. Figge and Jenifer K. Ward
Getting the Last Laugh: Die Degenhardts as Nazi Redemption of Der letzte Mann - Cary Nathenson
Controlled Chaos: A Case Study of Photomontage in Weimar - Rachel Epp Buller
"Mensch, das ist ja wie im Kino!": Emil and the Detectives Go to the Movies in Berlin - Richard Figge
"Ich möchte gern einmal alles erzählen": The Nazi Era in Three Fictional Tellings and Their Cinematic Retellings - Susan G. Figge and Jenifer K. Ward
"Ein Gemenge aus Nacht und Licht, Schwarz und Hell": Götz Friedrich's Film Adaptation of Elektra - Maria Euchner
Irresistible Innocence: Reappropriations of Weimar and Nazi-Era Schlager - Sunka Simon
Counter Voice in Adaptation: Elisabeth Langgässer's Reappearance in Cordelia Edvardson's Memoir Burned Child Seeks the Fire - Thomas Sebastian
W. G. Sebald's Austerlitz: Adaptation as Restitution - Elizabeth R. Baer
The Alltag Becomes Alltagsgeschichte: The Haus der Geschichte in Lutherstadt Wittenberg and the DDR Museum Berlin - Irene Lazda
Show and Tell: Doris Dörrie's Strategies of Adaptation in Bin ich schön - Mareike Herrmann


This volume makes a valuable and multidisciplinary contribution to the discussion of Vergangenheitsbewältigung and adaptation theory in 20th- and 21st-century German cultural production. GERMAN QUARTERLY

Excellent. . . . The consistently high quality of scholarship and overall readability of the essays testify to the expertise of the individual scholars and the effectiveness of the editors' work. WOMEN IN GERMAN REVIEWS

A particularly interesting take on the master trope [of coming to terms with the past].. Employs a wide conceptual framework by emphasizing the . multiple contexts at stake in adaptation . and by expanding the range of media to include not only film and literature but also photomontage, opera, popular song, and museum exhibits. Recommended. CHOICE

Alongside insightful analyses of German Vergangenheitsbewältigung, this volume offers new and exciting perspectives in the broader field of adaptation studies, firmly establishing adaptation's value as a gauge of evolving historical discourses. THIS YEAR'S WORK IN MODERN LANGUAGE STUDIES

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