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Date of Award

5-2009

Document Type

Campus Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

German and Scandinavian Studies; Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Susan Cocalis

Second Advisor

Robert G. Sullivan

Third Advisor

Maria Barbon

Subject Categories

European History | German Literature

Abstract

This dissertation investigates the literary landscape in Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The first chapter provides the historical context and examines the different generations of authors growing up in the GDR. The term `Wenderoman' is coined through the historical event of the opening of the Berlin Wall, also referred to as turning point or change, and subsequently followed by the reunification of East and West Germany in 1990. The second chapter demonstrates how the assimilation of East German people into the free market economy has been interpreted by scholars such as Paul Cooke in the context of Postcolonialism. This theoretical framework allows for a study of the patterns and structures that guide this new fictional genre within Wende-literature.

In the prototypical Wenderoman viable individual identities are created by taking its main protagonist/s through the historical Wende which also provides the context for a personal Wende. The GDR Secret Police, whether in the background or foreground of the plot, is an essential element in the plot, as is a major city, generally Berlin. Each chapter, from chapters three to seven, provides an analysis of a Wenderoman according to these categories.

Chapter eight concludes that one of the most important consequences of the Wende is the requirement to create a German history and identity which accepts responsibility for Nazism (the GDR by and large repudiated any such responsibility) and GDR state repression (West Germans do not see this as a common German heritage). The reverse side to this is that West Germans must accept East Germans' positive evaluations of aspects of their GDR past, just as East Germans must accept both the positive and negative consequences of a market economy and democracy. Coming from very different angles to the definition of German identity, East and West Germans define themselves in very different ways in Wenderomanen.

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