East German Literature in the 21st Century: Minor Literature and Alternative Memory
thesisposted on 17.02.2017, 00:00 by Derek M Schaefer
East German Literature in the 21st century is situated in a “minor realm” within the greater canon of German Literature; a small, but essential part of the whole. After the “Wende” and the resulting collapse of the German Democratic Republic literary scholars, critics, and the public alike have either attempted to position literature by authors who lived in the former German Democratic Republic under the umbrella of “German Literature,” or to read through their works in a search for the definitive Wenderoman; for the end of the GDR had marked the end of a “GDR Literature” per se. As with the end of World War II, the ushering in of a new era once again prompted calls for literature to reflect upon the chapter in recent history that had just closed, 40 years of division ending with the “Peaceful Revolution” and unification. Despite 25 years of German unification, the writing of authors born in the GDR remains distinctly different from their West German counterparts. By examining the post-millennial works of three authors of what could also be called the “Third Generation” (Ingo Schulze, Antje Rávic Strubel, and Julia Schoch) through the lens of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s theory of “Minor Literature,” this project shows how their experiences and memories of life in the GDR, the Wende, the post-Wende 1990s, and the resulting political and social effects continue to influence their writing. I will argue that rather than simply “writing back” defiantly or nostalgically in a post-colonial sense as Paul Cooke put it in his analysis of East German writing produced in the 1990s, there has been an evolution in their literary subject matter and aesthetic characteristics. Rather, these authors explore the legacy of dictatorship, the Stasi, or “Ostalgie” (nostalgia for life in the East) and their relevance for, and effects upon contemporary society.